Saturday, November 14, 2009

San Francisco School

Reviewed by Kortney

Please note that my daughter attends The San Francisco School (SFS).
We made the difficult decision to abandon our public school
aspirations after our second disappointing year with the SFUSD
lottery, and managed, somehow, to get accepted into SFS for 1st
grade. I thought I’d share my impressions of our new school with the
SFK_Files community.

You should consider this school if you're looking for a place with:
Community. Resources. Beauty. Warmth. Diversity. SFS is all that
-- mac laptops for middle school students, digital white boards,
organic home-cooked hot lunches, and impressive academics—all in a
friendly, down to earth culture. It’s the best of both worlds. An
apt mission: “Cultivating and celebrating the intellectual,
imaginative and humanitarian promise of each student in a community
that practices mutual respect, embraces diversity, and inspires a
passion for learning.”

Consider SFS if you want a welcoming, spacious green, outdoor garden
and playground with a ‘summer camp’ feel, progressive values, a strong
academic program, a truly diverse student body and staff, and a world
class music program (Orff-Schulwerk method) that is fully integrated
into the academic program. Consider SFS if you want an incredibly
vibrant educational community that has a wealth of enrichment classes,
and strives to model what they hope for their students, as adults.
Consider SFS if you want a school that is preschool through 8th grade.

The Philosophy
SFS focuses on teaching its students how to learn, rather than simply
what to learn. The goal is to nurture a love of learning. In
addition, SFS dedicates fulltime staff and a room to its art program.
The art room is full of impressive supplies, but is also neatly
organized. The walls are decorated with vibrant masterpieces, but it
doesn’t stop there. All the school’s classrooms, hallways, library
and office display the children’s artwork. Creativity is nurtured
here.

From preschool on, there is an emphasis on learning through hands-on
projects (even in middle school geometry, students were using
manipulative); curriculum focused on thematic units/project-based
learning (for example kindergartners study apples for several weeks,
making apple pies, singing apple songs, reading apple stories); A
preschool program that is Montessori based goes through Kindergarten.

The elementary program (not Montessori) begins in 1st grade, and goes
through 5th grade. Middle School (6th-8th grades) split again into
two classes of 16 students. New, incoming students enrich the middle
school social life.

The Facts
Web site: www.sfschool.org
School tours: sign up online for a space. Elementary tours are
Mondays 9am, with preschool tours on Tuesday & Wednesday mornings.
Location: 300 Gaven Street near San Bruno Ave in the Portola neighborhood.
Grades: Preschool–8
Start time: Elementary 8:30 a.m. – 3pm. Middle School 8:15am, and
Preschool 9am.
Kindergarten size: Kindergarten is part of the Preschool. Each of the
two pre-school/K classes has 37 students with 4 teachers, their own
play yard (that’s two separate yards), and access to outdoor space
most of the day. The kids get to move and play, focus on projects, and
be kids! They also move out of kindergarten reading in most cases.
The two kinder classes join to become one 1st grade class, with 20-22
students, and 2 full-time teachers.
Total student body: 272
Tuition: $19,950
Financial aid: 35% of families receive some aid
Playground: two sizable, nicely landscaped play yards for preschool &
kindergarteners. One play yard for elementary and middle school kids,
along side a paved basketball court, picnic tables, and bunny hut.
There is a large “adventure playground” below, that can be accessed by
stairs or long slide. It offers space to explore, build forts, and
play. It is beautifully done, with a gazebo, organic garden, and duck
house. Golf and other extra curricular activities are practiced in
this space.
Before- and after-school program: 7:30am – 6pm. You buy “1.5 hour
blocks” of time for a little more than $10. Free playtime on the
yard, with plenty of supervision. You can also purchase affordable
classes (edible art, break-dancing, fencing, academic chess, golf,
violin, etc.)
Language: Spanish begins in preschool and continues through elementary
school. In middle school there are 3 classes, beginning, intermediate
and advanced. Students are placed depending on their Spanish level,
not by age, so classes are mixed.
Highlights: students have music and P.E. twice a week; art, music, and
drama is regularly integrated into the curriculum; large campus:
building - 22,560 sq. ft.
land - 1.3 Acres; incredible library; lots of field trips, including
overnight camping and a trip to Mexico for middle schoolers; an
organic kitchen provides daily snack with healthy home-cooked hot
lunches for preschool and elementary schools. The San Francisco School
is the most racially diverse independent school in the Bay Area.

