Monday, March 23, 2009

Tune into NPR

Tomorrow, NPR will be airing a segment on SFUSD's Student Assignment System. They're interviewing me and several other people for the show. For more details, click here. (Sorry to be so vague and send you to SFGate, but the online version of the Chronicle needs the hits right now!)


  1. So far they have managed to dodge the question about how many families get one of their 7 choices after you remove the siblings from the statistics.

  2. Argh I thought I was done being angry about the process, but this program has brought it all back up. SFUSD is a **DISGRACE**.

  3. That was pretty unsatisfying. You can get the same information from just reading the SFUSD handbook.

  4. What's up with asking parents to shoulder the burden of plugging gaps in the broken system?

    First up my child gets assigned to a school halfway across the city, then you ask me to spend what little time is left (after schlepping all over the city) fixing problems with that school?

    Talk about insult piled high on top of injury!

  5. Well that was a nice load of spin for SFUSD. They dodged a lot of questions.

    I really wanted to call in to answer the question of the woman who called in because they are co-housing with their brother/sister-in-law (some relationship like that), yet their children were assigned different schools for kindergarten. The only way you can really move forward is for both of your families to continue to wait pool for the same school, all the way through the ten day count in September if necessary. Chances are that you'll both get into the school, it'll just take time. It's really unfortunate that the process is so stressful. In the meantime, try not to have it impact you children... just tell them that they'll be going to a wonderful school in next fall, and you'll let them know everything about at the end of summer when you receive information. There's no reason to give them all the details, or talk about the possibility that they may not go to the same school. Chances are everything will sort out over the summer... the waiting, unfortunately, is very hard.

  6. I am in such a bad mood after listening to that program. All the guests sounded like South Park caricatures of San Francisco parents. The system is so broken and the school district people didn't answer the hard questions. Kate, you sounded like an apologist, talking out of one side of your mouth at how stressful the process is and how parents feel like they have no control and out the other side of your mouth how the alternate schools you chose were just fine and you had no issues with them. I'm OK, you're OK seemed to be the message, don't judge... If all the schools are so great, why the stress? What is your position? Are you for this process or not? I'll read the rest of the blog, but I want you to know that you sounded like a cheerleader for the system on the show this morning.

    I have a 3 year old in a Montessori school right now and I will probably leave her there until we can afford to move out of SF. I don't want her going to a school run by the guests on that show - they are so wrapped up in their warped version of "fairness' that all logic and logistics have been thrown out the door. It's really scary.

    Why can't my girl go to a good school near our house, and have some special programs available to her on a lottery basis? Wouldn't that be best for the average parent as well as give options for those who want something different?

  7. Amy/Kate, I love that you're so into your school and are willing to devote your energies to it. As one whose child attends a parent participation school, I know full well how wonderful it is to be involved. But during Forum when the mother of a high schooler assigned to O'Connell called in, your suggestion was that people get involved in turning schools around. There's a big difference between turning a K - 5 school and turning a high school: first of all, kids love to see you helping in their K classroom, but trust me, they do not want to see you anywhere near their classrooms in HIgh School. Secondly, you are seriously misguided if you think that turning a school around, as everyone on this blog loves to call it, happens overnight. You may want your child to be a guinea pig at a struggling school, but the mother of this high school boy knows that he has four years to attend high school, and that every single moment counts, no only in terms of developing him as an adolescent boy, but also in terms of academic development. If he has any hope of going to college afterward, high school is where it's going to happen. And then there's happiness and safety to consider. What I'm trying to say is this: you don't walk into a school like O'Connell and turn it around when your kid starts there in ninth grade, especially if you're a working parent. It is the responsibility of SFUSD to turn these schools around. It is the responsibility of our government to fund the schools. I am so embarrassed by the fact that our schools are failing miserably, and that we're last in the nation in terms of per student spending.

    I'm so frustrated after hearing this radio program. We went through the lottery two years ago and received an assignment that was unacceptable. The stress of touring is huge, and that's coming from a stay-at-home mom. The stress on my friends who work has been even greater. And none of them got a darned thing when they opened their envelopes a few weeks ago. All of them were 0/7. And all of the families on tours looked just like us: white and middle-class, so the whole choice and touring system is completely skewed (at least they talked about that a little in the radio program) toward parents who can afford to take time off and look at school, as well as have the education and resources to do the research.

    Lastly, that the radio show panelists claimed that they didn't have the numbers on percentages of applicants who did not receive one of their seven choices is complete bunk. That information was as available to them as all of the other statistics that were issued by SFUSD in their press release on the Friday when they mailed letters a few weeks ago. The numbers can be crunched in a matter of minutes. They just don't want the numbers publicized because they show how few people actually do get one of their seven. On the show Orla's reply was, "Every family gets a placement." That's not what we want to know. We want to know what percentage of applicants did not receive one of their seven choices in Round One.

    Sorry for the rant, but I'm frustrated on behalf of all of you who're going through this right now.

  8. 10:22 AM, that's hardly a rant, it is one of the most thoughtful and honest posts on this blog!

  9. To 10:29 and 10:38-- Thank you.

  10. Pure propaganda. Why are any of you surprised?

    "We don't have the numbers". BULLSHIT.

    They have them, they just don't want to let people know the real numbers.

    They don't say how many seats are taken by siblings or teachers at the school, and how the actual numbers for people who got one of their choices (apart from siblings and other assigned seats) is more like 38%.

    They don't want people to know that "school choice" is actually no choice at all, that is all a spin of the wheel, all a toss of the dice.

  11. 10:22 AM, you're fabulous. i so appreciate your post

  12. "every family gets a placement"

    Such an ominous statement, ain't it?

    John Muir. Goody.

  13. 10:22 a.m. - thought of a position on the School Board? You have my vote.

  14. I just want to chime in about how hard it is to turn around a school. The problems are not just trying to take the "Miraloma Miracle" and translating it into a middle or high school. It is simply very hard to take that model and translate it successfully to other elementary schools. Too many elements have to come together all at once to replicate that success. My kids have been going to an "up and coming" elementary school now for four years. I've put tons of effort into turning it around -- and I'm afraid it is just not going to happen. It is so frustrating to hear SFUSD folks talking about it as if it is so easy!

  15. Amy - I think you did a good job. It is a difficult position and I think you are a good person for this role because you seem to remain calm.

    You also show an interest in partnering with SFUSD and EPC to address difficult challenges, which is very useful.

  16. Agreed, not every school can be a Miraloma. There is a Chronicle article about Miraloma by one of the parents who helped turn it around. One notable quote: "I learned that the success of a school results from the dynamic interweaving of three equally important forces: an empowered principal, a faculty of empowered teachers, and empowered parents. If any one of these groups is weak or disengaged, the school will falter."

  17. I agree. Amy - you did a nice job. These are the things I came away with from the discussion: Jane Kim stating that she's interested in assignment processes that have less choice... interest in Berkeley's model where they use race as a factor... People, these are not easy decisions!

  18. What is most important in helping children be successful in school - racial integration or socio-economic integration?

    If socio-economic integration is most important in helping the highest need children be more successful (while not short-changing the lower-need children from meeting their potential), then why does the district focus its engergies on racial integration?

