Friday, March 20, 2009

How topic: What questions do you have for SFUSD?

An SF K Files visitor asked me to start the following thread:
I've been reading all the sturm und drang on the blog and people are making some very good points about the need for more data points to improve the transparency of our system. I wonder - could you start a thread asking people to post questions they would MOST like EPC to answer? Here are mine: What was the % of FIRST TIME (non-sibling) applicants who got one of their choices? What is the number of Cantonese-speakers applying for K vs. number of seats available (excluding new DeAvila program)? My intent is to develop a "top ten" questions list and try to advocate within the district for that data to be released.

91 comments:

  1. Here's what I want to know, for blog and info purposes: Is there a list of the schools that did not fill up by requests on Round 1 and got default assignments? That would largely be the list of schools with waitpools, but I understand that there are a few reasons that might not be entirely the the same list. -- Caroline

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  2. Maybe this isn't the right forum but it's been on my mind. What plans is SFUSD making NOW to deal with next year's crop of fifth graders graduating from all the new Spanish Immersion elementary programs. They can't all go to James Lick, and the Hoover program is comparatively weak. Are they planning to open a new SI strand at one of the other middle schools (Horace Mann, Everett, etc.?) It would be helpful if they would publicize it now so that parents could tour in the Fall.

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  3. Why hasn't the district released the data for Round I for students not in grades K, 6 and 9?

    Why hasn't the district released the data on # of families that received nothing in Round I without sibling preference (they also released this data quite late last year, so late that it completely flew under the radar of anyone --it was around 45%).

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  4. We went to the Sheridan Elementary tour today. 0/7 and that is where they stuck us. The pricipal told us that they are adding a third Kindergarden class to that school for Fall 2009 and she is interviewing candidates now. I am wondering why they are adding a 3rd Kindergarden to a school that is hugely unpopular with no demand. Are there no other facilities more centrally located that could handle another class?

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  5. I would like to see a listing of people who applied to schools with a diversity score of 0 who got their first choice vs. choices 2-7. I would also like to see a listing of families who applied to schools which were high in demand in their #1 spot who got another choice vs. those with similar lists but another school on top that got their 1st choice (hard to do, but possible): in other words, how likely is it to get a choice other than your 1st choice if you list no undersubscribed schools (schools that receive unwilling placements in Round I) and if you have no diversity criteria.

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  6. Responding to 1:51. We got our first choice, West Portal, with no diversity criteria and after going 0/11 last year. We are still in shock.

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  7. what, if anything, would prompt SFUSD to increase class size in 1st grade or above in 09-10? if this were to happen, when would it occur? would it happen in all programs, or would some be exempt? how would this figure into the enrollment process for above-K ES applicants?

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  8. My question would be: Did you purposely set up the current enrollment system to drive upper middle class families out of the public schools more than any other city in the state (including 3 out of 4 white families going private), and if not, what is your plan to try to improve this?

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  9. Percent of ENglish speakers vs. Spanish speakers who applied to each Spanish immersion school.

    Waitpool numbers for Spanish-immersion programs broken down by the kids' language.

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  10. Twins policy for kindergarteners: Is the default to keep them in the same classroom or to separate them?

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  11. leading off of 2:25's thread...if "balance" has not been achieved in a particular immersion program (e.g., marshall, which has historically been permitted to have an excess of spanish speakers and now that english speakers want in, they can't get in because there are too many siblings of older students), do you have any plans to address that problem?

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  12. this is rad...it's like those blow-up punching bags of really unpopular people...

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  13. Oh, please, Momma Bear, let's not get all dramatic. White/middle class flight began with the consent decree and forced assignment (aka busing) to achieve racial desgregation a generation ago. If anything, the situation in terms of of percentages of white/middle class people staying or returning to public has improved with the current system.

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  14. 2:26

    As a twin mom, I've learned that's the call of the principal in the specific school. Principals have different views. Some require splitting. Others defer to the parents. Some prefer splitting but if the parents make a strong case will defer.

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  15. What is SFUSD going to do to handle the influx of siblings as multiples are on the rise?

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  16. 1. First choice school assignments by diversity score (x# of children with a score of 0, X# with a diversity score of 1, etc.)
    2. First choice school assignments by language. Identify language (German, French, Portuguese…)

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  17. this question does NOT address immersion target languages, but, rather, all the others out there...

    if your children and family are bilingual and you indicate that on the home language portion of the application and affidavit by answering "language X and english" to every question, is your kid tagged as an english-speaker in the system or as bilingual or ___ ? (trying to get at what criteria actually ensure a home-language-other-than-english diversity point. not sure if bilingualism means ENGLISH to SFUSD or not.)

