Monday, March 16, 2009

Hot topic: Round I enrollment data

You can find the Round I enrollment data on the Parents for Public School Web site: click here. What do you think of this year's numbers?


  1. I may be overlooking some of the data. If so, please correct me.

    Given that we are working with a public institution, I am amazed and appalled at the lack of data made available publicly.

    Along with publishing the algorithm used in the lottery and providing detailed narrative of exactly how the numbers are run beforehand, the district has an obligation in my view to provide detailed data about the lottery outcome.

    Most egregious is the bundling of data for families with siblings with those that are first entering the school district. I don't care if 80% of families got one of their 7 choices - what % of first time families received one of their choices?

    As fabulous as Parents for Public Schools is - we should not need to rely on an intermediary to get information about how the system is run. (I think it is great that fellow parents are helping advise us on how to work through the process - I am saying that the responsibility for stating exactly what process SFUSD uses step by step is SFUSD's.)

    And, we should not need to rely on counselors/gatekeepers to gain access to the data about the wait pool numbers over the coming months. This data should be available publicly online.

    Some sunshine, please!

  2. many of us complained about the how misleading it was to provide only data w/ sibling info included when giving % of applicants receiving one of their choices. that's so wrong. i'm pretty sure p for ps spoke to them about this last year. there was lots if discussion on this topic this time last year.

  3. One thing I think the data shows pretty clearly is that the huge spikes in requests happened in schools that are in wealthier neighborhoods. My hunch (not based on anything but that) is that people in those areas who would not have considered public in the past are doing so now b/c of the economy.

  4. Any chance you could start a new thread on how to approach round 2? There were several helpful comments under the "Round I Letters," (back when there were only 400 comments!) Now there are over 1000 comments, so it's hard to pull out the comments that pertain to how to tackle Round 2 to increase our chances of actually getting a school.
    Thanks, Sara

  5. i am not a numbers person, but several things come to mind:

    1) i totally concur with you, amy. everyone is now aware that the "success" statistics are bogus because of the sibling bundling, so for SFUSD to continue to tout them just adds to the breach of trust between it and parents. it is disgraceful, actually. to my mind, it is yet another example of how SFUSD is so blinded by its zealous pursuit of social justice -- as defined by SFUSD -- that it does not actually consider middle-class families (who are the ones interested in such data in order to make informed choices) its constituents. message is loud and clear! why are they philosophically unable to serve all the city's children? why don't they want to harness all that "smartness" and selfishness" carlos garcia talked about and do something with it to make all the schools better? i'd bet if there was more transparency more middle-class parents would be willing to take managed risks with their children's placements in order to help the whole.

    2) for a "choice"-based system to work, there has to be a lot of cushion (i.e., extra space). because of district underenrollment, up until last year, it kinda sorta did. well, no more cushion, ergo, broken system.

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  7. This is in response to both this question and the schools list question "half full or half empty". I have already gotten into it with one of the relentless cheerleaders on that list. As one of the 948 K families who did NOT get a placement, I would have to say the system is not working.

    The idea that the 66 families placed at DeAvila is a bright spot - yeah, so 66/948 have an opportunity to create something new. For some this appears to be a stroke of good luck, for some it is extremely scary as it is a true unknown. From where I sit assigned to another school, one that received only 27 requests overall this year, the DeAvlia folks look extremely lucky to me. I'd trade spots with them in a minute, Cantonese Immersion or not. (And that was not on our list so we were not even considered. How fair is that when you don't get a shot at a school because you have no idea it's coming and there is a hidden criteria to being in the pool for that school?)

    For perspective, in 2006, 580 of 3869 K apps went 0/7. In 2007 it was 516/3972. In 2008, 828/4330. This year's number is 948/4736. Hmm, see a trend? What should we shoot for next year, can we break 1000 famlies hearts?

    There is a poster (actually I think a couple) who said they went 0/7 two years in a row. Our family has spent over 30 hours on this school search only to come up empty handed, and we have completely turned our lives around for the next two weeks to "work with the system". It's a lot to ask of a two working parent family, however at least we are white collar with some control over our ability to take off another 12 hours combined at the drop of a hat. Imagine you have an hourly job, or a job that is on the line in this economy and you can't devote extra time looking at what options are available. Imagine you work in the Peninsula or East Bay and can't hop over to EPC once a week for the foreseeable future?

    I say the system is completely broken. The news that the board is potentially going to defer changes to the system in 2010/11, due to the complexity of it all. In my opinion they must do something, even incrementally, to increase some level of transparency and simplicity. What about pre-registering siblings so the # of open seats is clear? What about doing a random lottery in terms of 'picking' and letting the families choose their school in rank order (kind of a choosing teams strategy). I don't see how a fully randomized lottery would have any different result from the current system, and it would make it much clearer to families - there is no gaming the system, it's total luck of the draw.

  8. I am one of the 948 families that did not get a school that I requested. But not only that but my child is being sent to a school 3+ miles from my house, where there is no transportation. We are a one car family. I was assured that if I didn't get one of my choices, my child would be placed within 1 mile of my house. I am really pissed off, sad, depressed and frustrated. We are completely committed to public schools, but my daughter is not attending the school we were assigned. So, now I am in a position to try and wait list and fill out application round 2. At this point, I feel it won't matter. Do I hold her back one year? I have two other kids at home as well. That pushes them back a year also. I wish the school would take into consideration where you live, how many children you have. Not just some random lottery that is unintelligible.

  9. SFUSD makes inexplicable decisions with regard to enrollment all the time. i agree with hana's mom about the de avila assignments: sure, they inferred from people applying to other cantonese programs that those folks wanted that opportunity, but it's ridiculous to give them a shot at a new, unannounced program and not the other 0/7s. they make those sorts of judgment calls all the time. this system encourages it because every year there are glitches, data entry errors...the usual bullshit. admittedly, EPC's mandate is hard, just plain hard, but do they always have to hide it when they fuck up? and be so secretive? bad juju, i say....

    let the people see the goddamn algorithm!

  10. 0 for 7 parent (who went to public schools as a child; private schools weren't even an option) here. Got assigned to Cobb. Since I'm not a fan of using my children (or anyone's children) as instruments of potential social change, there is no way my child is going to that facility.

    Honestly though I'm not upset anymore - I was upset/angry years ago when I first realized this system was set up to shaft my five year old because the child's parents have the audacity to be educated white people who bought a home in an affluent zip code (SFUSD allocation system apologists/public school at no matter what individual cost fanatics please refrain from spouting the company lines re the "lottery" which only the most gullible amongst us could possibly take at face value).

    Excellent points have been made here re the complete lack of transparency surrounding this system. The reason why is obvious: the school system wants to give parents (read "potential litigants") as little information as possible because the less information provided makes suing the system that much more difficult.

