Saturday, March 28, 2009

A letter from the V.P. of the John Muir PTA

Hi Kate, I'd be much obliged if you would post this on your blog.

My name is Lauren Smith and I am a vice president on the PTA of John Muir School and also a parent of a student there. In light of the comments that I've seen recently, here and on "Turn Around John Muir," I would like to say a few things.

First, I think it's unproductive and entitled to sit around on the internet and snipe about a school real children go to-- a school my child goes to, and a school that real parents are working at-- parents whose children actually go to the school. It's offensive and publicly devalues the work people are actually doing, and gives a false sense of superiority in what the internet complainers are doing to help. (Nothing.) Storming a school and attending a meeting in a place where you are unfamiliar is really the epitome of white (middle class) privilege. In fact, so is creating a blog to "turn around" a school you haven't spent any time at. Neither anonymously commenting nor storming the meeting were or will be productive or helpful for anyone at John Muir.

As a parent of a student at John Muir, I have concerns and critiques of the school and constructive criticism to offer the staff and administration. I actually spend time at this school, know teachers, students, fellow parents, administrators, and involved community members. My critiques are real. The critiques of those who drive by the playground, look at statistics on a website and judge the demographics and neighborhood of the school are not based in reality, they're based on reactionary attitudes and for some, in prejudice. I will continue to work to better John Muir from the inside, in what I truly hope is a non-patronizing, positive way. And if anyone else is interested in working to make John Muir better, they are more than welcome to register with SF School Volunteers and come to school and get to work.

I value the space that "the SF K Files" gives to parents and community members for discussion about schools and really appreciate the way that Kate has chosen to give space for discussion about John Muir without participating in the snark.

Folks who complain about things on the internet lose sight of the impact of their words. They're shielded by their homes and computer screens from the consequences those words inflict on others. Some staff and parents at John Muir feel like the school is under siege. The things that people have said on the internet have created an incredible amount of stress for many of the people who are working at John Muir. Some of the criticism directed at the school might actually be valid, but it is lost in the mire of disgusting classist comments and race baiting.

On "Turn Around John Muir" I see a lot of comments about the imbalance of ethnic groups at John Muir. First of all, The entire San Francisco Unified School District has a huge problem with racially segregated schools. This almost ALWAYS happens at the disadvantage of students of color. God forbid somebody's white kid should be the one who has to be different; God forbid your child should have to experience something that children of color have been experiencing in predominantly white schools for oh, well- ever. It smacks of white entitlement that people are actually demanding the SFUSD to increase the number of white students coming into John Muir next year. I'm sure if you make a bunch of demands on your blog, other people's blogs, and in emails to the school district that there will be BIG CHANGE following. It seems that whenever white people get all up in a tizzy about "demographics" the people that suffer well, they aren't white. So this line of "action" deeply concerns me.

I feel slightly ill about the fact that that I am afraid to write the above without adding that I am a white, working class parent, because I know that doing so will calm fears of "reverse racism" because of my white privilege and working class status.

I sincerely hope that the parents of incoming kindergarten students at John Muir this fall will be more respectful and humble than what I have seen on "the SF K Files" and "Turn Around John Muir." Otherwise we will end up with a lot of unproductive conflict in the coming school years.

Thank you,

Lauren Smith

76 comments:

  1. Excellent letter! If SFUSD's schools are going to be successfully desegregated, all stakeholders are going to need to approach each other with best intentions and open and honest attitudes. This is a great start.

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  2. Very well said. All SF schools need more parents like you.

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  3. Thanks for the perspective.

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  4. I love you! Some get it all ready. Some will take your comments to heart. Some will intend to and forget. Some won't get it all. People forget there's a big difference between knowing how to blog and knowing the right way to take action.

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  5. I agree with all you say, but you need to work on your diplomacy skills. The tone is very divisive and gives anyone here thinking about trying out their neighborhood school a good excuse to turn their tails and run.

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  6. Yes!!!!!