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  18. I would like to know # of non-siblings who get their top choice? I would like to know the # of students who live in the assignment area of a school assigned to the school? I would like to know which schools cleared their waitlists the previous years? I would like to know how the assignment areas are drawn (the factors) and if they plan on updating them - some of them appear to make no sense?

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  19. I don't doubt that the problem started long before the current school board, but I think the people opting out of the system now are very different people with different reasons than a generation ago, and could be brought back in if this current non-diversity diversity lottery wasn't so nuts.

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  20. I'd like to know what the goals of the SFUSD are with respect to the placement process, and what the relative priorities of each of those goals are.

    For example:
    Is the #1 priority to place kids according to the wishes of their parents?
    Is it to average out the makeup of each school? And if so, by what dimensions (gender, race, nationality, primary language, favourite colour, ...)?

    It seems to me that the process gives families the expectation that their preferences are the #1 priority, yet it doesn't come close to living up to that expectation, making it hard for families to know whether it's the system that's broken or if they have unjustified expectations of it.

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  21. Momma Bear, I'm not sure the reasons are so different, tho they may be expressed differently.... sorry, but I think that is true. People don't want to think they are making decisions about a school being "good" or "bad" based in part on perceived racial composition (and income), but they are, to some extent....

    The lack of diversity created by the system would be WORSE in many of the scenarios pushed by parents on this blog (guaranteed neighborhood assignment). The contradiction is that white/more-affluent parents don't want to be mixed up too much, but educators on up to the BOE don't want highly segregated schools, esp with high concentrations of poverty and ELLs, because that is more or less a recipe for failure. So they create a system that tries to give a little and take a little. I'm not sure how they could do it better, given these contradictions and the scarcity of perceived "good" (read: more white, less free-lunch) schools.

    Sorry to be harsh, but it's how I see it after years of watching and being in the scene.

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  22. These are not so much questions about information as questions about their future policies.

    Does the SFUSD plan to re-introduce pre-registration for siblings, with the information published early enough to help applicants understand the true available capacity at each school? This year among the popular programs (max seats=66) the sibling #s ranged from 11 at Clarendon GE to 29 at Sunset.

    Also, they really need to announce new programs and capacity increases as part of the process. Not so much the increase by 2 across the board, which seems like it was done by budget mandates, but more the additions of classrooms at an individual site or opening new schools. That really should be available to the entire field during the first round.

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  23. Also, on a broader front, how does the district measure its own success in placement? They always make a big deal about 80% as if that is so great. Well that's a 20% failure rate in round 1.

    And no matter how many times people say that this is "a process" and "the beginning of a conversation", the reality is if you don't get a workable school in Round 1 your options are vastly narrowed, and even if you get a school of your dreams you may no longer have access to vital resources e.g. before and afterschool care.

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  24. I heart Momma Bear!!!!!

    I'd like to ask the SFUSD how they think they are going to pay for the coming lawsuit from white families...

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  25. I want to know why they say they can't have "segregated" schools - but that only applies to white people?

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  26. SFUSD is embarking on this huge project of striving for educational equity for all students. how to they plan to achieve this when there are a handful of schools that 1,000s of parents want their children in (like rooftop) and a handful of school parents are hysterical over being assigned to (like john muir).

    okay, so the middle class parents decide against john muir and that PTA doesn't raise 150k a year by the year 2014. then, how can we provide equity - a comparable education - to those children at john muir?

    AND

    how can we accommodate all the new spanish immersion kids in middle school? and make those middle school programs stronger and truer to an immersion model?

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  27. Where is Creative Arts Charter school going to be moved after its one-year extension at 1601 Turk is over -- that is, where is it going for the school year starting August 2010?

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  28. Ditto that, 5:08

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  29. 4:30--

    EXCELLENT point. They should clarify that and publish it as a statement in a cover letter included with every school lottery application.

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  30. As a result of round I, how many siblings were given spots in each school (and each program at each school). This would help us make choices for waitpool and 7 choices for round II. For the top 20 requested schools in round I, the number of siblings was published, but what about the other 50 schools?