    The system is obviously set up to discriminate based on race using multiple proxies. The glee that people take in discriminating against innocent five year olds sickens me.

  11. It never ceases to amaze me that Cobb has stayed in the shape it's in. Take a school like Grattan - that one has improved in large part due to its location in an affluent neighborhood. But Cobb is still stuck. I guess Pac Heights parents have no incentive to invest in the neighborhood public school, since public school is so completely off their radar.

  12. Wow! What a difference a year makes (not). After reading the recent newspaper articles about the lottery I decided to take a look at the blog. I was an addict to this place a year ago, having gone 0/7 in Round I. I understand the frustration and anger expressed here. I know how it feels.

    To 6:16 AM. As I said, I was a Round I reject last year, but am happy to say was successfully placed in my waitlisted school in Round II. What I didn’t know then, but do now could help you. As it turned out my waitlist school added a new class after Round I. It was not publicized until after the Round II applications were received. It was just by chance that I had chosen that school as my waitlist school. 20 spots opened up over-night, going directly to those who put that school as their waitlist choice. My advice to you is to look for schools that added new K classes this year. I know that several have done so this year to address the influx of new students. These “new” classes are disproportionately low on sibling assignments. It is my impression that non-sibling applicants are much more likely to drop out and make their spots available either immediately or between now and the 10-day count (mostly likely due to private school acceptance).

    Re: the addition of DeAvila so late in the game. I agree that this seems unfair too. My guess is that the District felt compared to add the school during the Round I process because there were just not enough seats District-wide to place all the students who applied (even after adding classes and increasing class size to 22). They added the program in order to avoid having to send out notices stating “no school assignment”. That would have been 100% time worst, in my opinion. I expect that people willing to put DeAvila as their wait pool choice in Round II will be offered a spot.

    Good luck everyone.

  13. Regarding the receipt of choice data, there are statistics vs odds. The district is presenting statistics and they are not incorrect. Look at it from the point of view of families with siblings; could you imagine how may unhappy campers there would be if kids weren't assigned to their sibs' schools? Do you know how happy you'll be that you won't have to do this for your next kid? You will be a satisfied customer someday! First timers want to know odds, and that is something different. But I do think the district should give detailed sibling numbers so you can calculate the odds.

  14. 9:03 is right. SFUSD will not be more transparent about the "algorithm" because it doesn't work the way they say it works.
    I would *love* to see the profiles of the 900+ families that went 0/7. To add insult to injury, they make the rules up as the go along surrounding subsequent rounds and waitpool placements.

  15. To 9:03--
    Gee, paranoid much?

  16. Very well put, March 17, 2009 9:03 AM. I am in the same situation - we got John Muir. 2 white college educated renters, so we must be rich and advantaged.

    They say race isn't used as a factor. Bull**it.

  17. March 17, 2009 11:23 AM - you are an inarticulate fool.

  18. This thread is getting ugly.

  19. I have to agree with what someone said about how Orwellian the whole thing is. To try to paint what is something of a debacle as a positive is amazing. Aside from skewing the statistics with siblings, the chart I saw was for "non-immersion." Since those folks are in the same pool, the only reason I see for that is that including immersion makes the numbers worse.

    We are just worse off than we were a decade before, and, although well-meaning, I think PPS is partly to blame.

    1. A decade ago there truly were two or three schools that were extremely difficult to get into, the neighborhood school was guaranteed, and most of the others were obtainable. Now it appears that about 20 or more schools are extremely difficult to get, no ones assured of anything, and people are desperate to get into schools that are just mediocre. I don't see that overall quality has improved in this time, although demand has. Although some marginal schools have improved, other schools have gotten worse.

    2. The absolute worst thing about the all-choice approach, imo, is that parents need to do endless touring in order to make an informed "choice" even though that choice often does not exist. If parents were assigned without the guise of choice (i.e. neighborhood) it wouldn't be as awful, because in the process of touring you are shopping, thinking, and deciding what you want. And then you don't get it. I've noticed, along with a bunch of good sports who are ready to tackle peace corps-like projects, a sense of entitlement also. Complaints like "it doesn't have a garden" or "I want it to start at 9:20" only arise after a parent has gotten an impression that he/she can choose these things. It's the combination of raising expectations and delivering none of it that makes the system so very dysfunctional.

    I must say that I'm a satisfied public school parent, but I don't see how you can deny that the system sucks and isn't working.

  20. Because the crap that the SFUSD has put our families through IS UGLY. Acknowledging obvious reality is not necessarily ugly...

  21. Hi there to 9:08

    So Grattan is doing better becuase it is an affluent neighborhood.Hardly! The majority of the families come from outside the neighborhood. This school has transformed over the years, when it was less than popular, in large part to the Principal and the teacher who have inspired parents to get involved. PPS also helped in the past too. Now many families from the hood would love to send their kids their, but can't becuase there is no neighborhood preference.

    There should have been a community process on what type of school De Avila should be - GE or an immersion program. McKinley is just on the other side of Buena Vista from Grattan, and both have become quite popular - with more requests than slots, why not make it another GE - close to mass transit, etc...

    The assignment system is totally messed up, and the decisionmaking process in woefully secretive, and questionable at best. And unfortunatley the end result is that families feel they can trust the SFUSD.

  22. I don't deny that they system is less than transparent and somewhat messed up and therefore I suppose "ugly"....but white-privilege entitlement is ugly, too. You didn't win the lottery for a 4% chance spot, and you immediately assume you are being discriminated against because of your race. Why? Because you assumed on some level that you had a claim on that popular spot.

    The system IS messed up, but not because it is giving reasonable access to everyone to try to get that popular spot (with predictable results that 96% don't get it). That part is actually okay.

    I for one do not want to go to a system in which the best schools are guaranteed for those who can afford to live in West Portal, Laurel Heights or Cow Hollow. And if a little bit of advantage is given to people who are very poor--you really want to trade places with a family living in public housing, that relies on school lunch to feed their kids? Really? You feel harmed in this world because they for once got something you didn't?--then I am fine with that too.

    The irony is that you are not mostly competing against those who are really, really poor (the few who applied there who genuinely got a leg up in the lottery for relatively affluent Clarendon, for example). You are competing against the hordes of middle class, upper-middle class, and wealthy parents, many of whom, though not all by the way, are white. That's who you lost out to this week.

    Did you read any of the happy "OMG I won the lottery at Rooftop!" posts? That was your competition. I'm really not sure what SFUSD is supposed to do about the hundreds of parents with exactly your diversity profile who apply there, when there are 44 spots or whatever it is. But a lottery doesn't seem like the worst way in the world to deal with it.

  23. Competing against the "very, very poor?" Like my Chinese neighbors who own their home & other investment property? Their kid got into Lilienthal. My white renting kid whose parents are struggling got John Muir.

  24. 12:32 THANK YOU. I agree.

