Thursday, October 8, 2009

Claire’s Story: A blogger is born

Hello there internets. Well, here I am jumping into the K search with both feet. Both terrified, leaden feet. I am, like so many, trying to be calm, focused, and organized as I approach this process. I expect to be only occasionally successful. To make matters just that much more interesting, my partner and I have decided to look at both public and independent schools. Because really, who needs to show up to the office this fall anyway? Since there are other bloggers here at SF K Files headquarters reviewing public schools, my posts will focus on the independents.

But before I jump into all that, I’ll introduce myself and my merry little band. My partner Elias, 5 year old son Owen, and I live with our menagerie of pets in a not at all fancy nor trendy part of the city. We have a house, it has a yard and often when folks visit they say things like “So this is still in San Francisco huh?” Elias works (a LOT) in that tech wonderland to the South. I work part-time while Owen is enrolled in a Pre-k program (at a school which sends 90% of its students to public school.)

Owen turned 5 this summer and while he technically made the cut-off to enroll in K this September, we decided, in concert with his pre-school director, to wait a year and do the PK thing. He’s a great kid, sunny, funny and whip smart. A lot of people were surprised when we made the decision to wait. It really came down to thinking about who HE is and evaluating if we thought he was ready. He’s a classic “slow to warm” personality. He can be shy and reserved and is the kind of kid who isn’t interested in trying new stuff unless he’s pretty certain he’ll be great at it. Until the last month or so he cared not one bit about drawing, writing, or sitting still for extended periods unless under the heavy influence of moving pictures. He just didn’t seem “ready” to us. My parents are retired school teachers and after hearing their mantra of “Kindergarten now is just like the 1st grade you attended” ten billion times, it sank in. (My mom also likes to say “We aren’t breeding them any smarter, we’re just trying to cram stuff in faster” – you’re bound to hear more of her gems throughout this process.) We figured, once Owen starts school he’s pretty much in it for 13 straight years, so why rush into this?

I’m a former elementary school teacher (taught in both public and private) and am a product of post Prop-13 California public schools. My K-12 education can best be described as “meh”. My high school lost its accreditation the year after I graduated. I was on the “college prep” track but didn’t see a college counselor until my last month of school. I was busy and involved in non-academic pursuits (clubs and music and boys mostly.) I don’t feel I received a particularly good education and in many ways I slipped through the cracks. Elias on the other hand went to Parochial schools and feels he was very well educated (and indoctrinated.) We’re not considering parochial schools for Owen. Not because they aren’t good or worth considering but because we aren’t religious and don’t believe in going to the concert if you don’t want to listen to the band.

So the independents. . .Man oh man, that’s a lotta dough huh? We are decidedly middle class and expect we will need some aid in order to swing all but the least expensive of the indys. For the right school we’re willing to make the investment and that will mean me working more, plus giving up vacations and other perks we enjoy from time to time. I get that “Private School” can be controversial and for sure it’s not something that everyone is interested in but Kate’s intention with this blog is to give the big picture of the K search and for some of us that includes casting the net wider than SFUSD.

So that’s my deal dear internets. Try to be kind as I share this experience with you. We’re all here to learn right?

236 comments:

  1. Welcome Claire! Thanks for sharing your story and we look forward to hearing about your search.

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  2. Hi Claire,

    I hope your search goes well for you. Will it be a competitive year for privates? We actually thought we had a good shot for the privates (though also toured 14 publics over two years) but were turned down by all three we applied to. That was a surprise. I foolishly thought strong applications, diverse background, etc would help, but sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn't. I'd be cautious of requesting financial aid, if this year is anything like last. We ended up at one of our 7 first round choices for public and while not perfect, our school works, particularly as we realized much of what we sought for within our net was offlimits. Worth considering for all the effort the private hunt takes...

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  3. Welcome, Claire, and good luck.

    A little warning, pursuing the private schools as a regular middle class person can be a bit heartbreaking. You have to invest a lot of yourself in the process (unlike public where you can tour a lot if you want to, but you don't have to, and you certainly don't have to lay your soul bare as part of it). Then, despite the smiling statements of the admissions peopele, it turns out that the number of slots that are available to new financial aid families is, shall we say....limited. Or maybe they offer aid but it is more than you can afford, even assuming that you will never have a vacation again for two decades. And somehow it feels a lot more personal than not getting the school in the lottery....there are personal judgments being made.

    I guess my best advice is, get your armor on, and try to get too invested in any specific place. The privates can look very attractive next to the scruffy publics. Not that you can judge an education that way anyway, but still....attractive. But it's not a fair process.

    Seriously though--good luck. Maybe you'll do better than me and my friends; I hope so!

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  4. Acceptance letters and finanical aid award letters are different. You won't "not get in" because you request financial aid. You might not GET financial aid, though. I am sure it is true that there were more requests for financial aid last year, both from newly applying families and from attending families whose financial situation changed. That being said, you won't get rejected because you request aid, although that may determine whether or not you can attend. If you are requesting aid you will receive one of the following letters -- 1) Yes you are accepted and yes you have been awarded x in financial aid, 2) Yes, you have been accepted but we are unable to offer you aid, or 3) No, you have not been accepted.

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  5. Claire...trying to give you something positive...We applied to two privates and got into both with financial aid.

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  6. Welcome to the arena. Your first post was hilarious and I'm looking forward to following your search.

    I dipped my toe into the private schools last fall, although I knew my son couldn't attend without heavy financial aid.

    It was definitely interesting. I was amazed by the SF Friends' renovated building and they had the best food. I attended a Town School for Boys event and man, I'd never seen so many well-dressed little boys in my entire life. They all had great hair. I tried to attend a third in the upper Richmond, but couldn't find it and then got a parking ticket. Synergy was neat, but too many parents asked about "the gifted child" and kept leaving the tour to check out the bathrooms. I wanted to see more, but our household was in chaos and my boss was starting to wonder if I still worked for him.

    Anyway, we ended up not applying because the financial aid people wanted our tax return in February and we couldn't get our documents together in time (we'd sold our house in Michigan that year). So I withdrew all our apps and ended up at our first-choice public.

    Good luck!

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  7. Loved your first post! Especially the "don't believe in going to the concert if you don't want to listen to the band" comment! Thanks for writing about private schools. This blog is much more interesting when it's looking at both private and public schools (and we're a public school family).

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  8. I'm a public school parent and I can't wait to read your reviews, Claire. I really appreciate your honesty and humor.

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  9. We are going through the K process this year. Looking at privates, publics and parochials. Thanks very much for contributing to this blog.

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  10. Don't give up on the privates Claire. This year actually might be easier given the shock and awe of last year is gone. I realize that the work related to getting into the privates is onerous but if you scale it over 9 years it really isn't that big a deal. Best of luck to you. Oh and don't be too put off by the people you might see at the functions, remember these are folks trying to get in and don't always represent the people that are actually going there. I remember being put off by the well heeled nature of the people at the coffees and things but then after we got in, turns out everyone was quite humble (never seen so much fleece!).

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  11. Great writing!

    I love this line too:

    ... we aren’t religious and don’t believe in going to the concert if you don’t want to listen to the band.

    I've always thought it would be, for me, like sending my kids to Republican school. I wouldn't disown them if they grew up to be Republicans, but I wouldn't be happy about it either, and why in the world would I want to encourage it, and pay money for it too?

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  12. ...indeed, something to think about when considering a high-priced school filled with investment bankers' children ;-)

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  13. Welcome, Claire. I would suggest that you ignore the snarky anonymous private school bashing comments unless there is a substantive point being made that is worth discussing. Please visit the schools and make up your own mind regarding any particular school. I think everybody can agree that the goal of parents starting the kindergarten search process is to find a school that fits your child and your family and your family’s circumstances. If this assessment includes independent / parochial schools, then I hope that those of us that have gone through the process and/or have kids in a particular school can help you and other people make an informed decision.

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  14. Agree with the previous poster -- don't be put off by the people you see on the tours. I barely recognize the people I saw on the tours, since they now all wear yoga pants and fleeces at drop off, pick up, soccer practice, soccer games...

    And don't listen to the posters that talk about "investment bankers' children", there are lots of stereotypes in the private schools, but I have not found them to be true. It runs the gamut -- socio-economic, ethnic, religious affiliation, family structure, industries, etc. And my child is at one of the schools that for some reason has historically had a "white upper-crust old school" reputation. I was surprised when I toured and surprised when I attended a few functions.

    So check out the schools for yourself. Don't take anyone's word for it unless THEY have a child that is currently attending.

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  15. Is there something inherently bad about investment bankers' children? That kind of comment is as obnoxious as those of people who don't want to send their kid to a school with poor kids.

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  16. Speaking from experience, and trying to honest, I think private school communities do run the gamut--except for socio-economic. There are interracial families, internationally adopted kids, a variety of religions, gay families, working moms, stay at home moms, high-powered families, and down-to-earth families. And also some middle class families, which is sounds like Claire may be.

    What I have not seen is working class and low-income families. Given that most kids in San Francisco fall into one of these categories, they are "missing children" from the picture of private schools in San Francisco. (I should say that perhaps Synergy and a few others are exceptions--I've heard this but I don't know).

    Anyway, please understand that I'm not trashing the educational offerings or the reasons why one might pick a private school. I've faced these choices in my own life and come down on different sides at different times and for different children. I think the truth is that there is no perfect choice. All of them are imperfect. You have to come down on what you value, and the balance of that can shift depending on the circumstances.

    Private schools are by nature exclusive. They have become less exclusive along some vectors, but I can't see how anyone could argue that they include the gamut in terms of S/E background. In other words, it's a valid critique that they don't. That may be a bug or a feature depending on your point of view.

    Again, having been in both public and private, I understand the critique and I can see how something is lost or diminished in that experience. On the other hand, private schools can offer a lot that the public schools can't, obviously. Like I said, no perfect school.

    But I don't see how pretending this issue doesn't exist helps to make the case for going there. Yes, there is diversity in private schools. But not a lot of poor folks or even working class ones. Better to acknowledge the truth and let people make their own judgments about it.

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  17. 2:29

    I took it as a tongue-in-cheek reference to why would you send your kids to a Republican school. Investment banker families do skew Republican overall, though perhaps not in this town where Greens outnumber the GOP and most of the establishment votes with the donkeys.

    I'm sure all kids are wonderful wherever they come from, which is why the private schools are so eager to admit kids from the projects, right?

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  18. Can someone say what the absolute upper income limit that would be considered for financial aid at private schools? I have been afraid to ask the schools. Our household income is more than $150,000 so not poor. But 40,000 for two kids is not easy to afford even at that income level.

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  19. Really not trying to be snarky here, but objectively speaking, making more than $150,000 but less than $200,000 puts you in the top 6% of income earners in the United States.

    Nevertheless, yes, it can be hard to afford multiple private school tuitions in a high-cost area like SF, and many schools do give some aid to families that earn even above $200,000 (who are by comparison in the top 4% of income). I've heard that $250,000 is pretty much the limit (that's the top 1.5% of income, just for reference).

    One interesting question to ask on a tour is what % of a school gets scholarships. I believe Live Oak gives out more partial scholarships, whereas others give out fewer but perhaps bigger ones. This means Live Oak is full of upper-middle class to middle class families, probably, in contrast to Hamlin which may have more upper class families salted with some regular middle class ones. As noted above, few have many if any truly working class or low-income kids. Just something to think about in terms of the mix you might feel comfortable with. You can't tell who is going to be there from the tours/coffees, so this question, if it gets answered, can help you figure that out.

    Hard to imagine you would get a full scholarship, but you might get a break on tuition. I know people who pay $14,000/child instead of $20,000 (or more when you consider child care and higher tuition for upper grades). Not sure what their income is, though I know they have two professional salaries.

    A note of caution, though totally anecdotal and you should take it that way: some families from last year seem to believe they weren't accepted because they applied for aid. I also heard that many existing families at these schools had to ask for assistance due to job loss and other factors, so that depleted the funds. I know some families that scraped together a plan for the first year or two on how to pay (relying on grandparents mostly), and figured on applying for aid down the road, especially when #2 child was to enter. Not sure if that would work out or not--if you got aid, great, but if not, then what?

    Who knows, really? One of the problems with the private school application process is that so much is a black box.

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  20. Off the top of my head, I can think of a few parents at my child's private school that are officers at large companies. I can also think of a few parents that do not have college degrees, although I will admit that's not the norm. There are more upper middle and middle class families than working class families, but we do have them. We have families that live in big houses and families that live in rented apartments. Also, I was surprised to learn that most of the parents went to public schools. I am not saying that there are lots of low income families, but it's not all "investment banker" kids either. Mostly it's just lots of nice, down to earth parents who are interested in their child's education. Probably like pretty much everyone who reads this blog.

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  21. Why don't we just let Claire tour schools and review them? That way she can form her own opinion and the blog readers can decide for themselves if they are interested in touring or applying. Isn't that the way it's supposed to work?

