Thursday, February 18, 2010

Hot topic: Last night's B of E meeting on student reassignment plan

This from a reader:
Could you put up a new string on your blog about the student assignment redesign planning meeting last night (the 17th) at the Board of Education? Rachel Nortion said that SFUSD staff put a lot more meat on the Superintendent's February 9th proposal on her website, but didn't put down any new details. I couldn't attend last night and am wondering what those who attended thought about the meeting and if they had more of the details. You have the string about the February 9th Super announcement, but it has gotten long (over 200 posts) and, ahem, kind of off-subject (they are talking about illegal immigration for goodness sakes!)


  1. I watched part of the meeting. One change they mentioned was that Elementary School would not have a guaranteed neighborhood assignment but middle school would. For elementary school, the order preferences remain the same with local preference coming before Census Tract, but it is done in one step instead of two. They were concerned that there would not be enough openings in all elementary schools to guarantee assignment. Parents submit their choices before being assigned to the local school. You get assigned either to your local school (if there are openings) or another school if you happen to get one in the lottery based on your priority and you rank it higher than your local school. There was also some talk that you could list as many schools as you want. Several of the Board Members seemed to have issues with the proposed assignment system so I don't think any of it is set in stone.

  2. The following is entirely voluntary on your part:

    Use a pen name, or your real name, if you wish.

    Don't use someone else's pen name.

    Don't respond to any comment that just has anonymous as the identity.

    If someone forgets to use the pen name, go ahead and gently remind them to use the fictitious name of their choice. If they persist in not cooperating, we can't make them cooperate. We can only reciprocate.

    You are free to use as many different pen names as you wish, and even to "stuff the ballot box" of public opinion by sending comment after comment under different pen names. There is probably nothing anyone can do about it except non-cooperation.

  3. MT, I'm not sure that all that many people want your proposed system. Pen names could provide some measure of disambiguation, yes, but since they can be changed up very easily, as you say, then what's the point really? This blog can be annoying, but its freewheeling and largely anonymous nature is also part what makes it tick. I'm not sure what is the point of trying to enforce these rules. Seems to me like it tries to fix a problem that isn't really broken with a solution that is largely fictional.

    I'd rather just stay on topic, as with 9:27's informative comment.

    That's my 2 cents, anyway. Y'all are of course free not to respond to my anonymous self. ;)

  4. 9:27, thanks.

    Just to be sure I am clear what you are saying: So K applicants would not be given an initial assignment, but would submit a lottery list of perhaps great length--and strong local preference would be given if they list their local school? And then CTIP 1 after that, right?

    But middle school kids WOULD be given an assignment coming out of 5th grade, with the option to enter a lottery beyond that.

    Do I have that right?

  5. Who is this person who has started to make up rules for this blog, and acting as a police?? It has functioned perfectly well for years now, and only Kate has any business deciding how it should be run.

    Your persistent insistence on trying to boss other people here into following YOUR rules is getting to be more annoying than most of the other off topic discussions.

  6. 9:27 is not correct. I'm trying to put together a blog post now with more information on preferences.

  7. Rachel, as always, thanks a million for communicating with parents....

  8. Clarissa explains it all: as with Watergate, follow the money.

    Q. Why are the K-8's city wide alternative schools instead of ordinary neighborhood schools?

    A. Because SFUSD is competing against private schools for students.

    Q. Why don't we just make all the trophy schools alternative schools?

    A. That would be too obvious.

    Q. At non-altenative schools, at schools with attendance areas, why does local preference beat out over census tract integration preference?

    A. There will be very limited funds for transportation. SFUSD does not have the funds to make city wide choice by parents workable anymore.

    Q. So parents want choice, but we cannot accomodate because we cannnot just say, "Take Muni, and Good Luck!"?

    A That's about right.

    Q. What about CTIP1 and CTIP2?

    A. That's not about money. Parents will have limited choice to go outside of the initial assignment to an attendence area school on the terms that SFUSD wants, which is increasing academic diversity, getting a mix of higher and lower achievers.