    As a nonwhite person, it blows my mind that so many white parents feel entitled enough to express their outrage TO ME over the injustice of the system towards THEIR kids!!! Really, this is one time I wish you would just exclude me from the conversation, and just whisper it behind my back...

    Everyone wants the best for their children--everyone. But the school system sucks because this country has been screwing the public school system for generations. Its frustrating when you and yours don't receive what you think is the best. But why in the world blame people (students and parents at John Muir, for example) who have nothing to do with putting so many other parents in this position?

    John Muir--and last year William Cobb--parents want the same things every parent wants--a great, safe and nurturing school. Yet they incur the wrath of the parents who "lucked out" of the lottery--as if they had something to do with it it.

    Its our fault as a nation that we systematically screw the powerless and poor, but instead of screaming about having to go to school with them, we can change this. And you can do it without saying you'll "turn around" or "save" a school.

    Or you can just do what every generation has done and move to the suburbs.

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  7. 11:11am

    I don't find her tone divisive at all. Further, I find your reaction ironic and another example of an entitled person expecting kid glove treatment (although of course, you wouldn't describe or see it that way).

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  8. Lauren,
    I appreciate that you approach public schools as a community member and not as a 'consumer'.

    It takes all of us to make public schools work - and it isn't something you purchase. It's a different approach than most of us in the U.S. are used to. Hopefully, with the economy in shambles and a new direction from our president, we can begin a new era of public service and community building for our public schools.

    (Note: from a public school parent whose spent 20 years in consumer products marketing and advertising!)

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  9. Lauren,

    You sound angry and scared.

    How about we direct whatever interest and energy that is available into helping for the kids at John Muir?

    As much as you expect people to not judge you, you need to do the same.
    Expect the best out of folks, and you can often find it.

    I think most people's hearts are in the right place.
    I just think a lot of parents, are afraid of the unknown, including you.

    Respectfully,

    Joshua

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  10. Hmmm, Josh, I saw the anger but not the scared in what she wrote, but really I'm not sure either one of us is qualified to judge her state of mind or what the point is in doing so. In fact a major point in what she wrote is that so many seem to be approaching JM from a perspective of judging those who are there, and not respect and humility.

    Thanks, Lauren.

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  11. Dear Anonymous,

    thanks for letting me know that I was not clear.

    My point is: that as parents we all share the same goal of doing best by our kids.
    However, our fears can get in the way and prevent us from seeing that we do have a lot in common and ultimately want the same thing.

    Let's try to not focus on our egos and on our fears, and instead focus on what we can do to help our kids.

    I am sure there is a lot we can agree on and that we can accomplish together.

    Joshua

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  12. Wow, Joshua. If I hadn't been reading the SF K Files, I would've been shocked by how condescending you seem. I'll have to take it on good faith that you didn't intend to sound quite so superior.

    I'll add another thank you to the original poster, Ms. Smith. I congratulate you for writing such a clear and forthright letter, a letter that reminded me how important it is to contribute to my community as well as to my family.

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  13. Great letter. I felt so uncomfortable reading the posts regarding John Muir (knowing nothing about the school) and even more uncomfotable with friends who immediatly wrote it off without even visiting the school. I hope your community can keep their heads above it all.

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  14. I find it pretty scary no one can make comments on muir w/o improper motives being assumed.

    Everyone's reading into everyone else's words. Seems like the general hope is to make this a better school any kids in SF would be happy to attend.

    comments remind me of congress, people on both sides would rather be right, or hurt the other side, as opposed to help the kids.

    Sad.

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  15. Lauren, I thought your letter was both refreshing and brave. Thanks for posting from an insider's perspective. Sometimes it's hard for folks to remember that we are talking about an actual existing community of families and children.

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  16. REALITY CHECK: John Muir is one of the lowest performing schools in the state. Not just the city, state.

    And it is in the projects.

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  17. I am not sure I even want to help JM since it seems that privately raised money will be snatched by the school district.

