Friday, January 22, 2010

Rachel Norton: The sun will come out tomorrow

A blog post written by Board of Education member Rachel Norton:

I’m afraid Tuesday evening’s post on our looming $113 million deficit for 2010-11 and 2011-12 (combined) left a lot of people feeling depressed and worried. It is depressing, no question, and none of the options in front of the school district for closing the gap are at all palatable. Still, there are a few bright spots in the generally gloomy skies:

  • Our funding for sports, libraries, arts and music (SLAM) is generally protected, because it is a set aside under the city budget. Next year’s SLAM funding is estimated to be $15 million even after the City pulls its 25 percent ”trigger” (allowed because the City is facing its own budget crisis), and it funds music, art and P.E. teachers, programs and supplies at each school level, and librarians for district schools.
  • Discussions with the Mayor’s office and the Board of Supervisors continue over going to the voters to secure additional revenues to protect our local schools from the crisis in Sacramento. If these discussions are productive, and we can convince voters to pass a revenue measure, our budget shortfall would be reduced significantly.
  • The district administration and United Educators of San Francisco are working together to see if we can find funds to offer a one-time retirement bonus to staff at the upper end of the pay scale. We saw a lower-than-normal number of teachers and paraprofessionals retire last year, so there’s a possibility that there are staff out there who are already considering retirement — this one-time bonus might sweeten the deal for those staff members. It would also lower our overall payroll and save some jobs of less-senior teachers and paraprofessionals.
Read the full post on Norton's blog at rachelnorton.com.

71 comments:

  1. Rachel - thanks for your post. I hope you will let PTA's and others know what we can do to support your efforts to get a revenue measure on the ballot ASAP. I hope SF will not let our class sizes balloon and dedicated teachers be laid off.

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  2. Where is our effective school fundraising foundation?

    I know that the true solution is that we dismantle Prop. 13* and transform our culture of "you're on your own" to a "we're in this together" philosophy. Our
    schools need to be adequately -- amply -- supported with public funding, with our wealthy corporations and individuals paying their full share.

    But also... now we REALLY need the effective, single, high-profile, ubiquitous school fundraising foundation model that the high-income suburban districts
    have.

    We have the San Francisco School Alliance
    http://www.ecclf.org/

    ... and the merged San Francisco Education Fund/San Francisco School Volunteers
    http://www.sfedfund.org/

    ... and the Silver Giving Foundation,
    http://silvergiving.org/

    We really need just one, and it needs to be everywhere in the community, everywhere you look, making itself the first choice of every high-net-worth individual, business and corporation in San Francisco. It needs to be constantly making the need for supporting our schools clear to everyone.

    I've had it explained to me by an insider why that's not happening. But it just plain needs to happen. WHAT CAN WE DO?

    *Yes, I well understand the situation behind Prop. 13 -- I may well be the only
    person reading this blog who who was a California voter in 1978 when it passed. Yes, homeowners were being assessed rising property taxes on their skyrocketing home values. There were other proposed solutions besides effectively destroying
    our public services and infrastructure.

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  3. I think a lot of people (especially those who do not have kids in public schools) have misgivings about our schools' ability to spend money effectively. If we want people to open their wallets, we need to prove up front that we'll have transparency and accountability. I'm all for establishing a high profile fund and helping to raise money for it, but I want to be able to answer the tough questions when people ask them.

    It helps to have specifics on exactly what the money is paying for.

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  4. I think Caroline is absolutely right, Rachel. Given this economy, I'm afraid there's no way that the voters in SF are going to approve more taxes to fund public schools. But the idea of ONE nonprofit fund has a lot of appeal -- we've got tons of corporate interests and monied people in the city and we can use that to leverage ourselves to cut the costs. It seems like this is the one thing that could happen now. On the transparency issue, maybe the way to deal with that is to have really well-known and totally trusted publi school advocates run the nonprofit, with open books and all and have a SPECIFIC TARGET. So, since bigger class size is a real worry to everyone, there could be a dedicated fund just to save teacher jobs: i.e., each school would get X more full-time teachers from the fund. Put really good people in charge, make it completely transparent and then people would give. I know I would give to a fund that kept class sizes small, and I know there are lots of others who would too.