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  22. Uh, 3:49, this blog has never worked that way before (take a look back at Kate's reviews in 2007). It's always been a free-for-all. Part of what makes it addictive, and informative, and also dangerous. Every time she has tried to impose some order and civility, such as with ID/registration, even anonymous ones, the blog has died.

    Some like it, some don't, but that's how it is around here.

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  23. 3:45

    Middle class is a nebulous term, and everyone assumes they are in it, and want to assume so anyway.

    Objective definitions would use either % of federal poverty line (FPL) or deviation from median income. You could say that poor = 0 income up to 200% of FPL ($44,000/family of 4). You could argue that working class is somewhere between 150% or more likely 200% FPL and 300% FPL. Some would say that middle class--including the subset of working class families-- means 200-500% FPL. Or 400%, but let's stretch to 500% in SF. Median income in SF is about $67,000 for a family of 4, which is a little more than 300% FPL. Healthy Families SF will cover (with increasing fees) uninsured families up to about 500% FPL, or $110,000/family of 4. So let's stipulate that middle class = $44K-$110,000K for a family of 4.

    I know, your eyes are glazing over now, but I'm only suggesting that these are arguably more objective measures of social class--along with other factors such as level of education.

    Objectively speaking, most private schools do not include more than a handful of working class (200-300% FPL families, or $44,000-$66,000) in their midst. A few schools do, but not most. These families tend to gravitate toward parochial, not private. The very poor (0-200% FPL) tend to be in public schools. Objectively speaking, most private schools include a majority of families with incomes above $110,000--well above middle class. Some of them even get financial aid.

    I know from my own experience that many of these are super-nice, down-to-earth families! Seriously. I'm not putting them down or calling them snobs. I'm just not, so no one should put those words into my mouth. Good people, who vote right, and are compassionate and caring folks.

    But that is a different issue than defensively claiming that these schools actually serve the regular middle class (from $44,000 to $110,000 for a family of 4). Especially not the working class subset of that, and definitely not low-income kids. And since most of our kids in SF fall into the working class and low-income categories, they are pretty much missing from the private schools. Middle class kids are there, but not in representative numbers.

    Those are the facts.

    Again, you can decide that's a bug or a feature, or something in between, but they are facts. Just as we should acknowledge the deficiencies of the public schools that are so underfunded, and face them honestly, even while acknowledging their heroism and very decent results, we should honestly acknowledge this too. Anecdotes about people wearing fleeces and jeans do not paint the realistic picture. People can make their own judgments, but they should be able to look at the facts. Again, I say that as one with both public and private experience.

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  24. I've always thought it would be, for me, like sending my kids to Republican school. I wouldn't disown them if they grew up to be Republicans, but I wouldn't be happy about it either...

    So much for embracing diversity!

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  25. I'm all for embracing diversity, and my bloved grandad was a lifelong Republican, but holy cow they are wacked these days. Not sure they shouldn't be shunned until they denounce the monkey signs and death panels. Maybe they need a time-out.

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  26. 4:20pm - Thanks for your post. Can you direct us to where you've seen these "facts." I've been researching this, but I haven't been able to find any of this data publicly available. Thank you.

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  27. Not sure they shouldn't be shunned until they denounce the monkey signs and death panels.

    We'll make sure to "brand" our family to make it easier for you to shun us then.

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  28. Okay, 4:28, do YOU denounce the monkey signs? Like I said, I had dear family members who were Republicans, but they are rolling in the graves now. I don't what you call yourself, but are you okay with those signs?

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  29. 4:26, I have to run out the door, but quickly: try census.gov, or the Bureau of Labor Statistics to start. Or google income percentiles and see where that leads you.

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  30. What a lovely beginning to your blogging, Claire! I can't wait to read about your experience.

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  31. What a wonderful first post Claire. I really look forward to reading your posts. I just toured my first private school yesterday, followed by the public school down the street today. I am struggling with the stark contrast in the aesthetics. Private school: beautiful light filtering in, amazing art all over the walls, clean, new, etc. Public school down the street (which is definitely thought of as up and coming): almost no art on the first grade walls (although there was some in K), old buildings, institutional looking desks with assigned seating, etc. How do I look past this superficial stuff and get to the stuff that matters? I feel like first impressions were so juxtaposed. Perhaps the "sales job" at the private school is meant to do this - make you feel like you are getting something for insane $$ they charge. Any advice for seeing past the superficial?

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  32. I think it's worth saying that yes, it's very difficult to see the privates and then see the publics or vice versa. The privates looks so, so lovely. It's almost unfair to the publics. I'm not sure which I would suggest seeing first. I think you just have to ask yourself, how much do aesthetics count? For some of us, they count a lot..for others, we simply can't afford aesthetics. One key I think is to pay attention to how much aesthetics count to kids. I think back on my elementary school experience (public, but in a more funded era) and remember that I loved the barren annexes I went to in 5th and 6th grade so much more than the lower classes with the soaring windows and filtered light in the classic brick building. It's strange to think about this now, given my aesthetic preferences, but it's true... my husband (who works with kids in the schools) actually think that kids seem to pay attention better in more controlled light situations (like barren annexes; he thinks the glorious light and windows are too distracting to kids...so much awareness of all the green loveliness outside...

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  33. Aesthetics count for something, as do the teachers, the composition of the class, and the parental support. Say what you will about the privates, but in my experience those parents are extremely involved with their schools. It wasn't in the cards for us, and our situation is OK, but parental involvement at our public pales in comparison to what our private school friends experience.

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  34. Hmm, my experience is the opposite. The parents I know at private schools tend to be career-focused, and they say they choose private specifically because they can't spend as much time involved in, helping out and monitoring the situation at public schools. that's true of almost all my private-school friends.

    I can't think of a single private-school parent I know -- and I know many -- who's nearly as involved in the school as MOST of the public-school parents I know.

    Assuming that post was sincere and not a sales pitch, we must just live in very, very different worlds. Funny, since it's such a small city.

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  35. Best wishes to you Claire and thank you for sharing! We are looking for a K for our daughter this year - both privates and public. We have been to 14 schools btwn last year and this year. So far, I have to say that I (who vowed to send my child to public school) is very much leaning toward an independent school. I never thought that I would think this but the privates are just more appealing than the public schools that I have seen in terms of the basics. So much so that I am not sure I can send my kid to public school. The most important thing I have focused in on (for me) is observations of the kids in the upper grades (4-8) in terms of the curriculum and how engaged the students are. Sadly, the underfunding at the public schools is far too evident (dirty furniture, uncontrolled classrooms and short tempered teachers are just some of what I have seen). It is hard to pick schools based on a brief tour and private school would be a stretch but I wan't to give my kid an opportunity to thrive. For example, at the private schools it seems Algebra 2 seems readily taught by 8th grade - I am not seeing the same at publics. Someone tell me differently and where so I can focus on those schools.

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  36. 8:57, had we decided to go private (we were accepted into a lovely independent school but eventually decided on public), I know without a doubt I would not have been as involved as much as I am at our public school. Time is money, after all. If I were paying tuition, I would not have been as willing to do volunteer work.

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  37. Those pesky private school families and their dang careers. How dare they work to provide for their children and increase the tax base, none of which benefits the rest of us. It's a disgrace!

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  38. 9:10

    Supt Garcia has challenged the middle schools to teach Algebra in the 8th grade to all the kids. I can't say it is Algebra 2, which seems advanced to me--my understanding is the normal pathway is Algebra in 8th, leading to Algebra 2, Geometry, Trig and finally Calc in high school, unless you are really accelerated and doing independent study or classes at State. Are private school kids really mostly doing Algebra 2 in the 8th grade? It's not what I did when I was in private school 30 years ago. That just seems like pushing them too hard (except for a select few genius types). Maybe someone can clarify--are Live Oak, Synergy, Friends, SFFS, SFDS, et al teaching Alg 2 as standard in 8th?

    Certainly all the honors classes in the public middle schools are doing Algebra in 8th grade as standard. The non-honors kids....some are, some aren't. Again, there is talk of pushing it, and some schools are taking it seriously.

    Where that leads--there are plenty of kids at Lowell, Lincoln, and others who can go head to head with anyone in this town in mathematics. Lots of pressure to succeed over at Lowell. Not for everyone, but plenty of kids doing very, very well and they are bringing their 8th grade Algebra with them. From my view of 7th grade pre-Alg, it's fairly rigorous preparation--building blocks, and it's moving quickly.

    Not sure where the poster has looked that have uncontrolled classrooms and unengaged students. That is far from our experience with wonderful teachers (I have kids in elementary and midddle). It's true that the aethestics are, well, scruffier, although the teachers do a lot with colorful posters, putting up children's art, paint, you name it. But look past the scruffy and there is a wonderful community.

    My kids have friends in both public and private and I would challenge anyone to distinguish between them who didn't know who went where. They all read the same books, listen to the same songs, wear the same clothes. They'll be attending the same colleges in a few years.

    I get the allure of the bells and whistles and the pretty campus. I get that privates offer programming and ratios that publics can't. But taking the long view, in terms of basic education, is it worth $300,000 over 13 years? No, not worth that much in my book, but obviously that's a judgment call.

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  39. I believe SF Day School teaches either Introductory Algebra or Algebra in the 8th grade. The curriculum elements seem comparable what is taught in 8th grade honors Algebra, which is available in numerous SF public middle schools. I've never heard anything about Algebra 2 at SFDS, at least.

    Perhaps the person who posted at 9:10 can clarify what was meant by Algebra 2 being readily taught at SF privates? At which schools, specifically? Thanks!

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  40. I'm with 11:21. $300,000? I don't think my kids are worth that much.

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  41. 12:07 okay you win the snark war, congrats ;-)

    of course you know that's not what was being said.

    the person was clear she/he felt that her/his kid was getting a decent education in public and the question was what additional value they might get by paying $300,000. lots of reasonable people ask that question, and come down on different sides.

    i'm sure we all appreciate your educated and civil contribution to that discussion for the benefit of parents who are trying to make decisions about that. you sure do make your "side" look good with cheap shots at public school parents like that.

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  42. 12:44 a.m., why do you assume 12:07 a.m. was being snarky? Perhaps she/he was being sincere. Personally, I believe that there is no monetary limit to what I would spend on my child's education. My parents sacrificed (yes, they did) so that my sister and I could attend private school. My husband's family sacrificed even more so he and his siblings could go to privates as well. The least I can do is make the same sacrifice for my son. To each his own.

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  43. Personally, I would be very cautious about stretching a family's budget too far to pay for private school. We made huge sacrifices to send our son to an expensive preschool because it suited him perfectly and we had just moved to SF and I was returning to work full-time. So it was a time of great transition for our family.

    But that was only for two years and we only have one child. I couldn't justify a decade or more of macaroni and cheese and tiny savings and fewer trips east to see family and no financial cushion if one of us loses our job.

    It sounds so virtuous: "I'm sacrificing for my child's education." But families have to keep in mind how much they're willing to sacrifice.

    I'm very relieved to have my son attending an acceptable public school so we can put the family on a solid financial footing. Especially in this kind of economy. We're trying to be realistic about where we are in life right now and what we can afford.

    Just something to keep in mind when you're crunching the numbers to see if private is an option.

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  44. I'm sure that someone making a financial sacrifice to send their child to private school has a good reason for doing so, and has already considered all the other alternatives.

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  45. Pretty sure the income limit for aid is $200K. If you make this or more, you do not qualify. Probably fluctuates a little from school to school $200K to $250K.

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  46. Personally, if my finances were such an issue I would move the family somewhere with a reasonable cost of living.

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  47. My household income is just under $200k and while I could justify spending $20k/year for private school if we had one child, I cannot justify spending $40k/year for both children. It's a big chunk of money.

    I personally don't see the value in spending $40k more for private school when SFUSD has some excellent schools. Sure, we would have shelled out the money if we lived in a poor-performing school district but why do it when you don't have to? I wasn't convinced my children would get a better education in private.

    We turned down a private school for my son and decided to send him to a great public school. He just started kindergarten and we are very happy.

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  48. I'm truly confused by the volunteer posts. The private schools volunteerism that I have seen is staggering. Just looking at Hamlin/Burkes/Town/Cathedral/SF Day /MCDS it seems the volunteer lists get filled up before some people even have a chance to write their name in. Perhaps this is because there is a larger ratio of only one parent working, I don't know. I truly don't know what the poster that said the privates have low volunteer participation is talking about though. It would seem to me that parents that choose a private inevitably do it because they "want the best for their children". This is NOT saying the publics don't it is just saying that this is very much at the forefront of the minds of all the families there. Thus, the parents seem to want to dedicate time money and effort to the school after they start attending. The personal experience I've had with two of the schools in the area (yes I'll name names: SF Day and MCDS) have tons of volunteers on a daily basis.

