Friday, January 22, 2010

SF Chronicle: Cuts needed amid S.F. schools' $113 million gap

A story by Jill Tucker from today's Chronicle:
San Francisco schools are facing a $113 million budget shortfall over the next two years - a staggering figure that would mean layoffs, cuts to popular programs like summer school and increases in class size.

Superintendent Carlos Garcia announced the projections Wednesday in a letter to San Francisco Unified School District staff and at a teachers union meeting.

Garcia said there will be layoffs, but the number of teachers and staff members released will depend on what else is cut. Given the shortfall, however, the district can't avoid pink slips.

"Inevitably you're not going to cut $113 million without a single person laid off," he said Thursday. "We want to get it down to as few people as possible."

The district's projected shortfall is $30 million more than previous forecasts and reflects the latest numbers in the governor's proposed budget.

Garcia said he will lay out a specific plan to address the cuts at Tuesday's school board meeting, but his list is likely to include cuts in the district office, summer school and busing, increases to class size, and employee furloughs and layoffs.

"These numbers are large, and they will be devastating," Garcia said in his letter. "The cuts that the State is forcing us to make are the greatest ever made at one time in the history of our district."

District officials are looking at $45.5 million in cuts to administration, other district departments and categorical programs, which could include such things as teacher training, school safety and instructional materials.

Some of the options

In addition, the district will be looking at other options, including freezing teacher salary increases related to years of service, and unpaid staff furloughs.

Garcia said the district could save $500,000 per grade level with a one-student increase in class size; $2.25 million for each unpaid furlough day; and $5.8 million annually by freezing teacher salary increases related to years of service and education levels.

"It's almost like it's too horrifying to even imagine," said parent Lorraine Woodruff-Long, who has two children in district schools. "I'm just thinking I can't even imagine how we're going to do this. All I want to know is that these cuts are as far away from the classroom and school sites as possible."

In his letter, Garcia also said the district is thinking about suing the state over funding levels that fall well short of what is needed.

"We must all stand up for children and let the governor and legislators know that the current state of education funding is unacceptable," he wrote.

227 comments:

  1. Does anybody know what the original 2010/2011 and 2011/2012 operating budgets were going to be? I have heard a figure of about 400 million per year or 800 million over two years. This would translate to around a 14% cut. Is this correct?

    Knowing this helps me put the size of the cut into perspective, and helps me to get a better picture of how it might impact my son's school.

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  2. Anyone know how much this works out to per student. I know all families and schools can't do it, but we have a pretty active PTA, so what would it take in fundraising?

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  3. @12:59 that's disturbing. This is a crisis that affects us all, not one that you should be trying to figure your way out of for your one school. It is thinking like yours that gets people into these crisises in the first place and that is thinking about what affects only you and it's thinking and action like yours (and your supposedly well off school community) that will keep the gaps widening.

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  4. Nothing wrong with thinking globally and acting locally! If someone has means and helps their own school or class, there will be 21 other kids beyond the poster's kid who benefit.

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  5. "Nothing wrong with thinking globally and acting locally! If someone has means and helps their own school or class, there will be 21 other kids beyond the poster's kid who benefit."

    Yes, great idea.

    Now that I have my children in a good private school, and can afford it, barely, well . . .
    Good luck with those budget cuts . . . hope it works out for you.

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  6. Well, I have taken a pay cut and unpaid furlough days teaching in the UC system, and I resent it: my salary is already 20% lower than peer institutions pay, and the cost of living here is much higher. I imagine that pink slips, pay cuts, salary freezes, and unpaid furloughs are going to result in demoralized, angry teachers, and that's not good for anyone. Surely there are cuts higher up that can and should be made.

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  7. Garcia should sue the state immediately. That's the only way to get the money that is owed.
    We can protest all we want but we have all seen what happens when protesting to arnold and the legislators... nothing. someone please post Garcia's email address and I will send him an email in support of his lawsuit.

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  8. "Well, I have taken a pay cut and unpaid furlough days teaching in the UC system, and I resent it."

    Be glad you still have a job and are protected by a union.

    Many people are not protected by a union and cannot affort basic medical care.

    Many people do not have a job. Any job.

    That is actually our central problem. That is the central reason why there is such a drastic tax shortfall.

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  9. I don't think suing the state will do a damn thing.

    The state doesn't have any money.

    How about suing Goldman Sachs. I hear the average salary for an employee there is $500,000 per year. (Is anybody really worth that much?)

    They just reported another phenomenal quarter.

    And, hey, they made a lot of money speculating on mortgages in California, so we have cause.

    Yep, we'd best sue Goldman Sachs, not the State of California.

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  10. STOP BUSING. FORCE KIDS TO GO TO YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD SCHOOL.

    SIMPLE.

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  11. What about those of us who didn't want our neighborhood school and were happy that we had a choice?

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  12. "What about those of us who didn't want our neighborhood school and were happy that we had a choice?"

    How fortunate for you. Nice to see that you are still just thinking about yourself.

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  13. It's not just about "myself." One of the main reasons for not imposing mandatory neighborhood assignment is so that low-income families who live near the least successful schools have an option. But that also means that those of us who are middle-class have options too.

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  14. Your use of the verb "force" makes me wonder why you think it's so simple, 2:31. It's not that easy to "force" people who used to have choices to accept no longer having a choice.

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  15. Here is what my choice ended up being:

    I had the "choice" to send my child to one of the most challenged schools in the district or to private school.

    For many of us, there is no "choice" with the current system.

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  16. And if that challenged school was your neighborhood school, you'd be fine with being "forced" to attend it, 3:04?

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  17. It would be interesting to see how the demographics would change if everyone just attended their neighborhood school. It might not actually be as bad as everyone thinks, although I'm sure it would be quite bad for about 10 percent of the elementary schools. (Just a guess.) I do think the money we could save on implementing our vexing lottery system and busing kids across town might come in handy, especially now.

    Our neighborhood school is not one we want because with its current population, our daughter would be among a very small minority of caucasian, English-only speaking kids.

    WIth that said, if all of the kids in our neighborhood went there, (except those who go private, of course) it would definitely become a more accurate mirror of the true diversity of our neighborhood, making it a school we'd feel better about being 'forced' to attend.

    The irony is, come March, we'll probably get it anyway!

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  18. "And if that challenged school was your neighborhood school, you'd be fine with being "forced" to attend it, 3:04?

    January 22, 2010 3:13 PM"

    I live in Bernal/Glen Park. The schools here are full of kids that do not live in the neighborhood. Many do not even live in the city.

    Yes, if the demographic of the neighborhood and environs was reflected the Bernal/Glen Park schools, our family would be more likely to attend one of our neighborhood schools.

    As it is, we were assigned to a school in Visitacion valley, quite a commute from our home (farther than from the private school we now commute to), at a very challenged school, with a start time that did not work for us at all.

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  19. To 2:45
    Great for you to have your choice to go elsewhere outside of your neighborhood, and I chose my neighborhood schools but I couldn't get it. Is that fair?

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  20. 1:26, if the proposed cuts happen, it'll be more like 29 "other kids" who will benefit. Is that okay, too?

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  21. Isn't it selfish that you would rather deprived kids of "teachers", PE, art, etc than end this crazy concept of "choosing" your schools.

    Truthfully, things would get better if

    Families could work with the school to make it better. If your child takes a "bus" to school, I doubt the parents volunteer time at the school to make it better.

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  22. Actually that's not true at all, 4:15. The alternative schools tend to have very high parent involvement because they have a history of being by request only, and far fewer kids who attend them live close to them.

    And when families choose a school, they're far more likely to get involved than if they're "forced" to attend it by default.

    Districts like Oakland and Los Angeles have guaranteed (aka "forced") neighborhood assignment, and they're far less successful school districts than SFUSD is.

    Not that the current process is easy, but the notion that neighborhood assignment would solve everything doesn't hold up.

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  23. "The alternative schools tend to have very high parent involvement because they have a history of being by request only, and far fewer kids who attend them live close to them."

    Bull.

    The alternative schools have wealthier parents, compared to the rest of San Francisco public schools.

    Thus, like private schools, they tend to skim the cream off the top, leaving the rest of San Francisco schools with the poorest families.

    Unlike private schools, alternative schools pull this off on the tax payer dime.

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  24. No, that's not bull, 6:35. Parents who have specifically sought out and requested schools are more likely to be involved than parents who had no choice in the matter.

    It's also not necessarily true that the alternative schools have wealthier parents or skim the cream off the top. There's very little difference today between an alternative school and an attendance-area school -- you couldn't tell the difference based on demographics or anything else. Ranting about alternative schools leaving the rest of the SFUSD schools with the poorest families is pointless, since it's not based on reality.

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  25. 6:35, hello what?? Lawton is an alternative school, and believe me it does NOT have "wealthy" parents. About half of the kids are qualified for free or reduced lunch. Where are you getting your information?

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  26. attend the rally january 26 5pm in front of 555 franklin

    http://www.uesf.org/defend/images/1-26-10_flyer.pdf

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  27. Why not shorten the school year by 2 weeks on either end? It's way too long. The state can't say, "hey you can't do that" at the same time as gutting the budget.

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  28. To Scott (first post on this thread) and others who are interested:

    I too was wondering what the SFUSD budget is, and found the info at sfusd.edu. The link to the page that details budgets is: http://portal.sfusd.edu/template/default.cfm?page=business_services.budget_updates. There is a lot of info here - I'm pretty impressed the district got it front and center so quickly. Note: when you go to the 'sfusd.edu' home page, they seem to rotate the Spotlight story - keep refreshing your browser and you will get a blurb on the budget crisis and the link to the same page I included above.

    The budget is complicated - as there are lots of revenue sources - but I found in Exhibit 2 under the link to "2009-2010 Budget" the number $354,987,969 in revenues for the FY 2009-2010. So that is within range of Scott's understanding (first post on this thread). So, if I read the budget correctly, this represents approx 15% per year for each of 2 years.

    I suspect Rachel is reading this, and wonder if she might give a bit of the 'big picture' on her blog. Another note to Rachel Norton: thanks for keeping us informed, yours is one of my first stops for information.

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  29. Here's the deal:

    Now that the middle-class is dying in our country, the wealthier folks have abandoned the public schools system in our state. They go private. And they don't care about properly funding schools.

    California ranks 48th among states in spending per pupil, right ahead of Mississippi, another dominion with a TrustFundian aristocracy and a huge underclass.

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  30. http://sfbay.craigslist.org/sfc/edu/1562137028.html

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  31. Time to start preparing to get some of the "Race To The Top" funds from the Obama Administration. Strings attached? Too F***ing Bad...

    Unless the BOE has a trust fund they are hiding somewhere it would be unconscionable to do otherwise. Ideology vs. Funding. Funding wins. Our kids need an education.

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  32. SFUSD signed on to RTtT already.

    Please bludgeon the district with the ideological and practical flaws it deserves, not random phantoms.

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  33. Here's what Rachel Norton said on Aug.26:

    "...If anything, the outlook has worsened since we approved the 2009-10 budget back in June – once the state’s revised budget was finally completed in July, we sustained additional cuts of $250 per student (over $12 million total) and a $1.6 million cut to transportation. If we don’t make adjustments now, these additional cuts will really hit us hard in 2010-11 and 2011-12, which the Superintendent has been saying all along. But I think tonight it really came home to the Board that we’ve got to start planning for the coming bloodbath. ... The moral is, if we play our cards right and are smart about how we use this flexibility, we may be able to blunt the worst of what is coming. Still, I think a number of us were concerned enough to wonder whether we started this process early enough; Deputy Superintendent Myong Leigh said the priority has been to continue the pace of reform, and not cut back too much too soon."

    So Rachel what has been done preemptively to reduce the budget deficit since this was posted, during which time the deficit has tripled?

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  34. There are three reasons why we are in this mess now. In order of importance:

    1. Prop 13
    2. National financial crisis
    3. Board failure to act earlier

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  35. 10:18 - The way I understood it, California reluctantly put their "name in the hat" for round I of Race to the top funds, delaying the difficult discussion about "strings attached" for later rounds.