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  31. Does anyone think therer will be spots open at ther new school

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  32. Here is my suggestion to SFUSD.

    Those people in round 1 who had one of their choices SHOULD NOT be allowed to participate in round 2. Afterall, they did get a school of choice. Round 2 should be for those who were 0/7. Round 3 for those who were 0/14 and so on... Perhaps there should be a very last round right before school starts for everyone (those with or without an assignment.)

    Even though currently, the 0/7 families have "priority" over those who were 1/7 in waitlist and round 2, but since SFUSD lacks transparency in this process, I feel that the rules should be more straightforward after round 1. As much as it's nice to be able to "choose" a school throughout the process, it just doesn't seem fair that those who were 1/7 continue to participate with those who got 0/7.

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  33. but remember, having the 1/7 participate with you may actually benefit you.

    there is a Spanish bilingual parent that actually wants Sp Imm but got assigned Miraloma. If they get their wp choice and go to Sp Imm, they free up the Miraloma.

    (substitute any school name, just an example)

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  34. 8:20 Your example brings up a great point about how to free up a spot. However, without truly knowing the whole process (it's not like we get to see a live drawing of names), who knows if SFUSD is being honest about how kids are assigned.

    Thus, I would much rather see a system where the rules are such that if you got one of your choices (using whatever criteria currently in place), you're out of a turn. Allow the rest of the applicants opportunities, say every 2 - 3 weeks, to apply to schools using the same criteria. If after July, there are still kids without a school, then place them where there's available spaces.

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  35. If you say 1/7 people can't participate in the next rounds, that will discourage people from including "safety" schools on their lists -- it will encourage more people to list only high demand schools in Roudn One, which will lead to even more 0/7s.

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  36. My questions ditto 3:53.

    "I would like to know # of non-siblings who get their top choice? I would like to know the # of students who live in the assignment area of a school assigned to the school? I would like to know which schools cleared their waitlists the previous years? I would like to know how the assignment areas are drawn (the factors) and if they plan on updating them - some of them appear to make no sense?"

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  37. Chiara:

    Actually, Sheridan is pretty popular, and it's a good candidate for expansion given that:

    A. It's quite diverse, very diverse by SFUSD standards. Not a lot of white children, but otherwise it's diverse.

    B. Sheridan is closing the opportunity gap. Its African American students are doing well - much, much better than SFUSD's as a whole. And whatever changes the new administration makes to NCLB, I strongly doubt they will allow districts to go back to silently failing students of color. Therefore, SFUSD has got to close that gap, and it looks like Sheridan is onto something.

    Honestly, I doubt the sincerity of your question, but given Sheridan's growing acclaim I think it's an obvious expansion choice.

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  38. Question - why do you wait until 10th day to clear waitlist? Why do you not require families go to school and actually enroll prior to start of school (use any suburb model if you can not think of how to accomplish this).

    Families enroll in their school two weeks before school starts -- positive enrollment. So no confusion about whether school starts before or after Labor Day. Parents/guardians are told they must show by 3rd day of school.

    Then, after school starts, and family no-shows and no contact about why absent, seat is released after day 3. That's it. The seat is given away to a Wait List. And if the first family shows up, well they can waitlist or get assigned to a school with the opening.

    In the event of a true emergency type situation -- child is sick, families need to notify school (of course anyone could lie), or if the family had a pre-planned vacation (family wedding comes to mind) - then the seat is not given away.

    The SFUSD does not need to wait until DAY 10 to give move the waitlist. The 10 day count is a census count for purposes of getting allocation of funds from the State. It is in SFUSD's best interest to have as many students enrolled on Day 10. Clearing the waitlist sooner will ensure this outcome.

    The family enrollment process would be too late this year, but next year, the acceptance letter should advise parents they need to enroll between Aug x and Aug xx.

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  39. 9:13 - I can answer at least one of your questions.

    You asked whether SFUSD is planning to update attendance areas because they are very outdated. The answer is -- yes and no. We are not far enough along in the redesign for me to be able to say whether attendance areas will or will not be a factor in our new system; but I think it is definitely safe to say that if we eventually go with an attendance area-based system, the underlying boundaries for that system will be updated.

    The current boundaries haven't been updated in years and many schools don't have attendance areas at all. In addition, because we have closed some schools, there are people who do not live in any school's attendance area.