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  49. 11:37

    so you would like SF to be a city that exists only for the rich? some of us have lived here for generations and have a cultural heritage here, and family to care for. i also don't think that's a model for a healthy city in the long run. who will be your firefighters, paramedics, nurses, teachers of all levels, ministers, electricians, plumbers, administrative assistants, civil servants and on and on when we have all left?

    someone said something like why bash the rich who pay the taxes. i don't bash anyone, and am grateful for all who contribute their fair share. i do wish the distribution of jobs were more reasonable. more family wage jobs, fewer jobs that pay in the top 5% of income and more that pay at the 50-75% level. the growing gap between the wealthy who make $150,000+ and the rest of us is hurting all of us. more family wage jobs would be a fine tax base.

    also, unfortunately, it seems in this country that family wage jobs are hard to find anywhere. in the cheap parts of the country (detroit) there's no work and people are poor; on the expensive coasts you have to cross the threshold into the wealthy class and work 80 hours weeks or you can't afford the price of a home where you grew up. real wages have declined for most americans in the last thirty years while a few do very, very well. we are the first american generation that will do worse than our parents.

    our national policies to discourage trade unions, disinvest from the industrial sector, defund vocational programs and public education in general, and reward the financial sector with tax breaks and deregulation are well on the way to destroying this country.

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  50. There's a new SFUSD policy that all 8th graders take Algebra. I'm not sure when this is supposed to take effect, but I think it's within two years. (The previous poster surely misspoke by saying that it is standard in independent schools to teach Algebra II in 8th grade.)

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  51. 3am, of course that was snark. We all value our children beyond measure and to suggest that public school parents don't is a cheap shot for sure. I'm sure we all sacrifice a lot here. Some of us just may not see the $300,000 per child investment in private school to be the best use of that sacrifice, given the quite-decent public schools that SF is lucky to have. Others disagree, of course. It's a very debatable point, as this blog proves.

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  52. To 9:10pm last night--

    You asked for recommendations on which public schools readily teach algebra in middle school. I'm assuming you meant algebra I, not algebra II? I'm not aware of any 8th grades, private or public, that teach algebra II as the normative curriculum, except maybe for the most accelerated students.

    Anyway, SFUSD is raising the standards to push all 8th grades to teach algebra within the next few years, but where it is certainly happening. There surely are others, but this I know:

    AP Giannini
    Presidio
    Aptos
    Hoover
    Roosevelt
    James Lick
    Alice Fong Yu
    Lawton
    Rooftop
    Claire Lilienthal

    I'm sure there are others, but that's where my daughter has friends (she's in an activity that draws from all of these schools, and I've talked with the other parents about it as we worried about getting home to finish homework). The class if fairly rigorous....the main thing I see in the honors classes as opposed to non-honors is that teacher moves very rapidly and expects the kids to do the work outside of class (read the textbook, work in study groups) to figure stuff out as they go along, or attend office hours for extra help if they miss a concept. Challenging, but the kids learn fast. There are some scary-bright kids in there.

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  53. Thank you, 12:51. Amen.

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  54. Getting back to schools...thank goodness some 30% of the kids in SF go to private school, if you added those kids in the mix of the lottery, I can only imagine the odds of getting a decent public school in the NE part of town since it appears that is where most of the privates are. I think the private vs. public school debate will go on and on and on but it boils down to personal choice and the type of kids you have. In the end, we are all trying to do best for our kids and for some that is private school and for others that is public. Even then it is really the specific school that our kids will go to. Honestly, faced with a school with a rating of 4 or below across town...hello, private school. Even SFUSD seems to understand the current system does not work but we are stuck with it this year.

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  55. If more kids went to public, there would be more money to open up more schools.

    I actually think the current system is the fairest option out there. I worry about the redesign process, which may leave us with either a process that is much less fair or much less feasible.

    Actually, 7:57, I do get the thing about not wanting to go across town, but you shouldn't be relying on the test scores, sight unseen. They are not a rating of school quality but tell a story of demographics for the most part.

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  56. Yes, thank you 12:51.

    What 12:51 said IS about the schools. It's about whether we are going to support public schools or not, because if not, and the proffered solution is to go to private school or move somewhere cheaper, then there will be no middle class in this town. That's why individual decisions do matter in the larger scheme of things, just like they do for climate change and everything else. We're not little islands--our decisions have an impact on others.

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  57. To the suggestion that if we don't sacrifice ourselves to spend $300,000 per child on a private school education we less virtuous as parents, or not valuing our children--a story:

    I work 80% time and my husband works full-time but at a job he can leave behind when he walks out the door. Neither one of us is making a lot of money, but this our choice; we are both college-educated and we probably could, but we have chosen not to.

    This means that we cannot contemplate private school for our two kids. We would have to stretch too much, even with partial scholarships, and we would be worrying all the time.

    Should we stretch ourselves to earn more? Are we somehow not giving our children the best education? Are we saying they are not "worth" our sacrificing in that way?

    I can only say that I think my kids like having me pick them up from school when there is still light in the day. They like doing their homework while I get dinner started. They like having family dinner with everyone there, including their dad. They like having evenings with the whole family home. They like that we are the family that hosts sleepovers and that my husband makes killer waffles when we do.

    If we go to the pumpkin patch next weekend, I know my husband won't be taking calls or sending emails on his (non-existent) Blackberry; some of my friends sometimes complain that their husbands do this even when they are on family time.

    Education is so much more than school time. I like being part of my kids' education. Our sacrifice is less money--and no private school--but more family time. Other people take it further and home school and/or are stay-at-home moms; I can neither afford this option nor would I want to give up my job and my adult world (I would hate teaching kids all day, and I'm a better mom for getting out of the house and something I'm good at in the world).

    Other people make other choices, obviously. I don't judge them--and I realize I am lucky that I have had a choice to carve out this life balance and not worry about a roof over our heads or food on the table. We don't eat out much--2-3x a year at restaurants with tablecloths, but that's fine. Other people want to travel--and that is educational too. Other people want a great teacher/student ratio at school, and a beautiful campus and lots of special programs for their kids. We choose family time.

    As it happens, we love our public school. It's not perfect. But the community is wonderful and my kids have had great teachers. If we didn't have this option, I can see that we might explore other means to formal schooling. But right now, it's not choosing between a terrible option and a wonderful private school. It's not all or nothing. I am confident my kids prefer the time with both their parents to a 13:2 staffing ratio in the classroom.

    Again--others may feel differently about that choice. Or you may have options we don't, such that you can easily afford private school AND both parents home for dinner. No judgments here. Just, maybe, don't be so quick to judge my family. We are making a conscious choice and we think our children are well "worth" that choice. Thanks.

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  58. Our preschool director warned everyone that if they needed financial aid, they wouldn't be admitted to privates last year. SHe was right! None of the families from our preschool who applied for financial aid got admitted anywhere -- and all were *great* families, with wonderful kids, most of whom would have brought much needed diversity to the schools.

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  59. We know a family that was admitted to a top private last year, *with* financial aid, but they nonetheless had to forego health insurance this year in order to be able to pay their part of the tuition.

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  60. A lot of the moms who volunteer at private schools are stay-at-home Moms with full-time nannies who do the bulk of the childcare. For all intents and purposes, their full-time job is to volunteer at the school and the nanny takes care of the kids.

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  61. 10:33 here again, with the 80% job and slow-track lifestyle: maybe you all assumed this, but my husband just pointed out that it's not precisely accurate to say that our kids like doing homework while I get dinner going. But if they have to do it, I do think they like having me around the house for company. :-)

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  62. 10:44, do you mean the whole family had to forgo health care, or just (just! yikes) one or both of the parents? Could they have qualified for the SF health plan?--which is limited, but at least something in case they needed it.

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  63. "A lot of the moms who volunteer at private schools are stay-at-home Moms with full-time nannies who do the bulk of the childcare. For all intents and purposes, their full-time job is to volunteer at the school and the nanny takes care of the kids."
    Nice. Ok, let's do the opposite. "A lot of the moms who don't volunteer at public school are do nothing moms that don't care about their kids education and have problem kids that cause disruption in classrooms"
    I'm a public school mom and while I love our school, I would never backslap a group of people that I don't even know like that. What is wrong with you. I hope your kids don't learn that.

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  64. I am struggling with the stark contrast in the aesthetics. How do I look past this superficial stuff and get to the stuff that matters? I feel like first impressions were so juxtaposed. Perhaps the "sales job" at the private school is meant to do this - make you feel like you are getting something for insane $$ they charge. Any advice for seeing past the superficial?

    I'd like to give this one a try. The truth is that there may be non-superficial differences between public school A and private school X. But of all the differences you might find, I would not let aesthetics be the guide.

    Not sure which "up and coming" public school you visited. That's a broad category. Regarding children's art work, it is early in the year too--most art goes home in June and it takes time to build up the "supply." Or maybe the school is "coming" but not yet "up."

    I suppose ours would also look fairly scuffed up and humble compared to any of the most expensive private schools in town. I know what you mean about soaring, light-filled atriums. Wow, what beautiful places to learn. Like educational palaces.

    Which is pretty much how I feel in the home of one of my friends--wow, what a beautiful place to live (one of my friend's husband is an architect and they both have beautiful sense of design). I have serious design envy when I'm over there!

    My own house is old (I do like that part) and a little worn. Nothing fancy. Layout is typical old San Francisco--not great flow. Furniture? Hah. A mishmash. Cat has scratched the chairs, kids have done their damage. But, if I do say so myself, we have ourselves a clean, cheerful, comfortable, cozy house. We have colorful walls and pictures and enough space, and it feels like home.

    That's how I feel about our public school. It's old and a little worn. But we have regular workdays where the community gathers to shampoo the rugs and build and paint shelves and do a deep clean and generally spruce things up. It doesn't make it look like a beautiful modern campus, but the care shows.

    My younger kid's classroom has a "book nook," and colorful shelves with paper and art supplies, a comfy rug for circle time, and even a couch. There is art and other children's work on the walls and hanging from the ceiling. I don't have a problem with him being there all day! And when we are done with each work day, the kids know that their parents and teachers care and value their education. Sweat equity, humble, but not bad values. And like my house--clean, cheerful, comfortable, cozy. I don't ask for more than that, or at least I wouldn't pay for it.

    There may be other reasons to choose a private school, if you an afford it. There may be other reasons to choose public too, like language programs and whatnot.

    I think the non-superficial stuff is school community, teaching, and curriculum. Schools vary widely in teaching/learning approach--Live Oak is not Town is not Starr King Mandarin is not Creative Charter School for the Arts. That's what I would focus on. Try to see past the marketing, because you're right, it's super-attractive but not the real reason why you might want to pay all that money.

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  65. Speaking of spruced-up schools, kudos to the Daniel Webster parents what they have done over there. The new paint, greener schoolyard & playground--I never would have thought I would say this about Webster but it looks great. I know you have worked hard, so congratulations.

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  66. In an ideal world my child would go to school at our neighborhood school (which is not Clarendon, Rooftop, CL, West Portal or one of the other top trophy schools but does fill in Round I) and we would be able to walk there. I will waitlist it if we don't get in on Round I. It is the uncertainty of the system that drives me to Privates because I know I need a viable alternative and I do not have the nerves to last until after the 10 day count or beyond to find out if we get in.

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  67. "A lot of the moms who volunteer at private schools are stay-at-home Moms with full-time nannies who do the bulk of the childcare. For all intents and purposes, their full-time job is to volunteer at the school and the nanny takes care of the kids."

    This statement is wrong on so many fronts. I can just as easily say that many of the moms I know who have kids who go to public school choose to stay at home and do nothing during the day rather than work and send their kids to a better (private) school. Anyone who volunteers at a school (public or private) should be applauded for their participation. In SF, most families I know (private and public school families), are families where both parents work and cannot take the time off to volunteer (moms being guilt ridden often) so cheers to all of those volunteers!

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  68. Some people will always opt for private school, and I tend to think it is mostly because they like the status. They want the 800 dollar stroller instead of the 20 buck Graco stroller I got a garage sale. And to justify their frivolousness, they use icky tactics like "my son deserves the best, doesn't yours?"
    My son did not suffer in his 20 buck garage sale stroller. It isn't about the "ride" it is about the label to those types of people.
    All our sons and daughters deserve the best. My son is getting what is best for him in his little Charter school. A pal of mine has her kid at Friends School, and that is best for her daughter. She enrolled her kid there not as a status symbol, but because it was the environment her child needed.
    What is best for each kid differs, because all kids are different. Don't let the snobs try to make you feel guilty if you don't bankrupt your family to send your child to private school.

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  69. "A lot of the moms who volunteer at private schools are stay-at-home Moms with full-time nannies who do the bulk of the childcare. For all intents and purposes, their full-time job is to volunteer at the school and the nanny takes care of the kids."

    I take it you don't attend a private school. Ah, you probably have "friends who attend private school."