    I recall even hearing a comment surrounding how the strings might be too much for CA to participate.

    Well - in my opinion, tough titties.

    Unless we are so wealthy as to bow-out of the opportunity for federal funding, CA must participate and work for the funds.

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  36. Well 10:26 California did not reluctantly put their name in the hat even if SFUSD did. Not only did Cal enter they went well beyond what was necessary to comply with the four provisions. Even if all the money went out to districts which it won't, we would get about $6M. RttT isn't about money. $700M is a one-time drop in the bucket for a state that has a $40-50 Billion budget. I suggest you go to the CDE website and read up about Race - then tell me if you think we should sell out for $116 per student.

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  37. Leslie (9:16),
    Thanks for finding that information. Somehow a 15% reduction is less scary to me than "113 million dollars". I know it's going to be hard, but I also believe the district will find a way through.

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  38. I am just so demoralized by this budget cut. It makes me feel horrible as a parent to think I am sending my child into K in a state that ranks 48th in the nation in spending per pupil and is facing its worst budget cut ever. I was born and raised in SF and don't want to leave the city or the state (and can't afford multiple kids in private school), but this is really getting me thinking. Just sad.

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  39. Yes Scott, the district will find a way through. While your children attend classes well beyond capacity in a state that already had one of the highest teacher- student ratios, in the meantime, the legions of high paid administrators will see few if any cuts or hardhips of their own and the teachers will accept few if any concessions to avoid layoffs.

    You see the unsuspecting board members already increased the size of administration during this crisis. That way when the axe falls administrators can negotiate from strength.

    Then you have Rachel who outright admitted on her blog that she voted for a PD contract that she didn't want. With fiscal management like that what can you expect in terms of the district "finding a way"? Not much, but I'm sure you are right, Scott.

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  40. I can't even believe some of the misinformation and bad ideas on this thread. SF has no "busing." Busing is forced movement of kids from one demographic into schools with another demographic, not a bus system run alongside of a choice system.

    And UC faculty are not allowed to unionize -- not to mention that nobody should be "glad" to be underpaid just because they have a job. It's that kind of thinking that lets raw capitalism run amok, and it's why we have the category "working poor" in the US.

    And shortening the school year by 2 weeks will hit working parents the hardest, as well as compromising kids' already severely compromised education.

    And "forcing" people into their neighborhood schools isn't going to change a thing, because wealthier people will simply find the best neighborhoods to live in (the ones whose schools have the wealthiest PTAs), artificially inflating real estate and leaving the rest of us with even fewer resources for our schools. Talk about skimming the cream off.

    Gah.

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  41. Besides, shortening the school year would leave it at 170 days, below the state's current requirement of 175 (lowered last year from 180).

    I am frustrated by the upcoming layoffs of teaching staff for any number of reasons, but one sticks out. Prop. A has a funding stream to give teachers at "hard to staff" schools a small bonus with the hopes of increasing retention. Data show that those teachers have less seniority than teachers at more easily staffed schools, so SFUSD will be cutting them a check that's meant to encourage them to stay while laying them off.

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  42. Anonymous@12:39,

    SFUSD does indeed have busing. There are not enough seat in the southeast for all students to attend school in their attendance area. Therefore, they need to go elsewhere and they often go by school bus in elementary and middle school. That is to say the district MUST send kids out of their assignment areas and they are virtually all people of color. That's busing.

    In addition, Title One mandates that students have choice to opt out of failing Program Improvement schools and that the district provide transportation (partially paid for with T1 money). So if you opt not to go to your failing neighborhood school and instead leave the neighborhood for another - is this your idea of authentic choice - go to a failing school or get on the bus?

    Not only that, but if you talk with people from BVHP they will tell you that the district discourages them from attending their local schools in keeping with their diversity agenda, even when some of the people want to go to their local schools. From the district's standpoint - schools that are predominately AA are antithetical to their policies of social equity. They don't particularly care what the people in the neighborhood want for themselves. SFUSD's agenda is about race first and achievement second.

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  43. Bottom line:

    Our family already pays over $60,000 a year in federal/state income tax + property tax.

    On top of that, we get dinged another $25,000 to pay for a decent school.

    Unlike those lucky unionized workers, both my husband and I have had to change employers twice each in the last eight years.

    An 8:00am to 4:00pm job. Unheard of.

    It's employment-at-will and two weeks severance pay.

    I laugh when I go to the doctor. Everybody in this city seems to still be paying a $5 or $10 copay. Our family: a $30 copay.

    Retirement benefits? Never heard of it.

    I'm not voting for more tax increases. I'm not voting for a governor that would approve more tax increases.

    In fact, I'm not voting for a mayor or supervisor that is likely to funnel more dollars from city coffers toward schools that cater disproportionately to illegal immigrants and city non-residents.

    Instead, I'd really like the pavement on our streets to be fixed. I'd like our streets to be swept more frequently than twice a month.

    Oh, I'd like it if drivers had to have a license and be insured.

    We could start there.

    For the record, I'm not particularly anti-labor and I've voted on the left most of my life, but enough is enough.

    I invite other disenfranchised tax payers to consider how their interests are being served.

    Vote accordingly.

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

    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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  45. 9:14 - Why don't you just move to a gated community in the 'burbs?

    Must suck to hate immigrants and live in a city where white folks are the minority.

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  46. "9:14 - Why don't you just move to a gated community in the 'burbs?

    Must suck to hate immigrants and live in a city where white folks are the minority."

    Good try, trying to paint me as a radical "white folk" gated community type. Sorry, you got the wrong person.

    I don't hate immigrants. I'm not really into the hate thing. But I am very concerned about the effect on our schools from people who break the law.

    There is a reason that we have a legal path to immigration in this country. It is so that we can integrate only as many newcomers as we can provide for.

    Legal immigration attempts to create a diverse culture that is reflective of the world community. Illegal immigration benefits those who are most willing to circumvent the law.
    It creates a population of lawbreakers and self-servers.

    There is a reason why we are supposed to have a residency requirement. Per chance so that there is some vague relationship between taxes collected and services rendered?

    It is the long time SF population of African Americans, not whites, who are suffering the most from the under-the-table policy of allowing illegal immigrants and out of city residents to overwhelm our schools.

    Here's a suggestion, since you're into handing out advice. Why don't YOU send YOUR kids to one of those SF schools with bottom of the barrel test scores and zero PTA dollars?

    Oh, and speaking of the whole gated community thing, I don't see garbage collecting on streets in the Richmond district, Sunset or in the Marina. How about that!

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  47. Invasion of the Don sock puppets again ... why doesn't that guy get a life?

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  48. Invasion?

    Sorry, a good half or more of the comments on this thread seem to reflect great concern about school policy and education spending.

    I'm not a guy, but a mom who is fed up that she can't send her child to a local school.

    You're here too, by the way, so I guess we equally "don't have a life."

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  49. I'm amused by the anonymous@11:32accusing me, Don Krause, of being a sock puppet. I guess the irony is lost on anonymous, since she won't identify herself - Another example of the glacial proportions of integrity "creep".

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  50. From Rachel Norton's blog in reference to ways to cut the deficit.

    "■Suspend or reduce Advanced Placement prep period allocations (schools get a certain amount of “prep” periods for teachers who take on AP courses) – probably saves $1 – $2 million"

    This is code for cutting out AP courses. How many teachers will teach them if they don't get the prep period? The district already has targeted AP for the destruction. This is an end around run to accomplish that goal without having board members vote against the popular AP programs.

    By the way, I spoke out at SFSchool often about how bad the budget problem would be and the radicals that comprise that group repeatedly harangued me for overstating the problem and creating unnecessary fear. I wish I had been wrong. But due to this head in the sand mentality we now have a worse problem than had we took early action.

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  51. Hey Don,

    Very nice of you to actually log in as yourself.

    I'd like to as well, but frankly fear that an honest discussion of the facts would endanger me.

    I was, in fact, threatened by a local Supervisor, during the last election, for voicing my opinion.

    Take care,


    Fed up SF mom.

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  52. Don, sfschools banned you for posting under several different names, having conversations with yourself, and trolling. For doing what you are doing here... having a conversation with about 6 of your personalities.

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  53. Thank you Fed Up SF Mom.

    I refuse to live in fear. When we stop speaking out freely we lose our democracy and our soul. Don't let those forces overwhelm you.

    For the record, since I started posting on this site last night I have used my first name, but I will start using my full name from now on. My first post however came up anonymous because I did not choose the proper option before submitting.

    The other thing is this - this site was designed for K parents. Obviously if they are prospective or new parents to the PS system they will not be very informed on average. I suggest to those parents to avoid making statements of facts unless they are sure about what they say. There is a lot of nonsense here, but there is also a lot of heartfelt concern. And some posters, even if I don't necessarily agree with them all the time, have a lot of knowledge to impart. Caroline Grannan and Rachel Norton come to mind.

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  54. Listen Moggy at 12:08. If you had any intgrity you would not accuse other people of posting anonymously while you do so yourself. Is this a neural connection issue or what? SFSchools forum removed me because they din't like my opinions and exposed the shallowness of some of their progressive ideas. Plane and simple.

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  55. Oh, by the way Moggy, sorry about my typos in the last post. I thought I would just address that before you accuse me not knowing how to spell.

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  56. Go find a mirror and argue away Don. . . somewhere else.

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  57. "@12:59 that's disturbing. This is a crisis that affects us all, not one that you should be trying to figure your way out of for your one school. It is thinking like yours that gets people into these crisises in the first place and that is thinking about what affects only you and it's thinking and action like yours (and your supposedly well off school community) that will keep the gaps widening."

    What a truly idiotic comment.

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  58. Who is Moggy? I am Spartacus!

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  59. NO, I AM Spartacus!

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  60. 9:14, your assertion that teachers work 8 hour days is pure fantasy. Try 50-60 hours a week, more if they are new. And it takes years of service for a teacher to gross as much money as you claim to pay in taxes.

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  61. 9:14, Fed Up SF Mom, or whoever you are... I couldn't agree with you more. Thanks for having the courage to speak the truth about what is happening to CA - an outright takeover by people who break the law to get what they want. Adding insult to injury, San Francisco rolls out the red carpet in every possible way, which always leaves me scratching my head. (My husband ( SF native) and I are finally realizing that we just need to move, but not to a gated community, so don't assume that of us.

    On a different note, I have an idea of how to solve the budget crisis. Let's ask the bank execs in CA who are collecting their hefty bonuses this year to donate them back to a CA education fund for a karma credit. They can even take the write off!

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  62. Regarding the immigrant discussion.

    I agree - all persons in the US should have a driver's license to drive and insurance.

    I feel that in SF, there is so much work that is done under the table by immigrants. This money is not reported and taxes are not paid. Furthermore, the city actually has LOTS of programs for low income people. Health care and free child care. Stand outside of the "Family Services" building in the mission and watch all people dropping off their kids for free daycare. Do you think the immigrants applying for these programs (and encouraged to apply by the various social service agencies) report their actual income?

    The woman who cleaned my house last week made $150 and I was the 2nd house she did that day. I calculated that after I paid taxes and my portion of health insurance, she makes more than me based on a 5 day work week.

    Yippee.

    I am "pro-immigrant" but pro "legal immigration". I feel like I used to be pretty naive as to what really goes on in an urban city and within the illegal immigrant community (including the social services agencies that serve them).

    I now feel pretty embarrassed by my naive notions of the "poor illegal immigrant"

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  63. Hey, hard working teacher.

    Fed up mom here.

    A teacher earlier in this thread mentioned that she or he had taken a 20% pay cut, etc.

    These are real hardships. A good friend of mine who works at UC Berkeley has recently had to take several furlough days per month. I'm taking a class at City College right now and most of the staff there have been furloughed several days per month.

    I also know a number of people in various professions. Many of them have been outright walked out the door without notice.

    It's true. The economy is terrible.