    I actually don't think the system is that bad. Anyone ever take an econ class? It is called SCARCITY. Another useful concept is SUPPLY and DEMAND.

    LOTS of families want to go to Rooftop, Clarendon, etc. There are only so many spots at those schools. Demand exceeds supply by like 10:1, or more. SFUSD can't change that, and no lottery can fix that.

    If you had a R1 list with 7 "top" schools, and you go 0/7, that is not unfair. that is predictable and completely OK. Everyone wants the best for their kids. Not everyone can have a spot at Rooftop. There are lots of ways they could assign those spots. As long as the method is essentially principled, I am fine with it. And I think it is: preference for siblings, force some degree of diversity, and bid/lottery for the rest.

    It is the same entitled mentality that makes people cut in line, or go out of turn at an intersection, or whatever. Is your time (or kid) more valuable than mine? Let's draw straws and accept the result.

    If you put 7 "top" schools and went 0/7, suck it up. that is the risk you took with that list. Someone else won the lottery and got the spot you wanted - that is fair, not unfair. Be glad the system is thoughtful enough to give you options like waitpool round 2 etc.

    If you put together a truly realistic list and went 0/7, then you have my sympathy. But even so, if you stay the course and remain realistic, you will get into an acceptable school, so don't panic.

  25. 12:55 Good post. Someone show me a genuinely realistic round 1 list that went 0/7. I have yet to see that on these boards. If a high % of the people who went 0/7 had shoot-the-moon lists , then the system is basically fair and working properly.

  26. Entitled - yes. I feel we are entitled to a transparent system.

  27. Cobb is in the Western Addition not Pacific Heights.

  28. 12:38

    I understand you are renting/struggling, but are you qualified for public housing or free lunch? (Hint: you have to be really, really poor in order to qualify.) If not, then you were probably in the same lottery situation as your property-owning neighbors, no matter what race you are or they are. [Okay--there are potentially issues of language, that imho need to be fixed in the lottery.] However, it is just not the case that race had anything to do with their lucky placement or your unlucky one. They got lucky, and you did not. I'm sorry for that, btw.

    It is true that some of the factors used, like public housing, could be seen as a proxy for race, given how poverty correlates with race in this town, but in the situation that you mention--the fact that neither you (I'm assuming) nor your neighbor is actually POOR means that between your two families there was no such proxy being used.

    From what you say about being a struggling family, are you suggesting that SFUSD should give priority in the lottery to working class or middle class families over more wealthy ones? For example, anyone who makes less than the SF median of $75,000 for a family of 4 would get priority picks? I'm not sure it would fly politically--there seems to be just enough appetite for giving a leg up to children who are living in poverty, but somehow I don't see the driven, upper-middle class families making $100K/year being willing to give up a shot at Clarendon for the likes of you (and me, btw) ;-). But, you could suggest it to the BOE as part of the assignment process.

  29. "Cobb is in the Western Addition not Pacific Heights."

    I'm sure the people who live nearby would disagree.

  30. 1:03

    Entitled to a transparent system--YES. We don't have it and we gotta keep pushing for it.

    Entitled to a spot at one of the top-10 requested schools--no.

  31. Kim Green's 7:45 am should be emblazoned on a billboard -- never has so truthful a statement been made about SFUSD! What she pointed out is exactly what I hear from parents who shy away from the public schools here -- a profound lack of trust in all the endless cheerleading and a concomitant suspicion of the seemingly arbitrary methods of HQ. Come on, folks, my heart just goes out to the people who got dumped into this new De Avila! And, when it is pointed out on this blog how tenuous and suspicous this whole new program is (where's the afterschool care; where's the planning for this; what happened the last time there was a school there), the relentless cheerleaders on this site start screaming that we are "scaring" people. New school created out of thin air -- scared? -- you betcha!

  32. One person's "scared" is another person's "excited"...

    A blank slate... an opportunity to get things right while benefiting from the experience of established programs (West Portal). Cool!

  33. I'd love to see more detailed data about immersion programs.

    Wish they would break down the openings by language groups. Would love to see how many Spanish speakers apply to Spanish immersion programs vs. how many bilinguals or English speakers...

  34. Cobb is at the corner of California and Divisadero. Lovely, beautiful home around there. Definitely more Pacific Heights than Western additional.

  35. Who are these arbiters of what makes a list "realistic"? Not everyone has the time to check this blog every day to find out which schools are "up and coming" and which are "unrealistic". Oh, or which schools are both, depending on whether you want immersion or not.

  36. look, i agree with both the previous posters...transparency is clearly needed to alleviate the mass paranoia SFUSD's secrecy and callousness has caused. and, yes, new and improving schools can be exciting. we would have loved to join one -- within reason. it's just...the district tends to push 0'fer families toward them involuntarily and without regard for neighborhood, transport or respect for the realities of leading a working life.

    i'll give you some examples from our own experience.

    in round I last year, we went 0-7 and were assigned to j. serra. we organized a group of assigned families via the k files to tour. i can't speak for the others, but i was pleasantly surprised: the school is small, warm, caring, competent and convenient. the problem was, it was also a reading first school with a 99.9% ELL population, worksheets till the cows came home and not, ultimately, a program we thought appropriate for a native english speaking kid. by appearances, it seemed that SFUSD put nearly every single 94131 zip code family with an english-at-home/no-public-assistance profile who went 0-7 at j. serra (last year, inner noe people got hillcrest). personally, i think j. serra is a sweet place and i would have been okay with placing my kid there while we waitpooled a more exciting program. but here's the thing. in a way, compared to some people's assignments, it was okay, but still...reading first? nah.

    second example: assigning the flynnarados involuntarily to daniel webster (at a time when the imms program DID NOT EXIST). this school had NO SCHOOL BUS ROUTE to the areas contiguous to the schools the kids were kicked out of. it starts at 7:50. DISRESPECT.

    i know lots of SF'ers want to be part of change and are willing to open their minds...and i don't think it means making your kid a "guinea pig." but there are limits -- SFUSD simply has to respect my right to earn a living. and my right to maintain a reasonable carbon footprint. and maintain ties to my community. (all of which, i would argue, benefit ALL SAN FRANCISCANS and taxpayers.) i am not backpedaling on three generations of my family's efforts to pursue the american dream. that would be not only absurd, but an impossibility given human nature.

  37. McKinley is a Reading First school. So is Fairmount. And Jose Ortega. And many other schools.

  38. If you want to escape a heavy reliance on worksheets, your only public school choices are New Traditions, SF Community, Creative Arts Charter and Flynn.

  39. 12:58: I don't think this is how you meant it, but I would really like to see what a realistic list might be for sunset/parkside folks.

  40. If you think that there's still some element of race involved, then you really need to get out more. My white friends got Clarendon, Miraloma, Rooftop. Me, the black person, got Glen Park (hey - I'll take it, but it's not Clarendon!).