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  18. please stop mentioning the projects. lots of schools are near the projects. people in public housing are people. children in public housing are children. there are many different kinds of people within them.

    this is an example of why these comments have been offensive.

    fine to mention the admittedly low test scores at the school itself as one matrix, but it might be respectful to ask someone who is actually at the school why they are what they are. you know, ask, with respect, rather than proclaim.

    that is the issue here. lauren smith is clear that there are problems and critiques to be made. what she asks for is respectful conversation.

    why is this so hard to understand?

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  19. Why is stating facts considered rude? John Muir has scored in the lowest 1% of California schools. It is also located amid housing projects.

    These are two things no-one wants for their child.

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  20. Entitlement, classism, and racism are too often invisible to people who make entitled, classist, and racist comments. Same goes foe people who think that "facts" are value neutral.

    Do the above comments excuse the conditions at Muir? No. JM is a troubled school that needs to change. Parents talking down from on high won't change that. Internal reform and oversight will.

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  21. I took Josh's post to mean that energy could be better served talking about how to improve the school than squabbling among parents. I liked the suggestion that egos could be put aside.
    Perhaps the groups could meet in the middle? Incoming parents could make efforts to get informed and be more sensitive and current parents could be patient with the newcomers, listen to their ideas, and try to have a thick skin while the well-intentioned newbies get their footing?

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  22. Lauren, it's a BLOG! It's meant for people to spout off and say what's on their mind. It's not the NY Times. To be frank, I don't even see the comments as being that terrible compared to other blogs I see written. If people weren't able to "hide" in our homes and behind our screens they wouldn't be so forthcoming and candid. If you don't like the post, move on. Being thinskinnned like this though is pointless in a blog.

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  23. WOW

    I am so glad we opted for private! If the writing of facts is considered elitist, then I want my child to be as far away from such Maoist lunacy as possible.

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  24. Maoist! Exactly! Those of us who have a problem w/ the lowest of low stats & being in the projects are being denounced! Will we be sent to jail for speaking these facts, Madame Mao?

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  25. 8:06, 8:26 - are you Dolores Umbridge?

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  26. Watch it, 9:25 - reading books is elitist! You entitled classist Europeans!@!

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  27. Eureka!

    You've figured it out; those of us who mention elitism do so because we don't read books! Or were neo-Maoists! We don't know that facts are facts and truth is objective! Al

    And precious, precious snowflakes should never, ever mix with the proles, so it's a good thing you went private.

    Ps-I've said it before and I'll say it again. Muir has it's issues. These issues are complicated and go far deeper than the neighborhood, test scores (sincecqhen do folks believe that standardized tests are great indicators of what kids are learning?), or the troubled administration. Maybe well talk about those issues one day. Maybe we won't. It's only a blog, after all.

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  28. You are a little too bitter.

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  29. Lauren, honey, this isn't about you or your feelings. Stop being defensive. The school is in the housing projects. The school has across the board abysmal ratings.

    You need all the help you can get.

    This BS about not "saying you'll "turn around" or "save" a school" is idiotic and does a disservice to the students there. The place desperately needs turned around and saved.

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  30. Oh, that's classy, calling her honey! Nothing like a little condescension to bring people together, eh?

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  31. What a great example you are setting for your children: reality don't matta if you bein disrespected, hmm?

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  32. Anyone who uses the word "classy"...*ugh*

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  33. What makes you think you can help Lauren or JM? Check your attitude and help yourself first.

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  34. Good job Lauren. Obviously we have an anonymous troll or two here mixed in with the legitimately interested people.

    I went over to greatschools.net today and read the reviews on Muir, and surprisingly they're positive. One parent mentioned positive results for a special ed. child, and committed teachers.

    While I live near the school "in the projects" (there's one public housing project surrounded by 10,000 other residents), I don't know much about the student body. As I understand it the school has a large ELL population and historically has had an attendance area drawn from the Mission. We also had an influx of AA students when another school closed down a few years ago.

    I often hear parents speaking Spanish when they pick up their kids after school.