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  5. I don't think there are that many wealthy corporations and individuals out there who could contribute to a non profit.

    Take a drive down to Silicon Valley and have a look. Near San Tomas or along Scott Boulevard. Most of the office buildings are empty. EMPTY. Mile after mile of empty office buildings where once there were companies employing high paid, high taxed workers.

    OK, that is Silicon Valley, not San Francisco, but ten years ago, it was THEE engine for economic vibrancy in the state.

    Now we have Empty Valley.

    Mayor Newson is trying to extend the tax free extensions so that he can keep and attract biotech companies to the city. John Avalos and the other supervisors don't want to approve this. I can understand that they don't want to give a tax cut when what we need are more tax dollars. However, that is the competitive landscape that we are in. This city is not attractive to business and nothing is being done about it.

    The concept of running the schools on financing from mythical "wealthy donors" is highly improbable.

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  6. I worry however about how the funds are awarded, and administered. There would be issues about fairness, regardless of transparency. That word is used alot lately, and I don't know what that really means, especially to those on the side of making the funding decisions. Ultimately the funds would have to be granted to the SFUSD - for them to use, that is how it works. The non-profit couldn't directly fund the jobs of teachers, it would have to go the SFUSD to pay the teachers. I don't believe there is a simple solution. Also, there would have to be some kind a fair share approach to make sure that all the schools get funded.

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  7. Even if funding was provided evening across the school district, there are simply not nearly enough good schools in the district for the number of children.

    There are too many high needs children and too little funding as it is, even before the budget cuts.

    The very group that you are talking about, the one that you are hoping to raise funds from, has the least access to San Francisco schools.

    Don't believe me?

    Those generous donors you are hoping to raise funds from are crowded into in "bin 16".

    The old saying "Don't bite the hand that feeds you" does apply here.

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  8. as unpopular as this idea will be, it may be time for SFUSD to have a state takeover. Before I am flamed, let me explain my reasons.

    It isn't just that the district is facing budget cuts this year, and that Sacramento has continually underfunded education, it is that SFUSD has mismanaged the funds it has and has failed to significantly close the achievement gap for AA and Latino kids. This is what makes voter approval of new taxes unlikely, and also makes the shortfall makeup from a foundation unlikely - though both are excellent ideas for the future and should be pursued, they will not fix the current situation.

    I know people will say SFUSD is the most improved district, urban one in the state, but SFUSD also has the worst performance for AA kids of any large district in the state. There are many redundancies in the central office and inefficiencies that have been allowed to continue. There have been various large contracts signed without a cost-benefit ratio that is rational in this economy. Yes, I agree schools and school districts are not businesses and should not be run as such, but at the same time they cannot continue to run in a wasteful, redundant manner while not educating kids.

    I am heartened to hear Carlos Garcia say SFUSD will trim 45 million from the central district office, but I think it's time that we have people making decisions for SFUSD in an impartial way that reflects what is best for students achievement.

    This is something that most of the BOE members do not do, with the major exception of Rachel Norton. We currently have a BOE president who just announced that she is now commencing her campaign for a city supervisor seat, leaving many to wonder how well she will be making crucial decisions during this unprecedented budget crisis.

    So, maybe no one wants it, but maybe the most prudent and ultimately responsible thing SFUSD could do for the people who matter most, the students, is ask for a state loan and put the leadership under receivership. Maybe this would have the added benefit of not attracting people to the BOE who only want to use it as a political stepping stone.

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  9. I'm definitely not saying the schools could be run on private money. But I think it would help cushion the impact.

    And this isn't some wild notion -- it's the way all the successful, high-functioning suburban school districts do it. They might well achieve more success with it, but if we in San Francisco adopted their model, we might be able to maximize the private funding available. I believe we're far from doing that now. Why can't we just model our one strong, effective foundation after those suburban ones, in terms of transparency and other issues? What would be the downside?