    I know the district has a high disdain for caucasian families that want to go to school with other caucasian families but what about other racial groups? Is the district prepared to force aa, hispanic, asian families to choose schools with lower levels of a particular similar race?

    Considering that racial diversity is such a high priority for the district, why do they offer billingual programs? How is a spanish billingual program an appropriate fit for a non-spanish speaking aa, asian or caucasian family?

    Is it possible that there could be some new enlightenment? Perhaps a focus on "Needs Integration"? Ensuring that schools have an integrated mix of high-need students to low-need students?

    Besides - I find the race labels to be so demeaning and unproductive on so many levels

  19. 10:22 -- I wish I knew how many non-sibling spots were available at each school before I filled out my lottery list, but the problem with focusing on a non-sibling acceptance rate is that it's an entirely bogus number -- just as much as that 80% acceptance rate is bogus.

    The percentage sis entirely dependent on what schools people put on their lists, and the reality is that we have thousands and thousands of applications for the same 7 schools.

    Imagine all of the roughly 4500 non-sibling families listed the same top 7 schools on their list (not so far from the truth). Given that there's only about 200 non-sibling spots, then the official acceptance rate would be like 5%.

    The problem is not what the exact acceptance rate is. The problem is that everyone is trying to get into the same schools.

  20. um, 11:45, the lottery specifically sorts by socio-economic, not racial status. There is correlation between the two, to some extent, but the actual algorithm is about SES not race. Therefore I not sure what your complaint is re the lottery. Sorry.

  21. 10:22 am here, replying to 11:49 am.

    The point in my posting was that the question was evaded by the panelist.

    You're right, everyone is trying to get into a handful of schools.

    So that brings us to the real problem: only around 30 of the 70 or 80 elementary school programs in San Francisco are thriving. What needs to happen is that each and every school be given the attention that the most sought after schools are given. We need government funding and a reworking of every school by SFUSD so that every child from every family in San Francisco has a wonderful school.

  22. 11:56, I think the number of popular and thriving schools is more like 50. Used to be about 10, then 20, but it's getting up there now. Then there's a number that are ripe for turnaround. Finally, there are maybe 15 that are pretty much dysfunctional.

    If every parent put a mix of schools that extended to the 50--let alone the 30-40 "ripe" schools/programs beyond, then there would be no 0/7 and people wouldn't end up being placed in many of the 15 dysfunctional ones by default. Sorry to be harsh, but we should be dealing with reality, not winning the lottery.

  23. What needs to happen is that each and every school be given the attention that the most sought after schools are given.

    That attention is middle class (white) people contributing private funds, and there are not enough of them to go around.

  24. I think the SFUSD needs to get out of the business of trying to solve all of society's ills, including racism and classism, on the back of the public education system. On second thought, I don't even think they are trying to solve society's ills; they are trying to solve governmental ills by dispersing people with money throughout the system. If the government can't run schools without private sector support, what is the difference between private and public education?

  25. geezuz 12:32 it would be great if the public schools had all the funds they needed (and the pentagon had to hold a bakesale to buy that next bomber) but between prop 13 and and the anti-tax revolution and bad priorities on the part of almost also republicans and some democrats too, they don't. not because we are not a rich country, but because we have chosen to give our wealth away to the very rich in the hopes that they will do something with it that trickles down to the rest of us. funny how public schools are not on their radar when their kids go to the fancy private schools (arnold, i'm thinking of you....).

    meanwhile, the biggest difference between public and private is that public schools welcome every child, whereas private does not. private tends to screen to get the wealthier kids and tolerates a few that are not. (parochial can be an exception to this rule, but that's another story.)

    public schools are the backbone of our democracy. we should be glad they are trying to equalize things rather than perpetuating inequality in our society. what other institutions are trying to level the playing field even a little?

  26. 11:55. The questions used for diversity points are race proxies.

    If you read the powerpoint presentation from the district's committee on school assignment (, click SAS), racial diversity is indeed the district's #1 priority. The majority of the 35-page deck is racial analysis of student performance (there is no socio-economic analysis or language analysis).

  27. 12:32 - Great point. Use the energy and resources to help the underperforming students and schools.

  28. That may be true, 12:58, but the actual questions on the form pertain to SES, not race. If you are white and very poor (public housing etc) then you get a better chance at relatively affluent school like Clarendon, right? The fact that poverty correlates SO strongly with race should be telling us that race and racism still matter in terms of inequality.

  29. meanwhile, the biggest difference between public and private is that public schools welcome every child, whereas private does not.

    That's right. But when parents step in where the government fails, parents have a say about who goes to "their" school. It might not be so obvious at this point, but it is happening -- some public schools are becoming privatized.

  30. Diversity and equality in schools or life really, is not possible. Jim Jones thought he could create a social utopia too. I am not going to apologize for being middle class. I feel I pay my fair share and deserve a decent school where I don't have to also sacrifice family time making the commute. SFUSD should focus on making all schools GE acceptable instead of the 'special' program schools. I don't care if my kid can speak fluent Mandarin if he can't read!

  31. True, 1:11. It's the deal with the devil that the public schools are making in order to retain wealthier families--allowing this to happen. Far better to provide the resources that are needed in a publicly accountable way. But, that is not the world we live in right now. Sometimes I feel like a multiple personality, fighting on the macro front for more funds overall, while still fighting for my own kids' school and its needs.

  32. Gee whiz, 1:12, jump the shark much? Ever hear of Godwin's Law? (I'd put Jim Jones in the same category as Hitler in this case.)

    It is possible to include social equity in a set of goals for public education without getting all dictatorial and kool-aid about it. There is room on the spectrum for this.

  33. 11:45 -- you are so right on, right on! Hearing everything segregated by race only reinforces racism. No one seems to get it, lets just keep harping on race, so our kids see themselves based on race. After all, they do need to know how to fill out the little boxes.

    To your point, given we have limited resources, why do we continue to have Spanish bilingual, Cantonese bilingual, Tagalog bilingual programs that actaully do end up separating by race? There is nothing genetically inferior about these kids that they cannot be taught English the way someone from Russia, Japan, or Francophone Africa is taught.

    Yes spaces are held aside for these programs, underenrolled. Oh right, the classes are mixed grades (K/1, etc), like the teachers really like teaching mixed classes. Hard enough to teach one curriculum, let alone two.

    So why have bilingual programs -- the choice should be, you want to be literate/fluent in English, then choose Gen Ed with additional support (like the Iranian or Russian kids would get). You want to be biliterate/bicultural,then go to an immersion program.

    Also, does anyone else think its odd that someone entering a bilingual program in K stays in same cohort until 3rd grade? If the program was sucessful, shouldn't you be achieving fluency so you can move into Gen Ed sooner rather than later. Aren't the higher grades designed for kids that come from other countries to allow them a year to assimilate and learn in own language so they do not lose content knowledge?

    Re the late exit bilingual (K-5) --read the writeup in the Enrollment Guide. Sounds like its designed just for a very special group of kids to become biliterate/ bilingual. There are no English role models in a bilingual program, so doesn't that go against the very grain of what the supposedly superior model of dual immersion is? If Bilingual programs are ok, then lets start setting up One Way Immersion programs and funding such programs from the District since clearly many parents want their kids to learn a 2nd language.