Enrichment classes range from sports teams, to instrument classes
beginning in 1st grade, theatre and dance, hapkido, chess, cooking,
etc. SFS really shines here. New classes are offered all the time,
depending on interest. I love the after school program!

There is a school counselor on staff to offer families support. Also,
learning specialists work with teachers inside of the classroom to
support kids, without making a student “stand out.” The learning
specialists have their own resource room near the lovely library.

Kortney’s impressions
My first impression of SFS’ physical space was that it reminded me of
summer camp. The natural wood structures, the ever present green
(trees, gardens), and a sign post (hand painted by kids) that told me
which way to the office, or adventure playground, gave me an immediate
warm feeling.

We were greeted by friendly, down to earth staff who were open to
answering all our questions (on the tour.) Truly this school strives
for transparency. Perhaps because we applied after the admissions
deadline, we were able to track our chances of getting in here. Other
private schools shut us out after admissions. The SFS' honesty and
transparency was a relief!

SFS has the best of both worlds for our family. It has progressive
values, a diverse student body and staff (families of color, single
parent families, gay/lesbian parent families, economically diverse
families, etc.) right along side a strong academic program. In other
words, these kids get a high class education, without the stuffiness
of some private schools. Plus, The San Francisco School is the most
racially diverse independent school in the Bay Area, an impressive
stat.

Culture, community, and diversity are important words at SFS.
Environmentalism (compost bins are part of the recycling and trash
systems); being a good citizen (neighborhood volunteerism is
encouraged, and a walking bus gets families out of their cars on
Thursday mornings); encouraging independence, while advocating for
fellow students; and developing a strong sense of self are important
values. The graduating students get into the best High Schools, and
are often seen as very creative, grounded and organized learners.

Children learn through hands-on projects. In the classroom, I observed
fully engaged kids working collaboratively. The first grade room
splits the class in ½--one group getting the full attention of both
teachers for reading or math (for example) while the other group
attends a specialized Spanish, music, art or PE class. The
individualized attention is impressive. The classroom reads and
writes poetry, has student of the week, and conducts food experiments
in the classroom kitchen.

On the yard I observed children playing, swinging, and organizing
games with various balls and hoops. Amidst the typical joyful chaos
was true cooperation. I have yet to see a discipline issue.

As mentioned earlier, the music program is world class, bringing
visitors from around the globe to both observe and contribute. The
students perform concerts throughout the year and sometimes they play
at venues off campus.

If you’re interested in The San Francisco School, this is what they
are looking for:

They're looking for parents who want to get involved, become a part of
the close knit community, and give time to the school. SFS is looking
for families who fit with the philosophy of the school. They
encourage you to tour, and register your first impressions.

I will leave you with a quote from the SFS website:

The San Francisco School is committed to ethnic and cultural
diversity, with 55% students of color and an inclusive ethos. Family
economic diversity, also an important goal, is achieved through a
moderate tuition, the school’s location in a modest neighborhood, and
a strong indexed tuition program which supports 35% of students on
reduced tuition. Through all of this, the entire SFS community is
committed to creating a school where students and families can live
and learn with confidence and joy.

92 comments:

  1. Full Disclosure Korney - Didn't you get an offer for Clarendon off the waitlist for 1st grade?

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  2. Hi Kortney -- I was going to say what 2:21 just posted too -- to give your fans a really clear picture of the outcome of the SFUSD lottery. On the other hand, it certainly is a plug for SFS that you still chose it.

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  3. Nice school if you can afford it.

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  4. Thanks for the report - it sounds amazing.
    Do you know how big the middle school classes are? Also 20-22 students?

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  5. San Francisco School never has any openings in pre-K and K.

    It is right next the the 280. The playground is very noisy due to the traffic. I was concerned about possible pollution from the highway.

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  6. Sounds more than a little biased in my opinion

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  8. thx for this review. I did a tour of SFS a couple weeks ago. I'm curious as to what you did for the K year. we, too, are thinking of switching for 1st grade (tho I know it's difficult to get in anywhere at that time!).

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  9. We went to the Katherine Michiels School on Guererro for Kinder. Lovely teacher and sweet school. They always have openings, and don't expect you to pay up front, so it's a wonderful back up.

    Best of luck to you.