    12:14, the problem with pursuing a state takeover is that there is zero record of success with state takeovers of other districts. And pursuing a state takeover because of the low achievement of one small subgroup in our district -- I'm not saying African-American students aren't important, but they are a small percentage of our students -- seems questionable.

    Many observers attribute the low achievement of African-Americans in SFUSD to the widely publicized exodus of San Francisco's black middle class to the suburbs in pursuit of more house for less money -- leaving mostly very low-income African-Americans who aren't in a position to house-hunt remaining in the city. That's been widely covered in the news (one link below). Since that's the case, given that lower-income children are statistically likely to be far lower achievers, the reason has nothing to do with the schools.

    http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/2009/0615/p02s04-usgn.html

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  10. "And this isn't some wild notion -- it's the way all the successful, high-functioning suburban school districts do it."

    San Francisco is not a high functioning district. It has not been for many years.

    So called high-functioning districts, such as Marin, validate residency. We do not.

    We also do not validate that students truly need a free or reduced lunch and the associated priority access to school.

    High-functioning districts do not have preferred access for people who speak a narrow set of languages.

    High functioning districts base acceptance to school simply by residence in a particular geographic area which tends to be tightly coupled to assessed home value and a verifiable tax base.

    Even then, many traditionally high functioning districts are now struggling.

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  11. How do we get Rachel elected board president? Seriously.

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  12. There is some sad truth to "chickens coming home to roost here." So many families who would have the money to donate have been driven out of the public school system by the lottery. So those of us who are left are the ones who don't have the clout or the $$ to make up the difference. How sad. Thanks to the board, we get a highly diverse sinking ship.

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  13. High functioning districts have high functioning populations--high property values, high earners, a high percentage of students coming from educated families who value education, families who buy or rent homes in good school districts and are actively involved in making sure their kids get what they need. San Francisco does pretty well considering the population our public schools serve. A very material percentage of what would be a high-functioning school population is in private school in San Francisco. Is the district doing well enough? No, particularly not for or African-American and Latino students. Does the school district waste enormous resources on bureaucracy, goofy consultants and pie-in-the-sky initiatives? Sure. However, there are some core competencies. Maybe this crisis is an opportunity for the district to focus on doing its job--educating children in the communities where they live.

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  14. My point was not whether SFUSD was a high-functioning district or not, but that there are models in place in high-functioning districts for a foundation that functions at maximum effectiveness. So that wheel doesn't need to be reinvented.

    But I would question some of these comments anyway.

    Actually, for a diverse, high-poverty urban district, SFUSD IS high-functioning -- I would challenge anyone to name a higher-functioning diverse, high-poverty urban district, anywhere in the country.

    SFUSD does validate residency to some degree, short of hiring detectives.

    "So called high-functioning districts, such as Marin, validate residency. We do not."

    SFUSD doesn't actually have "preferred access" overall for applicants based on their home language. Applicants who speak a specific language would, it's true, have preferred access at schools where few people speak that language. Home language may work for an applicant or against the applicant depending on the situation.

    What the following says is that the rich get richer -- but is that desirable, not to mention fair?

    "High functioning districts base acceptance to school simply by residence in a particular geographic area which tends to be tightly coupled to assessed home value and a verifiable tax base."

    And yes, this is true:
    "Even then, many traditionally high functioning districts are now struggling." ... but that doesn't mean they're not being helped by their school foundations' support, based on having foundations that function as effectively as possible.

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  15. You know that makes me really steamed about the BOE Pres announcing about running for the SF BOS. Honestly, it would appear that many of these BOE people see their position as a stepping stone to other office. Geez. Rachel does rock, and I am glad we have her. I know this isn't the point of this thread, but I just feel like I have to vent.

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  16. For a select few as schools like Alice Fong Yu and De Avila, the chickens will not come home to roost.