    Seems to be a little bit of reverse discrimination here, yes, know I exaggerate.

    Seems the District can't even understand what their goals and policies are. Politics. I know.

  34. Just want to say sometimes turning a school around doesn't just "not happen" but fails miserably. I know many parents who have taken chances on schools and lost. I don't know if anyone on this list knows Enola Maxwell Middle School (no longer around) but a group of parents, with support from the district and special grants took the chance to send their kids there and the place pretty much fell apart. None of the special programs (French, art, music) worked out and they all had to transfer and the school closed. Just for the sake of honestly for every Miraloma there's an Enola Maxwell or two.

  35. 1:11 PM said ""some public schools are becoming privatized."

    what do you mean? (i'm not cranky, i genuinely want to know what you mean, i'd not thought of this.)

  36. Why so much talk about race, anyway? What does it have to do with "middle class (white)" (as someone here wrote) families going 0/7? We're "middle class (white)" and we got our first choice and are thrilled. Oh, right, but that's because we looked at the odds and didn't put Clarendon or Rooftop as #1. All this sad stuff about SFUSD having something against white people is actually just funny. Really.

    Our kids just want to feel hopeful and innocently excited about starting school next year, and I think we owe it to them to have faith in their incredible ability to be flexible, tolerant and learn in all kinds of environments as long as they are safe, have solid teachers and happy home lives. A home in which the TV is always on, the parents are rarely home or unhappily married is probably far more detrimental than some old carpeting and a worksheet now and then...

  37. You know, I grew up in the suburbs and it turned out the school I was districted for was TERRIBLE by the time I reached school age. So my parents faced a choice -- move or send me to private. This is not a new problem, people, and not specific to SF. Where is this magical land where all the schools are excellent and 2 blocks from everyone's house?

  38. I believe we have to roll up our sleeves NOW to help out our schools, because they are a mess NOW. I also believe that it is good for all children to see parent involvement.

    However, the problem isn't the parents, is it? Our state doesn't distribute funding fairly (as far as schools go.) Schools in general can clean up here, tweak there, but the reality is they need more money to take care of the kids who are under resourced at home, etc.

    So, even though whining about the schools may be unproductive, and believe me I've whined, I believe we do have to realize that it's our responsibility to both prop up our child's school AND bombard our legislature with letters about school funding.

    Hell, an old friend of mine had the nerve to post on FB how he doesn't give a shit about children's future (cause he doesn't have any.)

    We need to change the culture--an un-educated, poor generation of kids leads to crime, etc. I mean, those kids will be our doctors when we're old old old!!

  39. good points Kortney.

    Of course, people without kids could say put more into health care etc.

    Of course, people should STOP having kids (we now have birth control!) if they cannot afford to provide them a decent life (I'm not talking about enriched life with trips etc, just a decent home with food and attention -- the extreme would be octomom). Accidents happen, but lets realize kids are a RESPONSIBILITY.

    Lastly -- for all those who think its someone elses problem to educate kids -- at least a basic education think again-- democracy WILL NOT function without an educated electorate. One person one vote is very dangerous if the majority of people are not educated enough to separate truth from fiction, Politician Lies, etc.

    WE all have a stake in this unless you plan to expire in the next couple of years.

  40. Are you saying that ppor people shouldn't have children?

  41. Can someone direct me to accurate information about the true demographics of SFUSD? What percent of students actually are white (non Hispanic), Asian, PI, Latino, African American? The other stat I would like to know is what percentage of SFUSD school age children have a foreign language at home? I thought I heard one of the speakers on the program say that they try to balance ALL classes (not just immersion) with students that are 50% English speaking, 50% "other" language at home. That got me thinking -- if 50% of students in the SFUSD really do have "other" language at home, then there is parity. But if, say, 40% have "other" language at home, then there is a disproportionately smaller chance for English speakers to get a popular school. Is this true? Do they always try to balance home-language 50/50 for every school? And if so, that would mean that a European family who speaks French (or German, or Russian, or Italian, etc...) would actually get diversity points, yes?

    Another concern I have after reading SF K Files and SFGate blogs are the venomous comments directed at posters assumed to be "white". It seems that the percentage of white students is not high (which is why I would like an accurate number). There seems to be a consensus among posters that white families in San Francisco feel overwhelmingly entitled in this process (because they are white, because they have money, because they won't send their kids to John Muir, etc). There are not similar attacks on Asian families who are often economically on the same footing as these supposedly privileged white families. I'm not advocating for MORE attacks -- I'm just wondering why so much hostility is specifically directed at white families when they are not a majority in SFUSD by a long shot. Some might say that it is the white families screaming the loudest when they don't get their placements -- I want to see proof of that. Does that mean that Asian, Latino, and African-American families are not out there making noise about placements? Hardly. There is one thing that all of these people have in common -- we are all parents.

    Anyway, if anyone has the ethnic data breakdown, please post. it. Also - please confirm if I understood the speaker correctly -- do they really attempt to balance every school even if it is not an immersion program?

  42. Ethnic breakdown available on SFUSD website and on

    Where is this magical land where all the schools are excellent and 2 blocks from everyone's house?

    Northern Virginia

  43. Thanks - I found the data for SFUSD from the CA Dept of Education. It is:

    42% Asian
    23% Hispanic
    12% African American
    10% White
    6% Filipino
    5% multiple/no answer
    1% Pacific Islander
    <1% American Indian

    Which brings me back to my point -- for making up only 10% of the population of the students in the city, "white" families are getting a disproportionate number of elitist/classist/racist/entitled labels. It can't just be the white families looking to get into the popular schools and ending up frustrated when they do not get in.

  44. Not at all, SF Mama. It was Chinese parents that brought the suit re Lowell and ended the consent decree, and Chinese parents that camped outside 555 Franklin demanding more spots at grossly overcrowded Lincoln High a few years back.

    The white voices seem louder on this blog though, and there's plenty of entitlement in evidence, so that's why the pushback.

  45. Wow - 12:24 - I hope you post more.. I'd love to learn more about your perspective

  46. BRAVO, March 24, 2009 10:22 AM!

  47. Amy/Kate & others who are keen on "turn a bad school around" - what do say to those of us who have been struggling to do just that, working literally to raise small bits of $$ & donations here and there just to have the district tell us that they are going to postpone the improvements that we've sacrificed for, or take some of our efforts & give it to another school?

    PS - We are renters who both work & do not have the option to afford even a Catholic private, so don't tell me how priviliged must be.

  48. Does Jane Kim want another lawsuit?

  49. to SFMama at 12:19 PM: did you happen to see anywhere the year that that data was posted?
    or could you share the URL?

    a few weeks ago i was looking at the data in the 2006 census, which said that approx 50% of students in Californian public schools are Hispanic. (I cannot remember the figures for others.) But it does help me to understand at least a little bit why the 5th largest economy in the world comes in at about 50th in the US for state funding of public schools. Sacramento serves the interests of the rich and powerful, and while there are of course plenty of Hispanic people among the rich and powerful, the vast majority are not.

  50. To 1:51

    That is the link for the page on with the data. Scroll WAY down the page to get to it.