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  10. "It is right next the the 280. The playground is very noisy due to the traffic. I was concerned about possible pollution from the highway."

    The School is close to 280, but probably has air no more polluted than any other City school. The outside grounds are large, for the City - it feels like you are in Mill Valley.

    I didn't notice any noise issues during our tour.

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  12. I thought these reviews were supposed to be coming from people giving impressions during their tours, not from insiders already at the school. Honestly I don't find this very helpful, since it's so biased.

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  13. 7:33

    It's true, and an air quality test was conducted which proved their isn't increased pollution there. The most air pollution is next to intersections where cars are forced to stop and idle. Also, I was worried about noise, but I don't hear it. Believe me or not, you just have to hang out there for a while and decide for yourself. Similarly, when I toured Flynn (right on Cesar Chavez) i was not distracted by the street noise.

    It does feel like you're in Mill Valley a bit.

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  14. hence the disclosure in the beginning.

    someone touring ought to review it.

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  15. "someone touring ought to review it."

    Why bother?

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  16. I wonder about Clarendon being directly under the Twin Peaks tower- how do all those TV and radio waves effect the kids? Am I being crazy? I'm definitely uninformed. I know this is off topic but Clarendon and environmental concerns came up.

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  17. Kortney,

    Thanks for the information on the air quality. (I was the mom who expressed concern about that.)

    I guess you convered the fact that very few slots are open in pre-K and K. That put us off also.

    Otherwise, it looked like a great school.

    People looking for a very good private school in this price range should also look at the Lycee Francais in the Haight and Stratford School in Ingleside.

    The Lycée is the well known, excellent and established French Immersion preschool to grade 12 private. It has expanded in the last few years and has more classes, so is easier to get into than it used to be.

    We attended Stratford (new in SF last year) for pre-K. It is not montessori, but has an amazing art program, strong academics, nice outdoor playground in a quiet neighborhood and highly trained teachers. They do teach phonics in pre-K and K, but I didn't find it age inappropriate. The only thing I didn't like at Stratford was the start time (8:15).

    Again, thanks for the review of San Francisco School.

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  18. Kortney - the reason I posted the full disclosure comment was because not everyone reading this blog has been reading it for 2 years.

    When you say the SFUSD lottery failed you for 2 years in a row, I think people should know that in the end, you were offered schools that you said you wanted both years - Flynn GE the first year and Clarendon the 2nd year. Both were very late offers, etc. but I think people should know.

    Please know that I have always liked reading your posts and have appreciated the fact that you have identified yourself throughout this process. You have posted many comments to help people. Thanks!

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  19. Why isn't it helpful to get a parent review of a school? Aren't all reviews biased? Why would someone touring give a better review?

    BTW, we toured the school a few years ago, but decided we couldn't afford it. And I completely agree with Kortney's review. Her review mirrors exactly how we felt about the school. So it was a difficult decision.

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  20. I find a parent review very helpful, if all understand the potential bias. Tour reviews are based on maybe 45 minutes of the school where you can see a random snapshot of a few classrooms, plus possibly remarks from the principal. At least Kortney has had some time to get to know the school more thoroughly.

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  21. Well if we are going down this path, shouldn't every current elementary school parent post their own glowing review of their school?

    This just seems to start a new pattern that I'm not sure is all that effective when multiplied by all SF elementary schools in the City.

    I've followed this blog from the beginning and like the fresh review perspective followed by opportunities for comment.

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  23. i understand your point. however, the SFS seemed under the radar on this blog. i, for one, hadn't heard of it until last year. any review is good. a touring parent may want to add their comments, too. lack of availability and cost are the main additives here. I'm sure other people have observations that can help people.
    The point of this blog was, and remains, a place to share information. We are not journalists, and apparently we are all quite opinionated.

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  24. Whatever - SF School has like 0 to 1 opening for K. Honestly - What is the point??????? SF School is probably the most ridiculous "review" to be posted in a blog focused on the K search.

    For those of you that don't know - SF school recruits for their preschool. That is why there is no "buzz" about SF School among parents looking at K - because there are no spots.

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  25. "I find a parent review very helpful, if all understand the potential bias."

    It's useful to get the perspective of a parent who can give you an understanding of the pluses and minuses of a school. This wasn't it. It's great that Kortney's in love with her school - I am too with ours - but I'd direct someone looking for a more rounded opinion of my school to a third-grade parent or above.