    The issue at hand is funding cuts to education. I'm not at all a fan of cutting teacher salaries or benefits.

    However, at the risk of repeating myself for the umptheenth time, you can't improve school infrastructure, teacher salaries and training, and teaching materials when the net worth of the state per family is declining.

    We can't just toss caution to the wind and say, "Hey, we'll just get as many kids into the schools as possible, illegal or not, resident or not, in order to qualify for the most state funding possible."

    On that front, there does seem to be a conflict of interest between the Teacher's Union and the San Francisco taxpayer.

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  64. "On a different note, I have an idea of how to solve the budget crisis. Let's ask the bank execs in CA who are collecting their hefty bonuses this year to donate them back to a CA education fund for a karma credit. They can even take the write off!"

    It is vicariously amusing to contemplate this, isn't it? I'm not an attorney, but you can start to put together the argument . . . lending mortgages that were knowingly bound to fail and that knowingly would cause California home values to plummet.

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  65. 3:15:

    "Stand outside of the "Family Services" building in the mission and watch all people dropping off their kids for free daycare. Do you think the immigrants applying for these programs (and encouraged to apply by the various social service agencies) report their actual income?"

    The asymmetry of free child care availability is a personal pet peeve of mine.

    I see so many middle income women who scramble to get childcare in this city, often paying up to $20 an hour.

    Is free child care available to middle income women?

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  66. Ready to pay more for the services provided by "illegal" immigrants? Californians can't have it both ways. YOu can't have cheap goods and services, and no immigrants to provide the cheap labor. Hypocrites!

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  67. OMG- Don (a.k.a. the male Sybil) is back!

    Agggghhhhhh!

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  68. "Ready to pay more for the services provided by "illegal" immigrants? Californians can't have it both ways. YOu can't have cheap goods and services, and no immigrants to provide the cheap labor. Hypocrites!"

    You can look to Canada to get an idea of what California would look like if it didn't carry such a high burden of very challenged illegal immigrants.

    Schools would rank in the top ten industrialized countries in terms of academic performance.

    College tuition would be affordable and education widely available.

    Teacher salaries would go up.

    Goods and services would be about the same as they are now.

    Many "Mc" jobs and seasonal work would once again be available to teenagers.

    Since California is less geographically dispersed than Canada, you might expect California to, in fact, do better than Canada.

    So much for fear mongering.

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  69. Oh, and don't forget the year long paid maternity leave. (OK, it's only something like $20,000 for the year, unless your employer tops up, but a damn sight better than anything here.)

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  70. Want to get rid of illegal immigrants? How about going after the businesses that employ them? They wouldn't come here if the jobs weren't available, but somehow that gets forgotten. They aren't here for the free childcare, believe it or not.

    3:15 - did you check your house cleaner's green card?

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  71. "Want to get rid of illegal immigrants? How about going after the businesses that employ them? They wouldn't come here if the jobs weren't available, but somehow that gets forgotten. They aren't here for the free childcare, believe it or not."

    6:24:

    For starters, it is up to the city and state not to REWARD illegal immigration. As long as we are rewarding illegal immigration with superior access to schools, childcare and other benefits, as well as the freedom to operate almost entirely in the underground economy, we can expect them to keep coming here.

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  72. 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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  73. The "underground economy"? So you think all the illegals are selling drugs, whoring, and organizing cockfights? You don't think they are working to pick your fruits and vegetables, washing dishes in restaurants, cleaning houses and cutting lawns for the upper middle class? Give me a break.

    School districts all over the country are suffering from budget deficits; blaming immigrants is both lazy and dishonest.

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  74. What can you say about people who accuse others of sock puppet posting on this blog when they themselves post anonymously? If Moggy and her band of brothers had something to say about the deficit they wouldn't spend their time only trying to berate me. Here we go again. I'm finished with this fools.

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  75. “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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  76. Last year the legislature passed senate bill 42 which among other things gives the districts a one time exemption allowing the proceeds of real estate sales to supplement the general fund. Normally this is not allowed for obvious reasons. We have a tremendous quantity of surplus real estate in SFUSD. There is enough to sell tens maybe even hundreds of millions worth and still not sacrifice capacity for future growth. The grand jury has spoken against the district's mismanagement of the portfolio and though there is plenty of contrary opinion to the CGJ, there is no doubt the SFUSD is blessed with a lot of surplus property. It is time to bring some of those resources to bear and take advantage of this one time opportunity. If we didn't have surplus I would say no way, but we have it in abundance.

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  77. Please refer to the "wiki" page for the definition of "underground economy."

    You are miscontruing my use of this term.

    The "underground economy" is the transaction of business without payment of employment taxes from the employee and employer, medicare, and social social security.

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  78. miscontruing -> misconstruing

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  79. About the district's surplus real estate, I live near their currently unused property on Mission between 15th & 16th, and I'd love to see that space developed. This neighborhood doesn't benefit in any way from vacant buildings, it only gives a lot of unsavory characters the better part of a block to stand on and drink and do/sell drugs. This is one case where it seems like it would be good for both the district and the community for them to unload the property. How do they justify holding spaces like this? Would leasing it out be an option? Is this even being considered?

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  80. 7:32, without the US citizens who pay into that "underground economy" illegal immigrants would not be able to make it here. If we want to stop paying for their supposedly awesome child care benefits, we need to hold the people who employ them responsible for their actions. Somehow the anti-immigrant trolls like yourself always manage to avoid that piece of the puzzle.

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  81. Garcia indicated to the union that SFUSD cannot dedicate real estate cash to the General Fund.

    SFUSD is attempting to move on some of its surplus parcels and some of the very old buildings it uses.

    This study was completed in February 2009 and explores the Mission parcel, among others:

    http://portal.sfusd.edu/data/facilities/CBRE%20Consulting%20SFUSD%20Report%20-%20Final.pdf

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  82. SFUSD was making steady progress in test scores, and parental satisfaction was way up. The problem here isn't the lottery, immigration policy, busing, or the Director of Sustainability. The problem is that the state of California is choosing not to fund public education.

    If the lottery was abolished tomorrow, and the Noe Valley, Potrero and wherever families that wanted guaranteed spots at their local school were, indeed, guaranteed spots, it would make some people happy and others un-, and would further segregate our schools. In no way would it free up money to maintain low class sizes.

    If all employers only hired people with triple-verified US citizenship, and hospitals stopped treating undocumented workers, and schools stopped teaching undocumented children, then undocumented people would leave, die, or go deep underground. That might diminish your umbrage, but the only result would be even less money for schools since undocumented workers do pay taxes.

    If there were no more school buses, a miniscule amount of money would be saved. It wouldn't be nearly enough to eliminate furlough days. Same for the Director of Sustainability.

    It is tedious to read the same irrelevant comments from the same few individuals, posted over and over on this thread and the other one. If you don't have ideas for bringing money to the table, if, in fact, you would rather gloat about the dire straits we are in, please go somewhere else. It is my understand that there are many places on the Internet where one can, for instance, look at pictures of cute, cuddly animals. You might enjoy that for a change.

    FYI This is my first posting on this thread.

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  83. Could you block the troll's IP address?
    Don appears, and then we are swamped with racist drivel.

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  84. 12:42 is right, it is due to how we fund education in this state why we are in this crisis. Yet we persist in blaming SFUSD, which has I'm sure made mistakes, and concentrating on our own schools.

    What is needed is not selling off property or more fundraising, what is needed is a fundamental shift in how we fund education as a state so we don't continue to careen from one crisis to another.

    Prior to Prop 13 schools in CA were decently funded. There is work currently being done by Reclaim California to dismantle the pieces of Prop 13 that affect CA education funding and other issues that hamper the state. Removing the 2/3 majority for passing a budget (which takes money from education due to concessions being made to even pass any budget) and splitting the tax roll (corporations also don't have property tax increases until paper change of ownership). These are real instances of how we can ensure that education in SFUSD is fully funded - otherwise we can just go on blaming SFUSD administration, whatever current govenor we have, each other,etc.

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  85. I'm sure that Kate can look at the IP addresses and determine where comments come from, including your own.

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  86. I'm sure that Kate can look at the IP addresses and see where comments come from, including your own.

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  87. Just because you disagree with someone's opinion doesn't mean they should be blocked from this blog. I happen to like reading a variety of opinions, even ones I don't agree with. Liberal thinkers in this town are some of the most close-minded people I've ever come across. "It's my way or the highway" isn't a healthy approach to public comment.

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  88. 9:12 (a.k.a. DON)
    There's different opinions, and then there is just blatant racist offensive garbage.
    And now we have you sock-puppeting it twelve different ways.
    When sock puppets like you take over blogs, it destroys them.

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  89. http://articles.latimes.com/2009/feb/02/local/me-cap2

    This seems to be the best article I could find that breaks down the actual numbers overall for the impact of illegal immigrants on the state budget. Some of the stuff out there from both extremes are pretty laughable in their analysis. The conclusion of this article is that yes, illegal immigrants are a drain on the state budget but overall not a significant factor. Like most things, the truth is somewhere in the middle.

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  90. New to SF Kfiles I will say this - Don't fall into the trap of thinking that you will get informed on education issues by what you read here. What you can learn is what other people think, right, wrong or inbetween. For example, on this string there is a lot of guessing going on about the budget. This is happening because many people don't understand education finance so they guess. This doesn't do anything to inform the conversation.

    An example of the budget mess is categorical funding which makes up something like a third of the site budgets. The legislature passed a bill in Feb 09 SBX3_4 which basically untethers all tier 3 funding from their programs allowing the money to be used instead "for any educational purpose". Now if you take the 60-70million of CAT money in SFUSD and cancel all those programs, this would affect low performing students more than others, but many claim that some of these programs have questionable value anyway. If the 60 million and is used for teacher retention is that a better use than what it is currently being used for? It could go a long way to prevent class size increases, but what is best? These are complicated issues. If I say that it is better for everyone invlved to have smaller class sizes others on the extreme left will say that such a view is prejudicial. This is thewrongheaded and destructive thinking that has its roots in extremeism..

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  91. Also, DC spend 20K per student and has one of the worst districts in the country. While I surely want education funding to be a priority, don't think that money solves the problem. You have to have excellent management, great teachers, the best programs , motivated parents and students and on and on. You cannot buy these things. Ex. Teachers are not motivated to work in low performing schools just to get a small Prop A stipend. They will be motivated by a great work environment and a school management culture that supports them.

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  92. Why is having a smaller class size prejudicial? I don't think anyone is saying that. I think you'd be hard pressed to find any studies that don't support smaller class size as an effective way to improve education in the US. Am I wrong?

    And how is it racist to want immigrants to come here legally? I'm totally confused by this claim. If someone breaks into your house, raids your fridge and then sleeps in your bed, (while also expecting for you to pay for their ER visit when they trip on your shoes and break their arm) are you a racist for wanting such behavior to stop?

    And no, I am not Don. Just an innocent bystander who wants to better understand the perspectives of People Against Don.

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  93. Also, it was the School Adminstrators lobby and association that pressed for SX X3 4. They are the ones who felt that is was not productive to have the state tell the districts exactly how to meet the needs of those districts. They wanted to use the CAT money as they felt it would be best applied given the circumstance in each district. Every program that was created developed a lobby to ensure that the million poured in would continue to pour in and do so absent of any accountability. The state used the crisis to nix the entire thing in one fell swoop. Of course, SPED and Economic Impact Aid were exempted.

    Regarding anti Don sentiment, I would just stick to discussion education, but thanks anyway.

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  94. Anonymous@9:55,
    Re: class size reduction. The progressives on the board do not want to use the categorical money for CSR, because the 39 programs that have been made flexible are designed mostly towards the needs of the underachievers. They will say that using the money (Gate excepted) to do CSR is stealing from the poor to give to the rich. The legislature freed up the money because the programs were cash sumps, with little or no performance accountability. The new found decisionmaking afforded by this flexibility ought to ask the questions - what is the best use for this money at present? If the answer is CSR than the far left will scream that such a conclusion is racist. I don't think it has anything to do with race. CSR benefits everyone, but especually lower performers who tend to suffer more from large class sizes.