    I don't really agree with your point about high Hispanic populations having a causal relationship with reduced spending per pupil. I'm inclined to think that in a state as large and diverse as California, there are lots of programs and projects competing for the same dollars. And let's not forget that Californians love to dictate through Propositions how a large percentage of those dollars have to be spent, leaving Sacramento with less flexibility in the budget.

    I wanted to know the ethnic percentages in SFUSD because "whites" were taking a lot of heat on this blog. I am curious if SFUSD has any stats on the percent by ethnic group that gets in to one of their 7 choices. On second thought, that data would probably only inflame people more than they already are.

    Incidentally, we went 0/7.

  51. Yes, 12:19 PM, surely many families of color are frustrated too, but the reason why white families get the bulk of the labels mostly has to do secret here...the history of racism in the United States. We're still living with that history, it just doesn't recede quickly.

  52. "there are lots of programs and projects competing for the same dollars," it's quite true, but there are also a lot of dollars (hence world's 5th largest economy).

    until the people using the system organize and fight upstairs for more funding of public education, we'll all just be fighting over, as one poster said on the round one thread, "table scraps."

    this is not your concern, i realize, but i feel that the first task is to help people of all class positions to feel empowered, and knowledgeable about how, to fight upstairs.

    my 2c

  53. Does Jane Kim want another lawsuit?

    Just because courts have ruled against using race as a factor doesn't make it right. These rulings are a product of backlash to the Civil Rights movement, accompanied by the tut-tutting of liberal whites living in privileged enclaves who didn't seem to notice that good jobs for white AND black working class folks were, literally, heading south--and exacerbating tensions back in the urban core. These rulings are also the product of the Reagan Revolution and the rise of the conservative judiciary.

    But then, Plessy v. Ferguson, i.e., separate but equal, stood for years, right, until struck down by Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka. Didn't make the decision right. The pendulum may swing back again. It's hard to imagine how our society could stomach another generation of good-job loss for working class folks--the ones that don't go to college--and simultaneously tolerate an achievement gap that is clearly correlated with race. What we are saying with this system is that we are okay with a generation of AA kids not growing up to have family wage jobs.

    I personally think we should pay at least as much attention to building back family wage jobs (pass EFCA, to start) as to education, but education has rightly or wrongly been put forth as a pathway out of poverty. It is not delivering on its promise for a definable and visible set of kids, basically poor kids of color.

    That is why SFUSD does have to take equity issues into account in terms of class and race. And I agree that they should, ethically and for the sake of our democracy, despite the rulings of recent Supreme Courts.

    However, these are all tricky issues to navigate. The history of public education from the beginning has been a tug of war between idealists and those who wanted to impose social control. Race and class issues have ALWAYS been at the heart of most of the fundamental debates about education. Look up internet debates in almost any city in this country and you will see that SF is not unique in facing these issues.

    Plus, SF is not just white/black as some cities mainly are (this is changing), but is a minority-majority city in terms of our kids, with many ethnicities. We also have low-income, ELL, but high-performing Chinese kids, lots of them. This is a confounding factor in terms of using SES as a proxy for race. And our white folks, unlike the angry and disenfranchiseed white working class in Southie in Boston in 1975, tends to be overall more affluent, educated, and vocal.

    I would support any redesign of the SAS that somehow (!) makes the process less stressful for parents but also takes seriously that "separate but equal," even de facto, is not going to close the achievement gap. What I really wish is that any policy change is accompanied by a massive organizing/education/community campaign that somehow (!) brings us together as stakeholders, including teachers, parents, and older students, to actually talk to each other about our dreams for our kids and our community. I understand something like this was actually done in Louisville and it helped.

  54. 3:14 PM, you seem to think that your opinion matters more than the law.

    Do you work for the school district?

  55. Nope, don't work for the district. I'm just a parent of two kids in the system, one stakeholder of many.

    You misread what I said. I respect the the rule of law and understand that the district has to follow the rulings. That doesn't make the rulings right in a deeper sense. Plessy v. Ferguson stood for a long time, until Brown. Did that make it right? Or Dred Scott? Or any of the state-level Jim Crow laws? Or slavery itself, which was legal for so many years?


    And that is my point. We can respect the law and process of making and interpreting law, while also challenging the ones that we find to be wrong on a deeper level. If the San Francisco community cares about the statistically significant divergent outcomes (even controlling for SES) between African American children and other groups, and if we find that concentrating some kids of a certain color into high-poverty schools and other kids of a different color into more affluent schools does not meet the smell test for "equal access" to education, then we will seek remedies for it--remedies that give all kids equal access to a good education. I can't see how those remedies include allowing segregation, including de facto segregation.

    We may have to find novel ways around the rulings of the conservative justices that have been put in place in the last 30 reactionary years, but we should be trying to do this. That could mean trying new ways that will inevitably be tested in the courts, yeah (this pertains to the original question about Jane Kim). That is my opinion as a stakeholder (parent) and voter.

    I note that we, as a city, are willing to be on the forefront of gay marriage--and test these marriage laws that are unjust. I support that, too. Hooray, San Francisco.

    I also support finding ways to mitigate the insanity of the current process.

    Unfortunately, but realistically, many parents who hate the present system because it has put their kids into schools with low-income kids of color are not going to love the new system much either. The dream of that neighborhood school with kids who look just like yours is a mirage. We may end up locked into a set of 3-5 schools that encompass a range of SES situations and ethnicities. Many white parents seem not to have a tolerance for sending their kids to schools with greater than 50% free lunch and/or 75% kids of color--no matter what system is used to allocate spots. Not sure how we could ever match these expectations when only 23% of school-age kids are white in SF and only 10% of the district, and the % of free lunch kids is over 50, overall.

    I think it may come down to perspective--do you think racism is an artifact of the past, or is still an active issue. I do think we have not yet overcome its legacy, as the stats clearly show. We white folks ARE privileged, even those of us who grew up working class. Class being another important issue, of course.

    I do realize that people hate to talk about these issues and would rather say, why don't we all get along, everything's equal and all that. Except that it's not. And notice what happens when we we white folks don't get what we want (a spot in a popular school, for example)--we yell and scream. You don't see all communities with those expectations (aka entitlements). We're all liberal in SF, aren't we, but only if it doesn't mean having to share or step outside our little bubbles.

    Sorry, I know it's really harsh, but it's how I see this whole debate playing out not only in the last few years, but for decades. I grew up in Boston during the worst of the busing crisis, so I've definitely heard and seen the underbelly. We are seeing some of it expressed on this blog, too. Sounds more polite and high-falutin' and not so many verboten names being thrown around as I used to hear on the streets, but the undertones sound the same to me.

  56. Caroline, shut up & go away. Your pathetic blog is a joke and no, you will never be interviewed on KQED.

  57. I am white and have no desire to have an all white school. In SF, I don't believe a neighborhood based system would create that. My neighbors are Chinese, Armenian, Japanese, Filipino, African American, Russians, Whites, Mixed race. My friends are of all races. I live within 1.5 miles of the highest demand schools (which by the way have greatest percentage of Asian). There is also wide range of incomes here as well, though honestly, most are middle class.

    Affluent/Poor diversity or equity is a concern with a neighborhood based system, however, I believe if all schools provided adequate education and state funded programs, this gap would lesson.