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  35. i'm 8:06, but not 8:26

    now it's all dolores umbridge to repeat a call for respectful conversation? i think you read a different version of harry potter than i did. um, maoist? jump the shark much? that's the best you can do?

    i don't think anyone here is claiming that john muir doesn't have problems. especially, i do not see lauren as denying that reality (please, re-read her letter if you doubt this).

    the issue is the way people are talking about it. others have found the tone conveyed by the (clearly) value-laden words, as if the people living in the "projects" have a contagious disease. (will san francisco friends now be infected by proximity to valencia gardens?).

    more important than what i might feel, we might do well to listen to the voice of someone from within the existing community who reports that these sorts of comments is offensive to her and to others at john muir. does it not bother you, at all, to hear that they are hurt and offended? this is supposed to not matter because you want to bludgeon us all with shouts, as if we didn't know, that john muir is in the PROJECTS!!!!

    are these comments really a way to help the kids there--in any way? and if you can't see yourself putting your kids there (and yes, let's all stipulate that the school has its problems), why continually snipe at those that are trying to build something better from the inside? what is the point of that? explain, please?

    respectful conversation. a smidge of humility. too much to ask?

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  36. Well done. It's important to stand up to this sort of sniping. Especially when it's being done anonymously on the Internet. Most of the comments you're seeing here are things people would never say in person.

    p.s. On a related note, I should insert my standard complaint about the Anonymous option in comment threads like this. Could we, please, at least make people go to the effort of choosing a pseudonym? Thanks.

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  37. well said..

    there is a silver lining to all of this.

    it seems this year, there is really a critical mass of parents who were assigned to JM who are really really angry, disgusted, insulted, etc.

    they are correct, the school has a myriad of problems, based on test scores, and perhaps the Principal (administration).

    and they are entitled to their feelings of shock, anger, etc.

    and the school community, those who are there trying to do something to make it better, the teachers, (and hopefully the students don't know what is going on!!) have a right to feel hurt and attacked because some of these comments that I have seen, made from anger and shock, are downright hurtful.

    SO SO SO -- those of you assigned to JM -- do someting positive. Rather than just NOT accepting your assignment, can you get list of your signatures and have a representative go down to a BOARD meeting and make a statement to the BOE of WHY you would not consider this school (poor test scores, etc) AND why all 100 of you are choosing private, moving etc. LET THE BOE know what the problem is... the SFUSD needs to take the lead and make the school better, help those who are trying to help themselves there -- maybe the principal is a problem, if SO, lets help the school community do something about it. If not, then its just a witchhunt so tread carefully.

    BE A FORCE with your anger. This is a fantastic opportunity. Last year, the people got assigned felt the same way, and went on. This time it seems quite a few of you are really really upset. WELL put it to good use. Someone said it well, maybe the school, the way it currently is, is not really good enough for anyone's child. So why do WE, who can write, speak, etc let it be that way?

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  38. 10:12, whose dialact are you so awkwardly trying to emulate? Do you often speak to people like this?

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  39. (will san francisco friends now be infected by proximity to valencia gardens?).

    It won't be admitting (or recruiting) any kids from Valencia Gardens -- that you can bet on.

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  40. Would those of you who are calling Lauren "honey" and using badly written fake black urban dialect be willing to talk like this in public? Do your friends know you are doing this? It's so ugly, and yeah, condescending and elitist and it's not too far out there to say classist and racist too. So, so ugly.

    Since you are all so very clear that you would NEVER send your precious CHILDREN anywhere NEAR the PROJECTS, then why are you even here anymore? You contributions are destructive and hurtful. You obviously don't care about the children who are already there. Since they live in the PROJECTS, they are only to be yelled about here and then avoided and forgotten. So why are you here? Move on. You are not helping at all; you are only causing damage. It's shameful behavior really, since presumably you have oodles of privilege and advantage and fancy education compared to 99% of the families already at John Muir, that I guess never taught you basic manners and respect for others.