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  95. 8:54 - while I agree that we need basic changes in how we fund education, the chance that we can make those changes in time to head off the present crisis is about zero. Many still refuse to accept that Prop 13 needs to be modified, much less dismantled, or that the 2/3 rule has to go. Sorry to say, but it seems apparent to me that our problems are going to get worse before enough people feel the hurt and demand reform.

    SFUSD does share the blame, partly due to their refusal to believe that this was coming and to start making cuts in anticipation. We do need to require greater transparency from the district now in ensure that the cuts that they are going to have to make are made in the best possible places.

    Yes, many of the suggestions here are short-term patches, but that doesn't make them unnecessary or foolish. We need to do what we can for our own community while we continue to work for long-term, state-wide institutional change.

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  96. If someone breaks into your home, cleans it, cooks your meals, weeds your garden and looks after your kid, isn't it hypocritical to enjoy the benefits of their labor and then complain about how they got into your home in the first place?

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  97. The TRUTH? THere are very few undocumented kids in our public schools. While their parents might be undocumented, the kids are usually U.S. citizens, born right here.

    It is in EVERYONE's interest that they get a decent education and not become part of a permanent under-class.

    BTW: Denying services won't make them go home. Until there is better economic opportunity in their home countries, they will continue to come to the U.S. to do the jobs Americans consider "beneath" them.

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  98. QUESTION about class size increases.

    I hear they might go up to 30 in K-3.

    How would that work?

    Would they add 8-10 extra kids to each classroom starting September?

    Or just enroll a kindrgarten class of 30 and leave 1-3 intact for now?

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  99. My understanding is that the general concensus is about 30 for kindergarten in September. The timing of this so-called budget news was by design. The district didn't want to start scaring people until after Round 1 assignment applications were due.The idea of going to 30 is obviously very bad news for public education. It drives people out of the system if they can afford to go. Surely fewer and fewer can. So in that sense the same problem that instigates the increase in class size also mitigates the opprtunity to opt out.

    I do believe that categorical money can be rerouted for CSR in fairly short order. I don't believe the chance is zero at all. It is a question of who gets laid off and to what degree.

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  100. The district also picks on K class sizes because the parents of incoming K kids have little or no opportunity to organize and oppose the class size increases. If they tried to do this in 1st-3rd grades, the parents at each school would band together and come after them with pitchforks.

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  101. It would be possible to have a smaller class size increase through additional furlough days. As a member of UESF, I hope that there will be a proposal on class sizes and furloughs that the union and SFUSD agree to put to a vote.

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  102. 10:38 - it won't solve anything for this current crisis, but if you look back, education funding in CA has systematically been destroyed since Prop 13 passed. If we don't take the roughly two years that it will take to overall Prop 13 (and there is much effort in the state to do so, including big business like BOA, Wells, etc. though they of course don't support the spilt roll, they do support the convention to change things like the 2/3 budget vote), if we dont' take that time, we will revisit this funding issue over and over and over.

    Short term, SFUSD is not perfect, especially with things like the 3.5 million contract for pd, but they did not have to make as many cuts or prepare sooner for this due to the offset by both the rainy day funds for the last 2 years and the stimulus funding this year, as well as the deferrement of cuts that happened last year.

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  103. California, Gold Mountain:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/23/us/23smuggle.html

    List of Chinese Language schools in California (From "Families with Children from China, Northern California)

    http://fccncalif.org/schools.htm

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  104. California, Gold Mountain:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/23/us/
    23smuggle.html

    List of Chinese Language schools in California (From "Families with Children from China, Northern California)

    http://fccncalif.org/schools.htm

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  105. 10:38 here - was there even a hint of a suggestion in my post that we should NOT overhaul prop 13 or the 2/3 requirement? NO.

    Why are you trying to turn this into an argument? I think we AGREE, for the most part.

    No, the district didn't "have to" make cuts before now, but if they'd had any foresight and any backbone they would have. They knew they were only pushing off the inevitable.

    1:59, the state requires that schools have no fewer than 175 instructional days, right now we have 180. At a savings of $2.25 million per furlough day, that's only $11.25 million saved if we take all five days. I'm also a UESF member, and I'm fine with that for myself, but not for my students. Regardless, it's not enough to keep class sizes down.

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  106. 10:38 - was just pointing out that there is a widespread, encompassing group that now does believe Prop 13 should be overhauled.

    Yes, I think we do agree, and I wasn't trying to argue, just to point out that we need to take the time to overhaul Prop 13 now so we don't keep trying to fix our educational funding via these bandaid fixes or focusing on what SFUSD did or didn't do. And you are probably right that they could have done something sooner, and at least they could have not entered into 3.5 million dollar agreeements when they knew budget cuts of some sort were coming.

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  107. What if we taxed private schools? It would be the same rhetoric behind taxes on gas, tobacco, and imports, etc.

    Then again, probably impossible since I suspect more than a majority of policy makers send their kids to private school.

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  108. How about homeschoolers? Anti-social people opting out of the system. As far as I can tell. Make them and private school parents pay additional taxes on top of what they already pay but don't utilize.

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  109. Any school district that has been given appropriate notice of impending budget cuts and fails to take the warning into consideration when passing a budget ( as they did last June) is failing in its fiduciary duty to the children it serves.

    It isn't a matter of the NUA contract. That money had to be spent in accordance with Title One Professional Development though not on that phony program. The Board could have begun to wind down or cancel some categorical programs, thereby reducing expenses and freeing up funds in advance. They could have considered the grand jury's findings and sold some properties. They could have not hired the 13 staff members for Francesca Sanchez's office. They could have closed some failing heavily underenrolled high cost schools and so on and so on.

    But as you know they took no preemptive action and now we have an even larger mess. All they had to do was read the front page of the paper which warned of 3 to 4 more years of declining revenues. And the fact that the stimulus has failed to be the quick fix it was intended to be didn't help.

    Then there is the high cost of professional development to teach district leaders how to implement the Balanced Scorecard, an utter failure that does nothing to raise student achievement. If the Balanced Scorecard was such a successful management model, when Garcia came in why didn't he bring people who knew what it was and how it was to be implemented rather than having to spend our children's education dollars on instructing other new personnel who didn't understand it at all? The whole thing is very disturbing and I'm sure we will all have the sympathy of the Board.

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  110. Actually, since the $113 million is over TWO years, as Garcia pointed out to our union, it WOULD be possible - after all, the state has not ended the CSR fund, just reduced it (again).

    I would like to see an option of moderate class size increases coupled with furlough days (well, really I'd like to see 180 days and small class sizes, but being realistic here). I believe my students would be better served by a shorter year in a smaller class size. Based on (ancedotal) discussions with K teachers I know in districts that are at 27:1 or higher right now, the current content standards are nearly impossible to master in a classroom of that size.

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  111. LOL - "Balanced Scorecard"! This SFUSD teacher still has no idea what it is, beyond the vague memories of a few annoying, forced PD sessions when we could have been setting up our classrooms, planning as grade levels, etc. Utter waste.

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  112. Are the potential savings quoted for class size increases ($500,000 for each student added per grade level), etc., for one year or two?

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  113. Sorry, forgot this part: specifically, given 7 additional furlough days over two years = CSR maintained.

    That's a severe pay decrease, especially given the step/column freeze. But given that some schools will be able to buy down class sizes and others won't, I think SFUSD has to think seriously about its own BSC issues. (I base this conjecture on the fact that some schools in SFUSD use PTA funds to drop classes to 20 K-5.)

    For the record, I'm pretty sure that Silver Giving is paying for a lot of the BSC stuff.

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  114. I see there are lots of insiders into SFUSD posting here. On another string, Caroline suggested consolidating into one a nonprofit fund to funnel charitable money into the district to at least begin to cut down on the cuts. I think one thing that probably everyone agrees on is not laying off teachers and increasing class size. If we could get this fund up and running, make it clear that 100% of the money is going to stop teachers from being laid off, give SFUSD control over the money but with the caveat that the money is to be used to STOP teacher layoffs, I think you'd see a ton of middle school parents (like me) willing to contribute significantly to this. Does this idea make sense to you all or is it just impossible to do? -- VERY concerned parents whose fourth grader is NOT doing well in a class of 33 and wants to see class sizes kept lower!

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  115. Teacher @9:37 If you want to know what the BSC is read the strategic plan. Let me know which comes first - the headache or the stomach ache. Then there's the Matrix. It is to "sharing" what the diversity index is to "going to school". It is a bunch of academic nonsense that plots out the successes and failures of schools and then 'cross-pollinates' them. Got it? And the kicker is that you get to start sharing just 5 years after the plan was implemented. LOL.

    I say this to Mr. Garcia - if you want to share please come to our schools today and begin now. Afterall, the name of your plan is 'Taking Action to Educate Every Child Now.

    They haven't even been able to make something as simple as a school site council work any better. But don't get me wrong. It isn't their fault. They didn't really plan to do anything so the fact that nothing was done means they are right on schedule.

    One thing they did do is outright unlawful. They fail to include in the Single Plan (BSC) the most basic public record information as required in the ED Code and make it almost impossible to track school allocations. So if they take the ELD money intended to teach kids how to speak English and use it to hire a secretary, be glad if someone answers the phone when you call in sick after reading the Plan.

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  116. 10:46
    While, yes, it'd be GREAT if SF had a single massive foundation pouring $$ into SFUSD, the reality is that the funds generated for this would not come close to what is needed to operate our schools in this shortfall. And, as someone working in the nonprofit and foundation world, I assure you, no one funds general operating - especially on the scale we need it.

    What $$ is raised often is flagged for specific programs (like professional development, strategic or finanical planning, and some key administrator salaries that may be needed/desired that there is no general fund to support.)

    The bottom line: Voters need to make sure that our elected officials in Sacramento feel the heat and that we make some changed for the future of public education.

    The problem is in Sacramento. THEY are the ones that centralize all funding, make budget decisions and allocate it. We don't have enough being collected or sent back to districts.

    I agree with many here that, yes, we could do better here in SFUSD - there is always room for improvement.

    Now more than ever, thanks to the amazing organizing of parents at Sherman and around the city we have the chance to start organizing voters and especially PUBLIC SCHOOL PARENTS to put the pressure on.

    Seriously, Mark Leno, Tom Ammiano, Fiona Ma and Leland Yee (who doesn't seem to be able to bother showing up at this forum) need to stop blathering about how they 'are behind us' and start leading for change for public education in Sacramento.

    Voters, you have the power - let's all use it.

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  117. 10:46 Funding was centralized to equalize funding between districts (what they call the Serrano band- $350/student). We don't want to go back to a time when some districts only had to tax themselves at a fraction of others to provide the same revenue limit funding.

    One thing is for sure. Corporate real estate tax breaks going back to the time of Prop 13 have to end.

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  118. I suspect it's useless to even bother, but the District's matrix is probably the only useful tool to come out of the BSC process. It shows clearly which schools are closing the opportunity gap and which schools aren't. In terms of opening practice, it provides teachers ideas about schools to contact for observations, guides thinking around equity, etc.

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  119. 6:17 On page 31 of the BSC handbook - Taking Action- under the section "School Site Milesones it says after Year Five-"Post, discussd and use Matrix performance trends to guide growth plans at each school."

    It's strange that this Anonymous finds the Matrix so useful since SFUSD haven't even begun using it yet.Some people will say or do anything just to try to make me look bad. Anonymous if you are going to try to berate me at least talk about something you know about.

    Right now all you have to do is look at the school accountability report card (SARC)to find all the information you need about achievement among subgroups. And if a low achieving school want to look towards the efforts of better similar schools and replicate them, obviously they need to do some in house training at that school.They don't need to spend scant ed dollars turning the idea of sharing best prectices in a homegrown science. As I said before sharing isn't that hard if you create oportunities for teachers to spend a week at different school learning new ideas. This Matrix is another dumb idea that does nothing but employ people.