    Why I advocate neighborhood based is to be able to spend more time with my family and not commuting -- easier to get to school functions, etc, and also would encourage a community outside school -- NOT to hide from people of different ethnicities or income from me.

    I would imagine most people on the board think the same and it is unfair to be called Racist or Classist when your motives are far from it.

  58. Too funny, 7:45. I'm 7:37 and I grew up in a working class family in South Boston and I am definitely not Caroline! I think she grew up at least middle class in Mill Valley, CA, didn't she? I can talk about Yaz and Bobby Orr and other stuff that I bet she only has the vaguest idea about. And hooray for Jim Rice finally making the Hall of Fame! But, whatever. Go ahead and believe I'm Caroline if it makes you happy.

    No, I know, 8:16, most people are not thinking about only white schools. But they also get scared when they see low-income, esp non-Chinese, kids of color. It's one thing to talk about diversity in the Sunset or Richmond and another on the east side of town, dontcha think? Most of the factors that statistically lead to lower achievement are concentrated on the east side of town, esp the southeast. Esp poverty.

    I'm not suggesting that everyone is overtly racist or anything (several more or less overt comments on this blog notwithstanding). But the comments about the projects definitely project the fear.

    So, if you were assigned to a cross-town school in a "zone" along with your neighbors, would you take it? Or even halfway across town, like to Ingleside or OMI? It would meet the demanded criteria of more certainty, not so much touring of schools, no lottery (or only a lottery within the zone). Your kid'd go to school with your neighbor kids, plus kids from the neighborhood where the school is located. The school would be very diverse by income and ethnicity. Would you take it? If there is cross-town mixing, not everyone will get the school around the corner, so would you take the assignment partway across town? Or would you be mad as hell, as so many are now with their 0/7 default assignments to "horrible" schools as they say?

    Or what do you suggest?, that wouldn't be ONLY by neighborhood, which surely would create even more resegregation by both race and income than "choice" already has. Serious question. What is the compromise that you would suggest?--that isn't just, let me have my nice school in my nice neighborhood with middle income and above kids.

  59. Hey Boston, were you bus-ed when you were a kid?

    You are really serious about this idiotic complicated "cross-town mixing?" Is that a good use of education money? Why not use that $$ to teach children academic subjects, instead of using it for bureaucratic social engineering that isn't working ?

  60. Roxbury. For a time. It was tough in some ways and I remember the insanity of the adults around us, but I loved my teachers and the kids were cool and not so different from me, despite everything. Hey, we were young. I learned a lot of good things.

    Eventually someone saw some potential in this bookish Irish kid from three-decker land and somehow got me a scholarship to a swanky private school, where I undoubtedly got good academics but was miserable socially, and hung out mostly with the other scholarship cases, who were African American. I'm still friends with one of them to this day. The solidarity of hanging together against the snobby kids who had no idea where we came from. We did have one or two non-poor kids in our posse, one Jewish not Waspy and the other just cool. Well, she was Catholic so also not Waspy. Still in touch with her too.

    That's the short version.

    I don't know what is the right system for assignment. I just see the problems with pure neighborhood assignment, which so many here seem to want--but then, where do you all live, anyway? You might feel differently if you lived in my neighborhood.

    Despite the rulings of the courts in recent years, real de facto segregation is still disallowed. Plessy is no longer the law of the land--the idea that is just dandy to have separate but equal. I myself do not believe it would be possible to have separate but equal.

    Of course, one of the biggest problems (there were many) with Boston's approach to busing back in the day, besides the many failures of local leadership, economic dislocation, lots of stuff, was the Supreme Court ruling Milliken v Bradley, which insisted that desegregation could only be enforced ACROSS district lines when de jure segregation could be proved. Meaning, Judge Garrity in Boston could send his children to Wellesley's fantastic and super-white suburban schools while he told the working classes, both white and black, to go to basically all poor schools, but mixed up. So whites fled to the 'burbs or parochial. The money was already in the 'burbs. Now Boston's school population is hugely Black and Brown (Latino).

    Yeah, it's complicated. It is far, far ideal to have community buy-in to any plan. Don't think I don't know that. It's just that ultimately I am a little cynical as to the levels of mixing that white (and many Chinese) families will tolerate in terms of sending their kids to schools with African American, SE Asian, and Latino kids, as well as very poor kids. Meaning, we white folks would tolerate high levels of concentrated poverty even though the evidence shows that mixing it up improves achievement. It doesn't seem right to me. There has to be a better way, a way to promote more mixing of race and income that includes community buy-in. Lots of you say you are up for that, right?

    That's why I said it was a serious question--what would you propose that met some of your concerns, but didn't at the same time create even more grossly unequal schools in the SE and SW quadrants of the city?

    I'd like to think that SF could be encouraged to think this one through, and be creative, in terms of designing a system that is predictable, minimizes travel, but also addresses separate-and-unequal. That would take a lot of community organizing though, and leadership we haven't seen from the BOE and district. So I am reduced to commenting here, for now. But I'd like to think better of the progressives here in SF. Can't we do better than my hometown? We have so much more education and wealth than my neighbors in Boston did, and 20/20 hindsight too. Can't we do better?

  61. No one is talking about the elephant in the room either.

    Before you get all wrapped up in doing this and that etc, some internal cultural changes need to start taking place. OK. No one is saying racism, really bad stuff didn't happen 100,200, even 30 year ago. Even last year. But when are black people, yes black people going to start coming out with a campaign that celebrates education and not denigrates the value of education (as being to white, whitey, or too Asian, chink, etc?)

    Bill Cosby tried it. He got shot down. Chris Rock said something but don't hear too much from him. Why? Giving rappers and all these other Coool types the coverage. Oh yes, the media is controlled by whites, and not saying there isn't a possibility of some nefarious conspiracy NOT to give them air time. But these celebrities appear on Jay Leno. They can all sing the same song and get the message acrosss, reach out more on community level. White racist types don't control access to the projects do they?

    Where is Colin Powell? Condelezza Rice? Clarence Thomas? Even sport celebrities who have made it - seems they have no problem sending their kids to the best schools -

    Obama is president now.

    You cannot effect change only from the outside. Set up busing routes,Force people to like, heck just even get along with each other. You think you ever going to change a Racist bigot type person just by making them go someplace. NO, change takes place slowly. By people seeing things with their own eyes. Obama is an excellent start, though he is half white. But his wife is not. She didn't have that much privilege as a kid, if any at all.

    Send me a bunch of rainbow colored kids whose family value education, who show respect for education and I'll send my kid to school with them anyday.

    Unfortunately, many families in the projects do value education, they just get drowned out. and eventually, sometimes their kids are afraid to be "smart" or fear reprecussions. Those are the people we really ought to be helping. Not a blanket save the world, alright.

  62. 6:34 here again... I forgot to add, I really believe most families objections to go to "underperforming schools" of color is not so rooted in racism, but that they are not yet convinced that the families attending value education.

    We have some serious social problems that all come together at the local school level. The kids are the ones who suffer.

    And one thing SFUSD does do is provide more resources to schools with high concentrations of poverty, etc -- reading specialist, student advisors, parent liaisons. These are all good things and should be continued, not spending money on busing routes. Put the money in the schools. Set up magnet programs - doesn't have to be language. How about Science/Math? Sustainable environmental studies..