    Also, like Caroline, Kortney's animus towards SFUSD when *they eventually gave her a slot she said she wanted* grates on the nerves.

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  26. Maybe all restaurants should give their own restaurant reviews. That's what this is like.

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  27. It's hard not to read this with gnawing envy, but I for one appreciate the picture of the school.

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  28. I'm not envious, just find the review unhelpful.

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  29. I find this review very frustrating. I teach in a SFUSD elementary school. We want all of our students to learn with joy and love school. I teach integrated, project-based theme units and my students do very well on academic assessments. We have regular art and cooking projects.

    I fund these projects myself or write grants on my own time. I've never seen a smart board. Our school is in a food desert and home-cooked organic lunches would be such a resource for our students (many of whom suffer from chronic food insecurity). Don't even get me started on what I could do with another teacher in my room! And so on.

    I don't begrudge some children getting these resources, but it is so unfair that my students will not receive them. We have decided that some kids will have it all and others...well, maybe they'll be lucky enough to go to a "hidden gem" and the PTA will offer some extras.

    It's very disheartening from my perspective. Every year I am asked to do more with less while others - who are no better teachers than I am - do more with more.

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  30. There's nothing unfair about it. It is reality. Some people have more. Some people less.

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  31. And how is that reality fair? And how would you feel if you worked 2 jobs and had a brilliant kid, but could not give them this kind of education? Yuck, 10:17. Please tell me you are not an SFS parent.

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  32. Actually, reality can be quite unfair. Our school funding scheme is inequitable. I understand that you are making the point that "Life is unfair, so tough", but your phrasing is unclear.

    The existence of inequity does not make it okay.

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  33. I can't see how Sister Kortney has done anything wrong here. She described herself as a parent at the school and gave a more than complete review, certainly more complete than someone who tours. There's certainly room here for a non-parent review.

    She said she found the lottery process frustrating, which cannot be a surprise to anyone familiar with the SFUSD assignment system. That's not a slam on SFUSD, it's just that many, many people are in for months of stress.

    Finally, she was offered a slot at a very popular school and declined. That act consumes a trivial amount of public resources and opens a spot for another family, who were probably delighted to get it. So ... did that hurt anyone?

    She's been pretty transparent and she signs her name.

    PS Golf? Yuck.

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  34. I don't object to an insider's review in fact find it very valuable.....WHEN it's on Greatschools.net. Here it seems really out of place, especially as there are no K spots at the school.

    Yah, I'd love to post glowing reviews of our wonderful school here too, but I find it more interesting to read fresh impressions (both positive and negative) from folks touring. As insiders we can really learn how our school is perceived by others who are checking it out.

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  35. 9:24, you sound like a terrific teacher. Don't sweat the lack of "smart boards" at your school: without smart teachers, they're just another dumb gadget. YOU are what matters: your passion, your training, your determination to promote every child's success. Many of our SFUSD kids will be very competitive with these SF School kids. They won't have consumed as many organic salads, but they'll have strong academic skills, a good work ethic, and a high tolerance both for diversity and for adversity. I'm more worried that by the time they qualify for admittance to UC Berkeley, tuition will be up to $60,000 a year!

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  36. I have friends whose children attend SFS and I toured the school not too long ago. Before touring, I anticipated loving the school after hearing everything about it. After the tour, though, not so impressed. I'm not a die-hard public or private schooler, just a parent looking for the right fit. Definitely a lesson in "go see for yourself."

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  37. Yes, this IS like a restaurant that is writing its own reviews. Check out GreatSchools.net for current parent perspectives - they do a good job of it over there.

    I think having current parents write reviews of their school is the wrong way to go for SF K files. If you just start getting parents writing them for all the SFUSD and private schools, you really aren't getting anywhere - and that information is elsewhere.

    Keep the dignity of the format that has been in place for almost 2 years. I love reading fresh perspectives - not having parents justify whatever decision they made, public or private, as the lead story.

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  38. "I wonder about Clarendon being directly under the Twin Peaks tower- how do all those TV and radio waves effect the kids? Am I being crazy?"

    I don't think so. We ultimately turned down a spot at Clarendon for that ~very~ reason. Call me paranoid (other's do!)... Also that sucker could come down in a big quake.

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  39. I don't think the restaurant analogy works. Maybe if a principal was writing the review, it would be a good analogy.