    While the above description might describe some of the moms who volunteer at our independent school, I've never actually met anyone here like this. This is my 10th year at our pre-K-8 school, and there is high volunteerism in both of my kids grades. The vast majority of these parents are part of 2 income families. Many of them have jobs with flexibility or are self-employed. There are a few parent volunteer who don't work (other than lots of time spent at school) but they sure don't have nannies! Interestingly, the one family I know who does have a nanny does not spend time volunteering. In general I would have to say that the hardest working volunteers are invariably the ones with full time jobs.

    So that's a snapshot of our school. It's not intended to describe all independent schools, nor is it somehow a judgment of volunteer rates at public schools, about which I have no first hand knowledge.

    I always find these private/public school discussions fascinating, for all of the misinformation that is disseminated on both sides. Many of the comments reveal much more about the posters than about the schools.

    The cultures (and volunteer rates) of individual schools, public or private, are unique and varied, as anyone who takes the time to actually tour will realize. I hope no one is actually taking any of these blanket statements as meaningful information.

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  70. Good points, 8:42. You are right that all the schools are much more varied than is being portrayed here, and blanket statements are not useful.

    I am wondering if there is ever any discussion in your private K-8 of leveraging all that energy in a cross-volunteering project at your nearest public school, maybe have a joint fundraiser that take advantage of the presumbly higher income base at your school, combined with a cultural festival or something? It seems like the privates tend to lack diversity, especially economic, and the publics lack dough. It seems like it might be a great way to cross-pollinate a little.

    It seems like private school people don't really know what is going on in the public school down the street, and vice versa. Might be nice if we did.

    Has anyone here at a private school ever heard talk about this? I don't mean to just send money from on high, but to actually get involved so that the two communities can know each other. It seems like that sense of the privates being a little walled off from the majority of kids in the city is a valid point, and the concern that energy leaves the publics when people go private is also a valid point.

    Could this idea work? Has it been done? For example, I think I heard that SFFS was going to "make friends" with Marshall, but I don't know if that has actually happened.

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  71. 2:21 - I like your idea a lot. I think it would help bridge the cultural divide as well between public and private.

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  72. I have to post surrounding the $300K comment.

    We make enough to afford private but I simply don't want to spend the money. I also don't like to blow tons of time on the weekend taking my kids to a bunch of activities. I won't do anything for my kids or spend any amount of money. There are limits. My kids are part of a family that includes all of the children and the parents too.

    I consider myself frugal with my time and money and also realistic. So - I will try to wrangle my kids into what I consider a good public. I will monitor the situation and volunteer where I can. If the situation is not working, I may pull a child for private for a couple of years and then bring them back into public.

    In my opinion, it would be hard to teach frugality and value while enrolling in private school.

    When it comes time for University, I will steer my kids to some great value publics - unless they truly are genius and/or are extremely driven and prove to me that they understand the cost of the university.

    I guess my point is - Not everyone will do anything for their kids. And - obviously - I feel like I am making good decisions that are good for my kids and my family.

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  73. Wholeheartedly agree with the comments about public school. As a tangent to this thread, we've decided to leave SF for Mill Valley. (Nothing against SF schools, but we prefer the neighborhood school model.) Has anyone here done anything similar or have suggestions about sites like this but focussing on Marin? I've gone through all the information at Great Schools and MV's website, but would be interested to read other parents' comments about the schools. Thanks!

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  74. San Francisco Day School does several programs with Tenderloin Community School. Not mentioned during the tours as a marketing tool. They just do it.

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  75. 5pm--can you elaborate? Do they raise funds? Do the kids get to know each other at all, or see each others' campuses? Do they do holidays/festivals together and share culture? And why Tenderloin Community specifically?--obviously it is a *very* deserving choice, so I'm not questioning, but it seems like Cobb, Rosa Parks, John Muir, New Traditions are all closer to SFDS and that could facilitate more contact on a regular basis. The Japanese/African American cultures at Rosa Parks might be of interest to SFDS kids, and also their greening program might be worth collaborating on.

    Also, is there any contact between the 6-8 graders at SFDS and public school 6-8 kids, such as Roosevelt?

    Thanks.

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  76. Such possibilities for collaboration:

    * Live Oak--Daniel Webster
    * SFFS--Marshall
    * SFDS--any number, but I like the Rosa Parks idea--would be so rich for the SFDS students
    * SFS--E.R. Taylor
    * Hamlin--Cobb
    * Cathedral School for Boys--Parker? Lau?

    Etc.

    Would be great to have more fundraising capacity and advocacy for the public schools, and so, so rich for the private school kids to have access to the diversity and cultures of the publics.

    But it couldn't be noblesse oblige, let's help the poor children over there....it would have to include real cultural exchanges, real engagement on the part of adults and kids, I think. Both communities would have to understand that they have a lot to gain, not a one-way thing.

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  77. NY Times - Last week, The Washington Post ran a front-page story that said most stay-at-home moms aren’t S.U.V.-driving, daily yoga-doing, latte-drinking white, upper-middle-class women who choose to leave their high-powered careers to answer the call to motherhood. Instead, they are disproportionately low-income, non-college educated, young and Hispanic or foreign-born; in other words, they are women whose horizons are greatly limited and for whom the cost of child care, very often, makes work not a workable choice at all.

    So much for the stay at home volunteer moms with full-time nannies.

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  78. This might be too personal but I am curious what the HHI (house-hold incomes) are plus rent/mortgage of those who are affording (or just paying for w/o financial aid) private independent school in SF (seems about 22-25K a year) with one child.

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  79. 78 comments, 5 of which were directed at helping Claire. Good work.

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  80. Re: San Francisco Day School and Tenderloin Community - I think it is a work in progress but SFDS teachers and parents do significant reading support 2x a week at TCS which has a lot of ELL kids. They also have older kids being reading buddies with K/1. I don't know if they are expanding it or what. More established there is also Breakthrough San Francisco at SFDS. Summer program for public school 5/6 graders at SFDS. There is a link on the SFDS website for those interested in Breakthrough SF.

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  81. Receiving financial aid from the boutique private schools is becoming more difficult, unfortunately.

    Although the stock market recovery has buoyed endowments, schools have much larger debt obligations to fulfill after having added new gyms, tech centers, etc., to their campuses.

    Attending a pre-school with a headmaster who has connections with the privates will help streamline the admission process into the better private schools. Headmasters will tell you otherwise, but this is indeed the case.

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  82. Wow, I just learned an interesting fact today from a researcher: 32% of all children in SF attend private school (this includes parochial).

    By the way, just a quick word to follow up on the poster who said that there are three types of private school decision letters to those who've applied for tuition assistance. There is another, even more prevalent letter, that being the "Waitlist" letter, which indicates that your child is on the waitlist. This is not a yes, nor is it a no. It means that through the first week after decision letters are mailed, many will go from being on the waitlist to getting a spot. There is a lot of movement during that week!

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  83. directed at the "helping Claire" comment: I skimmed through some of the comments and wondered if one thing that might help is to look to the enrolled kids' parents and see where you might find a community. We're at Starr King MI and after two years have found many like-minded friends. My child is happy and thriving. I know the focus is on what is best for our kids of course and I'm wondering if clicking with parents might be a good measure of a place where your kids would click too. At SKMI there are many families who could have chosen independent schools but did not. There's a lot of diversity, middle and low income families and racial diversity. There are a striking number of professional parents who work in the public sector. For example, in one class of 20 kids we have 5 attorneys (two of whom work for nonprofits and one is an academic) and 3 or 4 physicians (2 working with low income, uninsured) and various other professionals who made certain choices with their own lives and careers. And are making now with our kids' educations. So we don't have the lovely sun streaked atrium you describe (and boy that would be so great) but we do roll up our sleeves and pitch in to paint the classrooms or plant the tomatoes in the garden. I'm an attorney who works with indigent clients and sometimes I do think if I worked in the private sector I could more easily afford one of the great independent schools. But then I think: but I love it here; I love many of the parents and I even like that it's a bumpy road. Good luck to you, Claire and to all the others on their search.

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  84. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  85. The amount of venom spewed regarding public and private schools is awful. I wrote in another post that some people select a school based on curriculum, pedagogy, class size and other issues directly related to educating their child. I am a public school teacher who sends her child to a private school only because I like the curriculum and pedagogy. Most of the parents at my son's school are regular people who are very nice. This schism is beginning to drive me crazy and I wish people would stop bickering over the public/private debate and finally admit that people choose schools for a variety of reasons. Period. Done.

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  86. 9:15. Thank you. Sometimes I think Bill O'Reilly's interns are playing a cruel trick in trying to pit us against each other. We parents in SF have so much more in common than this comments on this blog appear to show.

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  87. Thanks 9:15, In the end, we picked our school based on pedagogy, curriculum, teachers, class size, and it was the right specific fit for our child. If the public ones we visited fit the bill better, that would have been the pick. It so happens that the private school was perfect for him. I will also add that a great many private schools were NOT a good fit and we would have gone public if that was our only private choice.

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  88. 32% in private school - what is the source?

    For almost 30 years, the number has hovered in the 29-30% but I haven't heard that it's crept up beyond 30% (and I work with the data often.)

    In fact, public school kindergarten applications have seen a turnaround the last three years, with each year increasing the number of applicants over the last (reversing the 30 year declining trend due to the loss of kids in SF.)

    The declining enrollment over the last 3 decades is due to the loss of families and started when busing kicked off in the 1970s. SF was always a city with higher than average nonpublic school attendance. Prior to 1970 it was largely due to the high attendance in parochial schools.

    I guess I question that this number has increased at all in recent years, but would agree that it's remained pretty steady for the past three decades in the 30% range.

    The last data I saw (around 2007) showed that privates were losing kids at a faster rate that public schools.

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  89. "There are a striking number of professional parents who work in the public sector. For example, in one class of 20 kids we have 5 attorneys (two of whom work for nonprofits and one is an academic) and 3 or 4 physicians (2 working with low income, uninsured) and various other professionals who made certain choices with their own lives and careers. And are making now with our kids' educations."

    Right. As opposed to all the investment bankers. corporate attorneys and private practice physicians who chose independent schools for their kids. Who are being raised by their nannies.

    Can we please stop the moralizing?

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  90. I've heard 30-33% variously over the years as the percentage of San Francisco kids attending private school. In 2002 I attended a presentation on SFUSD demographics that went back 20 years and said the private school percentage has held within that range since 1982. There was no information (in that presentation) prior to 1982 and I never have seen any, but the general word is that there was a sharp surge when busing started -- I don't always believe the received wisdom, but that seems likely in this case.

    It'll be interesting to see if the increase in SFUSD applications in the past three years is a continuing trend, and whether the private school percentage drops year by year.

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  91. This is venomous language itself...

    "The amount of venom spewed..."

    ... so it's counterproductive to use it in asking if we can't all just get along.

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  92. I didn't think this thread was specifically focused on "helping Claire" per se but rather on everyone putting in their 2 cents, including Claire somewhat semi-publicly as the reviewer. I agree the comments can be sharp sometimes and also over the top, but surely people are smart enough to recognize which ones those are.

    Even though the issues are often uncomfortable, they are tapping into something real--or they would not be inspiring so much commentary. I personally have a love-hate relationship with this blog, and find some of the info interesting and some of it worse than useless, but I would never read it if not for the sometimes heated discussion--which, at least, helps to clarify my own thoughts exactly because I don't always agree with what is said.

    That said, taking a more positive tack myself I hope: I would love to see more discussion about how to support actual friend-building between private schools and their public neighbors. Meaning real two-way sharing, not just sending resources one way, because the public schools have lots to offer to the private school kids. Think what Rosa Parks or Marshall could share with SFDS or SF Friends kids in terms of jazz culture or Japanese drumming or greening the schoolyard or Day of the Dead festivals. Marshall has done very well in recent Odyssey of the Mind regional competitions, outscoring well-regarded suburban schools in the process. Perhaps there could be a collaboration between SF Friends kids and Marshall kids on something like that in the future? Why not? Wouldn't that be cool? Wouldn't it also help to bridge the gap that is evident in the anonymous comments here?

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  93. "A note of caution, though totally anecdotal and you should take it that way: some families from last year seem to believe they weren't accepted because they applied for aid. "

    Possibly a function of the independent privates getting their endowments hammered by the financial crisis.

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  94. "Objectively speaking, most private schools do not include more than a handful of working class (200-300% FPL families, or $44,000-$66,000) in their midst. A few schools do, but not most. These families tend to gravitate toward parochial, not private. The very poor (0-200% FPL) tend to be in public schools. Objectively speaking, most private schools include a majority of families with incomes above $110,000--well above middle class. Some of them even get financial aid."

    Just a question: where are you getting this data? My impression was that the distribution of income in the parochials and privates wasn't anywhere near as stratified as you suggest.