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  40. Re Sheridan:

    I would like to hear more about this interviewing going on, given that SFUSD has rescinded ZERO layoff notices as yet. Is Sheridan interviewing teachers who have first right of rehire if the notices become permanent in May? A voluntary transfer pool? Even with $23 million, SFUSD has not pledged to rescind all notices.

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  41. 1:49

    That is my question, too. Kate...do you want to start a thread for us in other grades?

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  42. About the waitlists: the EPC just put up a "waitpool" tool on their site which may help with that: April waitpool data and who was left without being assigned in September. The one data point missing is a breakdown of the waitpool (how many 0/7 folks left unassigned).

    About Sheridan: it is actually a school with high demand from the neighborhood, just not from middle class families or those who live farther away.

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  43. Why can't there be more transparency in the process that would allow families to make better decisions before each round???

    Examples of this: number of siblings assigned to classes, number of extra spots to be added to 1st grades (I may not list my 1st choice because I think there is no chance of getting in unless there are extra spots, for example), ANY statistics on spaces and demand for 1st grade???

    I still don't understand how it is 1 week out and still much of this data has not been released and is shrouded in secrecy.

    Not releasing the sibling data so that the district can maintain the fiction of an 80% success rate for kindergarten is shameful and ridiculous.

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  44. To Chiara and 11:26 - I also doubt the Sheridan principal's claim that she's interviewing candidates. If she is, she's doing it on the down low, because not only have the layoff notices not been rescinded, but even after they are (knock on wood), the next step is the inevitable consolidation process. Staffing needs change at schools every year, and when they do, the teachers with the least seniority (or whose programs are cut, etc.) are moved as necessary. These teachers then have first right to "rehire". Moreover, there are currently no positions at Sheridan in the district's employment listings. If in fact she is interviewing, I'd suspect she's going to attempt to do an end-run around HR and the teachers' contract (something that was probably much easier to get away with before blogs like this one!), and I hope that's not the case. Then again, maybe it's just her attempt at making prospective parents feel confident about the school? Either way, it's sketchy and I'd like to know more.

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  45. Pension and retiree health-care obligations are consuming larger portions of the SFUSD budget each year.

    This is what bankrupted the Richmond school district and is sending the Los Angeles USD toward bankruptcy today.

    How can we ensure that more money is sent directly to schools?

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  46. I just came back from the counseling session at Sunnyside and a frustrating conversation with Darlene Lim. She said that they had no intention of releasing any data for 1st grade. Her reasons were:

    1. they never released any data for grades other than K, 6 and 9 until the waitpools.

    2. It would be too difficult to get the data together and they're swamped right now.

    3. parents would scrutinize the data and get the wrong impression (e.g. there were 2 spots that opened at Sunnyside in Round I, so maybe I have a better chance in Round II etc, which may or may not be true). She said, "I always think: how are parents going to perceive this" before she releases any information (are there going to be errors people could catch if it's not done carefully enough and criticism about those errors, are there going to be misperceptions).

    4. If they release this data for 1st grade, they have to do it for all of the grades, very time consuming.

    She wasn't being unpleasant, I just felt that she didn't quite see the point of what I was asking --very frustrating! I asked if we could even just know the numbers of people applying for the 1st grade lottery this year (not hard to gather, not easy to misinterpret) and she seemed a bit open to it, but pretty noncommittal.

    I don't understand how it can be that they keep getting feedback about needing to be more transparent, and still the tactic is to withhold as much information as possible...

    Frustrating!

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  47. I want to know why the District rewards those who put down less than 7 schools on their application and don't get a choice over parents who put down 7 and get a choice. There are so many folks who just put down one or two schools so they at least have that advantage. Of course, the highest in the pool are those that put down 7 and get none, which is at it should be.

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  48. Will EPC reevaluate the use of home language as a diversity point? If not, then...

    How can EPC stop people who lie about their home language to gain a leg up on the lottery? If home language is claimed, it needs to be verified since it seems that some people take advantage of it (I've heard several stories this week already). How about EPC tests children over the spring/summer (when they have more time) who claim a home language. If the parents lie is then discovered, then the child loses their spot. In reality, I guess time and money will not allow for this. Can EPC eliminate home language and just keep the social economic status questions?

    It's hard going 0/7 and hearing stories about people who abuse the system in this way.

    -Frustrated but honest

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  49. Given imminent and perpetual funding constraints, how does SFUSD plan to implement the Multilingual Master Plan http://thesfkfiles.blogspot.com/2009/01/new-multilingual-master-plan-by-san.html?

