Saturday, October 17, 2009

Introducing Marcia Brady of the southern part of SF

Hi everyone. I volunteered to blog about the schools I am touring, which are mostly on the southeast side of town. Kate wisely suggested that I maintain as much anonymity as possible, so I will give a few details to situate myself. My partner Jan and I have one daughter, Cindy. We are actually shooting for 2011, but there's no way I can do tours next year. I know the system will be different, but I can't see how knowing the schools can hurt. Because I have friends who are struggling to get them done this year, I volunteered to send them our tour notes, and when I saw that people wanted to see a wider range of schools reviewed on this blog, I thought, why not.

Here are some things we'd like to see in any school we choose: environmental and social justice issues, racial/ethnic and socioeconomic diversity, strength in performing, visual, and language arts, understanding of alternative family structures, and problem-solving/conflict resolution skills. We know not all school has all of these, but we'd like to see a few of them. We're not test-score people. We're a bit schlumpy and low-glamour. We're solidly middle-class, but since we both work we won't be able to take heavy-duty leadership roles at a school. We're white and college-educated at crunchy-granola schools. Hopefully those details will give you a sense of where these opinions are coming from and why they might or might not be useful for your situation. And my biggest hope is that parents will chime into the comments section if they are affiliated with the school I've reviewed. Thanks in advance for joining me on this anxiety-making odyssey, and stay tuned!


  1. Welcome. We live in the Southeast corner of the City too and are touring schools in this area. I look forward to your posts.

  2. I think you'd like SF Community, Marcia. It's a K-8 in the Excelsior. Wonderful, committed staff.

  3. I'm presuming that just about all schools in San Francisco are welcoming to kids coming from gay and lesbian families, but for more data, there's the Our Family Coalition San Francisco Elementary School Fair and Forum, which is taking place on Saturday, Nov. 14 from 11:30 - 3:30 at Rosa Park Elementary, 1501 O'Farrell St.

    However, it's important to remember that many schools won't be there simply because that there are *so* many school fairs that sometimes it's hard to staff them all.

    For example, we've got a bunch of lesbian families at Starr King but with soccer and work and etc, we may not be able to staff a table at that particular fair.

  4. get thee to harvey milk, SF community, mckinley ;- ) .

  5. Concur with Kim Green. These were the public schools that immediately came to mind upon reading your post.

  6. Here's my list again (it's in previous comments sections, so sorry to bore):

    Buena Vista
    Glen Park
    SF Community
    and Ortega and Taylor if I can squeeze them in.

  7. Welcome Marcia! I look forward to reading your reviews.

  8. For what it's worth, most of the parent leaders at my kids' schools are also parents with full time jobs -many are single parents. I head up a nonprofit, yet serve as the SSC Chair and the other parents are also working full-time demanding jobs. It can be done!

    In fact, I'd say few people I know have anyone staying at home full time (except for the unfortunate 12% unemployed in California not by choice!)

  9. I would say try not to skip touring Ortega and E.R. Taylor - both are great schools that tend to be overlooked in Round I. Last year, ER Taylor got 211 requests for 44 General Ed spots; 62 first choice requests. Jose Ortega got 79 total requests for 22 Mandarin immersion spots; 19 of them first choice requests.

  10. Marcia,

    Could you do a review of El Dorado?

    I toured this school last year and liked some things about it, including the Africa projects that some of the kids were doing.

  11. Hi 8:51: It's a bit further south than I want to go, as I commute north. Right now, so are Sunnyside, Ortega, Monroe, and SF Community, but I'm visiting them at the urging of face-to-face friends who know my family. I'm on the fence about Taylor but it's closer. Maybe you'd want to write down your impressions in the mini-reviews thread? Anything is better than nothing!

  12. Hi Marcia,

    I am not sure I am the right person to review El Dorado. I am kind of a test scores person, so I was curious about what you might think of this school, since you have a different perspective.

    I loved the space. The architecture of the school takes abvantage of the sunny southern slope that it is built on. There is a garden. I thought the teachers were doing a brilliant job. The class projects posted on the walls engaged me with their international outlook.

    Rachel Norton made a comment on this or another thread about sign-in protocol at schools. This school didn't seem to be following the sign in protocol, and that concerned us.

    For us, it was also quite out of the way, but still an interesting school.

    Sounds like we live in the same part of the city, so I am looking forward to your posts.

  13. Marcia, Marcia, Marcia! I know it isn't in your neighborhood but don't overlook Creative Arts Charter!

  14. Wait, did I say I commute 75 miles each way to work, not at all by choice (no lectures on carbon footprint, please). That makes me really conservative about commuting to a school. But who knows? After I see all these local schools plus a few outliers, I may feel adventurous.

    Also, I'll just say again: any comments on a school here are helpful. Those teeny bits about El Dorado might inspire some parents reading this to take a look -- so thanks, 10:02.

  15. Anybody know where Creative Arts Charter school is going next year of the next? Rachel? And Rachel if you are reading this, what are the plans for the building CAC was once housed in (close to their current site) on Golden Gate?

  16. Has anyone here visited Guadalupe Elementary or Longfellow in the Crocker-Amazon? Guadalupe looked like their scores improved alot this past year and they've had a new principal. Find this about Guadalupe.

  17. I don't have any specific information about when or where CACS will move, but I do know that CACS will need to move eventually as their building (the former Golden Gate Elementary, on Turk St.) is in seriously bad shape. The district is obligated to offer charter schools appropriate space for the size/type of program and I know that negotiations between CACS and the district are proceeding.

  18. Consider Moscone also. It's close to Potero Hill, at Harrison and 22nd. It's closer than SF Community and Ortega, as great as those schools are.

  19. "Has anyone here visited Guadalupe Elementary or Longfellow in the Crocker-Amazon?"

    I've visited Longfellow a year ago. Wanted to like it, as the test scores are good, but it wasn't that handy for a Bernal commute, it's rather big (4 1/2 classes/year), and the principal wasn't very dynamic, although she had a good focus on more use of IT in the classrooms. The real deal-killer though was the lack of an on-site afterschool option for the Kindergarten year, although I think there was an arrangement with a nearby facility, I think an Episcopalian organization.

    In the end, there just were too many more attractive options closer to Bernal than for it to make my list. If you're in Crocker-Amazon or Excelsior, though, it might be worth checking out. But not if you're Bernal or Potero or Noe.

  20. to 2:02, October 18
    Re: Creative Arts Charter School move

    Here are comments made by the CACS director on another post of this blog, back on Sept 2, 2009. That was 7 weeks ago, so I'm assuming the comments are still accurate:

    I think I can clarify some of the questions about CACS.

    The school will be moving in July 2010.

    The move gives us an opportunity to partner with the SFUSD to find a great new location for CACS. We have requested a centrally located spot and hope to remain in District 5.

    We will have the District's proposed site by January 1st and must submit our acceptance by March 1st.

    Families will be informed of the new site in their enrollment offer.

    You may accept placement at CACS and remain on another sfusd school's wait list. In May, we compare enrollment lists with the district's lists and families that have enrolled in two schools will be asked to make a choice.

    It is necessary to submit a separate application directly to the school. We are not a choice on the SFUSD enrollment application.

    I am currently the school's Director, but I discovered Creative Arts nine years ago when searching for a kindergarten for my oldest son.
    I remain grateful that I stumbled on to such a supportive learning community for my children.

    Please check out the website and sign up for a tour.

    Liz Jaroslow

  21. HI Marcia! Thanks for taking this on, your reviews are very much appreciated to a time strapped parent like myself. We'll be 2011 also so maybe our kids will be classmates (as well as neighbours!)