  41. 12:58: Ditto 2:50. I'd like to know what a realistic list is for Miraloma. I'm assuming it would not include the school that is around the block from my house.

  42. Sorry, ditto 2:30.

  43. The EPC claim that 80% got one of their 7 choices is so clearly not true. So many schools are more popular this year. Combine that with a huge influx in K applications and no wonder there are so many 0/7s. I know of only two families (including our daughter's whole preschool class) that got one of their 7 schools. I don't know what all of their lists were but I know we put some schools on our list that we thought we had a good shot at. It seems that this demonization of families for being "snotty" (as I have seen it described on this blog) in choosing only trophy schools is both unhelpful and inaccurate.

    I think what we saw this year was a continuation of what happened last year with the aggravating factor of an economy going down the toilet. People were surprised that schools they thought they had a reasonable shot at in the end were over subscribed. I think the EPC further perpetuates this myth of school choice with statistics like the 80% number. How many schools could we put on a ‘don’t bother’ list for people going through this next year – 15? – 20? – 25?

  44. All of the families at our preschool got one of their 7 choices.

    All but one of our neighborhood "posse" (six families) got one of their choices, including Milk, Miraloma, Grattan, New Traditions, and SF Community).

  45. 1:51

    It's not all or nothing.

    Some of us see the DeAvila thing as both: 1) a typical example of SFUSD doing a last-minute thing, without engaging stakeholders or letting people know ahead of time so they could get in on the action, or raise questions like the aftercare one; AND 2) probably a great opportunity for families that want an immersion program and are willing to roll with the uncertainties a bit for potentially a great payoff.

    We have what we have, at this point in time anyway:

    * A typical urban district (with lots of white/affluent flight) facing multiple, complex challenges and worse outcomes for the poorest among us and those with darker skin tones;

    * A real range of schools in terms of quality, both in perception and reality (though the two are not always in sync);

    * an under-supply of "good" schools, relative to demand--good meaning both in reality and perception;

    * a growing set of improving schools in the middle, in between the rock-star and pretty awful, that have high potential for turn-around if supplied with a good principal, experienced teachers, and avid parent base;

    * a growing set of vocal, more affluent parents returning to the public schools out of conviction and/or necessity;

    * an entrenched bureacracy that is not used to dealing with this set of folks, and that contains within it a mix of people of good will, some reformers, those who are suspicious of the vocal parents, and plain-ol' bureaucrats just trying to make their jobs easier by making us all go away.

    I'm completely supportive of any efforts to make the process, and the system, more transparent and responsive to the parents. I also think they have a tough job to balance the needs of ALL the parents--there is not one voice here. I also think that reforming the bureaucracy, not to mention the schools themselves, will take TIME.

    Meanwhile, parents in the current cohort of K-seekers are living in the real world. They have receieved their first round assignments and are super-happy, moderately happy, just okay, or miserable.

    Thing is, the ones that are not happy need the support and best advice from us (because we all know that SFUSD will not provide enough of this, right?) on how to proceed in this real world to get an assignment that works for them.

    I don't think it is ridiculous cheerleading in this case to suggest that they actually check out their assignment. We all know of schools whose reputations do not match their promising reality. We know of schools that can be turned around pretty quickly, or are already on the move. These are encouraging for a further look. I'd certainly put the new DeAvila school in that category--even if the process of creating it was ****ed up.

    Even if they do not intend to register at their assigned schools, or hope to move up their ladder of preference if they do register, these parents also need *realistic* advice on strategies for waitpools and Round 2. C'mon, we all know that most people will not get Rooftop no matter how many rounds they go through (and no matter how unfair that reality is). Wishing and ranting does not make Rooftop suddenly have more spots. Supply is just not sufficient for demand. So pointing out other promising spots is also not cheerleading. It is good advice.

    I take Kim Green's point about how SFUSD doesn't think through the issues, though. I think they are really, really not used to dealing with us entitled middle-class+++ people. They are used to dealing with folks that take their assignment and haul their asses around town on MUNI because what choice do they have. NOT saying that is right. A competent, dedicated person in that office could think through some of these issues and it would help a lot. Oh yeah, and so would running stuff by the parents first and then going back to the drawing board. I guess on our end we also may have to suck up the fact that not every policy is going to be aimed at us (middle-class+++) folks, either. It would feel better doing that if we had input, though.

    Again, this is not all or nothing. There are several issues being discussed at once here--systemic change (good!) and also how to get a spot you like well enough for your kid (also good!). It's hard given the stakes at issue for every family, but I hope we can keep all these issues in mind.

    I do sympathize with all the feelings; like so many, I have been there in your shoes when it was my oldest kid's turn.

  46. I'm all for a public school education. Our plan was: if we got one of our choices, we were going to be VERY involved parents at our child's new school - PTA, volunteer...etc because we chose those schools. Unfortunately, we're 0/7 for round 1 and got placed at John Muir. We'll try round 2 otherwise we're going to be super involved parents at a private school. It's too bad that SFUSD choose to give so much priorities to certain families that have statistically been less involved with their own education as well as their child's. With the rate this is going, SFUSD will become 99% filled with disadvantaged families in the next decade (if not already so.)

  47. I would like to say that we are lucky to have the right to have a shot at the schools which we think are the best possible for our kids. If that happens to be the school that everyone else wants to go to, what do we expect them to do? If they let everyone go there, it certainly wouldn't be a great school anymore, there would be like 45 kindergarten classes... (in the case of clarendon).

  48. 12:58 here.

    I want to keep this constructive. Not intended to be argumentative - just frustrated by the assumption that the system is unfair, broken, stupid, biased etc... when I suspect that the loudest complaints come from people who went 0/7 with "unrealistic" lists.

    Surely, circumstances vary. Some geographies are trickier than others, start times vary, etc.

    But, in a nutshell, here is what I mean: look at the chart showing 5 year request data for each school. If all of your 7 choices have 250+ requests, you opted for a shoot-the-moon list and you were very likely to go 0/7. this is bc you picked schools that MANY people want and only a few can have, yet you were not the winner of a lottery that is pretty random and essentially fair.

    If someone can show us a list that includes at least 3 schools with fewer than 250 requests, yet you still went 0/7, then I will share your outrage. i will also be very surprised, bc I think people with these "realistic" lists do not often go 0/7. Simple math.

    For the record, my own list included a mix of popular and less popular. Total requests for 2008-9 for the schools I listed were roughly (in order of popularity, not my list order) 500 (immersion - did not get), 450 (Miraloma - our top choice - did not get it), 300 (immersion - did not get), 200, and three very lovely schools with <150 requests. We got our 5th choice, actually the least requested school on our list. Did we "win the lottery"? No. Are we are very excited about the school we got? Yes.

    I would love to send my child to Rooftop, Clarendon, or West Portal. In a heartbeat. But I did not put those on my list bc they each had around 1000 requests. It is OK to put those on your list, but it is NOT unfair if you don't get in.