    They'll have plenty of expendable income, compared to the rest of us, to funnel into their own PTA. And if not, I'm sure the Chinese government will be more than happy to kick in a few dollars.

    Check it out:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/21/education/21chinese.html

    Some quotes:

    "The Chinese government is sending teachers from China to schools all over the world — and paying part of their salaries."

    "Also stoking the interest has been a joint program by the College Board and Hanban, a language council affiliated with the Chinese Education Ministry, that since 2006 has sent hundreds of American school superintendents and other educators to visit schools in China, with travel costs subsidized by Hanban. Many have started Chinese programs upon their return." Our own Kim-Shree Maufas is one of them.

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  17. Sorry, the url in the previous post got truncated.

    "Foreign Languages Fade in Class - Except Chinese."
    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/21/
    education/21chinese.html

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  18. So true! Plus, I heard that all of the Chinese people were warned ahead of time to be out of twin towers on 9/11! And Frank Chu is Chinese and he is the only one who knows the truth about Clinton and 12 Galaxies. Explain that!

    Also, I am currently a prisoner of the Zegnatronic Rocket Society. Please send help.

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  19. "What the following says is that the rich get richer -- but is that desirable, not to mention fair?"

    This is an out dated notion of what happening in this country and state.

    There has been no job growth in this country since 1997. There has been a drastic decrease in jobs, at all levels, in the last two years.

    So, apart from those in the financial industry, I don't think we need to get too worried about the rich getting richer.

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  20. Dear Prisoner of the Zegnatronic Rocket Society,

    I'd love to send help, but I'm to busy paying for private school and trying to help people, like those in Haiti, who really need help.

    Sincerely,

    Pissed off 0/7 San Francisco mom

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  21. One advantage of a single foundation for SFUSD schools would be that you might get at least some money from families who don't have children in SFUSD schools to support SFUSD. I know I would funnel some of the money that we donate to our private school to the foundation supporting SFUSD schools instead, if such a foundation existed.

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  22. Rachel ...

    I have been to a few board meeting. Maybe the board will finally start focusing on making schools better academically instead of only increasing diversity.

    Kill the busing. Send kids to their neighborhood schools. Spend the money on teachers not "busing" and diversity.

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  23. Right on 2:30 poster!

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  24. Cutting busing is about a million dollars. You have $112 million to go.

    Also, Garcia told the union that busing cuts will be enormous, even if it increases segregation. Please find a new straw man.

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  25. I actually would not be in favor of just throwing more money at the schools. Mostly because I don't know where it goes. Every year all I've ever heard was they need more money. This year worse then ever but every single year for 25 years I've heard that. Then the special elections for bonds and other funding gets approved and they come back again the next year. The budget has gone up 140% in 8 years. But the schools are worse then ever. Have teacher salaries gone up 140%? What in the world happened to all of the money? Until I can see an accounting on where the costs are, I wouldn't support it.

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  26. Huge pension and healthcare obligations to retired district employees are one factor behind this crisis? Why is this never discussed?

    The pension/healthcare costs rise about 15% annually, consuming ever larger shares of the school budget.

    This is what bankrupted the Richmond school district, and the same will happen here eventually unless we address this problem.

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  27. There are three reasons why SFUSD is experiencing these fiscal problems.

    1. Prpp 13
    2. The economic meltdown
    3. The failure of SFUSD to act earlier to stem the red ink.

    It is somewhat disingenuous for board members to want to go to the voters when they sat back idly and did nothing over the last year. In fact they continued to spend freely without due consideration for the magnitude of the problem and the effect it would have this year's budget.

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  28. It is true that SFUSD teachers have fully funded health benefits upon retirement. A few years back, they only needed to be employed by the district for 5 years in order to get that benefit, and I believe it is 17 years now.

    However, the City of SF still has this fully funded benefit for those who have worked for SF for only 5 years.

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  29. Yes, public employees in California get an incredibly sweet deal on pensions/healthcare. Many can retire at the age of 50 at 80% of pay, and they get free healthcare for life.