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  120. "It would be interesting to see how the demographics would change if everyone just attended their neighborhood school. It might not actually be as bad as everyone thinks, although I'm sure it would be quite bad for about 10 percent of the elementary schools. (Just a guess.)"

    About 25% of the elementaries rank 1-2 in the state similar-school rankings. [Now, that includes several of the immersion programs that objectively are quite desirable (Flynn, Fairmont, Revere), but score low in testing because of high percentages of ELLs.]

    Most of the poorer-performing schools are concentrated in the South-East of the city: Portola, Portero Hill, Vistation Valley, Bernal, Mission, Excelsior, Crocker/Amazon, and BV/HP would be disproportionately adversely affected by a neighborhood system. Segregation would also likely increase: about 70% of BV/HP parents send their kids to schools other than their attendance-area school (as opposed to 49% average district-wide).

    So, BV/HP kids lose out: segregation would increase. Can you say "Civil Rights Lawsuit"?

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  121. "Is free child care available to middle income women?"

    First5sf.org

    www.justfuckinggoogleit.com

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  122. "About the district's surplus real estate"

    I'm sorry, but the district divesting its real estate is not a sustainable funding route, and also restricts its ability to open new schools if demand requires it. I hope there's other routes chosen to close the gap.

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  123. The BVHP children are moved out disproportionally because the district does not have enough seats in BVHP. This allows the district to fulfill its policy of diversification. The problem is that diversification in itself is not an achievement strategy. Just last month the Board heard the results of their Stanford based study showing that students of color performed no better in a diversified school on average.

    Nevertheless students should have the choice option of attending schools outside their area. But the real challenge is making every neighbor school better so that children in the southeast don't have to look elsewhere to find a good school. But if integration is a higher priority than achievement expect more of the same from the school district assignment redesign.

    As long as neighborhoods are segregated you will have to choose between more segregation with a neighborhood model and less segregation with a busing model. We have to honor what the individual parents want for their children and let them decide for themslves if they want to stay in their neighborhoods or go to alternative schools outside. The district should not be forcing its mandate on the people that it is here to serve.

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  124. For middle income families, First5sf.org has very limited funding for part-time care start at age four.

    I don't believe that we get four years of maternity leave.

    So doesn't that leave us holding the bag to pay for four years of child care?

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  125. 9;40, I agree that it is generally a bad idea to sell real estate to fund operations and that is why there are laws resricting it. But each district is different and SFUSD has a ton of real estate that is in complete disrepair and poorly management. Right now these so called assets are liabilities and drain the district coffers. We have plenty of capacity for future growth and the unique opportunity to sell some properties and add to the tax base of SF while funding operations during this dire time of need.

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  126. Hey Don,

    Fed Up Mom here.

    We moved into to diverse neighborhood here in Bernal because we enjoyed the cultural mix in the neighborhood.

    We had expected to find that cultural mix in the schools and were very surprised when we found out that our neighborhood school was not at all diverse.

    I couldn't agree with you more about academic performance. There are many newish families in the Southeast of the city, like ours, who wanted their kids to grow up in a diverse neighborhood and school district. However, we weren't expecting, and would not consider a school that demonstrates terrible academic performance.

    I keep hearing about these kids who are so hard to teach. Frankly, I really wonder about it. Some of the kids I know here are pretty smart. Their families are high functioning. However, since the school they attend has rock bottom test scores, I fear for these kids.

    We now have our child in private school. The price is high, but I do like the school. Contrary to what so many parents say, I don't think the parents are selfish monsters. For the most part, on the contrary. These are families that value education and care deeply about their kids and society.

    Many of them probably never set out to send their kids to private school.

    Very few interests seem to be well served by this school board, except the school board administrators themselves and a few lucky families at high performing "alternative" schools + one or two others. Certainly not the vast majority of kids.

    Your right on about the Bayview. The kids do no better, even if they're sent to a school outside the Bayview. We all know about the nonsense that went on at Cobb, one of the few AA schools that seems to have slightly better test scores. You'd think the school board would want to capitalize on that. But NOOOO, the school needed to be DIVERSIFIIIED.

    The whole thing sickens me.

    My husband says its all about various interests maintaining their political constituency. Why educate people to think for themselves? That would be awefully dangerous, after all. I used to think he was cynical, but not so much now.

    Thanks for the time you've taken to put information up on this sight.

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  127. Don, it's my understanding that except in a few specific "satellite zone" situations, the default for BVHP students is their nearby schools. That is, if a student doesn't apply to any school, the assignment will be to a nearby school unless the student lives in one of the satellite zones for Miraloma or Giannini.

    And I understand that it's also the case that if a BVHP student applies to a nearby school, he/she is guaranteed to get it, as those schools consistently have more openings than applications. (And if an applicant from out of the neighborhood applies, the same.)

    Perhaps at some long-ago point in a whole different time the satellite zones were created to reduce overcrowding, but that's not the case today. BVHP schools such as Malcolm X are underenrolled.

    How does that jibe with your belief that SFUSD is sending kids out of BVHP because there aren't enough seats in BVHP schools? It would be easy to add more in underenrolled Malcolm X if there were demand, for example. Are you just referring to the satellite zones?

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  128. Caroline,

    Every time someone brings up the idea of just sending kids to their neighborhood school, there is a hew and cry about diversity.

    The Bayview kids are marched out as the immediate victims of any suggestion one might have about creating a more fair system for the middle class.

    The current population of African American children in the city is 8%. I'm sure it used to be higher.
    It is true that these kids are struggling. But isn't the issue academic performance. That is what is going to pull these kids up. Putting them in schools with Latino and white kids isn't going to do a damn thing. It hasn't done a damn thing.

    Meanwhile, there is an ever increasing number of generally high achieving Asian children who seem to have no problem at all gaining access to our schools. Why is this not addressed?

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  129. Mr. Krause:

    The Matrix is available to teachers in the District. In fact, it's on the District website. In fact, I believe it's been discussed on this blog before.

    I find your hostility troubling.

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  130. "Mr. Krause:

    The Matrix is available to teachers in the District. In fact, it's on the District website. In fact, I believe it's been discussed on this blog before.

    I find your hostility troubling.
    "

    Whoever you are, and I'm not Don Krause, we are sorry that you are troubled.


    Since you appear to be a school district insider, maybe you could log in as yourself, instead of anonymously trying to intimidate Mr. Kraus, who's comments seem to be right on the money.

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  131. 10:58, I'm not understanding your question. Are you saying that Asian families have no problem getting the schools they want?

    Asian families in the Sunset district engaged in loud, mass protests in 2003 over their complaints that their kids weren't guaranteed access to Lincoln High School, which had far more applicants than openings.

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  132. ... sorry, I got interrupted.

    While I hate to say "it's not all about the children in the Bayview," when I respond to the claim that guaranteed/mandatory neighborhood schools will be the solution, that particular group is not my only focus.

    Many families at all socioeconomic levels live near struggling schools or schools they aren't comfortable with.

    Cobb, for example, is in lower Pacific Heights, surrounded by expensive homes and high-net-worth residents, who could easily get their kids into Cobb if they chose.

    We just heard from a Bernal family who are unhappy with the performance of schools in their neighborhood. They went private, but it seems clear that they wouldn't have been any happier with the neighborhood schools.

    Low-income families tend to have fewer options and higher needs, and I think it's valid to be concerned about those families. But again, there are families all across the spectrum who are not likely to be happy if their only option is their neighborhood schools.

    And this isn't just hypothetical, because that's the way it really was not that long ago. If there's some reason people think things would be different if guaranteed/mandatory neighborhood schools were reinstated, no one has explained why.

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  133. "The BVHP children are moved out disproportionally because the district does not have enough seats in BVHP."

    Don, you're full of it. Malcolm X Academy has only 109 students.

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  134. I'm really confused? Who is Don? Who is Don Krause? These are two different people right? Trying to follow this thread...

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  135. "10:58, I'm not understanding your question. Are you saying that Asian families have no problem getting the schools they want?

    Asian families in the Sunset district engaged in loud, mass protests in 2003 over their complaints that their kids weren't guaranteed access to Lincoln High School, which had far more applicants than openings."

    The Cantonese Immersion programs guarantee priority to Cantonese speakers in our schools. I don't know of too many AA, Latino or white Cantonese speakers.

    The test scores demonstrate that Cantonese speakers generally are not in need of academic intervention. Their test scores exceed that of every other demographic group in the city, including whites.

    However, even beyond the immersion programs, Cantonese speakers seem to be in classrooms and schools that are remarkably Cantonese only.
    It is not unusual to see a class that is 60 or 80% Chinese.

    And I mean Chinese, not South Pacific Islander, Vietnamese, Japanese or any other Asian group.

    Perhaps it is because of where Cantonese speakers live in the city, but I do not think that is all that is going on.

    Also, have you been to Lincoln High? It has to be at least 60% Cantonese. Imagine the outrage against whites if they organized a mass protest against not being able to have a 60% white school.

    No, we white guys just quietly move out of the city.

    On top of that, and I can't account for it, you can't legally immigrate to this country, except in a very narrow set of circumstances, unless you speak English and hold at least an undergraduate degree. You haven't been able to for fifteen years.

    So where are all these "poor" non-English speaking Asians coming from?

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  136. Caroline,

    Your friends experience making a decision about the schools here is pretty much the universal Bernal professional parent experience.

    It is true that if Bernal parents were all assigned to three or four local schools, many would still go private.

    But there would probably be more parents will will to stick it out and improve their local school.

    The current lottery does not make local community building possible. In fact, it intentionally tries to break local community building.

    So, any bonus that the city might of had from all the professional able, progressively minded who moved here between five and ten years ago, is now concentrated in private schools across the city.

    Good for SFUSD!

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  137. To 10:45 am today

    Back in 2000 when my son was eligible for K we applied to both public and private schools. We heard from the private schools first - the district was still challenged at that time to get their school enrollment deterimination letters out in time (can you imagine that happening now!). We were wait-listed at the private schools and then through the SFUSD, we learned we were assigned to Grattan, which is technically our neighborhood school. It was on our list and we were happy just to get assigned to a school we had listed. It wasn't a premier school at the time, in fact it was not even desirable. But with an awesome administration and a bunch of parents willing to help out, Grattan changed. In less then a decade it has become a much saught-after school. Why can't the Bernal parents do the same thing?


    To 10:58 I agree with your comments about the stats for the high schools out in the Richmond and Sunset. The enrollment system certainly has failed to be diverse in terms of high school enrollment. Certain groups are over-represented at these schools compared to total population. Why is it that neighborhood school assignment seems to be alright in certain neighborhoods, but not in others?

    Righteous statement, 2:08!

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  138. It is true that a number of SFUSD schools have high concentrations of Chinese students, to the point of being officially deemed "resegregated." This was a key issue in a court decision that was at the heart of this entire debate, the Ho decision.

    Previously, SFUSD's court-approved and -monitored desegregation process imposed caps of any one ethnicity on a school -- 35 or 40%. Lowell High School admission is based on academic criteria, and Chinese students tend to be high-performers, so the cap wound up meaning that Chinese students had to score higher than any other group to get into Lowell. Unsurprisingly, the court ruled that that was discriminatory and overturned the caps (which the court had previously approved and enforced).

    But that aside, I don't think I'm too far out on a limb in saying that there tend to be high concentrations of Chinese students at many schools (including Lincoln) at least largely because: 1) there are high concentrations of Chinese students in the neighborhoods where the schools are located; and 2) Chinese families tend to apply for the schools that are already heavily Chinese.

    What this tells us is that schools ARE enrolling many/mostly students from their neighborhoods, and also that families are getting schools they request.

    Without actually researching it school by school right now, I'd say every school in the Richmond and Sunset districts is heavily Chinese. Those neighborhoods are also heavily Chinese.

    I agree that if white families were that openly committed to seeking out schools that were heavily white, it would be ugly. But the situation and context for the dominant ethnicity in power is different -- that's simply the way it is.