    Before you all go off and say I'm censoring reality: What I just said is not the same thing as saying that John Muir doesn't have problems. The low test scores and concentrated poverty are easy to see. There may be issues of leadership too, but I really don't know enough to say. I would have to listen and observe more closely--greatschools.net does not tell that story. Lauren Smith too says she has a perspective of what is good and what isn't working; I'm sure others who are there do as well. That's really where to start, yes? And the people who should be a part of that conversation are the ones who intend to roll up their sleeves and be a part of the community--ideally, in a respectful, humble, and hard-working kind of way.

    Btw, I grew up with kids from public housing. My son is friends with a kid from public housing. There are all kinds of people who live in the so-called "projects." Good and bad, just like in Pacific Heights or wherever it is that you live. From what I've read here, I'd rather my son hang out with his buddy from public housing any day than with the little darlings of the people who would write such ugliness about a community they don't even know.

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  41. Lauren Smith - I agree that some of the people posting negatively about JM should have been more sensitive to the students and teachers attending the school. I can understand why you were offended by some of the posts.

    I feel, however, that your letter then took a wrong turn. By accusing people, anyone posting any criticism about JM, as "white, middle class and entitled" was offensive and not helpful. Try to remember that this blog was started as a place where parents could share good news and disappointing news surrounding school assignments. Some posters were disappointed about being assigned to JM.

    I feel that parts of your letter were untrue and/or didn't reflect the reality of San Francisco. "The entire San Francisco Unified School District has a huge problem with racially segregated schools. This almost ALWAYS happens at the disadvantage of students of color". Students "of color" (I assume you mean non-white) are the majority in most schools in SFUSD, since white students make-up a small percentage. Furthermore, many schools that are highly racially segregated (a non-white race), are also high performing schools (using API). The two are not mutually exclusive.

    Also - the people that started the "Turn Around John Muir" blog or yahoo group - these are people that are trying to give JM a shot. They did not request this school but are trying to band together and help to make it a better school for all families attending. You have to understand that the only information publicly available is API and racial information. That is it. I think it is important to offer encouragement to this group and give them information! You are an insider at JM - now would be the time to share all of the great things that are happening at JM. What is the PTA working on? What do you love about JM? Why did you choose JM and what has changed over the years? What type of collaboration are you experiencing with the principal? Please note that those assigned to JM this year... if they decide to enroll, it will be their school too and it will be in everyone's interest to work together and build a strong and cohesive PTA.

    Best to you and I look forward to hearing more about JM.

    btw - Does the PTA have any fundraisers planned? This might be a good way to get the broader community involved...

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  42. "Also - the people that started the "Turn Around John Muir" blog or yahoo group - these are people that are trying to give JM a shot."

    newsflash: The person who started the turnaroundMuir blog has accepted a private school spot for their child.

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  43. Thank you, 1:33 pm. My thoughts exactly!

    We were assigned to John Muir and wanted to give the school a chance. Although there are positive reviews about the school on GreatSchools, we eventually just could not get past the test scores and the API as shown on the School Accountability Report Card. We have a choice in where to send our child so why would we choose such a low-performing school?

    I am pretty sure the "Save John Muir" blog was created as a way for parents to come together to make the school better, to become the next Miraloma success story that more parents would list on their Round 1 application.

    Our #1 choice was Rooftop, mostly because of the test scores but also because of the true diversity (as well as other perks, obviously, such as the large hillside instructional garden and the fun sensory motor classroom). John Muir is not racially balanced. In the grand scheme of things, it's not that big of a deal but I believe a true diversity would be more appealing to most public school parents.

    The fact that the school is right next to the projects was solely a safety factor for us and had nothing to do with the students at the school.

    I appreciate Lauren Smith's letter and would love to hear more about John Muir Elementary, including answers to the questions that 1:33 pm listed above.

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  44. 2:04 pm:
    The person who started "Save John Muir" started it before he knew his daughter was accepted at a private school. He was considering John Muir up until that point.