    Aren't people on this blog always asking for comments from parents at the school? People always say that you should talk to parents to really know what a school is like. That sounds like good advice to me.

    I think Kortney's review is just as helpful or even more than a review from someone who has just toured it for an hour.

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  40. Plus, we all know you'd have to be nuts to use *any* review -- here, on greatschools.net, even from your best friend -- as the sole source of information for a school search. I see these reviews as a secondary source. Either to compare how someone views a school you've already toured, to get some ideas about schools you might have overlooked when you first drew up your list of schools to tour, etc. The people doing reviews aren't our personal assistants doing work we've outsourced to them. They're people who have kindly taken the time to share their reviews with us. Take them all for what they are.

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  41. So it sounds like if we're not interested in Community. Resources. Beauty. Warmth. Diversity we shouldnt apply here?

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  42. Someone said it here, we're not journalists. Yes, my review is biased, I'm a parent who chose my school...how could it not be?

    I think the system is so unfair to teachers!! I have public school teacher friends and I donate to their classrooms (time and supplies) annually. Teachers are nderpaid, and under supported in every way. I agree with the teacher who commented here--it's not fair.

    I have to say that the public school reviews are much like mine. Read Revere's library comment "Oh. My. God." Folks LOVE their schools, private or public, and thru their gushing can give you (seekers) an idea of the focus and culture of that school.

    We have made choices that support our life. One child is a biggy. We can afford, well, private school if it comes to that. The other was to not move our kid around one more time. The call from Clarendon was soul searching--and we did what we felt was right for her.

    I hope folks can move thru their frustration and find reviews to be helpful. Since questions about the school are not being addressed here, I'll sign out. Good luck in the search.

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  44. to 9:32 and Kortney (and everyone, really):

    as I said above (4pm), those were not my take-aways from my tour of SFS. go see for yourself.

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  45. ""I wonder about Clarendon being directly under the Twin Peaks tower- how do all those TV and radio waves effect the kids? Am I being crazy?"

    Nothing that's been proven. Meta-studies don't show a purported relationship between cancer and radio-frequency EM radiation, nor has there been an association shown between strength of low-frequency EM radiation and cancer rates. There's been a few studies showing association, but nothing reproducible. Given that most medical studies use a 95% confidence limit, there's always at least a 5% risk of getting a spurious correlation of A with B. So that's why the lack of consistency in finding an effect in different studies is important.

    [I used to get a headache from using a cellphone that had been dropped one to many times. I blamed it on the amalgam fillings in my teeth. Really.]

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  46. "I have to say that the public school reviews are much like mine. Read Revere's library comment "Oh. My. God."

    Made by someone who's not a parent at the school and has no skin in the game, so to speak.

    "Folks LOVE their schools, private or public, and thru their gushing can give you (seekers) an idea of the focus and culture of that school."

    Yes. And I love my public school too, and every day think how lucky we are to get in there. But I'd like to think that I'd season a review with some gimlet-eyed realism amongst the gushing. As it is, this is more an infomercial than a review.

    And if I wasn't able to give a downside or to specify "this school isn't going to work for you if...[list of criteria]" or "this school is very difficult to get into because there are only [x] spots". If I couldn't, then I'd say to myself "I am in the honeymoon period with my school and shouldn't post on it until I'm less infatuated with it".

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  47. When I describe my kids' school to people I try to be honest about both the things I love and the things that I'd like to see them do differently. But remember that Kortney has only been a parent at SFS for a few months - it's hard to have a full picture of a school, warts and all, in just a short time.

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  48. This is off-topic as it pertains to the issue of hazards from Sutro Tower and Clarendon school. They're converting Sutro Tower's antennae and the Planning Department completed an Environmental Impact Report on the project last year. If you're really interested, you can read everything you want to know about it here:

    http://www.sfgov.org/site/uploadedfiles/planning/Sutro%20Tower%20DEIR%2008-0517(1).pdf

    The upshot is that many studies have concluded that there are not significant hazards associated with Sutro Tower. However- there will always be some who just aren't comfortable with it...

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  49. When I describe my kids' school to people I try to be honest about both the things I love and the things that I'd like to see them do differently. But remember that Kortney has only been a parent at SFS for a few months - it's hard to have a full picture of a school, warts and all, in just a short time.