    Unionocracy in action.

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  30. A school bond, like any bond measure, would easily pass in SF with 75% renters.

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  31. Prop A barely passed. That was during the economic mini bubble of 2006-2008.

    A good portion of those renters don't have kids.

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  32. Renters pay property tax too, and increasingly so.

    All tax paid by a landlord is passed onto the renter.

    So renters should be equally concerned, along with homeowners, about property tax increases.

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  33. Yeah except, until you see the bill first hand and have to write a check to cover it first hand you don't feel like you pay property tax. Also, renters don't always pay prop. tax. If you rent and the property gets sold, your rent is still not going to go up more than the 1 or 2 percent allowed by the city. The tax on the building, however, goes up to the new "value" of the building upon sale.

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  34. Sorry 12:46, I don't have to argue with you about whether or not a property tax increase will pass.

    I don't think it will, but that is just my humble opinion.

    I recently was thinking about collected signatures so that we could save our state parks. The prop would involve an $18/year increase in the vehicle license fee.

    I realized how bad it is out there when members of the Sierra club question the need for $18/year increase, without which, our state parks will start to crumble.

    You can campaign, the teachers union can jump up and down, but I really don't think we will be passing any property tax increases this year.

    Again, just my humble opinion.

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  35. There's a simple way to substantially increase donations to SFUSD schools: Get rid of the "lottery" and re-adopt local school assignment zones.

    If SFUSD would do that then many people who are forced into either a) leaving the City or b) attending private schools because the "lottery" assigns the family a horrible school that if a parent has the ability to avoid then the parent would be negligent if s/he did not do so. Keeping those families in the system would result in a substantial increase in funding for certain schools (and other schools would enjoy positive externalities from the additional giving as well).

    Unfortunately SFUSD refuses to lighten up on its social engineering goals the unintended consequence of which is that the school system itself is harmed. Frankly to a certain extent SFUSD is reaping what it sows... and its only going to get worse.

    Of course Proposition 13, a grossly unfair and unconstitutional law, also should be abolished.

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  36. collected -> collecting

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  37. 1:03, history shows it's not so simple.

    My kids are older than those of most posters here, and we first applied to K for fall 1996. At that time we were guaranteed our neighborhood school, which we did not want. We applied to an alternative school, went through the appeals process, and got it.

    That was the time in which the standard wisdom among middle-class parents was that "there are only five good schools" in SFUSD, and that if you didn't get one of those, you had to go private or move. Anecdotally, the percentage of middle-class families fleeing to private was higher at that time; the interest in public schools among middle- and upper-income families appears to be much higher now.

    The school we were assigned to and did not want was Miraloma Elementary, which is around the corner from our house and was then shunned by the middle class.

    Here are some other schools that friends of ours who lived close to them shunned in favor of preferred (mainly alternative) schools farther away:

    Fairmount
    Lafayette
    Peabody
    Grattan
    Flynn
    Alvarado
    Sunnyside
    West Portal
    Ulloa
    Sunset
    McKinley
    Robert L. Stevenson

    ...and that's just off the top of my head.

    In other words, reality shows that it was not true that being guaranteed the neighborhood school meant families were more likely to go public and donate their time and money to the school.

    Parents for Public Schools began as an effort to get some of those families to consider their neighborhood schools rather than flocking to the popular alternative schools.

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  38. I hear that Mayor Newsom hired a "sustainability coordinator" for the school district from Prop. H funds -- that means the money could have been used directly for our kids' needs -- and imposed this on the school district. And this person hasn't done one single useful thing.

    Does anyone in the know have more information about this?