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  45. Mr. Jeremy "turn around John Muir" is going private. I would assume that everyone else will be gone by May after waitlist assignments and Round 2, then JM will sink quietly back into happy oblivion, with no one the wiser. Chin up Lauren, your prayers have been answered, and they will all be out of your hair soon. Your have a great neighborhood support network, and I sincerely wish you the best of luck (and some well deserved peace and quiet).

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  46. Well said, Ms. Smith! The building is beautiful and spacious. The kids are beautiful. Should we have a "no project zone" around schools to appease everyone? It's elementary school, people!!! The ironic thing is that the kids in the projects who qualify for reduced lunch applied and got into rooftop and Clarendon! Next year, I'm going door to door in the projects and helping parents fill out their top 7 with SF's top 7 schools so none of you stand a chance. Then, if some of you would just go back to the midwest, we can get back to the old SF that I grew up in. This anti john muir rhetoric is shameful and un-SF like!

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  47. 3:33, you are in denial. You need to read this: http://instruct.westvalley.edu/lafave/hb.html

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  48. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain! The people who object to sending a child into the projects are elitists! Pointing out reality is seditious!

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  49. Hey, 7:18. Cute work with the straw man argument. Doesn't mean anything though.

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  50. 7:40

    The objection isn't to talking about reality, it's to the tone of voice and unnecessarily disrespectful choice of words. Do you really wish to have a constructive conversation about this school? I sincerely doubt it. You are sniping to make your own point that has nothing to do with the kids who are are at John Muir. The shameful thing is that you will undoubtedly have access to lots of options for your kids that these kids plainly do not have. That's what makes your sniping so unseemly and draws the charges of elitism, classism, etc. That's why so many of us are recoiling from your words. Your words are toxic.

    That's the point, not denying reality .... though some of the voices here may have a better sense of that reality than you do, actually being actually on site and all .... for one thing, JM is not "in" the "projects" and is in fact no closer to public housing apartments than Leonard Flynn, and plenty of middle class parents are willing to go there. They are both equally bordering on poor and gentrified neigbhorhoods. So that really isn't the issue, despite your constant repetition of the word "projects" that is intended to sound so scary to middle class and affluent and white parents here and play on their fears of who is supposed to be living there.

    Again--John Muir has problems. Not denying that reality. Rather, calling out the sniping and condescension and stereotyping of whole communities and housing groups. There is a racist undertone and context here and we are calling that out.

    If you really want to be constructive, great. I'd suggest you start by listening to those who know what they are talking about when it comes to this school. Otherwise, just go away to your school that doesn't border on any poor people, okay? Plenty of gated communities around here, that's is the freedom and entitlement we have in this country despite all your (and the GOP's) whinings about incipient socialism.

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  51. 7:40. Thank you, thank you, thank you. It's good to know that a few people on this blog--perhaps more than a few possess critical-thinking skills and compassion as well as backbone. Again, thanks for reminding readers that this blog is not comprised entirely of over-privileged, self-satisfied tools.

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  52. Oops. I was not speaking of 7:40, obviously, but if the person who made the thoughtful comments about the offensive content if some recent comments. Apologies!

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  53. Also, if folks could take a few minutes and go over the SFPD crime map for the area you might be able to cope with the safety issue.

    And yes, a number of kids from the neighborhood go to other schools such as Lilienthal.

    I also remember once glancing at the kindergarten roster at a hot "hidden gem" school and noticing a kid with the same last name and address as a notorious criminal family in the Western Addition.

    How do you think their PTA's raise so much money?

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  54. Here lies the problem. What your school and so many others in the city need is the middle class. Black, white, whatever...the middle class. The parents who have time to be involved and who care. Attitudes like this are the root of the problem and until everyone can set down their defenses nothing will change and that giant achievement gap will just keep on growing.

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  55. Wait, are you insinuating that working-class and poor parents don't care? Are you lumping Ms. Smith into the "non-caring" category since she self-identifies as working class.