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  95. If you are old enough to have a child entering Kindergarten next year and wealthy enough to be considering private schools, you should give up on the dated, unfunny term "internets".

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  96. "Personally, I would be very cautious about stretching a family's budget too far to pay for private school."

    Especially at the Elementary School level.

    Save the money for college or for middle or high school. For many of the independents, the odds of getting in are better at 6th grade than at the kinder level, anyway.

    It's a personal choice and one which people feel strong emotions about, and one where there's a lot of peer pressure (e.g. if you're living in the Marina and all the parents in your social group are going private, it may be hard to buck the trend and go public).

    But you can still be a savvy consumer.

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  97. 'If you are old enough to have a child entering Kindergarten next year and wealthy enough to be considering private schools, you should give up on the dated, unfunny term "internets".'

    I think it's a nice memento of our former president. He won't get a Nobel prize, but at least we can remember his unique turns of phrase.

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  98. "Personally, I believe that there is no monetary limit to what I would spend on my child's education. "

    But there is: how much money you have or can earn.

    And the money you're paying now is money you won't have to pay for a fancier private college, or to fund them though a graduate degree, or to help them with a down payment on a house, or whatever.

    It's wonderful that your family sacrified for your education. But to feel you have to follow the same path, or to spend money for your kid's education from Kinder onward, is thinking emotionally and not with the head.

    You'll face tradeoffs with what to do with your money through your life where the choice between the quality you get between A and B are going to be sharper than between, say, Synergy and Harvey Milk or Children's Day School and Grattan. Personally, I'd save my money for those choices.

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  99. "We know a family that was admitted to a top private last year, *with* financial aid, but they nonetheless had to forego health insurance this year in order to be able to pay their part of the tuition."

    Christ almighty. That is *not* the decision I would have made. I hope they don't develop any serious illnesses.

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  100. "It is the uncertainty of the system that drives me to Privates because I know I need a viable alternative and I do not have the nerves to last until after the 10 day count or beyond to find out if we get in."

    In my peer group of parents int eh Bernal/Noe/Excelsior area, all got into a school that they liked. One went private, a few went parochial, but most went public. All are happy, and their kids are thriving.

    We got into our second choice public (which we are now very happy at), and also got slots at two parochials and Creative Arts Charter.

    We got a slot out of everything we applied for, basically.

    The process looks a lot worse going into it than looking back.

    You'll be fine. Really. There's a lot of angst on this blog, but keep a level head, be realistic, have a contingency plan and it'll all work out.

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  101. "I wrote in another post that some people select a school based on curriculum, pedagogy, class size and other issues directly related to educating their child. I am a public school teacher who sends her child to a private school only because I like the curriculum and pedagogy."

    True, which raises the question why the angst in this group over the choice of school we face.

    We have over 150 elementary schools to choose from in San Francisco, which many different approaches and ways of operating. That's something to celebrate, not lament the difficulty of making the choice.

    It's not choice like buying an ice-cream flavor at the supermarket, but choice constrained in the same way you have looking for a place in college or finding an apartment or a house: there's also other people looking for that place also.

    You may not get your absolute favorite. But you'll get something you'll like and which will suit your child well.

    And about 2 months into kindergarten, you'll wonder why you ever thought your kid would be happier anywhere else.

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  102. "Getting back to schools...thank goodness some 30% of the kids in SF go to private school, if you added those kids in the mix of the lottery, I can only imagine the odds of getting a decent public school in the NE part of town since it appears that is where most of the privates are."

    As the funding tracks the student, you'd just see an expansion of public capacity as the district got more $$$.

    "Honestly, faced with a school with a rating of 4 or below across town...hello, private school."

    4 and below would exclude schools with a lot of kick-ass immersion programs, e.g. Buena Vista, Starr King, Flynn, Fairmont. Don't be so quick to write off a school based on test scores alone. However, de gustibus non est dispuntandem. Like others have said, you need to consider the demographics.

    "Even SFUSD seems to understand the current system does not work but we are stuck with it this year."

    I think you'll actually be glad you were in the lottery. Certainly folks in the SE, where there's a shortage of school capacity, are not going to be happy with whatever redesign the district comes up with. Most SFUSD schools are pretty good, but a significant fraction (about 20%) are not. So 20% of the district's parent are going to be severely pissed off if the board opts for a purely neighbourhood system.

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  103. "It'll be interesting to see if the increase in SFUSD applications in the past three years is a continuing trend, and whether the private school percentage drops year by year."

    My prediction is that when they restructure the assignment process there will be an increase in private school applications coupled with increases in requests for financial aid. I also think more folks will try to move into better "zones" or out of the city for better schools.

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  104. "My prediction is that when they restructure the assignment process there will be an increase in private school applications coupled with increases in requests for financial aid. I also think more folks will try to move into better "zones" or out of the city for better schools."

    I don't think, from Rachel Norton's blog, that the district will go for the 'zones' option. District staff seem to be strongly against it. if the zones are too big, essentially you're replicating the same problems as the current system. If the zones are too small, then the district has the expense of replicating programs which are now district-wide in each small zone, costing additional $$$ the district doesn't want to spend.

    I expect go back to a system like the OER system before the current lottery (automatic neighbourhood placement, lottery for alternative school places, you can place your kid in another neighbourhood school if there's space). Which was less popular than the current system. And then in 3-4 years and a few lawsuits time, we'll go back to a district-wide lottery system again.

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  105. 7:42AM, re income stratification and private/parochial/public school attendance....I'm not the original writer, but there is research that shows those general outlines to be correct. I'll look for a link.

    For individual schools much can vary. NDV, St. Brendan's, St. Ignatius have a different family income base than St. Peter's or St. Charles, I would assume.

    It is generally true that most private school populations have more families with incomes over $110,000, which is well above middle class as pointed out, well into the top quintile of earners. Unless the schools have huge endowments for scholarships, this is the economics of it.

    Someone else wrote that a good shorthand way to assess the class composition of a school is to ask for an explanation of how scholarships are given out. (This data might also help you figure out if you want to apply for aid.) If a school gives out a significant number of partial scholarships, that will create one kind of class profile; if the school gives out fewer but larger ones, it will have a different class profile. It would be worth asking for a general description of A) how many scholarships are given out per class, and B) what is the average award or spectrum of awards--what's the curve of awards.

    Anecdotally--I attended a private middle school a long time ago, and I was one of two scholarship kids in my class of forty kids. For various reasons, it was obvious who we were. That was hard at times. The schools that have more kids on partial scholarships will not have that issue so much. However, they won't be offering adequate aid to many lower-on-the-income scale families. See how that works?

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  106. "Right. As opposed to all the investment bankers. corporate attorneys and private practice physicians who chose independent schools for their kids. Who are being raised by their nannies."

    Damn those Investment Bankers and physicisans and corporate attorneys that went through years of school and hard work to get where they are. They all just use nannies while at their Napa homes and send their kids to private schools which flying on their private jets. Who'se doing the moralizing?

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  107. Um. I think 10:41pm last night was being sarcastic with that comment about investment bankers and nannies. Which might be its own form of moralizing, actually, but it wasn't a slam on the investment banking class.

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  108. Trying to help with actual advice for those people (for whatever reason) who are considering private schools. All these are anecdotal and based on our own experiences over two years and people we know who went through the process. I am trying to steer clear about the whole public/private debate.
    I think the biggest point that has been made before is that Admissions Directors are judged by yield. i.e. No. of acceptances to No. of spots offered. Your actions should be judged by this metric. If you are truly excited by a school and would definitely attend if offered a spot. Try to make this fact patently clear. If you are not sure, then at least minimize your trepidation and doubts when communicating to the AD or head of school.
    If you know families who attend the school, be sure to talk to them to get a real sense of the school and the obligations and mention this fact to your interviewer or the AD. I don’t think they note it for any nefarious social programming, but just the fact that if you know someone at the school – you are more likely to accept an offer at the school.
    There are some significant differences between the cultures and atmospheres of the schools. Generally, the single sex independents like Town or Hamlin are considered to have more pressure and slightly more conservative (it is SF, after all) than the mixed schools like SF Day, Live Oak and Friends. Some kids will thrive in the system, others not so much. Depends on your kid.
    The other thing which I think is important to remember is that there is always a greater number of kids who would fit any of the spots that the AD is trying to fill in making up a class. Finding out siblings spots for next year is only important to determine how much energy or investment you might put in a place. Last year Live Oak only had 3 girl spots. Plan accordingly. Don’t count on your family’s diversity. There are plenty of families who can offer the same characteristics. Emphasize the things that set you apart that can make you and your family an attribute to the school community.

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  109. (following up previous post)

    Remember that this is like college. They are selecting you. This is what drives people nuts – because they have limited control of the process. Couple that with the lottery system for publics and if you are trying for both you can easily drive yourselves crazy. I would suggest keeping perspective and some emotional distance from the process and realize that yes, in the end, almost everyone ends up in a place with which they are satisfied.
    I do think that preschools can make a difference. Again, not so much that preschool directors have that much pull – but if they have a relationship with the AD, they can provide insight or info as to how likely a child will do and whether or not the family is likely to accept an offer. Keep that in mind when discussing schools with your Preschool director. Just my personal opinion.
    I also do think that late summer boys are easy for AD’s to winnow out early to reduce the applicant pool. I don’t think that this is the same for girls as younger girls seem to be able to get in at the same rate as everybody else. Again look at it from the AD’s perspective. You have 200+ applications for 25-30 spots or so. You triage as quickly as you can. If you have a summer boy and are serious about private school, I would definitely think of a Transitional K option as a backup – but definitely apply this year. If you apply two years in a row, it will help with the AD with the yield question. (i.e. Pick me, I am really, really interested) .
    On the other side, once you actually have an offer, the shoe is on the other foot. If you are trying to decide between public v. private at that point or several different privates – then you can speak to whoever you want, ask all the pointed questions you refrained from asking – put them through the wringer to make a case why you should commit to that school. We had 4 private school offers in the end (after going 0 for 4 the year before) and the mental transition of having to make a decision was jarring, to say the least. That is far in the future though. Hope this helps.

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  110. 8:42 a.m. "4 and below would exclude schools with a lot of kick-ass immersion programs, e.g. Buena Vista, Starr King, Flynn, Fairmont."

    Funny, none of those schools are in the NE part of town which was what the original poster was concerned with in combination with test scores. In fact, there is not a single spanish immerison offering in the NE section of the city. There is Korean at CL (great rating of 9).

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  111. Claire: thanks for sharing!
    I agree with what has been said to remember too that even if one's choice is to go independent, try to keep an open mind and participate in the public lottery. We wound up waitlisted at private (first choice had only 4 slots for kinder girls!) and are now happily at public.
    --another Starr King parent--attorney not investment banker : )

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  112. "Damn those Investment Bankers and physicisans and corporate attorneys that went through years of school and hard work to get where they are."

    Thank god someone is sticking up for those who are already at an advantage in life.

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  113. "Funny, none of those schools are in the NE part of town which was what the original poster was concerned with in combination with test scores."

    Read again, she said: 'Honestly, faced with a school with a rating of 4 or below across town...hello, private school.'

    Given she's in the NE, and the lower scoring schools are concentrated in the SE, that's why I took she was talking about SE schools, based on the "across town" part of her post.

    "In fact, there is not a single spanish immerison offering in the NE section of the city. "

    1. A moment's thought about the demographics of SF neighborhoods would answer the question why Spanish Immersion is concentrated in the SE.

    2. Immersion programs are [generally] used as magnet programs to draw applications to schools dropping in enrollment, and to lower the concentration of low-SES students in said schools. [Because low-SES students do better in schools where the %age of low-SES students is below 60%, and even better below 40%.] Immersion programs put Flynn, Monroe, Fairmount, Webster, Revere, Starr King, JOES, etc on the radar of many parents who'd otherwise overlook them. Schools like Argonne, Peabody, Ulloa, CL in the West and North don't need the same magnet programs to draw applications.

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  114. 'Remember that this is like college. They are selecting you. This is what drives people nuts – because they have limited control of the process. Couple that with the lottery system for publics and if you are trying for both you can easily drive yourselves crazy. I would suggest keeping perspective and some emotional distance from the process and realize that yes, in the end, almost everyone ends up in a place with which they are satisfied. '

    11:38/39 am speaketh much wisdom. Heed them. The point about yield is a pretty salient one.

    11:38, do you get the impression that the AD's also get based on the volume of applications received (i.e. 'look at what a good job I did marketing the school')? I got the feeling AD's from the independents were really reluctant to divulge how low the odds of admission were for some of the schools.

    Also, in terms of really getting a feeling about a school, I wish that I'd spent less time on tours and more time calling up parents and getting one-on-one information. I'd reckon you'd get better information from a parent on what the admissions process is like for an independent private than from the Admissions Director. Also, you'd get a better idea of the negatives (minor or deal-killer) associated with a school from a one-on-one conversation than from a tour.