  49. 3:14 - what were your choices?

  50. With the rate this is going, SFUSD will become 99% filled with disadvantaged families in the next decade (if not already so.)

    Not really. We all understand the frustrations and problems, but actually the trend is slightly in the direction of more advantaged families returning to the system after a generation away (and the end of forced busing, which was apparently really odious from the perspective perspective of advantaged families).

    If anything, the problems are being exacerbated by the fact that more and more people are actually clamoring for an inadequate number of spots. It's the increase in apps that is hurting. Even with all the frustrated 0/7s, some (many?) of whom will go private if they can--there are still more "advantaged" folks taking spots than in quite a while. Look at the numbers--total apps, minus 0/7ers--still more people get spots due to expanded K classes and 22/class.

    I wish you luck in round 2 and waitpool. I hope you get what you are looking for and don't feel that you have to leave the system.

  51. 3:14 here:

    Our choices:
    1. Claredon (GE)
    2. Jefferson
    3. Feinstein
    4. Com. Sloat
    5. Jose Ortega (Man)
    6. Sunset
    7. FSK

    While we didn't think we had a chance at Claredon, we were hopeful for the remaining.

  52. I am not trying to justify the system – just responding to the racist fools out there. We went 0/7. Two years in a row. And my wife is a public school teacher. We are also Filipino and Mexican. But this only one anecdotal example – just as valid as the stupid “my rich Chinese neighbor got Lilienthal- while deserving white folk have to go to John Muir or Cobb” comments. Nice to see how white people really feel when they have the cloak of anonymity. Oh, and one of our nice white friends got Clarendon JBBP. We are thrilled for them.

  53. 3:14

    I think what threw your list off was putting Clarendon as your number one choice. Since Clarendon had 174 1st choice requests for 55 slots, it was a statistical long shot. And since you used your #1 slot already the rest of your lists lost priority. I personally put Jefferson as my number one choice. I knew I had a good chance since it's my neighborhood school, a lot of people were turned off by the construction and it had a smallish demand last year. We got it, but I was still prepared to wait it out on the wait list and the 10 day count. I was also prepared to possible get RL Stevenson or FSK. Actually, I'm really surprised you didn't get FSK since a lot of people are turned off by the early start time. What neighborhood are you in?

  54. 4:17 -- agree. it's pretty depressing to realize even in progressive SF some people still think that way.

  55. the problems are being exacerbated by the fact that more and more people are actually clamoring for an inadequate number of spots.

    there are not an inadequate number of spots, just inadequate spots...

  56. 3:14 - I think it was reasonable for you to have some hope with this list, as it was a not complete moon shot. But not quite what I would call a "realistic" list either. Here is the list with 2008/9 total requests shown. Five of Seven very popular 300+ schools. JO low request total last year but not real likely considering very few # spots (11 for each language, not counting sibs, so perhaps less than 10 open seats) and surging popularity of immersion. The one where I concede you got truly unlucky was FSK - requests surged from 165 last year to 240 this year.

    I hope you find something soon. I'm sure you will!

    1. Claredon (GE) (986)
    2. Jefferson (395)
    3. Feinstein (519)
    4. Com. Sloat (319)
    5. Jose Ortega (Man) (23 - BUT this year 79 for 22 spots, really 11 spots for each language, and less after sibs)
    6. Sunset (321)
    7. FSK (165)

  57. Question - once and for all - does putting your local neighborhood school #1 in round 1 give you a better chance of getting it, vs people who listed it 2-7?

    I thought it did NOT.

    I keep hearing that ranking a school #1 somehow helps you - how?

  58. 3:04 -- love it. reading your post was the first thing that has soothed my jangled nerves since the letter arrived. a voice of reason...

  59. Your assignment area has no bearing on your chances of getting your local school if the school is over-requested, which most schools are. And as I have read on this blog the order of your pics only comes into play if you happen to have your name drawn in the lottery twice - you get the one you listed higher. They don't compare people against each other to see who ranked a school higher. So it shouldn't have mattered where 3:14 put Clarendon.

  60. 5:53

    You are *mostly* right about place on the list not mattering. At Clarendon, definitely.

    However, if you read the small print you will see that far, far down the list of tie-breakers for spots at a school comes #1 listers versus everyone else. I'd guess it almost never comes into play at a school like Clarendon. But at a school on the bubble of popularity such as FSK or Harvey Milk it might make a difference that you put it #1 versus #2-7. That would be the reason to put a less-popular but not slam-dunk school as #1--you improve your chance of getting something that you like in Round 1 (thus securing a spot that you will either take, or from which you will try to waitpool for the moon shot).

    It's a small point, but every strategy matters with these odds, right? I believe it was Abby Marks who raised it on this blog awhile back and it was discussed. Can't remember exactly when or on which thread.

  61. If there are ties within a profile; attendance area gets first priority; school preference rank gets second priority; if ties remain, then random selection.

    scroll down to the very bottom of the page for the pdf that contains this info (on page 5)

    Though I believe this means that if you don't list Clarendon #1, and you are of the typical profile here, you will never ever get Clarendon, right?

  62. ...and to complicate things further, of course not all schools have assignment areas (leftover vestige of former system to have "alternative" schools). Nor do all people have an assignment area....but these are points for a different post.

    But yes, 6:38, you are correct that it would be difficult, I think, to get Clarendon with the typical profile here unless you list it #1. But since odds of getting it are slim anyway, why not list a bubble school like FSK or Harvey Milk in that #1 spot (given that these schools may be a lot harder to get into in Round 2) instead of shooting for the moon? A reasonable strategy is to go for the better bet at a decent school like FSK or Harvey Milk, secure your spot, then waitpool like crazy if you still want Clarendon.

    But if you really, really, really want Clarendon, then you might be thinking, I'll just keep putting it first and not miss ANY chance to get it.

    Either strategy *can* work. Neither is a guarantee, for sure. The first is a little more conservative; second is pretty much for those with strong guts to see the process through into the fall (or the very lucky).

  63. Also, attendance area doesn't count for anything if you don't add diversity to the current make up. Once they are done culling attendance-area applicants for diversity, you are thrown in the pot with everyone else.

  64. in other words you can be different and in proximity, or not different. no proximity consolation.

  65. has anybody been able to guess or divine--by magic or whatever--the weight (if any) that is placed by the top-secret algorithm on whether or not one's child has attended preschool? i mean in the SFUSD uses?

    as you all know, the question about prior schooling is not optional on the form.

  66. Interesting eye on similar issues in NYC, in today's online

    re building a new high school, and neighborhood pressure to claim preference spots at the new school, against pushback from Mayor Bloomberg's people to spread the wealth around. The fight might scuttle the new school. (Makes the DeAvila process look smooth....).