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  39. “Meet Nik Kaestner, San Francisco Unified School District director of sustainability.
    “His job…is to cultivate environmentally sound policies throughout the district, be that cost-saving measures or earth-friendly classroom curriculum.
    “In these dire budget times, the idea of a "director of sustainability" might sound odd -- although it's a position found increasingly in Corporate America. But Kaestner's salary and expenses totaling $150,000, at least for a few years, will be picked up by San Francisco's Department of the Environment and the Public Utilities Commission instead of the district.
    “By the time that funding runs out, Kaestner said he hopes the district will be able to pay for the position (a rarety in public education) through all the savings created through green initiatives.”
    http://tinyurl.com/yaw9mlv

    So, how's that working out for the SFUSD? Has this guy generated enough savings to pay for his position?

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  40. “Meet Nik Kaestner, San Francisco Unified School District director of sustainability.

    “His job…is to cultivate environmentally sound policies throughout the district, be that cost-saving measures or earth-friendly classroom curriculum.

    Wow. Flushing money down the toilet. Rachel, can you get this guy fired please?

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  41. If it is true that Newsom hired this person and is using money which would otherwise come to the SFUSD through Prop H to pay for the position, then why doesn't the BOE just man up and tell the Mayor, "Thanks but no thanks; we can no longer afford a sustainability coordinator and we need to have that $150K added back into Prop H"? That way the money could be used to retain the positions of two classroom teachers. (And yes, Prop H funds CAN be used for teacher salaries.)

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  42. Amen to 12:41!

    It's true that that $150K is only a tiny percentage of the shortfall. But even so, clearly we need to emphasize the need for every possible dollar to go to classrooms. Has this sustainability coordinator achieved anything of value in any case?

    And maintaining a staffer in such a role also makes it impossible for SFUSD to claim to have cut to the bone, too. How dare they discuss increasing class size while this position is on the payroll?

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  43. Caroline,

    Yes it is that simple - your 14 year old story doesn't have anything to do with disputing the assertion and is nonsensical in context.

    Let people in the affluent areas (Pacific Heights, Presidio Heights, Cow Hollow, Marina, etc.) go to their neighborhood school and you will immediately see donations to those schools go way up (its simple math: typical family with 2 kids rather than paying 60k for private school (in many instances the number is higher if you factor in all costs) suddenly has an extra 60k in their pockets. A substantial portion of that "found" money will go to the family's children's school(s)).

    Furthermore the amount could and probably would be more since if a family knew what school their children were going to go to then the family would start to donate before the children begin attending there. Note these are easy donations to make since the family gets three bangs for the buck: 1) tax write off (assuming AMT doesn't kill the deduction off - a big assumption granted); 2) feel good about helping education on top of paying tens of thousands in property tax; and 3) the family's children will be a direct beneficiary of the hand out. In short, the donation is an easy sell to an affluent family.

    Unfortunately though the "choice" system (this moniker is Orwellian in the extreme) discourages this from happening since the affluent family has the deck stacked against them. Its highly unlikely they will get their neighborhood school. So instead giving is directed to the private preschools by affluent families hoping to get into private school and stay living in the City. Because of SFUSD's system the Little School gets a one million dollar outdoor playground and the public schools get zip.

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  44. That sounds great, 1:21. In fact, that would free up the district from having to fund those "affluent" schools altogether, and all the public monies could go to the poorer schools. How about this - we go one step further and deny public education to families with an income over X dollars? They've got the funds, let them fend for themselves. Why should my middle class tax dollars pay to educate rich kids?

    These threads are beyond depressing.

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  45. But that's not what was happening 14 years ago when those families, like mine across town in Miraloma Park, were guaranteed their neighborhood schools, 1:21. Why didn't it work that way 14 year ago? What has changed that would lead to the outcome you envision, as opposed to the real-life situation back then, when families were choosing alternative schools or private schools rather than accept their neighborhood schools?

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  46. Why is Rachel Norton the only board member who seems to give a crap?

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  47. My kids have been in public schools here now for five years. When I went through the craziness of the lottery, I really wanted neighborhood schools. But, lo and behold, I've become a fan of the lottery system. Sometimes Caroline is wrong on this blog, but I would urge those who want a return to neigbhorhood schools to think carefully about what a system with neighborhood schools would really look like, particularly with a school board that is determined to engineer diversity. I think Caroline may have a point that we may all regret this push to neighborhood schools. Yes, the lottery system is very weird, it is a truly nail-biting experience, and those of us who are risk-averse particularly get frustrated by it. But just imagine how bad things could get with a new system. I know I can.