  63. Equating decisions that finally recognize the 14th Amendment rights of all five year old children decades after the civil rights movement and with a black President in office with Plessy and Scott is really despicable. The glee people take at discriminating against innocent 21st Century children is truly horrifying. And the fact that these people think they occupy the moral high ground only makes it worse. The Constitution protects everyone not just certain segments of the population.

  64. It isn't race, per se, that alarms parents about John Muir. It is the chronic underperformance of the students at that school. Even if parents know their child will probably do fine academically at a school like JM, will that child reach his or her potential? Will that child be short-changed in time with the teacher because that teacher necessarily must spend more time with children who are struggling? And will that child end up bored and dissatisfied with school because he or she is ignored? I think those are the real fears of parents when they are assigned to a low-performing school, and they are valid.

    I read that some schools would not increase K size to 22 because grant money they receive from the Federal Govt (rec'd b/c they are severly underperforming) mandates a 20 child max. If we really want to help underperforming schools, is it realistic to expect that a teacher at JM with 20 kids and a teacher at Clarendon with 22 are going to have similar results? Maybe it's time to really invest in the community and say that the ratio at underperforming schools is 10:1. Or that underperforming schools have 20 kids, but more aides, mandatory reading specialists, etc.

    Schools are never going to be able to make up for the differences in family values. The family that values education, reads books, eats dinner together and actually talks -- that family is always giving their children an advantage (rich, poor, black, white, Asian - it doesn't matter). So how do you make up that difference? It's an important question because it does affect us all. Our collective interest is served when all students have opportunity. The current system seems like a lot of smoke and mirrors, but not a lot of results with the specific children who are chronically underserved no matter what system is in place.

  65. 6:34/6:42 AM: I agree completely. If John Muir were a top-rated school, people would be happy to send their kids there. It doesn't matter where it is or what the demographics are. Aren't there expensive private schools just blocks away?

    Ratings matter. When you have web sites like that rank schools from 1 to 10, can you really expect people to be thrilled about going to a low-ranking school? That doesn't make them racist or classist or entitled. You want to scream about people being entitled, try the legislators who refuse to repeal Prop 13, whose consistuents feel entitled to pay next to nothing in property taxes because their kids went through the system long ago, when California public schools were still something to be proud of.

  66. "Maybe it's time to really invest in the community and say that the ratio at underperforming schools is 10:1."

    TOTALLY. that would definitely be a big first step in the struggle to close the achievement gap.

  67. Okay, if political pressure means we end up with zones but not too much busing across town, then those of us on the SE side of town are going to have to get preference to the relatively higher-performing immersion schools, for three reasons:

    1) there aren't that many GE schools left in our area--from the Mission/Potrero area, there are immersion seats at Webster, Starr King, Flynn, Marshall, Fairmount, Buena Vista, Revere. GE seats at Chavez, Bryant, Moscone, Serra, Flynn (1/2), Starr King (1/2), Revere (1/2). Just to give us seats at all without traveling will mean preference for immersion.

    2) The immersion schools are the only higher-performing schools in our area except for Moscone. To be fair about it, we should get these spots first if the folks on or over the hill get access to Clarendon, West Portal, Jefferson, et al. Folks from there who want immersion can get the spots that are left over after we get first dibs!

    3) I think these schools could still keep their ideal 50-50 primary language ratio--with the exception of Starr King--by doing it this way. It would be a great way to keep the hipster and bohemian middle class white folks in the 'hood and not desperately trying to get spots over the hill. Thus these schools in the more poverty-stricken SE quadrant would be more easily mixed up in terms of socio-economic status, which has been shown to help achievement overall compared to leaving schools highly concentrated in terms of poverty. Perhaps this would address some of the concerns stated here about the problems with resegregation.

    Anyway, the suggestions I've seen that talk about neighborhood schools plus separate, open-to-all lottery for all seekers seems problematic to me--it would clearly benefit those on the west side who want guaranteed access to the great GE schools in their areas PLUS a shot at immersion. You get a shot at all the goodies, right? But it would not work for those of us on the sunny side of town! Giving us priority access to such magnet programs would help salve the loss of a real shot at the schools over in the fog belt.

    I also TOTALLY support the idea that the schools in higher-poverty zones should be getting a lot more support from the district, more than the weighted student money. Give experienced teachers serious financial incentives to teach in our neighborhood. Give us money that balances out the PTA funds raised by Clarendon, and lets us provide not just the basic extra supports, but sandtray programs, health programs, literacy, field trips, science labs, extended learning opportunities like free quality afterschool and summer programs....the stuff our disadvantaged kids need to succeed that the middle class kids already have through their families for the most part. I'm talking big bucks. It would mean some sacrifice on the west and north sides of town.

    What do you all think? Would you be up for it, in return for guaranteed neighborhood schools with your middle class neighbors? I do think there are going to be compromises for everyone.

  68. I live in the East side of the city and am not interested in language Immersion for my child.

  69. "Maybe it's time to really invest in the community and say that the ratio at underperforming schools is 10:1."

    Totally agree. Maybe the district should hire a full-time grant writer to focus on funding for SF's underperforming schools. What proven strategies are out there that we can employ?

    This was probably pointed out in other posts but we know that low income or a high concentration of a certain race does not mean low performance (i.e., Moscone, many west side schools with h.igh low income chinese students)

  70. Have you visited Moscone? Sure it's high scoring, but that's because the kids are being drilled.

  71. It will be very depressing for us east side parents if the BOE goes with a zone/no busing plan. Not everyone wants immersion, but half the schools over here are immersion.

    Plus I can see the hue and cry from the west side parents if they don't get their "neighborhood" access to high-test score schools on the west side PLUS a lottery for immersion. Get cake and eat it too, right? You want your neighborhood access to Clarendon and a good shot at Buena Vista or Flynn SI. What will be left for us? Are there enough spots for our kids over here? Will we be forced to trek somewhere else? Will we be forced to compete for the immersion spots in our own neighborhood schools?

    I actually have no idea where the BOE is going with this, but if it is what so many people here seem to want, it will seem very unfair from where I sit.


  72. well if that is what it takes to learn the basic 3 R's. Not every kid has the luxury of learning these things at home.

    not saying drills are the best way but there is something to be said about knowing your addition facts, multiplication tables etc.

    In an ideal world, we would have all sorts of enriched learning, fun activities etc. But many times those schools count on parents picking up the other half at home, by reading to their kids, by giving attention (such as going over math facts, etc). do kids is lower income families, sometimes with parents working 2 jobs and who may not have the education level... who is helping them?

    by the way, before everyone drools over Clarendon PTA funds.. most underperforming schools do get a lot of extras that the other schools do not - they are called STAR schools and they get money for reading specialists, instructional specialists, etc.

  73. 12:15 -- if the school district really wants to set up neighborhood schools and take away the lottery for the special/magnet programs then all they need to do is move the immersion programs around -- spread the wealth, baby. Put some of those programs out in the West Side. Put some in the NE corridor. Fair is fair.
    The only reason the programs are concentrated in the SE side is due to the underperforming schools and the idea of choice so that families from every nook in the city will travel to the magnet program. Many of these programs have absolutely nothing in common with the GEn Ed program (Flynn I think is the only one trying to do FLES in the GEN Ed strand and try to leverage the language).
    Until then, neighborhood school assignment system should be the way other districts do it... magnet programs require a special lottery, everyone else is neighborhood based.