  67. Preschool/no preschool is one diversity factor. In the pool of applicants for a school like Clarendon, many have it, so you are one in the crowd. You are competing against a lot of people like yourself if you are not-poor + preschool. At a school with more diversity, such as Harvey Milk, it might not matter, or at a given moment in time, it might even help to have it--i.e., you would be adding diversity to the school at that moment in time.

  68. Amen to March 17, 2009 3:14 PM! Right there with you!

  69. I lied & put that 1. my daughter did NOT attend preschool; and 2. That I did not finish high school.

    We got our #1 choice! One of the popular ones, too.

    Yes, we're white.

  70. And also a troll. Glad no one is feeding him/her.

  71. thanks 7:15 PM for responding to my preschool query. i now understand how it may or may not matter.

  72. well, this was an ugly day on this blog in many ways. (not everyone, but most of you know what i mean--the racial comments, the trolls.) ugh. i think i need a break from this. i think all of our feelings are running high. time to breathe a little and come back to it with a fresh, not fevered, mind.

    good luck, everyone.

  73. hey, just a thought for those of you interested in fairness and diversity and social justice. there are just not enough schools in nice neighborhoods for everyone who lives in those neighborhoods. this is a good sign in that public
    schools are becoming a more appealing option for those in nice neighborhoods. so, if you don't get in the schools you put down, and you live in a nice neighborhood, there is a good chance you will be sent far from your neighborhood. or, if you live in a edgy neighborhood you might be sent to a school like cesar chavez or starr king. if we all want to send our kids to public schools in this city, and we want them all to be good, then what COULD be the eventual outcome from all this angst is that all the neighborhoods in this city will become nicer, safer, more diverse, better educated. wouldn't that be nice??

    change is painful. you could say your kids should not be used as part of a social experiment, but living in a city and going to public school is, really, taking part of a social experiment.

    we went through a lot of touring, lottery, 0/7 pain last year but what i tell those people i know clamoring for neighborhood schools is that i believe this is about as fair as the process can be.

    ALTHOUGH i completely agree that the process needs to be more transparent.

    you can't always get what you want...sucky as that is

  74. 7:58pm, damn, I wish I'd had the nerve!

  75. 0 for 7? That's nothing! We got 0 for 14 applying for our twins. And we didn't just have the top notch schools listed, we included some 'safe' (ha ha) schools.

  76. The foregoing post is exhibit one in the case that "some if not many parents in SF are softheaded idiots because they believe and actually support this discriminatory, disenfranchising "lottery" system".

    Furthermore, the people asserting that people who question this system are automatically racists are themselves the worst kind of racist demagogues. People can question an obviously discriminatory system without being racists. Arguing otherwise in this manner just shows how little credibility you actually have in your position.

  77. Regarding the transparency of the lottery and the algorithm used, I read the grand jury report and in it they stated: 1. that the district could not even explain the logorithm to them, and 2. even with this crazy lottery, the district was not achieving the socio-economic diversity they were claiming to aim for. For example, if you look at the stats, Clarendon has 7.1% kids on free lunch, 3.9% on reduced lunch, and 26.6% GATE (gifted and talented); West Portal has 20% free lunch, 15.9% reduced lunch and 12.1% GATE; and Jose Ortega has 50% free lunch, 14% reduced lunch and 5.4% GATE. I guess one could argue that without the lottery Clarendon would have 0% free lunch and Jose Ortega would have 80% but if they were really going for socio-economic diversity, then each of these schools would have approximately 25% free lunch and 15% GATE and then most of us 0/7 parents would not be so upset. I too, did not shoot for the moon with my list - no Clarendon or Hilltop altho I did try for West Portal, Alice Fong Yu and Alvarado immersions, I also listed Ulloa, Sunset, Francis Scott Key, and Jose Ortega immersion. I mean seriously, how much time are we supposed to spend trying to figure out which schools to apply to. We live in the outer Sunset by the zoo, so naturally I applied to schools in my neighborhood plus some immersion programs (which is what I really wanted).
    I think the 7:58pm poster hit the key elements - no preschool and did not complete high school. I wonder how many others who got their top choices fit this profile (or lied about it). I did hear a rumor that the higher the mom's education, the less likely you were to get one of your choices. I don't know if anyone else has heard this rumor, but we went 0/7 and both my husband and I went to graduate school.

  78. until when (and if) SFUSD publishes all the data, probably never, we tend only to have anecdotal evidence.

    but may i say, just in response to the last question in 7:08 AM's post, that my *feeling* is, after reading so many posts, that it has a lot to do with sheer luck.

    our case, for what it's worth (not much as a singe case i know):

    our son went to preschool,
    home language is english,
    we have phds,
    live in glen park,
    not free/reduced lunch.

    we got our first choice (a popular one).

    whereas several families we know with very similiar profiles frustratingly went 0/7.

    the algorithm spreads things around, so that all the families with a similiar profile are competing against one another if they all have school X on their list, and at that point i think it just becomes a matter of luck.

  79. I assume I'm the person with whom "Hana's mom" says she "got into it" -- if so, she sent me a poison pen (poison keyboard?) private e-mail via the PPS listserve. I would say that was misdirected anger.

    I would dispute that I'm a "relentless cheerleader" -- I have been a very sharp critic of many things about SFUSD, including the way it handles school assignment. I posted a "don't f*** it up again this year" blog item aimed at the EPC right before the letters went out.

    I and others are sharing information on the eventual outcomes from past years to help encourage parents not to give in to despair. And we're pointing the rapidly increasing number of schools that were once viewed as unacceptable are now considered not just tolerable but desirable. I don't think that constitutes "relentless cheerleading." Would you rather we just stayed silent and you got no encouragement and no information from the voices of experience at all?

  80. A lottery IS a matter of luck, when there are many entrants vying for each prize.

  81. Caroline is once again trying to make it all about her, as usual. Just ignore her.

  82. Again FWIW, My wife is asked to ask parents repeatedly about their education level and childs preschool attendance. Presumably they check that against what is on file though I'm not sure what they could really do about it. It pains her a bit because most of her parents don't have any schooling - but that is what the district requires. And as for people claiming that some of the statements made on this thread haven't been racist - go back and read them. Criticize the system all you want, just try to think a bit of the logic behind the assertion. I don't even have a problem with racist statements, just be prepared to be called out on them.

  83. 7:58 - Hard to read a comment like that when so many people play by the rules. So sad for your child.

  84. There's always been a joke about Clarendon that so many of the mothers didn't even graduate from high school.

    I wish the district had the means to crack down on everyone lying about it.

    They could put a disclaimer on the lottery application that if any information is found to be untrue, a child will lose his/her spot at the school even after being enrolled.

    Or next year, everyone should check off no for preschool and high school.

  85. I thought I heard (from this blog) that (supposedly) mother's education is not a factor any more? Can anyone confirm? Is mother's education level a required field?