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  48. Just to be really specific, this isn't EXACTLY what I was saying:

    "I think Caroline may have a point that we may all regret this push to neighborhood schools."

    People who live near popular schools would undoubtedly love it; people who live near schools they didn't want would be dismayed and outraged; and families in low-income neighborhoods with struggling schools would have their options sharply reduced.

    What I was specifically saying is that the rosy scenario envisioned by one poster if SFUSD returned to guaranteed neighborhood assignment is not the way it was when SFUSD DID have guaranteed neighborhood assignment.

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  49. "San Francisco is not a high functioning district. It has not been for many years.

    So called high-functioning districts, such as Marin, validate residency. We do not."

    Marin has ~4% low-SES students (i.e. 4% free/reduced lunch). SFUSD has 46%.

    You are not comparing apples with apples.

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  50. "Let people in the affluent areas (Pacific Heights, Presidio Heights, Cow Hollow, Marina, etc.) go to their neighborhood school"

    And screw the folks in the poorer parts of the city.

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  51. "Yes it is that simple - your 14 year old story doesn't have anything to do with disputing the assertion and is nonsensical in context."

    What Caroline says is true, and was true for friends of mine who sent their kids to Alvarado eight years ago, true for Miraloma five years ago, and was true for McKinley, Moscone, JOES, Flynn, Fairmont as recently as two-three years ago. The lottery creates an incentive to beat the bushes and find the great schools that don't (yet) have much buzz.

    Applications to SFUSD lotteries have went up more than 10% two years in a row now. If the lottery is scaring SF parents off, they sure have a strange way of showing it.

    You're going to back up your assertion that the lottery/choice system we have now is scaring parents away with more than just your opinion. Let's see some data on your end.

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  52. Caroline the middle class families you are referring to are not affluent families: your 14 year old anecdote is totally immaterial.

    The SFUSD assignment system isn't going to change the fact that rich people get more than the middle class and the middle class do better than poor people so the posters complaining about class differences really have nothing to offer.

    The problem is how do you get more funds into the SFUSD. Other than getting rid of Proposition 13 (which should have been tossed decades ago) one easy way is to bring back true neighborhood schools. If that occurred donations would increase immediately for certain schools. For lousy schools located in poor neighborhoods donations would not increase. And families located close to that school would have to do what parents have had to do for literally centuries (and still do in the vast majority of the US): move to an area which has better schools.

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  53. Applications to the lottery increasing has nothing to do with people liking the lottery. Applications being up is demographically and most importantly economically driven. I don't know a single parent in San Francisco that likes the lottery.

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  54. 9:37, I think what you're saying is that Pacific Heights, Presidio Heights, Cow Hollow, Marina, etc. were not neighborhoods where affluent people lived 14 years ago. Well, it seems to me that they were, depending on your definition of "affluent." And the families who lived in those neighborhoods were guaranteed their neighborhood schools at that time, but overwhelmingly chose private or alternative schools.

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  55. 9:40, I don't think anyone likes the lottery itself. But it's the tradeoff for being able to choose a school and for the fact that SFUSD has many popular and successful schools that get more applicants than there are openings.

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  56. "Applications to the lottery increasing has nothing to do with people liking the lottery."

    If you're going to make an assertion, at least try to make that assertion directionally correct. You said the lottery is driving parents away. The volume of applications doesn't support this.

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  57. " I don't know a single parent in San Francisco that likes the lottery."

    Well, I do. They might not like the lottery, but they like they can choose what schools and programs suit their kid. I don't want choice taken away from me at the middle and especially the high school level.

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  58. 12:48. before making snarky comments at least try to read and comprehend prior posts.