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  115. BE sure to ask about the prevalence of tutoring when you tour the privates.

    We were shocked to discover how many private school kids get tutoring on the side. It can be a significant expense. In some cases, it is at the school's request. In others, parents just want to give their kid an "edge." But it is *very* common at some schools, where nearly a third of the kids are getting tutored.

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  116. "We were shocked to discover how many private school kids get tutoring on the side. "

    Wow. At the K-5 level, or at the grade 6-8 level?

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  117. "Also, in terms of really getting a feeling about a school, I wish that I'd spent less time on tours and more time calling up parents and getting one-on-one information."

    Me again. Another reason for trying to get a one-on-one conversation with a current parent at the school would be to get the skinny on how the school deals with bullying.

    I just don't think you get a good picture of how well the school deals with bullying from a tour, where you'll get talk about anti-bullying programs with no idea how well they're implemented in practice.

    You need to talk with a parent who can give you an anecdote how the school deals with aggressive kids. And, unlike for most cases, here anecdotes really are data.

    Considering how badly bullying can affect a child, especially quiet and shy kids, it's information worth collecting.

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  118. 3:07, @ the K-5 level and the 6-8 level. It's like a hidden fee that you didn't know would be part of the tuition and for which there is no scholarship.

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  119. 11:38 here again. I obviously have spent too much time thinking about these issues. But FWIW:
    I think the best way to think about AD’s is the same way you might think about your Realtor ™. They are nice people who do not have your fiduciary interest at heart, albeit with more power. I think that pumping up the application numbers for revenue is not necessarily their goal as the application fees are fairly minor in the grand scheme of things. I do think that they try to get a good sampling of candidates so that they can work on maximizing their yield relative to offers. I also think AD’s will be reasonably honest about the chances of getting in because it actually helps their yield. This may be counterintuitive but ALL of us parents are very susceptible to scarcity value, herd behavior and confirmation bias. If you can control these factors in your own thinking you are way ahead of the game. Scarcity value is assigning undeserved value to a commodity because it’s hard to get. If the odds of getting in to a school are only 5%, then it must be worth something and you are more likely to accept if offered the choice. This and herd behavior is why Claire Lilienthal is way oversubscribed and difficult to get in when it is not demonstrably better than another school that is not as popular. “All the parents I know are applying to these schools – I must apply as well.” This applies across the board to both publics and privates and trying to see beyond these foibles of human nature will help you actually get what you really want from a school. Confirmation bias happens afterwards and should be applied to the comments of any parent who gives you feedback and/or advice. However, I think the corollary is important, if they give you negative feedback I would weigh that comment as greater than any comparable positive feedback. Good luck. Really.

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  120. Tutoring and private schools:

    We are a public school family and I had to laugh when we hired a tutor that mostly worked with kids from one of the highly sought after independent schools. Because we were a public school family, she charged us a discounted rate - yet we were saving $25K a year going public. (Hey, I'll take it.)

    The tutor confirmed what parents at the privage school were telling me - that about 1/3 of the kids (especially boys) were being told they needed help the school couldn't provide. What we were paying the tutor for was some run of the mill one-on-one help for my son. I would have thought for $25K+ the private school kids would be getting that as part of the package!

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  121. Anyone who would forgo health insurance to send their kid to a private school because they are so afraid of public schools is nuts. Seriously.

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  122. I wouldn't get too hung up on tutoring. That gets overblown on this board. For example a day school used to have high (30%) tutoring percents in a solitary class but that has blown over and now it's rare according to the headmaster. I also think the tours do give a sense of the school atmosphere. We came away with specific impressions on each school that later proved quite accurate. From there we tailored our approach even more and then talked to parents from the schools that we felt would fit. The touring also allowed us to cross off certain schools because it seemed the fit would be all wrong. I'll say this, the school we ended up at was a perfect fit and gave me a little more faith in the system, as arduous as it is.

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  123. Parent of two kids in private, 30% ha that's so funny. I know there is ONE total in both our kids classes. Mostly because English is his second language. Go ahead and keep tearing the privates down though to make you feel better. It's amusing hearing the sour grapes. I think the publics do an admirable job. We went another way because it was the best option for our family.

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  124. and yes I'm referring to the 1/3 comment.

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  125. 4:44, do you know it is ONE in your class for a fact? That is, you have special knowledge? Because it is sometimes presented in meetings with parents, and the kids do it on the side, outside of school. It's not always public knowledge, any more than the psych services some kids get is public knowledge.

    It's true that SF Day, with the new headmaster, has tried to temper the push for outside tutors, so I doubt it is one in three kids anymore, but you would be surprised how quickly it is suggested if kids are not advancing at the pace the teachers want, and the parents often go along with what the teachers say.

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  126. Regarding odds of getting in -- last year I asked ADs at every private school I applied to about sibling numbers and total number of apps. In every case but one the AD told me the approximate number of sibling spots, and by the end of the app process a majority were able to give me a ballpark figure for number of apps received.

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  127. Their are public schools that I have toured and would be happy to send my child but I don't know if we will get those in the lottery. There is a private school which basically, I love. but fear we won't get into either. We can afford it and in fact, it will be cheaper than what we pay for childcare and pre-school now. So, for those of you faced with a public school that you liked and a private school that you loved, how did you decide? I hope to be so lucky to have to make the decision. Claire - which would you choose?

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  128. Personally--but this is my bias--I would be glad if I got a public school I liked and I would take it and literally bank the difference in long-term growth funds. Even if I loved the private school.

    I do this for a few reasons:

    1) I don't know what is going to happen down the road in terms of family needs (job loss, illness etc.) and when we will need that money. We are hoping to use it for college so that they can graduate without a lot of debt. Maybe I have this saver mentality because some really difficult things happened in my family that about sent us off a cliff--I know it can happen. I also have friends going through divorces which takes a huge toll on the finances. I have another friend whose husband lost his job and they had to sell and downsize to an apartment. Every day they give thanks they are in public school. I have another friend in another city who is going through a really big medical crisis and insurance doesn't pay 100% and generally fights paying what they are supposed to. Money is very tight.

    Just better all around and basic common sense to have a cushion.

    2) My kids are doing fine and are learning about frugality and good value.

    3) My kids are friends with kids whose circumstances are very different from theirs. Gives them perspective on how much we have in our lives. Immigrant kids, low-income, etc. Great cultural / world citizen learning too. Why we live here in SF, in part.

    4) What others have said about supporting your local public school--good in a larger sense for the city.

    But that's my mileage....

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  129. By 8th grade, at least a third of private school kids have had expensive tutoring at some point in their private school career. Even some of the A students.

    If you have a kid in a lower grade you might not have noticed.

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  130. --By 8th grade, at least a third of private school kids have had expensive tutoring at some point in their private school career. Even some of the A students.--

    Curious about your citation for this stat, as it hasn't been my personal observation.

    --7th grade parent, private school

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  131. What school is that?!? 7th and 5th grade private school parent and it's lower than 10% at ours.

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  132. To answer 6:26's question: "So, for those of you faced with a public school that you liked and a private school that you loved, how did you decide? I hope to be so lucky to have to make the decision. Claire - which would you choose?"

    I suspect I would pick the public school and save the $$. But honestly, I don't know. I guess it would depend on how much I liked the public school vs. how much I loved the private. And how expensive the private turned out to be. It's why I'm touring both - I want to have as much information as possible. Well, that and the fact that both options feel like a total crapshoot over which I have no actual control. It feels like there are a million variables and I won't really know anything for sure until we find out where O is assigned and/or accepted.

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  133. I love all the "private school experts" on this blog. They all have "friends in private schools" and therefore know all about them.

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  134. 7:38 p.m... admittedly based on Hamlin.

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  135. Hmmm, I'm also curious about your citation for that stat, as it is not my personal observation or experience either -- and I'm a Hamlin parent.

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  136. How would any of you, even private school parents, know how many kids are getting tutoring? If a family hires a private tutor because Junior is falling behind in a subject, how would you all know? I don't see how any of you are "experts" unless you are a researcher who has studied it, or maybe a teacher at one of these places. I sometimes find out that kids are see a therapist or getting help with math or--but that's if I know one of the parents well (the mom--dads don't talk about it) or it comes up somehow in conversation. How could you know the statistics?

    As a parent I couldn't tell you what they were for our public school....and we do have academic tutoring and psych services on site as well as referrals out to both low-cost and not-so-low-cost supports for kids who need them. Then there is support on- and off-site for kids with learning disabilities, autism spectrum, etc per the kids' IEPs.

    I could tell you who some of the kids were who receive additional services, either from the parent or from noticing. But not the overall stats. I assume the principal could tell you overall stats for onsite work as well as referrals; anything handled separately from the school would not be known.

    Such a funny conversation, with everyone claiming they know best. Do the private schools public these statistics or something, within the parent body or even publicly?

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  137. --Do the private schools public these statistics or something, within the parent body or even publicly?--

    Exactly why I'm wondering where this "30%" figure that keeps getting thrown around comes from. How can anyone assert that "30% of private school kids receive expensive tutoring" if there are no published studies?

    I can say that I do know the families in our 7th grade class pretty well; most of us have been together at the school for 8, 9 or 10 years having started in pre-K or K. While I know that some have received tutoring, I know it's not 30%. I'd say 10-15% is more like it. But that's just our class at our school, admittedly.

    I guess my question would be: what is the motivation in buying the oft repeated, but undocumented, 30% figure while questioning the anecdotal reports from actual parents at the actual schools? Is there some reason why folks need to cling to this belief?

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  138. I worked as a private tutor several years ago, but at the high school level. Roughly half my students were from public schools and half from private. Does this have anything to do with elementary school? Who knows. As the previous poster mentioned, I seriously doubt that anyone here has credible stats, although I am pretty certain that the numbers are greatly exaggerated on this board. If not, my friends who are still working as tutors would be busier and richer!

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  139. I'm still not sure after reading through the comments what the problem is with tutoring. If an experienced teacher recommends that my child would benefit by some form of tutoring, isn't this a good thing for me to know (rather than have my child slip through the cracks).

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  140. 10:23, I'm the public school parent from 9:48 who questioned whether any parent would know these stats for the school.

    As I recall, this issue developed last year not within a debate about public/private but as a comparison among private schools. There was concern shared that SFDS had a higher rate of tutoring happening than at other private schools. Apparently the new director is working to slow down the pace of referrals. If true, I don't know if this means that the pace in the classroom is slower if needed, or differentiated instruction is being offered, or what, but it sounds like an improvement. I have no recollection of how the 30% got started on this blog. Another rumor I take with a grain of salt, along with all the language of ghetto schools with project kids. It always seems to be coming from people who are not actually there.

    I guess one thing that would make a difference to know is that if you have a child with learning disabilities or some kind of special need or disability issue such as autism, or deafness, the private school thing can be tricky. Not saying impossible, but not all of them are equipped to deal. Public school is required to deal. Which is not to say they always do it well, either. Parents have to advocate hard for inclusion and IEPs. But is a bonus to have that diversity onsite and especially in the classroom, imo. One of my children is newly at Aptos MS and it's cool that all the big events including ASL as a second language, because of the deaf program there.

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  141. 10:53, I think the concern is that if a large number of kids are being referred for tutoring, at extra cost to the parents who may already be struggling with tuition, is this because the kids need help or because there need to be program changes in the classroom? At some point you have to look at the teaching and approach in the classroom. I say that generically, because I don't know what the rates are at any of these schools. I don't know if the school would divulge these rates. But I think you would want to know if it is standard expectation that parents would be shelling out more bucks for this, in addition to the classroom time.

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  142. 4:16 PM:

    'This may be counterintuitive but ALL of us parents are very susceptible to scarcity value, herd behavior and confirmation bias.'

    Very wise words. I've actually thought that part of the increase in applications to public schools (and increased involvement by parents) is due to the creation of perceived scarcity by the lottery.

    'If you can control these factors in your own thinking you are way ahead of the game'. Scarcity value is assigning undeserved value to a commodity because it’s hard to get. If the odds of getting in to a school are only 5%, then it must be worth something and you are more likely to accept if offered the choice.'

    Also, there's the feeling of lack of information. There's 150+ schools, they all differ in some way from each other, and the odds of getting in are all different, and one is afraid of making the wrong choice, and tours and internet searches and test scores give some, but never enough information. Given that, it's not surprising to make the assumption that popularity = excellence. That, and the Bay Area sport of Competitive Parenting.

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  143. ""So, for those of you faced with a public school that you liked and a private school that you loved, how did you decide? I hope to be so lucky to have to make the decision. Claire - which would you choose?"

    I didn't really consider the independent privates, as I was pretty comfortable with parochials as the backup, and the spousal unit was set against ponying up that kind of cash. In the end, we got a trophy public, so the decision was devoid of angst.