  86. Mother's education level is not one of the factors.

  87. oh, yes, 10:08 AM, you're absolutely right--i just re-checked the form and, like the racial/ethnicity ID, it's also optional. can't believe i didn't notice that before! what an idiot i am

  88. actually it's not "optional" per se (like the ID), but it does say that it's just for reporting purposes and doesn't affect placement decisions.

  89. 8:25 AM yes, a lottery is a matter of luck, but this is not a straight up lottery, there's an algorithm involved. so it only truly becomes a lottery after the factors adjudicated by the algorithm have been taken into account.

  90. They removed mother's education as a factor. There are plenty of low-income kids with preschool (head start and like) and some advantaged kids with not (parents that disapprove of sending their kids out to an institution so young), so it may be somewhat of a wash as a factor--what is more of a factor for older kids is coming from a low-API school.

    Given that, I would bet that poverty is the biggest diversity factor in the mix. Do we really begrudge the poorest kids a decent shot at a school in a nice neighborhood with a functional PTA? Really? You would lie and say your kid is disadvantaged like that kid?

    Mostly we compete against ourselves for those slots anyway. For lots of reasons, wealthier people tend to apply to Clarendon, poorer people to Cesar Chavez. And it's not always true that the popular schools do a great job teaching, anyway. They rely on their "good" demographics to lift their scores, but low-income kids (and some higher income ones too) do better at other schools, like George Moscone in the Misson. You have to look under the skin (ugh, so speak) to see what kinds of qualities a school has.

    I do think the district should warn about reassigning people who lie on their app, though. It's probably already a policy. I'd report anyone who bragged to my face about doing it, too, so be careful, whoever you are (if you really did that and are not just trying to provoke the list).

  91. I truly hope that, as you suggest, poverty is the biggest diversity factor in the algorithm.

    That completely makes sense to me.

    I hold the pretty unpopular position that economic justice is a fundamental human right, though it is typically not recognized as such, at least not in most circles of power.

    And since I believe that education has a major role to play in bringing about, eventually, economic justice, I feel that whatever the district can do to move more economically disadvantaged kids into the best learning environments, the better.

    Trouble is, who's to say what's the best environment? Not a huge believer in stats and surveys and scores and tests and popularity contests and best-seller lists....

  92. There's one thing other than the algorithm that is confounding these results which has never been explained, and that is the order in which the choices are processed.

    I have a reasonable handle on how the algorithm is supposed to work. The problem is the ordering of the processing. The order in which things are processed must be having a substantial effect on the outcome, but I really can't figure out how it is done. As some of you know, I asked for that information and was refused. At the time I didn't have time to deal with it because my law firm imploded and I was looking for a new job, but I may turn back to the issue especially in light of the news that we are not getting a new system next year.

    I'm not going to let the cognitive dissonance of being happy with our outcome (we got our first choice Lafayette) deter me from pursuing this on others' behalf.

  93. You Rock Annette

  94. "in light of the news that we are not getting a new system next year"

    What? Is this official? I knew they were behind schedule, but had not heard that we are definitly not getting a new system next year. Yikes.

  95. Annette, A great point about following though on a matter even though it does not effect you personally any longer. In general, this kind of attitude and action from all of us parents (myself included) would serve the school community well. Yes, you do rock.

  96. I can't help thinking that if we took all the energy that is going into these postings, and marched on Sacramento to get more money for ALL of the SF schools, it would help a lot.

    Or perhaps we could get Prop 13 repealed - did I read somewhere that someone was working on this?

    Someone on here wrote about scarcity and supply and demand. It seems to me that what this system needs is really not a better assignment system (though this one does indeed suck), but more dollars, wisely spent. If all the schools had all the money they needed to hire the teachers, get the programs, etc., etc. then we wouldn't have this problem with a handful of schools that everyone wants.

    Anyone writing letters to Sac'to?

  97. The problem is everyone wants a critical mass of their own race at a school. White students, evenly distributed, would amount to one per classroom.

  98. Well, at 9-10% of SFUSD, more like 2 white kids out of 22.

    If all the white kids in SFUSD (23% of total kid age population) went to public school instead of doing the white flight, then it would increase to 5 white kids out of 22.

    FWIW, my kid is in a school with 11% white kids last I checked, and is very content and well-adjusted. It's not such a bad thing being one of the minorities.

  99. I know this seems incredibly obvious, but why are whites and Asians called racist on these blogs if they wish to be in schools where they are not in the minority, but African Americans and hispanics are not when they want the same? It just feels like the school board and a few politically active folks think that diversity is the most important factor, and everyone else just wants to have their kid go to a good school with families of similar backgrounds.

  100. for me, I want my kids to go to school with kids from families who have similar values as I do re education.

    that is, they teach their child to respect the teacher, the parents understand that education is a key to future success, the parents expect their children to do well in school (so the child knows it is important)... you get the idea.

    color of skin has nothing to do with it. Michelle Obama's parents obviously seemed to value education, so did Condelezza Rice, etc. Bill Cosby does too. And lots of Asians do too (all strands, from Filipinos to Japanese to Chinese). And in general, most Caucasians. And many latinos that I've met. But in every group, there are also many who do not have such parents. So no, I guess I notice first how the parents and kids behave, the interest level the parent takes in the child's education (regardless of work load) -- then worry about the person's skin color because after all no one can change their skin color (though, take it back, Michael Jackson seems to have almost done so, but thats OT).

  101. 11:04, I'm right there with you!!!

    People should not assume all parents are racist when they are adamant about sending their kids to schools A, B, & C but not D, E, & F. Although race can certainly be a factor, many of us really just want the best for our kids, both academically & socially.

    Seriously & ideally, would you want your kids to attend a school where a majority of the kids don't complete their homework, get 60% at best on tests, the teacher spends 90% of her time disciplining the same kids, or the parents never volunteer or chaperon at field trips?

    I didn't think so.

  102. 11:17, you think that's what happens?

    I guarantee you that is not the case at Garfield, Chin, Jean Parker, Moscone and lots of other schools that people here don't seem to want. Many others with low test scores, too, whose kids are plenty smart and motivated but are still working on their English.

    All parents want the best for their children.

  103. 12:18, The schools you listed seem great (by location & score). Maybe people on this blogs don't choose those schools because they live too far or they are biased toward certain other schools (not necessarily racial bias). As many of us are working parents, having a kid attending school in North Beach while we live in Glen Park is not feasible. If I were to live any closer to the those schools you listed, I wouldn't have a problem sending my kid to anyone of them.

    I'm aware that there are plenty of smart kids in low performing schools and vice versa and that there are plenty of English learners in our system. I have problems with NEITHER issue.

    However, I personally would like to send my kid to schools where there's parental involvement, decent scores (I'm not referring to API of 800!)and fairly close by. Sure, I'm making assumptions that parental involvement directly impacts academic performance and/ or discipline.