    As mentioned in a previous post, the Immersion programs have limited or no support at the middle school level.

    For example, the Korean Immersion program ends in 5th grade, with no further opportunity for Korean language instruction until High School, but then only if a student is lucky enough to be eligible for Lowell.

    In the current model, children of families who do not speak the Immersion language at home effectively lose much of what they have learned, which is a shame.

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  50. Without denying that there is a frustrating bureaucratic air at EPC, I do find it interesting that we parents keep demanding more information from them, but also keep saying that they should cut $$ from central administration to preserve more for the schools. Darlene Lim is correct that there would be an outcry if they released information on the web that was incorrect--I'm sure they are still spinning from the Flynnarado fiasco--and I'm not sure it is that easy to pull together those figures into a spreadsheet and verify their accuracy. I say that as someone who works in a bureaucracy that has to produce accurate information--it's not as simple as it may seem.

    It's also not so simple to do away with retiree and medical benefits. Some of these are vested benefits, and/or contractual ones. We have a big problem in this country in how we have set up our medical care and pensions, and the area needs serious attention and reform, but that doesn't mean we can ask the teachers to give back what they have earned. In many cases they took lower salaries over a long period of time in return for improved benefits. This would also send a terrible message to incoming teachers that they will not be treated well; how can we recruit the "best and brightest" if we do take-aways like that?

    [Oh. yeah. We only preserve the benefits and million-dollar bonuses of "best and brightest" investment bankers. Workers' (including teachers') contracts are supposed to be the first to go, right?].

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  51. Of course, we cannot renege on pension and healthcare obligations made in the past.

    But we have seen that defined-benefit obligations have brought down the Richmond and LA school districts, put them into receivership. And this is going to happen eventually here in San Francisco as well.

    The healthcare obligations were made before healthcare costs started rising 10% a year.

    And at this point, districts are forking over more for their retirees health than they are for books, extracurricular sports and other activities, for libraries, and for many other services that should be essential in schools.

    Yes, it is a private-sector problem, too. But it will bring down our schools just as it is destroying General Motors.

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  52. Why is it that I should give up my defined benefit plan (for which I accept a lower salary) in favor of some defined return/401K deal that can be destroyed by the titans of capital?

    Even without the current problems, CalPERS lost a mess of money on Enron and another chunk on mortgage-backed securities, I believe. That may be poor analysis on the part of CalPERS but there's also clear illegal activity in both cases. So if I really wanted to get paranoid, I could argue that the big capitalists are out to destroy pensions by enticing them to make very big bets on bad assets.

    ...it's as intellectually honest as the "THE WORKERS DESTROYED GM! DOWN WITH UNIONS!" line.

    I think the expense of health care and pension obligations are better addressed by significant health care reform - and I think this country would be a lot better off if more workers had pensions. Right now we are nearing a situation where many, many, MANY workers will either never retire or retire into drastic penury and end up costing the system more.

    Besides which, the state already came after the two big public pensions. They lost, and that was at a time of declining union enrollment and EFCA wasn't even a possibility.

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  53. Another "Flynarado" in the making?

    http://rachelnorton.com/2009/03/19/tidbits-from-round-i-data/

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  54. re: 1st grade data

    I believe they have it compiled, but are not releasing it for some reason.

    I have heard, however, that PPS has data about demand for all grades (not spots filled), so if you're interested, you might want to call them.

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  55. My number one question is why won't they go to community based walkable schools. It is crazy that people are talking of "moving" to be close to the school. We bought and are paying the property taxes that are supporting the public schools. We can't move.

    I learned that the word neighborhood has segregation thoughts associated with it. All of the people on the school board are older and have negative vibes toward the word neighborhood schools.

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  56. Why can't tours of schools be better organized by SFUSD? A schedule with days and hours posted make Principal participation mandatory and include data on the school - # of sibilings anticipated, test scores, neighborhood data, # of years teachers have taught, etc.

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  57. "I think the expense of health care and pension obligations are better addressed by significant health care reform"

    Agreed. We should nationalize healthcare.

    Then school districts can stop paying healthcare for retired teachers at the expense of our students (robbing little Jane and Johnny to pay retired Mrs. Smith).

    Problem solved.

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  58. 3:31 - I couldn't agree with you more.

    We should be given preference to our neighborhood schools. Of course, those who choose to apply to schools elsewhere, they could but they just won't be given priorities.