    Which is why it is not appropriate for this forum. It is neither a set a fresh eyes nor an experienced view. I hope this is not the start of a series of new K parents blogging about their fantastic schools--we could have 50 of those, I'm sure, but how helpful would they be? I love that new parents chime in with comments, but highlighting Kortney's comments as a review does detract from the format, imo. No one should treat any of these reviews like gospel (I think/hope we all get that), but there is an inconsistency with this case--and we are catching the "reviewer" at perhaps the least helpful moment, aka, the honeymoon. I hope we don't see 50 more like this! Plus, there are hardly any spots at SFS anyway, so why so much virtual ink devoted to it? It's basically just not helpful.

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  50. We've got to admit that private SF schools are promoting ignorance and bigotry. They are not academic, don't even publish their test scores. Let's not turn this site into an ad for private schools. They do more than enough marketing as it is. We have to admit private schools are harming our public schools.

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  51. "We've got to admit that private SF schools are promoting ignorance and bigotry."

    You have went 0/7 on the trolling topic lottery.

    I'm afraid you picked a too popular trolling opening line, and so visit the ETC (Educational Trolling Center) between the hours of 9:30 to 4:30 pm to select an trolling topic to be waitlisted for. Might I suggest school lunches as a topic. Nobody's trolled about school lunches for ages. Good luck in your hunt for a suitable subject to derail this thread.

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  52. "Which is why it is not appropriate for this forum. It is neither a set a fresh eyes nor an experienced view. "

    Why so much negativity about this? So she is not seeing it on a brief tour and she has not been there for years. She is somewhere in between. Who cares? She is taking the time to share her point of view and give information. I think it's silly to call a review unhelpful just because it is not coming from a parent with more experience or someone who has just seen it on a tour.

    If you are just not interested in the school for whatever reason, then maybe it is unhelpful, but it is probably helpful to others who read the blog.

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  53. I suspect this is actually more about Kortney than the SF School.

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  54. Hey, it's no different than a magazine ad that mimics the editorial tone and visual style of the magazine in which it's advertising. There's always the fine print at the top ("ADVERTISEMENT") in case anyone gets confused. And you can always turn the page and move on.

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  55. There is unequality within the public school system as well. If she chose Clarendon or she chose SFS, she was choosing a school where extra investment is made for each child.In SF schools rely SO MUCH on their PTA for things that were basic in my own public school education on the East Coast in the 70's. Is that fair? Is it hurting the public school system overall that Clarendon isn't getting this great family to help raise even more money to make it even better then the average public school? There is a lot thats wrong with the schools that have very little to do with losses to private schools. For one thing teachers should be able to send their kids to the school they teach at (which wouldn't cost a dime).

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  56. You write that SFS is generous with financial aid, "once you're in." We heard the opposite from a family that graduated last year: They felt they had to make increasing sacrifices every year to afford the school as tuition went up more than inflation or their salaries and their aid package stayed pretty much the same each year.

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  57. I would like to post a quick message of support to Kortney and others who are contemplating posting future information. I learned some information about a school with which I was not familiar.

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  58. For one thing teachers should be able to send their kids to the school they teach at (which wouldn't cost a dime).
    -------

    Guess what, they CAN.

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  59. "I suspect this is actually more about Kortney than the SF School."

    Geesh. This is a tough crowd. Of course different people will come away with different impressions after seeing a school. But I looked at the school pretty seriously and felt her comments really captured what I saw. It's really nice there.

    Why are so many people assuming that she is being deceptive? What is she getting out it?

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  60. "What is she getting out it?"

    A whole lot of attention, it seems.

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  61. It's not that she is deceptive. More like exasperating. I've appreciated a lot of her input, but please understand: there was this whole journey through the lottery, in which she received a lot of advice and encouragement, but had a *lot* of issues such as start time and various other factors that precluded most options for her; then, !que milagro! not once, but twice, she would actually get one of those options, or be told she would likely get it (Flynn in year one, Clarendon in year two) and then she would turn it down in favor of what I'm sure are very nice private schools, which she would then talk up endlessly. It was like watching a ping pong match.

    For those of us who were deeply engaged in looking for a public school, who felt the need to make broad choices (focus on immersion, or neighborhood, or a certain academic approach) and then compromise on the other factors because it really is hard to have it all--it was just hard to watch. I don't begrudge those who announce they are looking at both public and private, or who have their hearts set on SFS from the beginning--I'd have been cheering her on if she had said that. It was the *constant* posting about public options and how to get the impossible perfect school, neighborhood, start time etc and then get it and then turn it down that drove a lot of people batty. And then the talking up the wonderful new private school option to death.