    I've spent plenty of time at JM, and let me tell you something. I'm more disheartened by the self-satisfied faux saviors than I am by most of the families at the school.

    I'm amazed that so many people who have never come close to real poverty know the TRUTH and the FACTS about school in the PROJECTS.

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  56. I'm curious....after reading these 56 comments I wonder if any of you have actually been inside JM? Not just read the API scores and driven around the block? And if so, what impressions were made?

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  57. 2:11 - Great post. Can anyone tell us more about John Muir?

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  58. I visited Muir a few years ago. I knew several great teachers who'd come out of the innovative partnership program Muir used to have with SF State, so I checked it out.

    The school building itself was nice; very spacious and light. I didn't have a weird vibe about the neighborhood, either. But the partnership State was long gone, and of the teachers I talked to, only one seemed enthusiastic -- the low morale was palpable. This was a few years ago, mind you: the staff may be happier / more energetic now.

    The fact that Muir has so many spots available to foist on parents who didn't select it is not only a bad sign, it's also part of the problem. When you are a school of last resort, one result is a high turnover in students. Students move on before good teaching can make a difference, and new ones come just before the tests are given: it's nearly impossible to score well under those circumstances.

    My guess is that Muir may very provide an okay school experience, with an okay principal and staff. At a school with a large population of students impacted by poverty, you don't need an average staff. What you need is are outstanding, exceptional, SUPERSTARS.

    Make changes, but do it for the good of the students already there, not hypothetical middle class families that might want to go there someday. Learn a lesson from the whole Dream School nightmare: parent / teacher input was supposed to be included, but the real decision-making happened in a secret room somewhere. When Paul Revere went 'Dream', the daily schedule was impossible, and the district couldn't even come up with an experienced principal. Revere is on the right track now (great principal!), but the first years were a mess. Turning around a school should never be approached lightly.

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  59. Good for you writing that letter, Lauren. I've been twice assigned to John Muir (for K and now for 1) and spent some time there. This year I met parents with kids currently attending. The PTA is small and their fundraisers are modest in the extreme, but those parents DO care, very much, about their kids' education. I did not feel any more or less safe there than any other school I've been to. I would love to see this school be the district's next big improvement story, for all the kids, including the population the school currently serves. Some of the comments on Muir-related threads have been very much in the tone of "Let's stage a middle-class takeover," which is rude, condescending, and unfairly and inaccurately implies that nobody currently involved in the school cares or is trying to do anything.

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  60. I'm an insider at JM. I work with kids, but I'm not a teacher.

    The current administration at the school is highly dysfunctional, but a small and active core of parents, educators, and community members are working hard to make change.

    JM isn't a bad place, but it won't improve with serious administrative oversight.

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  61. "without", rather.

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  62. We've heard several times, presumably from several different people, of administrative issues at JM. It's helpful information, but I hope that you are doing more than anonymously telling us about it. Take your opinions and facts to the BOE and the superintendent, anonymously if you must but with enough specifics to motive someone in power to act.

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  63. lauren, you are damn right and joshua, you are a total snot and lord knows what your problem is. joshua! YOU YOU YOU are defensive and a weenie. suck it.

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  64. 7:48.

    The powers that be at SFUSD have known what's going on with Wheaton--at least some of it--since her Golden Gate days.

    I know from experience that upper-level administration us unlikely to step in until the situation is dire. There's a lot of "hear no evil" at SF Unified.

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  65. 8:47 - from experience in another SFUSD school and talk from others, I agree, there is definately a "let's not get involved until we can't ignore it anymore" philosophy at SFUSD central office. This is exactly where some parents who understand how things work in SFUSD could be very effective in having the issue of the administration at JM heard.

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  66. John Muir will eventually (in the next year I'd two) fail to meet it's No Child Left Behind benchmarks, then admin will have to do something about the floundering administration. None too soon.

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  67. John Muir will eventually (in the next year I'd two) fail to meet it's No Child Left Behind benchmarks, then admin will have to do something about the floundering administration. None too soon.