    As stated previously percentage increase in people applying for public school has gone up because of demographics and most importantly economics. It has nothing whatever to do with liking the lottery. One has to subject oneself to the lottery if one wants to try and take part in the San Francisco public school system so of course applications are up in our current economic state. Claiming that applications are up so therefore people must want the lottery to continue drastically oversimplifies the situation and proves/disproves nothing.

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  59. "As stated previously percentage increase in people applying for public school has gone up because of demographics and most importantly economics."

    I see. The lottery is driving people away, but not really because they're having more kids and have less money, so they're flocking to it. Like Yogi Berra's "Nobody goes there anymore: it's too crowded".

    Glad we cleared that one up.

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  60. ""As stated previously percentage increase in people applying for public school has gone up because of demographics and most importantly economics."

    Still no data to back up your claim. Demographic data are easy to get. Data like declining applications to private schools because of economics would also be useful to support your assertion. Show your work.

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  61. From what I have heard (no data, just anecdotal) apps to private schools is now down.

    Anyone heard about the baby boomlet that happened about 6 years ago?

    Let's find some data on that and I think we'll have our answer about demand.

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  62. oops, typo. meant to say apps to private schools is NOT down. sorry!

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  63. FWIW, our kid's private school kindergarten teacher was out of the classroom for 11 days doing visits / assessments. 2 sessions a day with 20 or so kids for each sessions translates to 440 kids visiting the school. My understanding is that this is pretty comparable to last year's application numbers.

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  64. Better principals + better teachers + bad economy + lax immigration policy + baby boomlet = higher demand

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  65. "From what I have heard (no data, just anecdotal) apps to private schools is now down."

    Apps to privates were up last year, but applications to SFUSD still went up 10%.

    Your assertion doesn't hold.

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  66. There are no data on applications to private schools, so it's pointless making firm assertions on the issue. This is not an area where the information is publicly available.

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  67. "There are no data on applications to private schools, so it's pointless making firm assertions on the issue."

    Anecdotally, I know apps last year were up very much for Live Oak, SF Friends, and CAIS. None of these are at the cheaper end of the independents, so I can't see how an assertion can be made that the rise in public school applications last year was due to demand shifting from the independents to the publics because of economic factors.

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  68. People who "like" the lottery tend to be people who get schools they want. Our happy public school friends (English at home, not free lunch) got most-requested schools they can walk to in Round 1 and sibling preferences for their younger kids; no stress for them. People who spend months of their lives and wonder if they'll make it through the 10-day count without going mad, or people who are in a school they tolerate rather than like-they're not so pleased about the lottery. There is a happily-surprised contingent for sure, but I seriously doubt everybody thinks their public school is all they cold hope for.

    I suspect informed people, who tend to dominate this blog, are applying to more public AND private schools (unless they are hard-line in one camp or another) because they have more available information and are also more paranoid about getting something they can live with. I went to a parent evening at a private school recently. Maybe I noticed because I have a back-up plan I'm at peace with, but everybody seemed terrified. The school did a good job to lighten things up with some humor, but once the laughter passed, the faces knotted up again.

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  69. You know, it's not a mystery. Data is perfectly available. You have to use that device, they call it a phone. Just call the directors and flat out ask them. They will inform you. The report from the board stated that applications at the day school were up 10% last year.

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  70. Back to the original post - The chance of passing Newsom's two-thirds majority required parcel tax is about as likely to happen as getting assigned to Presidio if you are white and live across the street. SF is a not a kid friendly place. We have the lowest percentage of kids in the nation. There's a recession. There is no chance of success. I'd love to eat my words on this one, but it is no sweat off the mayor's back if he loses. And he will, but it will look like he tried to relieve the City of having to pay SFUSD its PEEF funds. Of course the district will endorse more money for schools, but they are not going to get out of this so easily.

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  71. 7:33, that's not data; it's anecdote, and PR. Private schools can say whatever they want, and of course it's in their interest to say applications are up. In any case, calling every private school one by one is not a feasible way for an interested parent to get that information.

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