    Hope that helps any newcomers who haven't followed the saga.

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  62. Right - and on top of it all, acting as if she was so put upon by SFUSD through the process.

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  63. I think there are some questions that I may be able to answer.
    My personal experience with the SFUSD lottery doesn’t offer much insight into my opinion of the San Francisco School, so I won’t respond to those comments/questions. I’ve taken earlier comments out, and am focusing on my review. My intention is to give a little information about a private school in S.F.

    SFS ranks in the top 4 SF private schools for affordability. That doesn’t mean it’s inexpensive by everyone’s standards—only that it isn’t the most expensive trophy school. Also, once you're in, SFS is very generous with financial aid. What I mean by that is, the SFS community raises a lot of money specifically for scholarships/financial aid.

    The middle school expands its classes to benefit the social needs of its students. Elementary has 1 class per grade—which then opens up to 2, 16 student classes in middle school, for a total of 32 middle school students.

    Like most private schools, openings are few & competitive, and it’s preschool obviously feeds into the elementary program. SFS Admissions states that they average about 5 openings in K yearly. With our current economic climate, it is possible that all private schools will see more openings, but that is pure conjecture. Keep in mind that they had 1st grade openings this year, and 6th grade openings for middle school.
    SFS did an environmental study on air and soil quality because of their proximity to the fwy. The study came back neutral--no toxins reported. Apparently, the wind is in their favor, and the moving traffic keeps the pollution on the go (thank goodness for residents.) The most troublesome air quality happens next to intersections that host idling cars.

    SFS is our school. We sacrifice in order to pay tuition. I think that in and of itself supports a bias claim. Someone else said it before, I am not a journalist, but rather an enthusiastic parent who is offering a little information about a private school I find to be excellent.

    My monitoring of this question is complete. I wish you best of luck with your school search.

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  64. I thought the review was fine and similar to the others I have seen on here in format and content.

    When did this become wikipedia? Maybe everyone can edit her review so we can make sure it is only-the-facts and contains no emotion of a parent happy with their child's school. This is a blog not an encyclopedia.

    Does the existence and mention of private school provoke this irrational auto-response as if this was a moral issue instead of an economic issue?

    And we all understand the standard public vs. private debate, does it have to play out in every thread that features a private school?

    The idea that private schools with their $20K tuition have all these unfair advantages and need to be combated in order to save the public schools is a farce. Public schools have all the help they need to compete for parents: $0 vs. $20K.

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  65. Wow – lots of complaints for a free post on a free blog! Kortney, sorry you’re getting flamed for posting your honest assessment about SFS. FWIW, I would never consider SFS for my kid – don't care for the curriculum and pedagogy – but I think you're putting up with a lot of unfair abuse.

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  66. "Like most private schools, openings are few & competitive."

    Kortney, while I appreciate your post, the above statement isn't completely true. Some very good private schools have far more capacity than SFS. There is no point in spreading the idea that openings are few and competitive for all private schools.

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  67. I hope that the private schools with far more openings are reviewed on this blog so that folks know of their existence.

    12:25 I respect your opinion. I would have hoped that if you were unfamiliar with SFS, my review would have saved you a trip down there, as it isn't your kind of place. Thanks for your honesty, and compassion re: the reaction I've gotten.

    Frankly, the reaction my review has received isn't unlike most reactions on this blog. Like water off a ducks back.

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  68. 12:25, Can you be more specific about what you didn't like about the curriculum and pedagogy?

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  69. I thought the academics seemed a tad weak. Very touchy feely school. A bit too loose for us, but might be perfect for others.

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  70. If you are new to K files, welcome to the solipsistic and self -rationalizing world of Kortney. Next week she will be strongly in favor or against something new and will feel compelled to tell us all about it, until she decides the opposite.

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  71. Someone decided not to apply to Clarendon because of the radio towers and is not embarassed to say that publicly? I am going to put up fake radio towers at my school so my daughter doesn't have to go to school with the children of anxiety-ridden fishwives.

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  72. This is a poorly-written review. A litany of effusively random facts and opinions.

    Next please.

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  73. Yes, why is this here? I could go to the school website for this PR. This is obviously written by someone still trying hard to justify to herself the switch to private school after blabbing on for so long about much she wanted to be in a public school. Save it for your therapist, and leave this site for semi-objective reviews.