    Normally, I'd go with Claire and recommend that you bank the $$$, but it sounds like you could make the numbers work for the private.

    In your situation, I'd shoot for the moon to try and get into one of the schools you like in Round 1, and, if that doesn't work, go onto the private with no regrets. If you decide to do the waitpooling experience through the summer to get into a preferred SFUSD school, only do it if you're prepared to walk away from a year's tuition to the private you may have had to commit to pay upfront Some are only just getting the call now, as sistercourtney has indicated.

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  144. On the other hand, if money isn't just flowing like water--if there is any sense of having to stretch, or even not being able to save while paying tuition, then you might consider the cost of paying that tuition over many years X your number of children.

    Losing a year's tuition, as galling as that is, and hard as it would be to walk away from a school you like, might be worth not having the financial strain over many years. It might help to put on a spreadsheet the costs (build in tuition inflation) versus investing the same amount of money, or half as much, even at low rates of return.

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  145. "I've actually thought that part of the increase in applications to public schools (and increased involvement by parents) is due to the creation of perceived scarcity by the lottery."

    No, because the scarcity was perceived as greater in the '90s, when the universal belief among the middle class (and up) was that "there are only five good schools" in SFUSD -- and parents then chose private more automatically, with far less consideration of SFUSD. (Also, the view that choosing private has any social impact was not on the radar even the tiniest bit.)

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  146. Call me crazy.....

    (take out all the super smart self-motivated kids that kick ass regardless of where they go to school)

    But who in their right minds would think their kids are getting a good solid educational foundation that positions them to compete globally for ever fading jobs in California public schools???

    I mean no one is hiding the facts..

    We have almost the lowest per pupil funding in the US and we have closest to the highest cost of living.

    Our testing even at top suburban schools from areas like Orinda rank in the middle when compared to all US publics.

    The education in the US is already lagging behind many industrialed nations in math, science, engineering, I could probably go on..

    Our politicians have clearly lost their minds when it comes to strategic planning and education.

    This stuff is all over the place, no one is hiding the facts, so how can anyone think there kids are being prepared for a global economy?

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  147. "Our testing even at top suburban schools from areas like Orinda rank in the middle when compared to all US publics."

    Where's your data on this?

    Looking at http://act.org/news/data/09/collegeready.html

    - California ranked 14th in college-readiness of its graduates. Not great, but not that bad either (you'd have to adjust for drop-out rates, also).

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  148. "There was concern shared that SFDS had a higher rate of tutoring happening than at other private schools. Apparently the new director is working to slow down the pace of referrals."

    Ok, well that's quite different than saying "30% of private school kids have tutors." Have no knowledge of SFDS, but I would assume that rates of tutoring will vary widely across the spectrum of private schools.

    At our (independent) school, some tutoring happens, but it's sometimes counterintuitive. I know of some high achieving kids who get extra enrichment outside of school (tutoring) where it is driven entirely by their high achieving parents. I have one kid who is a high achiever (no tutor) and one who is in the lower 20% of achievement, but she doesn't get tutored either, nor has the school ever suggested that she do so. She DOES get some pull out time with specialists throughout the day, however, as the curriculum is differentiated.

    I would guess that tutoring happens in the public schools too, at least among the more comfortably middle class population (i.e. the private school demographic.) Am I wrong?

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  149. No, you are not wrong.

    Again, my understanding is that the original issue was raised as a concern about a particular school that had (it was said) high rates of tutoring compared to others. Not sure how that mutated to this discussion. To my knowledge it was not originally framed as a public vs. private sort of thing. It came up on one of the private school threads last year.

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  150. what does this tell you?

    http://act.org/news/data/09/collegeready.html

    college ready means what exactly and to who? Don't trust metrics unless you know exactly who is funding the study and what their angle is....

    Just use common sense.. Jobs are moving overseas not only due to wages, but also becuase US is increasingly not producing qualified applicants... Our public education in not good compared to other nations and California has a severe resourcing challenge...

    You cant be blind to that becuase someone out there says your kid is college ready....

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  151. Re California schools.

    Yes, the funding issue is atrocious. It's easy to blame the legislature as a whole, but it has its roots in our 2/3 budget and taxes requirements, which were put into place directly by the voters. So the majority Democratic legislature is effectively corralled by the 1/3 GOP right now--and abetted by the GOP governor. Reform of the system is needed.

    Meanwhile, and perhaps counter-intuitively, we have a good Department of Education in California and some of the most rigorous K-12 curriculum standards in the nation. Our CDE is actually worried about those standards being diluted if/when there is move to national standards as per Arne Duncan, Secretary of Education on the federal level. We are in the top half of the nation in student achievement despite our low funding and despite having very high numbers of English language learners. And San Francisco is a high achiever (especially taking into account demographics) within California.

    I urge any parent who really wants to understand California's curriculum, our financing mechanisms, and how we interact with the federal laws and programs, including ARRA (stimulus package) funds to check out this website. If you are really an ed geek you can read all their reports and even get regular emails from them :-)

    www.edsource.org

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  152. www.edsource.org also has links to lots and lots of comparative data.

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  153. I'm glad Claire is touring and discussing both kinds of school.

    And the sacrifices for private are *extreme.* I went private on heavy financial aid and there were times when we ate peanut butter and crackers for dinner. We lived so close to the edge that something like a lost sports jersey was a major catastrophe. Our house was in a state of disrepair that got worse with every year. Anytime my mom brought home a larger paycheck, they took it away. I grew up with gnawing fear and envy -- the other kids and even the administrators were so oblivious to the way that parts of the school were simply inaccessible to me (special "interim" trips, certain sports with expensive equipment, etc.). Did I get a great education? I did. Am I certain I want to give my own child my own childhood? Not completely. I am genuinely on the fence and Claire's will be a very helpful blog to follow.

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  154. Oh, 12:55, I went through something similar. My clothes stood out (non-designer) and I could never participate in the clothing days the girls dreamed up...I didn't have enough colors. I took the muncipal bus 1.5 hours each way across town and got home after dark most days. And I remember well the Ski Bus and early release on Fridays in the winter--but no WAY could I do that because it was so expensive. All my classmates did it so I missed out. Wow, it's 30 years later and your words hit me in the gut a little. Whoudathunk.

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  155. Some chilling commentary on the state of education in California by Ken McNeely, California president, AT&T: "As a large employer in the state, we're simply not able to get the qualified applicants that we need. I think we've lost a generation. I think we're ready for a complete overhaul, and I think something has to happen, or businesses are going to go where they can find the talent that they need; and, unfortunately, that may not be in the state of California. It may not be in the United States."

    Schools need overhaul to get students job-ready
    Sunday, October 11, 2009

    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/10/11/INKH1A38NR.DTL#ixzz0TqkITqg3

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  156. "college ready means what exactly and to who? Don't trust metrics unless you know exactly who is funding the study and what their angle is...."

    I don't know what it means, however more Californians pass the 'college-ready' metric than the national average. So again, where's your source for:

    "Our testing even at top suburban schools from areas like Orinda rank in the middle when compared to all US publics."

    You're asserting that the best schools in the State are only in the middle compared to publics nationwide. I don't see that in the data I've dredged up.

    So gimme a citation, please.

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  157. Thank you 12:55 p.m. for your insight.

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  158. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/09/opinion/09krugman.html

    Paul Krugman's take on education in america. Problems therein.

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  159. forgot to tinyurl it. add an "an.html" to the end - or do a search. Sorry

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  160. Claire, do yourself a favor and don't put too much credit into what you hear on this board. Lot of people just spouting off. ("I heard that 40% of private students are actually Martians!") If I was in your (and I was not long ago) position, I'd apply to the few privates you loved and see what happens while also applying to the public system. If it comes back later with no financial aid or would prove an undue burden on your family then go with the public option. Keep in mind, Claire, that it is very difficult to get into a lot of these private schools. I recall last year, MCDS had only 3 spots for girls open for the entire city and the director informed me (there's your cite people) that they were over 400 applications. Live Oak also had 300 plus applications (yes, the director again) and only 3 girl slots. That being said, it doesn't hurt to try and takes up only your time invested (and the $50-100 fee) to apply. Keep your options open and varied and then you can make an informed decision based on what you have in hand.

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  161. "Paul Krugman's take on education in america. Problems therein."

    Krugman is spot on the problems in American education, and cites problems with the California Community College system, but he doesn't say anything about California *public schools* versus other public schools in the U.S., which was your original assertion.

    In other parts of education though, specifically research, the U.S. is more than OK: the U.S. is even more dominant in research universities and the quality of research than even its military dominant.

    Two UC faculty got Nobels this year, one on either side of the Bay. I hope UC continues its eminence despite the screwed-up governance of the state it serves.

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  162. "I heard that 40% of private students are actually Martians!"

    That's totally ridiculous. Everybody knows they're a diverse mix of Cylons, Pod People, and Replicants. They're so cute at that age, though.

    "Live Oak also had 300 plus applications (yes, the director again) and only 3 girl slots. "

    Live Oak's in a area where there just aren't a lot of competition from private or parochial schools, and only a few publics, and there's a lot of new development there and in SOMA.

    But yeah, much as the lottery gets slagged off, I've met a family who applied for 7-8 privates and struck out on them. Do the lottery, do Creative Arts, and even though you may think it's icky, try your local parochial. Making contingency plans now will save your mental health in the future.

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  163. As far as California vs. other states, here are some stats:

    According to the latest NCES “Condition of Education Report”, the reading score for 8th graders in California public schools in 2007 was near the very bottom of the list, only above Mississippi. Reading scores for 8th graders was also near the bottom, above Alabama, Hawaii and Mississippi.

    http://nces.ed.gov/programs/coe/list/index.asp

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  164. Do the lottery, do Creative Arts, and even though you may think it's icky, try your local parochial.

    Educate me as to what would make a parochial school "icky."

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  165. Just seconding the need to be broad in your approach. We thought we were going private, but the private schools thought otherwise. We are now at a "trophy" public, and it is great. It is indeed very hard to get into many of the independents (we have not interest in parochials), no matter how much you can afford it (we can). God forbid you have an active kid, though it doesn't sound as if you do.

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  166. 'Educate me as to what would make a parochial school "icky."'

    The religious aspect of the schools causes some parents (not me - applied to two, and was accepted in both) to rule them out sight unseen.

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  167. Claire - I have heard Creative Arts described as a public independent school and considered it a possible option before I toured it. I toured - it is no longer an option. I tried to focus on the learning environment but the fact that it seemed very loud to me and had deplorable aesthetics (I know it is temporary) were extremely distracting. The real deal breaker, however, was that I was personally turned off by the director's vision of the school. It may be a great fit for some and the parents giving the tour really seemed to like it so I encourage you to tour it and form your own opinion. I would also be interested in hearing where you plan to look.

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  168. "but the fact that it seemed very loud to me and had deplorable aesthetics (I know it is temporary) were extremely distracting."

    I always find it interesting that as a CACS parent, no matter how often we paint our school or clean it, spruce it up, etc, etc, that this remains a constant criticism. You folks realize that we are have very little say in which run-down building we receive from the district, right?

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  169. "but the fact that it seemed very loud to me and had deplorable aesthetics (I know it is temporary) were extremely distracting."

    I don't understand the sway the aesthetics have over folks' opinion of a school. It's an educational institution, friends, not a frickin' hotel.

    Those not fussed about aesthetics of a school may want to consider weighting the, umm, less photogenic schools higher, as they'll get less applications because of their eyesore status.

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  170. I thought Clarendon was overcrowded and HIDEOUS!

    Ridiculously ugly.

    Horrible bungalows.

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  171. 3:25 it's hard to compare apples to oranges in evaluating school district quality....numbers of newly arrived ELLs, kids living in extreme poverty, etc. have to be compared fairly.

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  172. How many of the obviously well-educated posters here attended highly diverse, relatively low scoring public schools themselves?

    I did. My basic takeaway:

    * Almost any kid will love almost any kindergarten anywhere.
    * Almost any school is fine until about 2nd grade.
    * If after 2nd grade your kid starts to dislike school because it is academically the wrong fit in some way (too hard, not hard enough, wrong teaching style) seriously consider moving him/her somewhere else.

    The good news is that people get way too uptight about the process because their kid is likely to be happy most anywhere for a few years at least. The bad news, I think, is that the process never really ends, that parents should be willing to reevaluate and transfer kids elsewhere if need be.

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  173. I personally did too, 10:18, a generation ago. Actually my school was much, much worse than anything I have seen in any school here (even the ones we don't talk about). It was the 70s and less attention was paid to achievement gaps or opportunity gaps or whatever they are. There were no federal programs other than free lunch. It was a neglected school in a changing neighborhood in a dying industrial city.

    My kids have attended schools that are mixed--not "trophy" schools but not down and out. Up-and-coming and truly diverse, with upward trajectory. They have done fine in this setting. Guess I would say there's been enough critical mass of kids who are working at their level, and lots of diversity too.

