Thursday, December 3, 2009

Hot topic: Attendance area, diversity and immersion programs

This from an SF K Files reader:
Do immersion programs function differently in the assignment system for determining the category of "applicants within the attendance area who add to diversity at that school?"

I understand (I think) that the lottery looks first for children in the attendance area who would add to diversity in the incoming K class, and that if your child BOTH is within the attendance area AND adds to diversity, then being in the area is helpful. Our attendance area school is an all Spanish-immersion school with a high number of English language learners, and we are definitely interested in putting it down as a Round I choice. As an English-speaking non-poor family, we might add to diversity at the school overall as compared to the initial already-formed class of younger siblings.

But I also know that the lottery run separates out English-monolingual/Spanish-
monolingual/bilingual families when assigning students to immersion programs. We presumably don't add to diversity when compared to other English-speaking families who are being considered for the English monolingual spaces in the immersion program.

So, will being in the attendance area help or not? Is "diversity" evaluated with regard to the school as a whole or with regard to just the relevant subset (English-speaking vs. target-language-speaking) of spaces?

Thanks very much for any input, and I hope this question applies to enough other people here that I'm not just asking for myself!

24 comments:

  1. Are there any Parents for Public Schools people or previous-year applicants who have thought this one through?

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  2. Sorry! I have a lot of lottery knowledge, but you have me stumped on the details of this one.

    I would say that if you are likely to offer diversity (you speak English, and most kids speak Spanish--for example, Marshall; and you are not-poor but most families are, etc.), PLUS you have assignment-area preference wherever that may come up in the lottery, either right up front because you offer diversity, or later as a tie-breaker..... well, let's just say it's a decent shot for you and well worth listing.

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  3. Our daughter got in Alvarado Spanish Immersion two years ago. It was our first choice and we were lucky to get it in the first round.
    We were not in the attendance area of the school and, from what I can tell, a lot of the other kids in the class are not in the attendance area either.
    When we applied two years ago, we had been told that the Immersion program was not in the attendance area, only the GE program.

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  4. "When we applied two years ago, we had been told that the Immersion program was not in the attendance area, only the GE program."

    This isn't correct. At least last year, immersion programs at attendance area schools were also coded to have attendance areas.

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  5. that seems wrong that there would be an attendance area for an immersion program unless there is an option at all schools for language immersion. you shouldn't not have as much of a chance as anyone else simply because you do not live in the school's attendance area.

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  6. I agree with 9:42. If an immersion program is meant to act as a "magnet" aspect of a school, it doesn't make sense that it would have an attendance area.

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  7. 10:34:
    Agreed that it doesn't make sense, but, I checked in with SFUSD and immersion programs do give neighborhood preferences.

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  8. It's true the language program counts in attendance area. It's true for West Portal too.

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  9. Of course, many SE-side parents, where immersion programs are mostly situated, feel differently. After years of facing less-than-stellar schools in our assignment areas, why shouldn't we have a little preference now that they are popular? Our previously disdained and despised schools are now hard to get into, and y'all on the west side suddenly want an equal shot--AND you want to keep YOUR assignment area preference on the west side schools too? No thanks!

    In the new system, I'd go along with taking away assignment preference for our local, newly popular immersion programs as long as we SE'ers also get the same citywide access to the high-performing GE programs on the west side.

    :-)

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  10. 2:44 - wow. Do you not realize that there are many people on the SE that would like immersion but live a house or two away from an attendance boundary? Do you not realize that at many immersion schools (Monroe, Marshall and Flynn for sure) several of the very active parents who made some of these "disdained" schools ones that are "hard to get into", who took a chance on the "disdained" school when immersion came in (probably when you yourself wouldn't look at it) did not live either in the attendance area or even on the SE side? Do you not realize that there are many excellent GE programs on the SE side of town (Moscone, Milk, Alvarado for example)? It is attitudes like yours ("we on the SE and ya'll on the west side") that make it difficult for San Francisco to have excellent schools everywhere since you are so busy deciding where people should be place in schools based on where they live. Do you also not realize that your attitude would also keep out kids from places like Bayview from immersion programs (and many are in immersion programs)? again, just wow.

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  11. 2:44, you make some excellent points. I hadn't thought of it that way.

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  12. 4:05, this is 2:44 again: wow yourself. You really missed the point! I was making a broad, devil's advocate argument, and it was a little tongue in cheek (hence the emoticon).

    (Btw, why on earth would you assume I wouldn't look at one of the poorer schools in my neighborhood? In fact, I sent my older kid to one, back in the day, and helped build it up. What persona are you projecting onto me?)

    I actually agree with your fundamental point about access to all schools for all and doing away with the artificiality of neighborhood boundaries. Perhaps the way I said it meant that my support for citywide lottery did not come through.

    I've been in this district a long time, and I've watched the west side argue incessantly for "neighborhood schools." At all levels, too: remember the Lincoln High protests a few years back? But now that the schools on our side of town, both immersion and GE, have improved, there is STILL pressure in the current SAS redesign to give preference to assignment area residents for most schools--but oh, with the exception of the popular magnet programs that just happen to be mostly in the SE.