    The schools around the largely Latino Mission District tend to be heavily Latino too (O'Connell HS, Mission HS, Cesar Chavez ES, Horace Mann MS) -- again disproving the view that SFUSD is shipping kids all over hell and gone in the quest for diversity.

    I'm not versed in immigration law and can't speak to those details. It's off topic, but I will still give my view that immigrants contribute immeasurably to our culture and economy. Also, neighborhoods like St. Francis Wood and my mother-in-law's 'hood in West L.A., Beverlywood, would utterly and immediately collapse if all the illegal immigrant workers vanished -- and I've heard residents of both neighborhoods (not my MIL) complain bitterly about immigration. I can't manage a calm, polite response to that.

    Re Bernal schools, a tidbit, too -- an idiotic SFUSD policy of old contributed to messing them up. In the '90s, the assignment process included a piece that gave residents of certain ZIP codes high preference, behind only siblings. What that meant was that the savvy residents of those ZIP codes ('10, '24 and '34) grabbed the chance for guaranteed access to the popular school of their choice, leaving the un-savvy ones in the neighborhood schools. 94110 (Bernal) was rapidly gentrifying at the time, so that's where the effect was most obvious.

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  139. 2:31, which neighborhoods are you referring to?

    "Why is it that neighborhood school assignment seems to be alright in certain neighborhoods, but not in others?"

    Because I would say that most of the complaints I've heard about neighbors being "denied" access to their neighborhood schools are from parents in the Sunset and Richmond, which are the 'hoods that you're now pointing to as areas where families DO get their neighborhood schools.

    I think that actually MOST SFUSD schools enroll largely from their surrounding neighborhoods, which by definition many neighbors get into those schools. It's just that people feel so thwarted that they're not guaranteed access that they become convinced that NOBODY can get into their neighborhood schools.

    I can recall three loud complainers of past years, parents kvetching mightily about the district "denying" them access to their neighborhood schools -- yet all of them lived close to the schools their kids actually attended, which were:
    Dad 1. Alamo/Presidio (then Lowell)
    Mom 2. Alamo/Presidio/Washington (she ran for school board, still complaining loudly about being "denied access"
    Dad 3. Lakeshore/Giannini/Lowell

    You had to wonder how loudly they'd have been complaining if they actually HAD been denied access to their neighborhood schools -- or, conversely, what it would have taken to please them.

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  140. "But with an awesome administration and a bunch of parents willing to help out, Grattan changed. In less then a decade it has become a much saught-after school. Why can't the Bernal parents do the same thing?"

    Frankly, due to location, the inertia is greater. And very honestly, schools like Paul Revere have become magnets for disadvantaged kids from out of the city.

    It is a tough call. You'd like your child to attend a local school, but then you see that there are less than ten percent white kids at the school and you also sense a kind of cultural malaise from the staff at the school. The school is so heavily focused on teaching basic skills that you know your child will be bored. You can sense that the staff doesn't want to take on anything too innovative.

    I can think of one school in Bernal where the principal and stall are more progressive, but there really aren't enough parents to collectively take it on.

    An the district would have to be willing to allow a concentration of 30% or 40% professional families, probably white, which there will not do.

    Don't forget that the "lottery" program is designed to let in only 7% non-ELL, non-poor, etc, in Round I.

    There is a long distance between 7% and the 30% confort zone that is probably needed to set an academically focused tone in a school.

    Congratulations with your success in turning Grattan around. It is a lovely school.

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  141. Caroline,

    "I agree that if white families were that openly committed to seeking out schools that were heavily white, it would be ugly. But the situation and context for the dominant ethnicity in power is different -- that's simply the way it is. "

    I don't agree with you that the "situation and context for dominant ethnicity in power" has any relevance here. The US Supreme court would also not agree with you. If one group, whites, are not allowed to segregate above a certain limit, which appears to be about 40% in SF schools, I see no reason why any other group should be allowed to do that. This is especially true where a group seems to be triving academically. Chinese students are triving academically. They have the lowest student drop out rate of any group.

    I would be more sympathetic to the cause of allowing Latinos and Blacks for have their own schools, if it could be shown that that would improve their academic performance.

    By the way, the drop out rate for whites is 17%, the same as Latinos.

    "again disproving the view that SFUSD is shipping kids all over hell and gone in the quest for diversity."

    I didn't suggest this.

    "I'm not versed in immigration law and can't speak to those details."

    Perhaps you should become versed in immigration law, because if you are going to speak on these issues, I do feel that it behooves you, as a journalist, to become informed about legal vs. illegal immigration.

    Legal vs. Illegal immigration is a major issue for our city. The US attempts to set immigration limits so that our taxpayer paid schools, hospitals and social services will not be overwhelmed.

    Completely flauting these carefully considered quotas, the school board and city officials allow mostly illegal immigrants and their children to overwhelm our schools, hospitals, etc. Not to mention the poor souls that are injured or killed by unlicensed drivers.

    Perhaps you are unaware that many qualified potential legal immigrants, many with advanced degrees, become so bogged down in the overwhelmed immigration process that they leave the country. That is our economic loss.

    Illegal immigrants are also far more like to conduct their business without paying income tax, social security or medicare, so that, not only do they need special language intervention, medical care and social services,
    they also do not pay tax in proportion to the income they do earn.

    The immigrant neighborhoods you are talking about would not collapse. That is nonsense. They would be filled with citizens and LEGAL immigrants.

    Yes, you might have to wash your floor yourself or pay someone a little more to get it done.

    I'm not interested in navigating the nuances of Bernal zip codes. I've become adjusted to the fact that my daughter will attend private school. However, seeing how corrupt and dysfunctional the school board is has made me exceptionally determined never again to vote for a school funding increase, of any kind.

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  142. Sorry, striving, not triving

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  143. Caroline

    That is my point. That there does seem to be a preference for neighborhood school assignment in certain neighborhoods and not in others, yet at the same time the SFUSD touts diversity, which truly is NOT the case when you look at the demographics.

    Interestingly, when you look at Gateway High School, their school population is more closely aligned with general population trends, except for Asian families, who may still prefer Lincoln/Wash over Gateway. And Gateway runs a pure lottery!!!!!

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  144. Hey 3:45 Lord, only 7% non-ELL, non-poor let in in Round 1 let in?!! Where does this info come from? If this is true, and I don't disbelieve you, I must say I am shocked and also feel less likely to vote for additional school funding, as the district doesn't seem to want my family alhtough the want my money!

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  145. "Don't forget that the "lottery" program is designed to let in only 7% non-ELL, non-poor, etc, in Round I."

    Thank you for bringing up this important point. I hope everyone reading this blog comes away understanding how it works. There are 16 bins in the diversity index, based on 4 diversity characteristics. It is a binary code. So you start with 0000 and eventually finish with move to 1111, with every possible combination in between.

    You can think about it this way: 0000 represents having no diversity index points (English speaking, not on free lunch, not Section 8 and having gone to preschool.) 1111 represents kids who have do not speak English, do qualify for free lunch, do live in Section 8 housing, and did not attend preschool.

    Because of a lack of transparency, it is impossible to know what percentage of kids make up each of the 16 bins. But what we do know is that the algorithm for the first round attempts to create an equal (50/50) split among the 16 groups. It does this even though this likely DOES NOT accurately reflect the kids applying for K.

    I'm no statistician, but I am going to deduce that if you divide 100% by 16 groups, you get 7%. Again, because our Public School District does not publish this information publicly, there is no way to know how big your bin is, or, to put it bluntly, how much of an advantage or disadvantage the current algorithm creates for your child. (Of course, you also have to factor in how many applicants in your bin are applying to any particular school, further complicating matters.)

    To me, at the very least, they could recalibrate the algorithm each year to fairly reflect the number of applicants in each of the 16 pools. This seems only fair. As it stands, the only way the numbers get skewed higher for a certain group is in Round 2 and beyond.

    It took me a long time to understand the process, and if I am in error in my explanation, please speak up.

    It would seem that the moral of the story is: diversity trumps all in this town, even if it isn't even good math.

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  146. Thanks, 5:04 for taking the time to explain the algorithm.

    They run the same algorithm in Round II and beyond, by the way.

    As long as all the bins are full, the algorithm pulls applicants equally from each.

    Because there are so many applicants to most schools, you can pretty much assume that the algorithm does not go into the alternative mode of grabbing from other bins.

    The obvious mismatch in the algorithm is that there are more than 7% of applicants who are non-poor and non-ELL. In fact, I would guess that more than 40% applicants are non-poor and non-ELL, for the most sought after schools.

    So, just taking 7/40, the chances of succeeding in Round I for the better schools is less than about 20%.

    Many of the algorithm criteria are not independent, so the assertion that the algorithm trys to select for diversity is really a stretch.

    Vicki Symonds from Parents for Public schools published the algorithm on this sight a while back. (In November, I believe.)

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  147. What are the sources of these pieces of data?

    * "Don't forget that the "lottery" program is designed to let in only 7% non-ELL, non-poor, etc, in Round I."

    All applicants are assigned a school, so every single applicant is "let in." The likelihood of being assigned a school that you listed correlates with the demand level of the schools you list.

    Or, as someone else put it: "Of course, you also have to factor in how many applicants in your bin are applying to any particular school, further complicating matters." Doesn't this seem like a huge factor, if not the major factor? You also have to factor in how many applicants in all bins are applying for it.

    * "By the way, the drop out rate for whites is 17%, the same as Latino"

    It's really complicated calculating dropout rates and there are many ways to do it -- which source does this come from?
    I don't recall ever hearing or reading this information.

    ***

    4:17, do you mean that more applicants request neighborhood schools in certain neighborhoods and not in others, or that more applicants get assigned to neighborhood schools in certain neighborhoods and not in others? Which neighborhoods are which?
    "There does seem to be a preference for neighborhood school assignment in certain neighborhoods and not in others..."

    If diversity trumps all, why are so many schools predominantly one ethnicity? That statement doesn't jibe with reality.

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  148. "All applicants are assigned a school, so every single applicant is "let in." The likelihood of being assigned a school that you listed correlates with the demand level of the schools you list."

    A very large proportion of families who live in Noe, Bernal and Glen Park went 0/7 and were assigned to schools with CST schools in the 30% zone.


    All of the schools with CST scores at or about 70%, that is, 70 percent of kids pass the CST at the proficient level, are very over subscribed.

    I don't consider this to be a "choice" but an excercise in being forced to choose between various marginal or failing schools, or to shutter one's children in an undersubscribed Mandarin immersion program.

    We've pretty much reached the limit of schools that might be considered "hidden gems." That might have been true in the boom years when people had a lot of expendable income to opt out to private school. It should also be remembered that the schools, especially in the southeast of the city, have become increasing filled with "undocumented" students.

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  149. I meant "CST scores in the 30% zone."

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  150. . . . increasingly filled with "undocumented" students.

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  151. "As long as all the bins are full, the algorithm pulls applicants equally from each."

    What constitutes 'full'? I don't understand this logic.

    Doesn't that still mean some bins are still larger than others? Possibly much larger? And if that's the case, shouldn't the algorithm be adjusted to pull a percentage appropriate to each bin's amount of applicants?

    The thing that's so frustrating is that WE WILL NEVER KNOW how many kids are in each bin because THEY WILL NEVER PUBLISH IT.

    Sorry for the caps, but this fact infuriates me.

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  152. Caroline, let me ask you straight up - do you support the current algorithm? Seriously? .... All because everybody "gets in"? I usually value your opinion, but in this case you seem to be confused.

    I know there's a larger percentage of 0000s applying to certain schools, but at least the district could start the process with an algorithm that actually represents the real percentages across the board. Otherwise, the deck is double stacked against the 0000s, if they are indeed a larger group. Which we'll never know, by the way.

    Rachel Norton, why don't your people disclose this information?

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  153. "What constitutes 'full'? I don't understand this logic."