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  74. The idea that private schools with their $20K tuition have all these unfair advantages and need to be combated in order to save the public schools is a farce. Public schools have all the help they need to compete for parents: $0 vs. $20K.

    That's not the issue. The unfair advantage (to my mind, as a classroom teacher) is that some schools have incredible resources others don't. Many but not all of these are private. YET, underresourced schools hear only that they have lousy teaching staffs, musings about how schools need to start doing better with what they have than asking for more, and so on.

    My issue is this: if smart boards, organic lunch, laptops, electives and the ilk are good for wealthy students, why shouldn't all schools be funded so that they can offer them? I remember reading in TIME last year a quote from Michelle Rhee about how students "don't deserve" imaginative activities until they've mastered basic skills, but isn't it possible that those imaginative activities support and teach those basic skills? Would SFS offer them if they didn't?

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  75. "I am going to put up fake radio towers at my school so my daughter doesn't have to go to school with the children of anxiety-ridden fishwives."

    Cool, that will keep my children away from deceptive exclusionists!

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  76. 5:03 PM 12:25, Can you be more specific about what you didn't like about the curriculum and pedagogy?

    My recollection is SFS is very discovery learning and constructivist. I don't remember exactly what curriculum they use, it's been a few years since we needed to choose a school.

    For parents that want that it would be great. Just like I think Creative Arts is a good school, but I have the same curriculum and pedagogy issues, so would not enroll my kid there.

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  77. "anxiety-ridden fishwives"

    that's pretty funny.

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  78. Kortney, glad you found a constructive way to spend your $20,000.

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  79. 5:56, I am so sorry. I teach too (though not at SFUSD), and knowing that with certain resources (even smaller classes) you could reach every kid, but not having those resources, is heartbreaking.

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  80. heartbreaking? how much more than 40% of the state budget should we shovel towards the schools in order to mend your heart?

    As in so much of life, money cant solve everything.

    I blame dipsh*t parents more than anything.

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  81. Maybe Kortney could start her own blog, so people who want to hear her blather could follow her posts. While the rest of us could be spared. Kortney, really, what do you (or your husband, maybe is the more relevant question) do for a living that you have so much time to be obsessing over schools on this site?

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  82. Death to charter schools -- Long live Caroline!
    Please, make the voices stop!

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  83. What *are* we talking about here? This comment thread needs to be closed. Kortney, I think you can do that from within Blogger. There's no need for this to devolve into public ad hominem (ad feminam?) attacks on Kortney, Caroline, or anyone else. Nobody who is taking the time to write reviews or comment thoughtfully deserves that, whether you agree or disagree with them.

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  84. We used to attend this school, and as sweet as it is, the preciousness can be cloying. Imagine your child being with the same 22 or so kids for 11 years - it's claustrophobic. Unless you have a highly sensitive child who needs to keep the stimulus to a minimum, this school is not good for children in terms of learning about different kinds of people and situations. Now that we are in a large public school we have observed the kids blossoming as they learn that not every family is similar to theirs, etc. Also, as with any independent school, the "diversity" is all on the surface - you might see more brown skin than you would at another private school, but there is not a lot of socioeconomic diversity. The bubble is real, people.

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  85. Very good points, 9:36. I can see how a small school could feel claustrophic and stifling.

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  86. Thanks, 9:36 AM. I toured SFS recently and couldn't put my finger on what I didn't like about it. I think you summed it up. I'm sure it would be a great place for some, but did not feel like a good fit for us.

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  87. "We used to attend this school, and as sweet as it is, the preciousness can be cloying. Imagine your child being with the same 22 or so kids for 11 years - it's claustrophobic."

    Couldn't the same argument be made for almost every Catholic school in the city (most of which have one class per grade), and some of the smaller public K-8 schools?

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  88. Why do people whose families are rejected from private schools waste all this time making false, anonymous comments (e.g., 9:36am)?

    This would be time better spent with their children.

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  89. It sounds like they left the school, not that they were rejected from it. Of course, it's anonymous, so who knows?

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  90. I believe the social needs of older kids is important. While a small school is intimate and lovely, and our daughter thrives there, the school recognizes the limitations in Middle School. Hence their decision to broaden the student body in Middle school--expanded it froom 1 class, to 2 classes.

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