    Like I said in my original post, I'm all for giving preference to citywide access to all our schools on ALL sides of town. In the new system I would support this over a strong preference for neighborhood. [I'd also support a (simpler than the current lottery) system that also gave significant preference to kids coming from really disadvantaged backgrounds--perhaps a block by block calculation as has been talked about, or some other method that is not easy to game.]

    The point is, why should immersion programs be by citywide lottery but not the equally popular GE programs like Jefferson, Lawton K-8, etc.? I agree that Moscone is a great GE option for the Mission District, but there are lots of reasons why someone might want Commodore Sloat instead (is a student or teacher over at SF State, for example, and wants to be close by during the day .... Same with Jefferson and UCSF, which is a huge employer for people of all income levels.).

    My question is, why should the immersion programs be citywide and not these others? Why not open up the choices for ALL of us. Otherwise we in the SE are truly more limited in our choices than those in other neighborhoods.

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  13. My question is other than CL Korean (impossible to get into), why are ther NO immersion programs to attract to diversity on the North side of the City. We would love a Spanish, French, Italian or even Mandarin school. There are none other than CL that I know of.

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  14. 2:44 - 4:05 here

    sorry if I took it wrong, yes it was the wording. I think the poster who mentioned there are no immersion programs really on the west side also has a point. immersion should be city wide b/c we don't want to have only kids who live on the west side learning Chinese and only kids in SE learning in Spanish. I actually support a city wide choice and not zone or assignment areas for this very reason, as well as your point about maybe a better GE fit for a family in another part of town.

    I just think if we do go to zones or assignment area that we should leave ALL magnet programs out of it, language, science, art, etc.

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  15. 8:58, wondering... isn't the reason there aren't Spanish immersion programs other than in the SE part of town because they don't think they'd have the necessary Spanish speakers to fill the seats? I would think a Spanish immersion school in, say, the Richmond, would be quite popular among English speakers, but I'm not sure about filling the other seats. Does anyone know if they've (SFSUD) looked into it?

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  16. yes, that is the reason the Chinese programs mainly are in the west side (Starr King gets almost no native Mandarin speakers) and the Spanish in SE. The question seems to be should the non target language speaking kids be restricted by area of town.

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  17. I know I am in the minority, and I say keep the lottery citywide for all programs, and refine the diversity index to get as many disadvantaged kids as possible a shot at good schools. That actually might not benefit my particular kid, and it needs to be supported by a good citywide school bus system. But it seems to me the only thing that will continue to desegregate the schools. It is not the lottery that resegregates them, it's the lack of outreach to disadvantaged families, the difficult transportation issues, and the cuts to funding that have effectively reprivatized the schools insofar as the PTAs have to step in, and more middle-class families means more PTA $$.

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  18. I'm with you, 6:57.

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  19. I"m also with you, 6:57. Thanks for the perspective.

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  20. Could you not argue that the lottery, which demands active participation by parents who can get involved a year in advance to select their child's school, is disadvantageous to poor families? For example, 51% of AA families missed the Jan application deadline last year. These families have little chance of getting trophy schools (if they even wanted them), and I find this problematic as well.

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  21. What 6:57 said. Fortunately, three of the options being considered by the Board and Orla O'Keefe's working group are city-wide lotteries.

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  22. " Do you not realize that there are many excellent GE programs on the SE side of town (Moscone, Milk, Alvarado for example)?"

    Yes, but also most of the poorer-performing GE programs are also in the SE.

    I'm fine with no neighbourhood preference in the immersion programs under the current system, but would be *pissed* if immersion programs remain district-wide but . If you're going to shut me out of Grattan and Sloat by guaranteeing slots to those in their neighbourhood, I want guaranteed slots for Flynn SI or Monroe SI

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  23. I think six years ago Grattan was not a stellar performing GE program and neither was McKinely, but parents took a chance on it and made it into what it is now. With ith the teachers and staff of course, but what I mean is they poured in grant writing expertise, fundraising in other communities than had traditionally been done, etc. to bring in the arts programs and things that people now find attractive.

    I am a parent Flynn SI and I can tell you that is what happened at Flynn as well. The teachers were great already, but the reason people want to go there now (well some groups of people) is due to the grantwriting, arts programs, etc. that were the result of some parents taking a chance on the school and resulted in things like a new playground and more arts programs because of bringing in more funding, and that's what we are really talking about here. There is no reason why people shouldn't take a chance on Junipero Serra, and other schools that are GE in the SE side of town. They could easily be the same attractiveness at Grattan and Sloat with some attention from parents who can fundraise more money.

    Personally, I am with 6:57 and prefer a city wide lottery,but I like the option that gives you guaranteed space in your own school if you want it or something like that.

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  24. Unfortunately, guaranteed spaces would nix the citywide lottery on a practical level for many schools by filling up spaces so that kids outside that zone never have a true chance. It's not that the district wouldn't like to make everyone happy, but in a system of at least perceived scarcity of a certain kind of spot, there has to be some system of allocation. Whoever ends up missing out will think the system is unfair.

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