    So, say there are 32 slots open for a particular school. Those open slots will be divided into 16, so for each "bin" there will be 32/16 = two slots x 16 bins open.

    There are four criteria.
    (1) Free or reduced lunch,
    (2) in section 8 housing/social assistance,
    (3) did or did not go to preschool,
    (4) English Language Learner (ELL)

    Say, you're in section 8 housing and get free lunch. But you speak English. Your child did not go to preschool. So you are in bin 1101.
    As long as two people fulfill this criteria, when the algorithm runs, the applicant pool for this "bin" will be "full".

    "Doesn't that still mean some bins are still larger than others?"

    Yes. In particular, non-ELL, non-lunch, non-social assistance, preschool will have a long line of applicants.

    "And if that's the case, shouldn't the algorithm be adjusted to pull a percentage appropriate to each bin's amount of applicants?"

    It is possible to either adjust the statistics to either match the total applicant pool in the city, or the total applicant pool to a particular school. However, the current algorithm doesn't do that.

    "The thing that's so frustrating is that WE WILL NEVER KNOW how many kids are in each bin because THEY WILL NEVER PUBLISH IT. "

    To be honest, I don't think it matters if they don't publish this. We can tell by the total population in the city that the current method heavily disfavors non-ELL, non-poor families. (Yes, most of these families do apply, but mostly to the Notorious 11.)

    "Sorry for the caps, but this fact infuriates me."

    YOU ARE NOT ALONE IN YOUR FURY!

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  154. 8:14 - THANK YOU for further explaining how the algorithm works.

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  155. Welcome! Have a nice night.

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  156. So if you really want to game the system according to this algorithm as described, you should hire a nanny to take your kids to 'enrichment' activities so that you can state that your kid did not attend preschool. Or if you are a SAHP. That bin must be significantly smaller than the 0000 bin.

    “Bureaucracy is the art of making the possible impossible”

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  157. 11:06, yes you are indeed correct. That would be a way to game the system, and I would bet a lot of pesos that the bin you'd be in would be a heck of a lot smaller than the 0000s.

    But hey, we've officially beaten this dead horse to a bloody pulp. Let's go take a look at the new map that was presented tonight about the proposed assignment changes. (I believe it's slide #38.) If you're in a bright green area, well, my condolences, my friend. (We are!)

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  158. "A very large proportion of families who live in Noe, Bernal and Glen Park went 0/7 and were assigned to schools with CST schools in the 30% zone."

    7:03, do you have a basis for believing that residents of other neighborhoods had better luck?

    I would guess that it looks this way because those are the families whom you know, and the families whom you know tended to be applying for the same list of oversubscribed schools. I'm not criticizing them for it, but I don't think there's backup for the claim that people in some neighborhoods have it easier than people in other neighborhoods.

    It's pretty much a given that if families don't get any schools on the list, they'll be assigned to schools with low achievement, because those are the schools that still have room because people aren't requesting them. It sucks, but it's not a nefarious plot.

    I don't necessarily support the current algorithm. But I maintain that it's really not the algorithm
    that makes it difficult; it's the fact that too many families apply to the same oversubscribed schools.

    I also think it's overly pessimistic to say there are no more hidden gems. That's what you (or your big sisters) would have said 5 years ago, discounting any hopes for Sunnyside, Starr King and Jose Ortega; 10 years ago, discounting any hopes for Miraloma, Flynn and Fairmount; and 15 years ago, discounting any hopes for Alvarado, Grattan and McKinley. (And, at the higher level, Aptos, Roosevelt, Balboa, Galileo...) It's a very clear long-term trend of turning-around and improving schools. Is there any reason it shouldn't continue?

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  159. Look at the bright side -- with class sizes increasing, they'll be 8 more spots in each kindergarten class at the coveted schools.

    (I am being sarcastic)

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  160. In response to the following and please bear with me:

    Anonymous said...
    "Mr. Krause:

    The Matrix is available to teachers in the District. In fact, it's on the District website. In fact, I believe it's been discussed on this blog before.
    I find your hostility troubling."

    First of all, it has not been made available to teachers and if I am wrong than why hasn't this public information been made available to parents who are legal decionmakers and stakeholders on school site councils? That is bunk Anonymous. The principals think you are talking about a movie with Keano Reeves. You aren't fooling me and why are district employees surfing the internet at 11:15am during work hours? Damage control police?

    I have seen lots of this kind of stuff before from the central office. But let me put my caveat in before I go any further. I know some very forthright and valuable employees that work there. You aren't one of them. But I think I am correct when I say that Anonymous doesn't collect an anonymous paycheck. S/he ought to at least have the integrity to identify him/herself.

    This kind of post underscores why some are so reluctant to use their real names - because of the lack of assignment system accountability they feel they may get a poor assignment in retribution for exercising free speech.

    The exercise of primary constitutional and universal rights does not apply to anonymous speech. To be protected by these rights you have to be somebody. But if you are somebody, and you speak out, you run the risk of being tagged and assigned accordingly to a school not of your choice. That is the price of freedom - the cost of private school. We need to save our democracy from Anonymous.

    Here's another example of the professionalism of our district -The SFUSD media office of Gentle Blythe has been edited the content of Your SF Schools, removing comments that criticize SFUSD. Why are public employees are using district time to censor privately funded websites? To disseminate and control information that is aligned with only their policy objectives. No wonder that site is another complete failure.

    Anonymous, what is truly troubling (re. your post) isn't the idea that I would exercise free speech, but the idea that this local educational agency would act to censor it and otherwise attack it as you have done. Time to repent for your sins against the constitution.

    Also in regard to the Matrix (not the movie), why haven't the local school site councils, the decisionmaking bodies, been using it to analyze data and act accordingly? Everybody raise your hand. I'll answer that. Because nobody has heard of it. They still think it is the movie and it might just as well be. Is this troubling you, Anonymous? Is it my fault if I was born under a bad sign? If diversity is good can we apply that nugget to thought,too?

    continued

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  161. On assignment, demographics of the district show that there are comparatively higher concentrations of students in the southeast, yet the schools are undererolled. Are you smarter than a fifth grader? Students have to leave the neighborhood for seats elsewhere. The supermarkets are gone, the banks are gone and the schools are going, going gone. This requires a forced march or migration, because it leaves residents from the southeast with only two options - go to a school in the umpteeenth year of Program Improvement or seek a school elswhere. This creates a default diversity assignment system that gives SFUSD political cover from neighborhood promoters. Families have to send kids out because they don't want to go to their neighborhood schools - even if many would prefer to do so if not for fear of their childen's safety. Caroline readily admits that AA parents never choose in favor of closing down local schools.

    We have to provide alternatives for all students of SFUSD that give neighborhood preference and alternative choice, local and otherwise. And that is why we are working to put such a measure on the ballot - so that the people who are served by the system are not herded like cattle against their will for the sake of debunked and extremist ideology. We have to stop wasting our financial and human capital creating a more perfect beehive and focus on making a more perfect union. We have to take back our district from the education police that walk the beat on this blog, and get people in charge who are going to start focusing on academic achievement and won't forget about the needs of children in order to advance their own political careers. Save Advanced Placement from the guillotine of the revolutionaries in charge and rebuild Bay View schools, including allowing charters to operate.

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  162. "You'd like your child to attend a local school, but then you see that there are less than ten percent white kids at the school"

    As the percentage of white kids in SFUSD is ~10%, you're just going to have to Get Used To It. Because no allocation system is going fix the fact that some schools are going to have <10% white kids, especially with Miraloma and Grattan at 30-40% caucasian.

    Blame the 66% of white parents who defect out of the public system.

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  163. "This requires a forced march or migration"

    "Forced" in the sense that parents in those neighborhoods can choose not to send their kids to a poorer-performing school.

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  164. "Because there are so many applicants to most schools, you can pretty much assume that the algorithm does not go into the alternative mode of grabbing from other bins."

    That's a heroic assumption. Do you have anything to back it up?

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  165. "It is not unusual to see a class that is 60 or 80% Chinese."

    Perhaps because 41% of the district's intake is Asian, and mostly concentrated in certain neighbourhoods?

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  166. "Completely flauting these carefully considered quotas, the school board and city officials allow mostly illegal immigrants and their children to overwhelm our schools, hospitals, etc."

    As opposed to letting the kids go uneducated and roaming the streets, and letting them sicken and die untreated.

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  167. "So, any bonus that the city might of had from all the professional able, progressively minded who moved here between five and ten years ago, is now concentrated in private schools across the city."

    This point is made over and over again, and is unsupported, especially given that the applications to SFUSD have rise 10% per annum for several years now.

    The participation of whites in SFUSD in the early 1980s was ~15%. Since then, the city's kids have become less white, more privates have opened, and the proportion of whites is - drum roll - 11%.

    There have always been a high proportion of middle-class kids going to private school in SF, partly because of forced busing decades back, but also because of high percentages of Catholics going to Catholic school.

    The idea that the lottery is forcing poor benighted professionals unwillingly into the hands of the privates is just not borne out by the statistics. Anecdotes over the playground don't count, folks.

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  168. Anonymous@11:45 said 'The idea that the lottery is forcing poor benighted professionals unwillingly into the hands of the privates is just not borne out by the statistics. Anecdotes over the playground don't count, folks.'

    What planet do you live on?

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  169. "Hey 3:45 Lord, only 7% non-ELL, non-poor let in in Round 1 let in?!! Where does this info come from?"

    Well, right out of their butt, that's where.

    You can tell their assertion is a load of crap by looking at the stats for, say, Clarendon: 12% ELL, 11% free/reduced lunch, compared with 31% ELL and 54% free/reduced lunch for the district as a whole. So, far from being 7% non-poor and non-ELL, Clarendon is 88% non-poor, 89% non-ELL.

    It's not the ghetto kids making your odds of getting into Clarendon so miserable: it's all the other non-poor, non-ELL parents cramming in the door.

    To the person who posted the crap about 7% non-ELL non-poor: please check your work before posting disinformation. People are wound up tight enough without you making shit up.

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  170. "What planet do you live on?"

    Planet Anecdotes-are-Not-Data.

    Or-planet-been-through-the-lottery-and-all-but-one-of-my-friends-got-a-public-they-loved-eventually.

    Because, you see, you're only seeing the debit side of the equation: "I want to go to my local school but I have no guaranteed place". But there's also a credit side: the parents who are near a school where because of academics, culture at the school, pedagogy, personality of the principal, whatever, say "I'd rather not go to my local school". Under the lottery system, you don't have to. But under the neighborhood system, if you don't like your local school, then toughies.

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  171. "Your friends experience making a decision about the schools here is pretty much the universal Bernal professional parent experience."

    "It is true that if Bernal parents were all assigned to three or four local schools, many would still go private."

    Look,, I'm a Bernal parent, and I just don't buy this. Flynn SI is heavily oversubscribed. But you can do a tour of Moscone or E.R. Taylor and be one of two or three other families, as opposed to 6 x 10^24 parents on a tour of Rooftop. Longfellow, JOES, SF Community are in striking distance via 280, and Revere & Webster have their immersion programs and appear to be on the turn. There are buses to Yick Wo from the Mission as well.

    There aren't trophy schools nearby, but that may be as much a feature than a bug.

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  172. I, for one, admire Don Kraus. Thanks for your most interesting post.

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  173. Correction: Krause (Pinky not typing well today.)

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  174. All this discussion is code for -SFUSD can't solve the achievement gap. The data doesn't factor in how many so-called higher status families would live here if there was any semblency of normality. The fact that we have the lowest adult/child ratio in the nation is not immaterial.

    You can analyze every permutation of an assignment system and the data and run all the models you want in the meantime generation after generation of students fail and drop out of the system at ever increasing rates.

    You don't integrate society by manipulating the assignment system so that families have to leave town, cross town or refuse to come to town to find a school of choice. You integrate by educating kids and giving them the skills necessary for social mobility. All the minutes, dollars, gallons, cars, insurance, traffic, emissions, stress, etc. is additional waste for society and a divergence from the purpose of education. You cannot buy or enforce achievement.