    There is a reason why say a home on the SE side costs a lot less than a home in West Portal. Same as in the 'burbs. The housing prices follow the quality of the school.

  74. Great so now it's all about affording a home in the right neighborhood? Seems like the likeliest effect of a neighborhood system would be most parents trying to control their destiny by renting/buying in the right zone, and abandoning the ones that are not considered good. Not so much that parents would stick around to try to make the local schools good over here. Parents will generally do whatever it takes, right. What a great way to skew the housing prices even worse in this town, and create even worse segregation by housing/neighborhood as those who can afford it seek out the better schools. Still very nervous. And btw I feel no need to "spread the wealth" from my low-income neighborhood to Cow Hollow or West of Twin Peaks. That would be supremely unfair given the income and access disparities that exist already. You guys really do want to take it all, don't you? And leave us to make do. Lovely. Thanks, but no thanks.

  75. Maria (the first caller) is right on! This process doesn't work for anyone, neither the middle class devotees who work at this, nor the single working mom who gets foodstamps.

    Plus the spreadsheets are basically worthless since they don't include middle class factors, whereas you know that's a major factor for any moderately popular school.

  76. by the way, before everyone drools over Clarendon PTA funds.. most underperforming schools do get a lot of extras that the other schools do not - they are called STAR schools and they get money for reading specialists, instructional specialists, etc.

    You are seriously overestimating the amount of money that STAR schools receive. STAR money for the most part gets one extra credentialed person (often used as a data analyst/test coordinator, which may or may not be of use to teachers and students), an assigned substitute (because many of the STAR schools can't get subs - not a problem Clarendon experiences, I suspect), and a part-time student/family support adviser (again, not really a high-needs role at wealthy schools).

    Similarly, Title I is not a massive slush fund, either. It is misleading to suggest that these targeted funds somehow all make it equal.

  77. But those positions, if Clarendon for example had to "pay" for them would cost close to $200k based on District budget rules.

    Of course, some of the STAR schools need much more than that... nothing will replace a stable home life, family support, parents who value education and put the time and effort into it.

  78. "The immersion schools are the only higher-performing schools in our area except for Moscone. To be fair about it, we should get these spots first if the folks on or over the hill get access to Clarendon, West Portal, Jefferson, et al. Folks from there who want immersion can get the spots that are left over after we get first dibs! "

    Ahem! NEWSFLASH!
    Not everyone on the SE side of the city wants to send their kid to an immersion school.
    We could use some fantastic GE schools over here.

  79. Interestingly enough - I can't think of any schools in the mission, potrero, bernal or noe neighborhoods that are just GE. All of the schools are either billingual or immersion schools (with GE strands). Am I missing any schools that are just GE?

  80. 9:45 and 6:07 and 5:26:

    Exactly. These are among the reasons why the proposals touted here by so many, for guaranteed neighborhood school assignment, would be terrible for us on the east side of town.

    A new assignment system won't magically and suddenly make all the schools great, or equal. There will be the same number of scarce perceived-to-be-good spots. A new assignment system would just move around the chess piece in terms of who gets those assignments. I understand why those in West Portal and Miraloma and avenues want guaranteed admission to the perceived-to-be-good schools--the corollary to which is limiting access to those schools to kids from the poorer parts of town--but the line of argument that we would all be better off under such a system is frankly ridiculous.

    The current system has many problems, and the customer service at EPC leaves a lot to be desired, but at least it doesn't discriminate in favor of the wealthier neighborhoods. I for one hope that any new system or tweaked system is biased toward helping kids from poorer neighborhoods have access to schools that are higher quality NOW. The thing about forcing people of different income levels and classes to mix up more is that more schools, over a long period of time, ARE becoming better. We've seen this over and over. We are seeing it with JOES and Sunnyside and Paul Revere. But that movement won't happen if the middle class families are all walled into their west side schools with the drawbridge raised.

    Yes, we must make them all good. It takes time, plus a lot more resources (systemic change in terms of funding), and breaking up concentrations of poverty. Strict neighborhood assignment would perpetuate our city's neighborhood patterns in terms of distribution of wealth vs. poverty.

  81. "Interestingly enough - I can't think of any schools in the mission, potrero, bernal or noe neighborhoods that are just GE. All of the schools are either billingual or immersion schools (with GE strands). Am I missing any schools that are just GE?"

    You're not missing any and the ones who have a GE strand (Starr King, Daniel Webster, Flynn GE, Bessie Carmichael, Junipera Serra, etc) are not considered very desirable at this time.

    I'm convinced that radially changing the school assignment process will just cause families who live over here (SE sector of the city) to move to a more desirable neighborhood if they want a GE program or to flee SF.

  82. Bessie Carmichael and Flynn GE are not so bad are they?

    I get a sense of parent community over there. Maybe not people who would frequent this blog but so what...

  83. 5:39AM:

    You miss the key point. Clarendon can decide what it wants to do with its PTA money. STAR schools can't.

    If a STAR school decides, say, that a full-time testing coordinator at $80,000 is less useful to students and test scores than a robust arts program or 4th and 5th grades capped at 20:1, they still get a testing coordinator.

    Also? Clarendon has no need of an assigned substitute. Alas, SFUSD is either unable or unwilling to find subs who have the desire and skill to take jobs at poor schools.

    Moreover, low-performing schools on average have a much less senior staff. Since SFUSD averages teacher salaries for the purpose of school-site budgeting, schools with young staffs directly subsidize those that don't.

    The situation is inequitable. There is no way to make it fair by pretending that the needs of all learners are being served. Parent-based funding schemes are the epitome of "to those that have shall be given".

  84. 8:59 PM, I should exhaust myself to raise $ for my kid's school so that someone else can take it for another school?

    Why not just come on over to my house and see if there is anything you need?

  85. Hmm, I see what you mean. But I think the focus should not be on the parents.

    The State Funding System and bureaucracy needs to be changed -- specifically, all the numerous block grants this and that with zilch flexibility, ergo your STAR test coordinator who may be able to do something else. Now I think some schools sort of "reassign" that staff person to do something slightly different in order to accomplish what they think it is best, and I don't know if that is really above board or not.

    Re the funding system - right, I meant to say Gov did commission a panel to study this issue and they spent what, like 2 years or something, massive report, costing I forget how much. They had some very fundamental recommendations, which include flat out increasing funding and well, given the crisis we are in, it just is not going to happen at all. Annoying and sad!

  86. "Bessie Carmichael and Flynn GE are not so bad are they? "

    Well, let's see. As a middle class family, would you send like to your kids there or would you prefer a Rooftop or a Clarendon? My point is that there are many more highly desirable GE schools on the West side of the city. At the moment, schools on the East side have some amazing immersion programs but the GE programs have quite a ways to go before catching up, IMO. Flynn might be on it's way. Daniel Webster GE, Starr King GE, Paul Revere GE, Junipera Serra GE...not so much. Bessie might be great if you are an English Language learner, as it caters to a specific demographic.