    It's rediculous that we have to drive 30 minutes each way to a school we didn't choose! Imagine the possibilities of using that time more productively. For one, parents can be a lot more involved with a school that's in the neighborhood rather than far away.

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  59. Neighborhoods ARE still pretty well segregated by race and income in this town, so neighborhood schools would lead to segregated ones. That is, more segregated than they are now. You all are okay with that scenario? I'm not.

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  60. We do not have the data to back-up the assumption that neighborhood schools would lead to greater segregation. Information by zip code is practically useless (e.g. the Western Addition and parts of Pac Heights share the same zip code) and even in areas that are considered wealthy there are definitely lower income students living in those areas. We live in an urban environment. What are the diversity goals of SFUSD? I can't tell. What does the SFUSD population look like currently and what would it look like if you offered neighborhood schools (perhaps 10-15% of those who go to private whould not)? We know race cannot be a factor in the SF goals (yet ironically it is still tracked and provided as statistic, perhaps this process should stop) so are the diversity factors mixing lower income with middle income (because those with higher income have choosen to skip the current process entirely)? Is it mixing those who speak different languages at home (if so, then all the kids should definitely be tested)?

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  61. "We should be given preference to our neighborhood schools."

    Which is fine if your neighbourhood school is Commodore Sloat. Sucks if it's Malcolm X academy.

    "Of course, those who choose to apply to schools elsewhere, they could but they just won't be given priorities."

    Err, the lottery system already has this: you have an edge to get into your neighbourhood school, in that the algorithm .

    You can't have choice *and* have automatic neighbourhood preference. Pick one, and bear in mind that if there's a change to automatic neighbourhood preference, it's going to get struck down by lawsuit the same year.

    The reason there is outrage is that a certain fraction of upper-middle-class parents, mostly those who listed solely trophy schools, get assigned to the undesirable schools each year, instead of it solely being the underclass who gets the shaft.

    But, every year, because of the lottery, more and more "hidden gem" schools get parents willing to muck in, and turn those schools around. Ten years ago, parents in lower Noe Valley didn't like their neighbourhood schoo, Alvarado. Five years ago, upper-middle class parents in Bernal were turning their nose up at Flynn. This wouldn't happen if not for the lottery, IMHO.

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  62. I agree with you, 10:56!

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  63. Total first grade applications this year: 359.

    Not sure if that's a high number or average (certainly seems like a lot for the few spaces there will be).

    FYI

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  64. "The reason there is outrage is that a certain fraction of upper-middle-class parents, mostly those who listed solely trophy schools, get assigned to the undesirable schools each year, instead of it solely being the underclass who gets the shaft."

    Since when are schools like New Traditions, Sunnyside, Sunset and Commodore Sloat trophy schools? And yet I've seen people who have had those schools on their lists (even quite high up) and gotten nothing.

    Come on, folks, please stop blaming the victim here! Whatever you feel about neighborhood schools, half of all families who applied for kindergarten this year without an older sibling got nothing. It's not just a small section of entitled parents!

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  65. "[B]ear in mind that if there's a change to automatic neighbourhood preference, it's going to get struck down by lawsuit the same year."

    This assertion is simply untrue. Whoever posted it is either ignorant or lying.

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  66. I don't know if it would happen "within a year," but if a neighborhood assignment system were to worsen segregation and inequality, then a lawsuit would probably happen.

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  67. Most of the US school systems are by neighborhood and no lawsuits..

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  68. Neigborhood schools are better for many SF families. In this economy, many working families can't afford to take time off and tour 15 schools. For working families, they have to make a hard choice, take school tours, or stay at work and bring home the money that pays the bills.

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  69. Most US communities are already self-segregated and the courts have mostly declined to order desegregation across city/town/county lines, nor have they been willing to touch economic segregation across such lines. However, there is a history of ordering remedies for de facto racial segregation and inequality within city borders, if it can be proved.

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  70. Neiborhood-based systems, by the way, don't have to be a guarantee of your nearest school. They can be to rank your choices within a zone, like Berkeley does, for example, or they can provide a certain number of slots to families who live nearby and a certain number for a lottery for those who live farther away. There are many alternatives.

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  71. My question for SFUSD: Which schools added kindergarten classes for 2009-10?