  104. Since you live in Glen park, why not check out Glen Park Elementary.

  105. Moscone Elementary is not all that far from Glen Park either.

  106. I have to just mention my belief (and first hand knowledge of at least 2 families) that there were many people in the lottery that "tried" public school but werent' committed unless they got their 1st choice. I would be curious to see how many people drop out between Round 1 and 2 ang go private, and I think SFUSD should do some customer surveys to see how many of them really were committed to going public in the first place. In both of the cases I know personally, they were at least 90% committed to private, but would go public if they got West Portal in one case or Clarendon in the other. They are perfectly in their right to do so, but it does screw up the system for others.

  107. Momma Bear! I love you!!!!

  108. An acquaintance put the home language as Tagalog because her husband spoke it as a child, even though her kid does not speak a word of it (and neither does she).

    Needless to say, they got their first choice.

  109. Here is a quote from the SFPUSD website:

    SFUSD hoped to have a new policy in place in time to prepare for the 2010-2011 enrollment process but, given the complex nature of this policy decision, it is unlikely that it will be possible to meet the necessary deadlines for a new district wide system in time for next fall’s enrollment cycle. The Board is eager to make this decision and is moving ahead as quickly as possible.

    Bad news.

  110. I'm surprised that did not get placed in that Bessie Carmichael Tagalog Bilingual program. By the way, one must really check out the number of requests and wonder why the program exists given the ever so limited District wide resources.

    Not to take away from the school as they are doing great things with ALL the students, not just the Filipino kids.

    But why not make it an immersion program so the demand will go over 5 per year? Why are these little programs still in existence when Gen Ed is hurting, really hurting? And why wasn't this "tagalog" native speaking child put in this program -- after all, that is what is set up for right? Spaces go unfilled and Gen Ed spot is lost somewhere else, yet these slots in this program can only be held for the Tagalog native speakers (who by the way see the light when it comes to putting native speaking kids into bilingual programs at K)

    Perhaps a lot more kids join during the year, and the enrollment data is misleading.

  111. Families may not participate in the enrollment process, or may join the process late. I would look at enrollment stats, not Round One numbers, to get a real picture. Also, sometimes bilingual classes are combined grades (e.g. a K-1 class, 2-3 class) so even if enrollment is only 10 per year the classes are still full and teachers are still teaching 20 kids.

    I doubt a Tagalog immersion class would be very popular, btw.

    Just like some on this blog are urging the reporting of parents who fake addesses, I wouldn't mind seeing people who lie on their enrollment forms about things like home language reported to the District.

  112. 1:19 in Glen Park

    There have been plenty of comments on this blog about not wanting to attend certain schools (ones with stellar test scores) because they are "too Asian." Moscone is "too Latino." Perhaps that really is not an issue for you. If so, there are schools around you with quite good test scores, and good community, well-known for good teaching in several cases, and innovative programs, that you might consider. Have you thought about ER Taylor? Hillcrest? Glen Park? Sunnyside?

  113. The winners of re lottery don't seem to be complaining. While I agree that SFUSD should separate the sibling preference assignments from those that are applying for the first time to show true percentages, what exactly is not transparent about the numbers? How else do you decide who gets one spot with numerous applicants in a nonmerit-based situation? The model of letting white, middle class kids stay in their neighborhood schools is not an option so how else should the system be run. If each of the disgruntled parents gave just $100 to Brett Hart or john muire, their pta would have just as much $$ as Clarendon or rooftop. Kids are kids, no matter what race or socioeconomic background they come from and if you show them a little love and attention, they will thrive.

  114. I'd love to see immersion program waitpool data listed by English and Spanish speakers.

  115. Anyone know if there is a District-wide policy re: twins?

    If both kids get into the same school, will they be forcibly separated into different classrooms or kept together? Is there a policy in place or is there flexibility there depending on the parents? Or is it a school-by-school decision?

  116. After reading most of the posts on this thread, I'm left wondering how many "defenders" of the assignment system have read the Civil Grand Jury's report: "San Francisco Kindergarten Admissions: Back to the Drawing Board" realeased June 26, 2008.

    The required response by the SFUSD is interesting reading too. Both can be found here:

  117. Amy's first comment about publishing the algorithm would go a long way in building some trust. The lack of transparency is appalling. Of course no system is perfect, but the fact that the SFUSD could not explain their own system to the Civil Grand Jury is scary. It suggests they have an ageneda or something to hide. When methodology is hidden, results are dubious.

  118. The Civil Grand Jury's report drew SOME valid and valuable conclusions, but in many ways it was full of sh*t too. The members completely failed to grasp a lot of the information they got and blundered around drawing incomprehensible conclusions in their state of bafflement.

    Details, for anyone interested:

  119. Yes, the Grand Jury report was actually just as flawed as the system itself, which is unfortunate because it means it didn't need to be taken as seriously as it might have otherwise. Glaring factual errors, etc.

  120. For what it's worth . . . Current private school parent seriously considering John Muir for 1st grade after last night's meeting with principal and PTA members. The school felt much better this year than it did last year when I toured after K assignment. Though money is not irrelevant, I'm not entirely motivated by economics either. Positive parent involvement is increasing and they've got some exciting new academic programs on the immediate horizon. The parents I met made me feel very welcome. I think our child could thrive there and our family could make a very positive contribution. More involved families would be even better. There was something wrong with my URL and I could not post on the separate John Muir blog so I'm posting here and on the John Muir thread.

  121. That's great to hear, 11:23. Can you say more about these programs?

  122. 11:23 here. They're launching a Stanford mathematics program that's primarily online. The kids get a log-in ID and can work at school or at home. If they are needing help, the program provides it and if they are accelerated, they can work as quickly as they are able. They also have an on-site math specialist who works with both kids who need extra help and accelerated kids. It was heartening to hear she's got a few accelerated kids since we have been told our kid is strong in math and I hope he will hook up with other kids who share his enthusiasm. They are ditching the "Reading First" curriculum (I was told this is a state-wide move) towards a new approach that is supposed to be more holistic. They've got a community-funded hands-on gardening program to supplement the Foss science kits, they've got a dance program, and I believe they will be introducing more music and art next year. Speaking to involved parents with kids currently in the lower grades about their positive experiences was probably what encouraged me most. They've got brand new playground structures, more grant money coming in for things like schoolyard greening, Title 1 money, a good partnership with SFPD on safety issues, and support from several community groups. They're working hard to create an environment that will support greater parent involvement among parents for whom getting involved is a big challenge. I hope to do an observation day and check out the 4th graders who will influence my little one and the 1st grade to see how the teachers interact. If that seems comfortable, then I think I would be at peace. I'll still wait list a school closer to home though.

  123. WHEN WILL WE SEE data for grades other than K, 6 and 9??

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