  9. Thanks, Clarissa. that makes a lot of sense. Also add:

    Q: Why don't we just have an all-choice system? This seems the simplest and most fair option. Parents can choose their neighborhood school or not depending on their family's needs.

    A: Neighborhood school advocates on the Westside have been very vocal, and they vote. Also, we need to save money on transportation costs.

    Q: How can we increase access and equity while reducing bussing?

    A: We can't. The CTIP1/2 business is just a patina that gives the impression that we care about equity.Our main objective is to reduce transportation costs while covering our political a-ses.

  10. Don Krause (adonymous)February 19, 2010 at 9:31 AM

    Rachel, the rest of the Board and the SFUSD administration don't understand the singular lesson of the last 40 years. IMHO, it is this:

    Achievement drives integration. Integration does not drive achievement.

    Ideology is so oppressive in this town that SFUSD doesn't “get it” while Seattle clearly does with their redesign. As Seattle Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson explained, “a good education trumps diversity.” But in SFUSD diversity drives the SFUSD Strategic Plan, Balanced Scorecard and Assignment Redesign,consuming our human and monetary resources. Here achievement is second fiddle despite the glare of the gap. Impassioned data driven professions the Central Office leaders are not.

    Ideology prevents San Francisco from true social progress in schools – academic achievement. Obama's RTTT, for better or worse, has it's priorities right. It is about achievement, first and foremost.

    But our school leaders insist on doing it their way, Rachel included, despite the widening of the achievement gap under desegregation-designed student assignment systems.

    SFUSD can't resist pointing to its incrementally higher overall CST, despite its much publicized achievement gap. Yet everyone knows that without the outsize population of Chinese we would not be the leading district, pure and simple. Flight of the white, black and Latino middle classes have hurt tremendously.

    Our leaders have dropped the ball and continue to so so by failing to address achievement as the number one issue for schools.
    Mr. Garcia, who didn't say it first, believes that the achievement gap is the civil rights issue of the 21st Century. So then, Mr. Garcia, why isn't achievement the centerpiece of your administration?

    I suggest that we split the difference as a community and compromise. Create a pure neighborhood schools system that guarantees entrance to assignment zones kids before anyone else except siblings and use the alternative choice system to provide choice.

    Maybe the Board needs a way out and Garcia has given them one. But there is too much smoke and mirrors. About the SAS Orla O'Keefe says "Its really, really easy". Really? They say Boards are like mushrooms - fed manure and kept in the dark. Show us the maps and designations and commit to maintaining them for a certain minimum.

    One day we will talk about achievement methods and practices. That would be refreshing.

  11. 9:27 here (first post). Ignore my post and instead read Rachel's Post which is in questions and answer form. I thought my description was pretty close but her post will be more detailed and accurate.

  12. Rachel does a service to the community by providing a lot of info that would take more time to get elsewhere. However, and as she's entitled, she mixes her opinion with the facts that she presents,(in this case about the redesign), and this can create the impression that her opinions are the facts. Be careful.

    I have found that while I agree with her sometimes and that her opinions are typically measured and thoughtful, she is not an entirely independent voice or source of information, as I imagine she is pressured by extremists, who appear for mainstream in SF.

    Having said that, I imagine that it is not an easy job to do, especially without any real monetary compensation and a family to care for.

  13. Less Choice is More Choice

    Once upon a time, parents could choose any school citywide and could list up to 5 choices.

    Not surprisingly, many went zero for five, and complained that they did not get any of their choices.

    No problem said the school district. You can now ask for 7 choices. Without doing anything real on the ground, the school district claimed a significant improvement in giving parents their choice of schools.

    Now, you can theoritically rank every elementary school in the district. Whatever you will receive, you will have gotten your choice. You got something that you had listed after all. And everyone else will also have gotten their choice.

    All done, without actual improvement of the schools.

  14. "Q. Why are the K-8's city wide alternative schools instead of ordinary neighborhood schools?"

    A. Because historically that's how they were set up under the old OER system, which the new system very similar to.