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  72. 3:13, certainly you are right. I just wonder how many folks in the West Portal area are going to be willing to have their children bused to the Bayview or Tenderloin or Inner Mission, if the "neighborhood zone" is set up as a match between two divergent neigbhorhoods in terms of SES. Would not the parents STILL be fighting for the choice spot, and be incredibly frustrated if they did not get it?

    At least the current system has tended to improve things, school by school, through the introducton of popular programs like immersion at unpopular locations, and by forcing parents to look farther afield to schools like Sunnyside--which ultimately then improve with a better demographic mix.

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  73. Where are the "hidden gems" ??- I looked at the data, for GE programs I count 12 different schools with more than 70 requests listed as their first choice. There are 19 GE schools who's first choice requests meet or exceed their capacity. This includes schools such as Yick Wo, ER Taylor, Moscone, Jean Parker and Sunset. My question is what is SFUSD doing to accomodate what clearly is the growing number of kids in San Francisco?

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  74. 6:32

    I know. You are right about the #s for schools that lots here don't even have on their radar, like Moscone, Taylor, Parker, etc.

    I guess the good news is that the # of such schools--ones attracting more apps than spots--is increasing, meaning the pool is deepening/widening.

    Bad news is that it is increasingly difficult to get one of those schools beyond Round 1. I mean, I'm pretty sure most here could have gotten Moscone or Parker in Round 1. Not sure if that will be true in next rounds. You have to be very attuned to understand which schools are the up-and-coming ones before they have actually arrived.

    Like Sunnyside this year, for example. It'll be hard to get into it in Round 2, unlike last year. I'd lay odds it will fill up in the waitpool round, or close. But many families will not realize that.

    By the time families start looking beyond Clarendon, et al, the "hidden gems" are snapped up and what are left are the schools in serious need of turn-around and more. As someone said on another thread, those safety schools start to look really great at this point.

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  75. What I want to know from SFUSD and from the vets who went through this last year:


    Does the amended choice list - aka Round II really work? Do you know anyone who got a spot via that system?

    At the counseling session at Sunnyside, it sounds like the waitpools drive everything from here in... so I'm expecting that the waitpool school may work out if you choose carefully but the Round II list is highly unlikely to yield results.

    Help... real experience/expertise sought...

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  76. 8:37, sadly, I believe that you are correct in this assessment given the numbers this year. The first waitpool run will scoop up a lot of families for so-called safety schools like Sunnyside, Harvey Milk, New Traditions, etc. The waitpool may serve to move some 0/7 families into spots that they consider more acceptable in terms of location, quality, or whatever else--creating a safety school for them--but these will be at schools that are really off the radar. Then they can keep on waitpooling for their desired school.

    After the first waitpool run, the real movement will be in August and September in the waitpools.

    Families with some other backup will be able to waitpool at highly desired schools, and some but not most will get them. Families with no backup are advised to be careful in their waitpool listing.

    Sorry. Brutally honest, but this is based on witnessing last year and seeing the #s for this year.

    Who really knows, but that's my 2c.

    Pick carefully.

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  77. 9:03 - I thought once you got your waitpool school, you were done and could not go back on the waitlist.

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  78. Can you change you waitpool after each waitpool run?

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  79. You can change your wait pool at any time, with a couple of caveats:

    1)On April 6, the district will publish the current size of wait pools for every school that has one; families will be able to change their wait pool choice up until April 10. After April 10, your wait pool choice cannot change until after the Round II run occurs. If you don't receive your wait pool choice in Round II, you can switch it every week if you like from May 10 to the end of September (but please don't actually do that. :)

    2)If you are assigned to your wait pool choice, you are DONE with the process. No switching beyond that, in order to prevent families from double- and triple-dipping in the lottery.

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  80. 9:48 - Great thanks. I was confused as the literature on the website isn't that clear and I had heard about the April 10 deadline, but wasn't sure if it was for all runs or just the first.

    Also, I'm curious about them releasing the waitpools on April 6. Won't that cause some false sense of security or mass panic. For example, on April 6, say Clarendon has a 40 waitpool list and Sunnyside only has 5, won't people think they are switching to a less popular school, but really have a worse chance? Does this make any sense? My examples are bad.

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  81. We know race cannot be a factor in the SF goals (yet ironically it is still tracked and provided as statistic, perhaps this process should stop)

    Race is not used as a factor in SFUSD's enrollment lotteries, yes. It is NOT true that it cannot be a factor in admissions (among other locales, Berkeley's limited use of race is now federally-approved). Moreover, school districts are REQUIRED to report demographic information about student populations including race.