  87. 10:21:

    Actually, I think the public schools should be well- and equitably-funded through progressive taxation, including repeal of Proposition 13. Then we wouldn't have situations where parents are spending far too much of their time and energy fundraising.

    Failing that, yes. I believe that schools should pool parent-based funding and share it out. This is after all a public school system. And eventually we all pay for its failures.

    Currently, schools serving high-needs populations subsidize wealthier schools through the teacher salary averaging anyway.

  88. "Currently, schools serving high-needs populations subsidize wealthier schools through the teacher salary averaging anyway."

    that is such an important point, of which i was unaware.

    how can i learn more?

  89. I find it interesting that people here distinguish between what's "good" for a middle-class family and what's good for an English learner, as if the two are mutually exclusive.

  90. 9:03 AM: Great point! I teach and I can tell you that even the nitty-gritty issues like ELD programming are good for all learners. We don't think about the language we use, and the analytic thinking ELD builds (even with Kindergartners!) is good for everyone.

    8:49 AM: If you are a parent at a SFUSD school, you could go to a meeting of your school's SSC. SFUSD also publishes budgets online, and you can see the averaging in the figures. I don't know why this is done or how to find that out - if you do, please post!

  91. well, maybe schools should buddy up. that way parents would feel a greater connection to another school and see where their monies are going.

    I would not be for any system where I go fund raise for my child's school and then a certain percentage gets lopped off to get redistributed to a batch of schools. That's what we call government right now and the tax system.

    I would rather experienced fund raisers, grant writers etc pool their resources and teach the schools that don't do well how to do it. You know its not just money. Its parents/guardians volunteering in classroom. That is a new concept to some people, who may feel intimidated because of their own background etc.

    Also, some schools are much more able to get grants because of their population. Clarendon, West Portal could only DREAM of having that grant money.

  92. Buddy system - Great idea. There is NOTHING stopping Clarendon and Rooftop from doing this TODAY. Anyone get assigned there and want to take this on?

  93. FYI - it's the teachers union that, so far, won't let us touch moving away from teacher salary averaging.

    They say that if schools budgets reflected the actual teacher salary costs, that schools would try to lose their 'expensive' senior teachers to hire 'cheaper' junior teachers. You don't just go for the cheapest person out there.

    Which I find baloney as a manager. When I build departments or organizations I want a range of experiences and levels. Some senior, some middle and some junior.

    Basically, the teacher union skews towards more senior middle and HS teachers, and does everything it can to support those with more time under their belt. We all know that quality teaching has nothing to do with seniority - some of the best/worst teachers are senior/junior.

    I take it as a given that teacher salary averaging won't end anytime soon. But assuming this to be the case, don't see why we don't spend less energy on where we put kids, and spend more energy on how we assign teachers.

    Shouldn't there be a 'quota' on not having a school with, say, more than 40-50% novice teachers?

  94. Or--offer a big premium to master teachers to teach in high-poverty schools, but keep the salary averaging the same so it doesn't cost their budget.

  95. 12:33 -- I think it would be more appropriate for the school that would like Clarendon or Rooftop or whoever's help to approach those schools.

    Simply because of any assistance offered could be interpreted as condescendation and we don't need to go there, thats for sure.

    I don't see why the Principals couldn't contact the other Principal or PTA President and set up a meeting to see what is feasible, culturally, economically, etc.

    And the "student" school may actually have a thing or too to offer the "teaching" school. Never know!

  96. Maybe PPS could act as a clearinghouse/ resource for schools that are in the process of developing more active PTAs. For example, if Clarendon has a fantastic after school enrichment programs, maybe they could provide a summary of what providers they use, samples of their contracts, how they started the programs, what it costs, etc. Same with their auctions or other fundraising activities. It would be great not to have to reinvent the wheel one school at a time.

  97. Oh, I love it - first we are told to stop whining & get things done, like raising $ for a playground/music teacher/etc., and if I manage to do that. some of you PC police want to get your paws on it!? Yes is is a public school system, but IF I RAISE SOME $ FOR MY CHILD'S SCHOOL, THAT IS PRIVATELY RAISED MONEY!



  98. 7:53 -- yes, I agree with you completely... I am against taking any percent of any money raised by a school to share the wealth around... nuh uh... we ain't that socialist yet, alright. That's why we have gov't and taxes, we have a system that takes to some extent from those who have and spreads the wealth. (except if you happen to be an AIG exec>>)

    That's why I suggest that either schools buddy up (I'd be more inclined to raise money for my school and a brother school for instance) or else, have those skilled at fundraising, grant writing etc share their skills. Teach others to fish, not give them the dang fish.

    The PPS as a clearinghouse is a great idea!! Or to connect people... sometimes reading how someone did something just doesn't click.

  99. That is your choice. If I want to sacrifice time & effort to raise a few hundred dollars toward my kid's school, then I should have the choice to do so, too, without it being "shared."

    If you force me to "give," what do you think will happen?

  100. Oh my. Go public to help the commons, but only help the commons that are directly benefiting your kid. Hmm.

  101. 10:03 -- I'd bet you'd be surprised how many of the parents at your school would be willing to help out another school, not necessarily give them a percent of the money your school raised, but if asked, would share how they organized something, who to contact, where to find info on a grant etc.

    Yeah, I'm not for just taking what somebody worked hard for, and passing it around. However, I believe that there are many good ideas and skills to be shared, both ways between schools.

    This country was built upon hard work, having fire in one's belly, etc to move on up the ladder. And charity, people lending a helping hand when someone is down on their luck. But no, its not built on sloth or entitlement, of which there does seem to be a lot going around these days. However, in no way, should adults take this out on children, esp not elem children!

  102. Here's the thing, though: we are all going to pay for poor outcomes at high-needs schools.

    The kids who drop out of high school, or who pass through the system without learning to read effectively, or whose experience is so negative they learn to hate reading and defy all authorities...where do you think these kids end up? We all pay for social services and - let's be honest, here - incarceration.

    And bootstraps logic and Horatio Alger notwithstanding, poverty begets poverty. The cycle continues.

    I strongly disapprove of parent and teacher funded education in the public schools. I want a robust public commons where all comers support each other for the betterment of their society. However, in our current situation I think it's very short-sighted and financially irresponsible to not consider some scheme of sharing the wealth.

    I also need to point out that posters here significantly overestimate the grants available to low-income schools AND Title One funding. Title One is federal money, and federal funds cover something like 12% of education costs. Believe you me, Lillienthal et al. are not being starved of a huge resource while southeast side schools gorge themselves on federal benevolence. Parents may feel that they should only support their child's school, but don't obscure the facts.

  103. " At the moment, schools on the East side have some amazing immersion programs but the GE programs have quite a ways to go before catching up, IMO."

    Err, there's Moscone and E.R. Taylor: their APIs are the same as Rooftops. We went for all immersion, but if we'd listed GE programs, I'd have put them ahead of Rooftop.

  104. Very true, 1:05. Moscone and Taylor are functional schools that are off the radar of parents here, but shouldn't be.

    I would still suggest that the number of GE spots is limited over here in the sun belt, and if the BOE started a strict neighborhood assignment system (which I doubt they will do), it would be a question as to where they would place our kids.

  105. Moscone only has one GE strand (two billingual strands). Taylor has two GE strands (and two billingual strands).