    I agree with the assessment that K-2 should not be a big worry for most. I also agree that parents should be prepared to reevaluate. That can mean the scenario 10:18 describes, or it can mean moving from even the fanciest private school if things are not working out there--there are so many scenarios that can happen....your kid has a learning difference, is really spirited, or the social scene is a mess in a particular class, or who knows? You can't know now is the thing.

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  174. 3:28 p.m., while "icky" isn't the word I'd use, I can tell you what makes the parochials last on our list (private, public, parochial is our order of preference).

    The fact that it will cost me $7K to $9K to send my school that has larger classes than the public schools. In some cases MUCH larger classes. I'm not going to name names (you can call and speak to the admissions people as I did) but some schools have 30 kids in K and 36 kids by 1st grade. Mind you, in some instances there is no aide and in others only a "part-time" one.

    I also find the population less diverse than at publics.

    I would rather do the publics for free than spend money on a parochial.

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  175. 3:45 p.m., so this family spent time and money on parochials sight-unseen but then didn't send their kids because of the religious aspect? Are you really saying that they were accepted to other schools that they preferred? Or would they have kept their child home rather than send the child to a parochial even though they applied to two?

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  176. 3:45 p.m., I am the above poster. Just re-read your post. Please ignore my post. Obviously I'm not completely awake at this hour.

    Yes, I know many families that won't even consider parochials due to the religious aspect.

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  177. "The real deal breaker, however, was that I was personally turned off by the director's vision of the school."

    What is the director's vision of the school?

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  178. "The bad news, I think, is that the process never really ends, that parents should be willing to reevaluate and transfer kids elsewhere if need be."

    Please folks be careful in your picks! I have seen several posts on this website suggesting (or at least implying) that you can always transfer in upper grades. I've posted this before, but I think it is a cautionary tale: it is not as easy to transfer between public schools as one might think. It is particularly hard to transfer to a really good school from an OK one. The people I know who have successfully gotten their kids into the good public schools did so from OUTSIDE the public school system. We have been trying for four years to get into a better public school -- and each year we have gotten nothing. When I've gone to the Placement Center, I'm told that I should be happy my kids are where they are. Apart from this problem, there's also the issue that, within a couple of years, your kids will have made friends at their school and will not want to transfer. So, please do not think that transferring to that great public school from an iffy one will be a snap.

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  179. I'm not trying to imply it is a snap. Nothing in SF when it comes to schools is easy! Just saying that it's important to keep an eye on the fit and make an effort to find alternatives(as it sounds like you are doing).

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  180. I know some people who have been unlucky in transferring but others who had no problem. You can re-enter the lottery and do the waitpools--apparently there was a spot open in 1st grade Clarendon just this week, and Kim Green went through the lottery to transfer her daughter from Clarendon to Fairmount. Spots often open up in the 4th grade (there's lots of movement in the 4th/5th grade). You might have to be not focused on one particular school, but usually you can find something. We see people coming and going every year, including from within the district. The bigger the school, the more movement--I know several families that moved into Clarendon over the years. And anecdotally I'd say there's less movement at the K-8s until 6th when some kids transfer to the larger schools--but at 6th you are competing with many more trying to get in.

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  181. "The people I know who have successfully gotten their kids into the good public schools did so from OUTSIDE the public school system."

    Maybe some people going private for K are doing so for this reason. It seems like a good strategy if you can swing the tuition for a year or two. Especially since, as above posters have written, you don't really know how "right" a school is until 2nd or 3rd grade.

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  182. "Maybe some people going private for K are doing so for this reason. It seems like a good strategy if you can swing the tuition for a year or two. Especially since, as above posters have written, you don't really know how "right" a school is until 2nd or 3rd grade."

    Might be an even sharper idea when the Board of Education decides what allocation system it's going to use next year. If it's a strongly neighborhood-based system, and your attendance area school is a good one, then if you get bubkes from the lottery this year, go private for a year and then apply for K or 1st grade next year when you'll have a stronger chance to get into your neighborhood school.

    If your neighborhood is likely to have a sucky public school assignment, though, may be best to try to get into a decent public this year and save the money for private after 2nd or 3rd grade if whatever public you get from the lottery this year doesn't work out in the long-term.

    Given the upcoming change in the allocation system from the lottery to presumably something more neighborhood-based, there's strategies and tactics that this year's round of parents can use that weren't available last year and won't be available next year.

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  183. True, but it seems more likely they will go with smallish attendance zones instead of attendance areas, so there will still be some uncertainty as to where you might get assigned.

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  184. 10:18 I totally disagree with your assesment.

    First of all I bet that most kids either love school or become dis-engaged by 2nd grade. As the saying goes you get once chance to make a first impression. And school is no different.

    Second of all I know several families with K and 1st grade kids who attend both public and parachorial. In each case the kids are not happy becuase they are clearly different than everyone else. In this case they are non-asians in asian dominated schools. But I bet this applies to any kid who feels left out because the demographic of their schools.

    If you havent captured the heart and mid of your kid by 2nd grade, In my opinion your doomed for long-term underachievment and lack of engagement. I do agree this can and often does happen later on the students life, but you cannot underestimate the power of 1st impressions.

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  185. My kids are in 3rd and 6th grades at private school. I don't know of a single kid in their grades who has left to go to public school in SF. Several have come from SFUSD schools, and a handful have left for other private schools, such as kids with severe dyslexia going to Charles Armstrong.

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  186. Anecdotes, anecdotes.

    I know of several who came to our public from at least two different private schools. One was mostly about money (job loss) and another was an unhealthy social situation for that child. Another was a child who was asked (in so many words) to leave because of a learning and behavior difference--was told the child might get the services he needed in public school.

    But.....whatever! Anonymous anecdotes based on personal knowledge of small sample sizes...hmmph.

    I would suggest that even in a small class you might not notice that someone is missing come September, especially if that kid wasn't a particular friend of your kid's, or you didn't know that parent all that well. People who leave a school because they are unhappy, or ashamed because they can't afford it anymore, or because their kid basically got the boot, well they tend to slip out the back door.

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  187. --I would suggest that even in a small class you might not notice that someone is missing come September, especially if that kid wasn't a particular friend of your kid's, or you didn't know that parent all that well.--

    At our (private) school, attrition/incoming kids is big news! There are always a couple of moms w/ears to the ground who know all and spread the info liberally. At the end of each school year, we all know who is not coming back and how many new kids are coming in.

    I don't think that's a function of private school, but esp. with small classes, I'd have to work hard to stay unaware of this particular info. Don't underestimate the broadcasting power of super involved parents!

    Agree with your other points, though. I won't even bother to add my anecdotes, other than to say that attrition happens, for all kinds of reasons.

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  188. 10:18 here. We all have our opinions but I would add the caveat that if a school is highly academic or heavy on the discipline in K-2 that may make a difference. Back then those first years were fairly heavy on the play so I had a pretty good experience. I'm amazed that a K-1st grader would feel like an outsider based on race. I was an outsider at my school based on race, socioeconomics etc. and had absolutely no idea for a long time.

    I definitely don't think all is lost if a kid doesn't like K, or even second grade. My mother taught middle-school for years and I saw a lot of "lost" kids bounce back in a matter of a few months.

    I do know a kid who left private for public and is much happier at public.

    I'm a happy private school parent, BTW.

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  189. "If you havent captured the heart and mid of your kid by 2nd grade, In my opinion your doomed for long-term underachievment and lack of engagement."

    Good lord.

    This post forced me to take a trip down memory lane. I have no recollection of either loving or hating school at that age. It never occurred to me to even have an opinion about it. I went to school. It's what all the kids did. No one asked me if I liked it there or not.

    Sometimes I was bored. I made do. To keep busy, I did my homework in class.

    There were never any parents on tours poking their heads in, noting the child who seemed "disengaged".

    As for anyone trying to "capture my heart and mind"? That's a good one.

    What are our kids going to be like, with all of us agonizing over whether their hearts and minds being captured? I am genuinly curious.

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  190. 3:07 here again. I'll write it before anyone else does. If your heart and mind had been captured in school, maybe you would know how to spell! Ha!

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  191. "True, but it seems more likely they will go with smallish attendance zones instead of attendance areas, so there will still be some uncertainty as to where you might get assigned."

    From Rachel Norton's blog, she's inclined towards what she called Option 2 - attendance area schools with some controlled choice mechanism. That to me looks too much like the old OER system, which was dumped in favor of the lottery.

    Other board members may be inclined towards the zones system, but staffers were extremely skeptical of it, because of problems balancing capacity and special programs between zones.

    Politically, zones is also probably a hard sell - you still have uncertainty in the application process (which parents hate), but you also have reduced options relative to the current district-wide system. Given Rachel's posts, I'd be surprised if the Board goes with a zone system.

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  192. On the other hand, I think several board members were very unhappy with the neighborhood option (OER redux, if you like) and that was why they were pushing the zebra zones concept even though the staff was trying to wave them off. It was noted that smaller assignment areas don't create much opportunity for integration, and the only way to assure that is to mix the kids up across neighborhoods--hence the larger zones. Neighborhood schools simply do not line up with the stated goals that relate to the opportunity gap and ending racial isolation. So why would they move MORE in that direction?

    I agree that the zebra zones are awful...but as a SE resident, I'm not wild about neighborhood zones either. So who gets assigned to the 15% schools that are in bad shape, seriously? I'm still trying to figure out why they are looking to change, rather than tweak, the current system.

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  193. Rachel also wrote that the board members weren't particularly thrilled about any of the options presented. This makes me think they will be another year late in implementing.

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  194. "I'm still trying to figure out why they are looking to change, rather than tweak, the current system."

    Wouldn't the zebra zones essentially be a tweak? It seems very close to what we have now.

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  195. The zebra zones would be a heck of a lot more than a tweak. First of all, you would be presassigned to a school in the zone based on achievement levels and other SES factors on your block. You could be assigned across town in order to diversify the schools by these factors. So if you live in the Outer Sunset, you might be assigned to Feinstein, or Clarendon, or Alvarado GE, or Sanchez. Someone from the Mission might be assiged to Chavez, or Milk, or Sunset.

    Supposedly we are all going to be happy about this because of all the parents complaining about uncertainty of not having a preassignment in the current system.

    Furthermore, I think (could be wrong though), it would limit us geographically to our zone even if there were an "out" from your presassigned school. So if you live in the Mission or Noe, and you wanted out of your assigned school, say Horace Mann, you couldn't apply to Aptos or Presidio, but you could apply to Hoover. If you live in the Richmond, and you didn't like your assigned school Cobb GE, you couldn't apply to Clarendon but you could apply to Sherman or Yick Wo or Alamo.

    There are huge problems with this, not least of which is that the district would have to provide busing to back up all these preassignments.

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  196. I am with 3:07 pm. Public school K-12. All I remember about k is sitting on little colored tape in a circle. First grade, I remember I liked helping the teacher. Second grade, my teacher was awful. My siblings and I all have doctorate level degrees from top universities but our educations suffered in public school. When I look back, the real falling out in education was from about 4th or 5th grade on where I did not master the basics but was clever enough to pass all the tests and skip out of anything that would have required me to. I rarely did any homework at home (this was all done in the class before it was due showing you how clueless the teachers were). I was lucky enough to have had a sibling who paved the way and parents who realized we were not learning a thing and by 10th grade, I took most of my classes at the local college rather than the high school. This is why we will be looking at private.

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  197. 3:07 here again. I'll write it before anyone" else does. If your heart and mind had been captured in school, maybe you would know how to spell! Ha!"

    Perhaps you would have learned not to be such a raving B!@$#.

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  198. 6:46, I think you should look at private, given your own experience, if you can afford it. I guess I would also suggest looking at public, because I am finding it to be much different that it was when I was a kid--more enrichment, more rigor, more attention paid. Worth a look, anyway.

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  199. We've got families at Alvarado who used to attend Friends and SF Day.

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  200. "I agree that the zebra zones are awful...but as a SE resident, I'm not wild about neighborhood zones either. So who gets assigned to the 15% schools that are in bad shape, seriously? I'm still trying to figure out why they are looking to change, rather than tweak, the current system."

    Well, because of the incessant complaining about the lottery from those who want their neighborhood school.

    But probably mostly because since the lottery has had poorer participation in R1 in the AA (50%) and Latino (66%) than the white (84%) and Asian (88%). Given that, despite the diversity variables, the lottery doesn't help as much in giving low-SES kids a chance to get into the higher-scoring schools: for a large fraction of low-SES kids, their parents don't get the applications in on time.

    Also, there's too much socioeconomic diveristy within ethnic groups for the so-called diversity criteria to be effective as racial proxies and preventing some schools becoming dominated by one or two ethnic groups.

    But I think the district-wide lottery is Less Bad than the other alternatives. But I'm a SE resident also, and so am not keen on the neighbourhood zones.

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