    Also, current federal judicial opinion would allow for race to be used in school admissions if no other criteria can create desegregated schools.

    Personally I wish more districts were able to look into cross-district programs as St. Louis and Clayton did for a few (extremely popular) years.

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  82. 9:55, yes, it's a more complex version of the Monty Hall problem.

    If you list Clarendon as your wait pool choice and then you see that 150 other people did too, is it in your advantage to switch to another school that only has 25 people in the wait pool? Well, yes, unless EVERYONE switches, and then you're right back where you started.

    So while I really applaud EPC for trying to be more forthcoming with data, I am not sure this particular data will end up helping parents make decisions that they can be happy with in the long run. I worry it will lead to a "what if?" mentality.

    My best advice is sadly unscientific and not foolproof: decide on your personal tolerance for risk and uncertainty and pick the school that you like best that seems to fit within that tolerance level. Then refuse to second guess yourself.

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  83. Data I'd like to see:
    * Assignments to each school after each round and waiting pool run (not just requests).

    Questions to consider improving equity:
    * Outreach to all families (specifically African American and Latino families) about the application process

    Questions regarding creating more efficient process:
    * RHow could we improve the summer movement of placements, reducing as much as possible the movement after school starts?
    Here are some suggestions:
    a) Have a registration deadline - like August 1 or 15. ... which means we would need to ...
    b) Register students over the summer (!) ... This is a must. EPC could find a way to do this centrally.
    This would release significantly more placements. (There is currently no incentive - other than general goodwill - to report that you do not plan to go to a school, even if your family knows it is moving or attending private school. This is the reason for much of the last minute movement).
    c) Alternatively, could organize a flagged red postcard/mailer mid-August, asking parent to check if NOT attending the school to release their spot. The intent would be to flag the issue and make it simple for the parent to respond.
    d) 3-day count (could even call families not registered on or before 1st day to start solidifying openings and offer them on an ongoing basis) ... I heard EPC staff saying they might be "trying" to do this this year. I don't know whether or how efficiently this will play out.

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  84. Good ideas, 5:12!

    Re waitpool vs. round 2, if you have no backup, you may not want to take a chance on a school with a huge waitpool, pure and simple.

    Unfortunately, round 2 will mostly be an opportunity to "move up" from a truly unacceptable placement to one that is more acceptable, but still off the radar. Many schools will *not* move in round 2, given the waitpool run that is happening right before. This may include such "safety schools" as Sunnyside. Sunnyside's spots will probably fill up in the waitpool. But if you have a school that just will not work for you (too far, too dysfunctional), you might be able to get a school that is closer (like Glen Park) in round 2. This will give you better backup for proceeding through the waitpool process over the summer. No one should think of round 2 as the place to go for the gold--unless you have a backup you already like.

    that's my advice, anyway, ymmv, but i've been watching this process over several years and i think it is an accurate picture.

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  85. I would like to know how EPC is planning for increased enrollment given that SFUSD has not rescinded any layoffs and is apparently waiting for the May budget revisions from the state to do so.

    Since those revisions are not likely to be positive, I have to assume SFUSD does intend to lay off teachers.

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  86. 5:12 -- well said.
    That was exactly my point on March 20th at 10:50 pm.

    OK -- hopefully if Rachel or anyone from the EPC/School Admin around who can make this happen, well make it happen folks! Call around to other school districts if you can't figure out how to implement yourself.

    No need to wait until the 10 day count to reshuffle everyone!! 10 day count is for the State census, nothing to do with the reality of filling your classrooms with parents who want their kids in those classrooms.

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  87. 5:12 on March 24th.

    a) This has been increased significantly in the last several years - in fact, at PPS they've speculated that one reason there have been so many 0/7 the past couple of years is because more people are applying on time from these communities. PPS has done a great deal of outreach and EPC as well. On time applications for Latino and African Americans has increased (I seem to recall by way more than 50%) in recent years.

    b) & d) They do several runs throughout the spring and summer and last year ran it almost weekly the closer it got to school, as I recall.

    c) This is a good idea and definitely something they are NOT doing right now!

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  88. Is there ANY way of getting waitpool stats for immersion programs broken down by language (e.g. how many Spanish speakers vs. English speakers waitpooling a particular Spanish-immersion program)?

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