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  68. How about pitching an article to the Chronicle, Nevius or anyone else?

    Piggy back on their series of the Lottery system, its problems, school assignment redesign. And talk about how all these parents who went 0/7 got John Muir and are so upset and etc, and some had thoughts of well, if we are assigned here, what about if we take over/make over the school, and how in reality, there are a few people at the school trying to do something but thwarted by the Administration! And how the school perhaps would be much better...

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  69. OMG!!!! Did you guys see this???


    April 1, 2009

    For immediate release:

    Office of Public Outreach and Communications
    555 Franklin Street, Room 305
    San Francisco, CA 94102
    Tel: 415.241.6565 Fax: 415.241.6036
    www.sfusd.edu
    CONTACT: Gentle Blythe, 415-241-6565

    After a careful and painstaking review of its student assignment system, SFUSD has made the hard choice to automatically assign children to the school nearest to their residence address. This assignment process will start during the next school year, and does not affect those currently enrolled.
    The high cost of busing children all over town, combined with the inequities of the current lottery system, drove this decision. “We need to address the opportunities and challenges our district faces, and if that upsets parents, that’s unfortunate,” said Jill Wynns, the Board of Education’s longest serving member.
    “We are not in the transportation business” Carlos Garcia, SFUSD Superintendent stated, “our priority is serving the needs of our joyful learners” he added.
    “We were elected to make these decisions, and we have to do that without regard to what parents are saying they want,” said Kim-Shree Maufas, Board of Education president. “The only parents we hear from are the ones who we shouldn’t be listening to anyway, we need to think about the silent majority.”

    A special meeting has been scheduled for parents to voice their concerns:

    When: Wednesday, April 1 / 6:30 p.m. – 12:30 a.m.
    Where: Irving G. Breyer Board Room / 555 Franklin St (at McAllister)

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  70. cute, sorta, April Fool's joke 9:41. Though the inequities of such a system would be no joke at all.

    Back to reality--10:38 last night:

    Oh, geez.

    First of all, the easy one, NOT Nevius. He loves to put down the SF schools and SF parents and get all self-righteous, when he himself sends his kids to school in the East Bay 'burbs. Ugh.

    Be careful. Lots of perspectives here, and probably some of it is true, but it's a lot more complex than what is being said. Be careful of a witch hunt.

    But beyond ALL that. There really should not be yet another article from the outside of how middle class families are so upset (talk about an overdetermined perspective in this town). Any such article obviously should provide views from the community itself, yet the folks there already feel under siege and blamed for being poor. I don't know what would really be accomplished by such a public article. Change will only be effective if it is driven by the community itself, and with goals set by the community--NOT if they are told yet again that the affluent and powerful think they are bad and here's why and here's how to change. The John Muir community actually has its organization, after all.

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  71. It isn't big news. Nobody cares. Most people in this town do not have children, and half the ones who do send their kids to private school. Stop thinking this is as important as you seem to think it is.

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  72. 9:39.

    It's important, for sure. It's also good story, although I agree with the poster that the middle-class (if you can call someone with an income of 250K+ "middle class") angle is tired.

    Stay away from the Chron, though. The educational reporting is lackluster at best and Nevius is foul. How about some good, old investigative reporting from SF Weekly. The article might not make a big splash (most articles don't!), but a little ripple. And little ripples help.

    Regarding change... SFUSD (the entire CA school system, really) is so broken that change needs to come from the outside as well as the inside. Deeply entrenched systemic issues enable the problems one sees at places like John Muir.

    I don't have great faith that a major, systemic overhaul will happen anytime soon in CA. That said, a bit of publicity won't hurt.

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  73. 10:55.

    Why don't you pitch the story?

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  74. Is anyone sticking with John Muir?

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  75. To 4/7, we decided not to enroll in John Muir. We will either rent out our condo in the City and move to Marin or stay private, whichever works out cheaper, if we don't get something we can live with by the 10-day count. We can't sell because we're upside down on equity.

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