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  175. "I, for one, admire Don Kraus."

    If you like rambling posts filled with inaccuracies that contradict themselves from one paragraph to the next, that is.

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  176. 1:48, thanks for the thoughtful commentary. The one thing that seems to be missing from the new design ideas is a clear focus on improving the underperforming schools. Instead, they're focusing on making sure kids in those neighborhood can opt out and go to a better school somewhere else.

    This seems to be a major disservice to people in the underperforming neighborhoods. Is the plan then to eventually close those schools, in which case kids would only have the choice of being integrated into other schools?

    I know turning a school around with a large population of lower SES kids is no easy task, but the options presented seems to circumvent this goal completely.

    I'd love any insight on this topic.

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  177. "To the person who posted the crap about 7% non-ELL non-poor: please check your work before posting disinformation. People are wound up tight enough without you making shit up."

    I posted a response to 'that crap'. As I said before, as far as I can understand it, the algorithm for the current lottery system attempt a 50/50 split among the 16 bins, regardless of how many kids are in each bin, as long as the bins are 'full'.

    If the school eventually ends up with more kids from certain groups and less of others, I would imagine that is because of the school's location (creating lack of demand from lower income neighborhoods?) and the fact that many higher income families are willing to wait it out until the bitter end.

    Surely if you are a 1111 applying to Clarendon, you are more likely to get in 1st round than a 0000, simply based on the high numbers of kids applying from 0000.

    Your post seems to imply some kind of conspiracy at Clarendon. Can you elaborate?

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  178. Stop the sock puppeting, please. It was nauseating enough on sfschools.

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  179. Don Krause,

    I would like to contact you. I do not want to give my name out here, but I would like to speak with you.

    Do you have a website?

    Fed Up Mom

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  180. Are people suspecting that Don Krause and Fed Up Mom are the same person? Any way for Kate to check? I don't have an issue with Mr. Krause posting his opinions. In fact, I actually enjoy reading them. But if he's masquerading as someone else, too, I'd have a problem with that. Is Don Krause really Fed Up Mom? Donna Krause? (sorry)

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  181. OK, so if it isn't another planet how about a parallel universe? Is it only me or do others find any hypocracy in these anonymous identity accusations?

    Back to rational world. In November I went down to the central office. I signed in at the front desk and went up to the media office. There I asked the employee on duty about the district's role in editing the content of Your SFSchools blog, politely mind you. I was told to wait. Ten minutes later the security guard (nice man by the way) came to excort me out. This is how SFUSD treats parent guests at the central office.

    Fed up mom - I do not have a website. You can contact me at donoshin@gmail.com. I would be happy to speak with you.

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  182. Yes, Don. I, too, find hypocrisy in the anonymous issue. Alas, I don't have the courage to post under my own name. Perhaps some day...

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  183. Sorry that I keep doing reality checks, but it's important to be aware of these facts:

    -- No diverse, high-poverty urban school district anywhere has solved the achievement gap problem. And it's necessary to control for the socioeconomics of different ethnicities in assessing the issue. The fact that San Francisco has all but lost its black middle class, and most of the African-American population is now very low-income, has been widely covered in the media.

    -- No diverse, high-poverty urban school district anywhere has figured out how to "make all the schools good" -- meaning the schools attended by high-need, low-income children.

    One has to keep that in mind when asking, "Why can't SFUSD...?"

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  184. Don's home for imaginary friends ...

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  185. Don,

    Thanks for your email address.

    I appreciate your brave, well informed and thoughtful comments on this site.

    You've clearly thought deeply about how our schools could be improved.

    I'll be contacting you next week.

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  186. "Ten minutes later the security guard (nice man by the way) came to excort me out."

    Just like the parents at your son's former preschool requested you be removed permanently from school premises for "repeated conflict" with other co-op members.

    However, I'm sure it was All Their Fault, and nothing to do with you.

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  187. "As I said before, as far as I can understand it, the algorithm for the current lottery system attempt a 50/50 split among the 16 bins, regardless of how many kids are in each bin, as long as the bins are 'full'."

    No. There is a profile that is generated based on the sibling intake that automatically gets in. Then the algorithm looks for a kid that is most different to that profile. Ranking of the school is used as a tiebreaker between multiple candidates. Then the diversity profile for the school gets recalculated. And the loop gets repeated until all the slots available at that stage get filled. There's no implicit or explicit need to "empty all the bins".

    I talked with the software engineer who coded the algorithm, and [IMHO] there is a flaw in the algorithm that the target for the diversity variable isn't normalized against the characteristics of the intake population: i.e. if the intake is 30% ELL, then that should be the optimum for each school sought for in the algorithm, but instead the algorithm uses 50%.

    "Your post seems to imply some kind of conspiracy at Clarendon. Can you elaborate?"

    No, it's implying you don't understand how the algorithm works in practice.

    I'm tired of hearing middle class folks on this blog feeling that poor people are hogging all the slots at the plum schools and that's the reason the trophies are hard to get into. The plum schools are hard for middle class folks to get into get into because *they are popular with other middle class people*. But there are less popular schools that do just as good or better at Grade 5 CSTs, if you're willing to go against the herd and maybe challenge yourself, and your kid, to look beyond peeling paint and unfashionable neighborhoods.

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  188. Thanks you Anonymous for pointing out that situation. I was a whistleblower at the school which was leaching out arsenic at dangerously high levels in areas where toddlers routinely put their fingers to their mouths. I am satisfied with the hundreds or hours I spent to safeguard the children at the school when other parents neglected the situation. If leaving the school was the price my family had to pay, it was well worth it. And by the way, this situation was so hazardous that SF Rec and Park choose to remove their arsenic treated play structures, many of which were lower in arsenic.

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  189. "The one thing that seems to be missing from the new design ideas is a clear focus on improving the underperforming schools. Instead, they're focusing on making sure kids in those neighborhood can opt out and go to a better school somewhere else."

    Mainly because the issue of improving a school and school assignment are different issues. You can get low-SES students into high-performing schools, but its hard to get non-low-SES students into the historically poorly performing schools.
    Magnet programs like immersion go some of the way, but they have their limits.

    Personally, I feel a school choice system in the long run gives better incentives and feedback to principals and staff improving their schools.

    "This seems to be a major disservice to people in the underperforming neighborhoods. Is the plan then to eventually close those schools, in which case kids would only have the choice of being integrated into other schools?"

    Yes, eventually. To me, that quasi-market aspect is a feature not a bug: as the money follows the student, dropping enrollment threatens the financial viability of a school and forces staff, principal, and district to Do Something. As San Francisco is a painfully small-c conservative city (in that its really fricking hard to any real change done), this is a good thing. I'd say introducing immersion strands to e.g. Starr King and Webster was a heck of a lot easier to sell when dropping enrollment meant closure was a real possibility.

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  190. "We have to provide alternatives for all students of SFUSD that give neighborhood preference and alternative choice, local and otherwise."

    Don, even for you this is an achievement in contradiction.

    You cannot provide both a guaranteed neighborhood slot and a significant element of choice in the system. You can provide a limited choice system (like a layer of district-wide alternative schools), but you end up in the old OER system, with the alternative schools oversubscribed by lottery and choice between local schools extremely limited.

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  191. This is like sfschools, when he had several shadowpuppets complimenting him, and when you traced the ISPs, all those people telling Don how intelligent he was, etc., just happened to all be DON.
    Yes it is sad, but it is also annoying.

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  192. I would question this:

    "You can get low-SES students into high-performing schools, but its hard to get non-low-SES students into the historically poorly performing schools."

    Is there backup for that?

    In most cases, the historically poorly performing schools do not attract a glut of applicants. Families applying to undersubscribed schools are not turned away if there are openings. And students are assigned by default if they don't specifically apply to a school, and default assignments are almost definitely to historically poorly performing schools.

    I still don't agree with Don's assessment that students are sent out of BVHP because there aren't enough seats int eh schools there. It doesn't jibe with reality, as there are no schools in BVHP that are oversubscribed, and I believe most are struggling with UNDERenrollment.

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  193. "Families applying to undersubscribed schools are not turned away if there are openings."

    That's the point ... it is hard to get those families to apply to those schools. It was starting to happen, parents were becoming more open-minded, but now with all the budget horror stories, many who can afford to go private will.

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  194. Oh, sorry, I read that wrong -- I thought 10:53 was saying it was hard for LOW-SES students to get into some schools. Hadn't had my coffee yet.

    Still, it was harder in the past (unthinkable, in fact) to get non-low-SES families to apply to schools like Flynn, Fairmount, Starr King, Daniel Webster, Sunnyside and more. The culture in the recent past (someone said '80s, but I mean mid- to late '90s) was that if a family who could afford private didn't immediately get the chosen alternative school -- Rooftop, Clarendon etc. -- they went private, even to non-selective private schools. That has changed, and I don't think the momentum will stop. I think it has changed for the long term.

    The $15K/$20K a year that you would have spent on tuition can make a HUGE difference if you donate it to your public school! Multiply that by your friends in the same situation whom you will of course work to persuade to make those donations too. That's not the long-term solution, but...

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  195. Of course the 20K would make a difference to a public school, but parents do not want to donate 20K to a place trying to make it Ok, they want to know the school will be good and not have to pay 20K and work to make it good.

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  196. "This is like sfschools, when he had several shadowpuppets complimenting him, and when you traced the ISPs, all those people telling Don how intelligent he was, etc., just happened to all be DON.
    Yes it is sad, but it is also annoying.

    January 27, 2010 7:09 AM
    "


    I'm sorry, but this person who keeps posting "sock puppet" comments about Don Krause seems to be engaging in an anonymous name calling exercies. Clearly, this person has access to insider information within the school board and clearly, they are engaging in a name calling exercise. I don't care if they agree with Don or not. They should be duty bound to keep quiet about, or at least identify themselves.

    It is a troublesome ethical breech, at minimum.

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  197. "Clearly, this person has access to insider information within the school board "

    ????

    What are you talking about? I am just talking about his antics on the sfschools yahoo group ... and anyone who knows how can track yahoo group email ip addresses ... there's no breach of ethics going on here, DON.

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  198. The Targeted Instructional Improvement Block Grant is $5,941,020. This is a Tier III categorical program used to facilitate the Consent Decree by providing busing. But that order expired in 2005 or 06. The district continued to apply the money for transportation to enhance socioeconomic diversity. Now that the money has been flexed they can use it "for any educational purpose". It will be interesting to see what the district's priorities are. They previously scaled back the all transportation by one million a year going forward from FY09-10. If they do not provide transportation for choice, the choice option for those with transportation needs dwindles, obviously. It would seem that the district would have a choice option on paper, but is concurrently limiting choice by reducing the needed transportation to fulfill the policy of moving kids from the southeast elsewhere.

    I think I have my facts staight on this, but if anyone understands differently, please let me know.

    By the way, I don't see the many people my anonymous accuser thinks is supporting my views on this blog. The only person I have seen support them is Fedup Mom.

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  199. 11:58
    you are confused.

    this is nothing to do with
    "insider information" or the school district

    it's about a well-known sock puppeting troll

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  200. "Of course the 20K would make a difference to a public school, but parents do not want to donate 20K to a place trying to make it Ok, they want to know the school will be good and not have to pay 20K and work to make it good."

    And not to mention the frustration of paying 20K, plus donating your time, while most of the parents at the school can't pay and never volunteer, always with the excuse that they can't speak the language and give the excuse that they're working "three jobs" or trying to take care of more kids than they can actually afford to raise.

    Don't laugh. With the exception of the 20K, this actually happened to a mom that I know.

    I won't get into specifics, but she had to deal with that and a lot more.

    I think it is one thing to talk hypothetically about the need to educate every child.

    It is another thing to be the overworked, ethnically isolated, PTA mom, trying to hold up the last thread of decency in an underperforming school, while the world swirls around you, quite unthankful for your efforts.

    And, by the way, Caroline, your kids went to Lakeshore.

    Right?

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