Friday, February 19, 2010

Rachel Norton: Delving into the student assignment proposal, Part 2

This from Rachel Norton's blog:

Continuing on from last night’s post, I’ll try to give more detail about where the assignment proposal stands. Instead of taking an A to Z approach, I’m going to try to do this as an FAQ, answering questions that seem to be coming up most frequently in the policy discussion:

I heard the Board is going to return to neighborhood schools. Is that true?
Yes and no. The policy currently before the Board would re-introduce proximity as a factor in school assignment. As part of the work of redesigning our student assignment system, new attendance area boundaries would be drawn for every school (the old boundaries haven’t been updated in almost 20 years, and many addresses in San Francisco are not currently located in an assignment area for any school). Every address in San Francisco would be located within the attendance area for an elementary, middle and high school. Depending on what grade applicants are entering, and what schools they are applying to, applicants would have some degree of “local preference” for the school located in the attendance area for the applicant’s address. (I know that syntax is tortured. Read it over once more and I think you’ll get it).

Okay, so how much weight does “local preference” carry?
It depends. For applicants entering Kindergarten, here is the proposed order of preference (except for citywide schools, which I’ll discuss later):

  1. Younger siblings of currently-enrolled students;
  2. Pre-K students who are enrolled in a Child Development Center program in the school’s attendance area — the board is asking for more information about how this would work, and how we could align the current centralized enrollment system for district preschools (which primarily serve low-income students) better with our district goals;
  3. Applicants who live in the attendance area of the school;
  4. Applicants who live in CTIP 1 census tracts (those in the lowest two quintiles based on average California Standards Test scores by census tract);
  5. All other students.

For students entering 6th grade, the preference order would be a bit different:

  1. Students who live in the attendance area of the middle school. This is highest so that the district can send assignment offers to all students already enrolled in SFUSD elementary schools. This should boost our participation rate significantly.
  2. Younger siblings of students currently enrolled at the middle school;
  3. Students who live in CTIP 1 census tracts (see above);
  4. All other students.

For students enrolling in high school, the preferences would be different yet again:

  • 40 percent of seats would be set aside for students who live in CTIP 1 census tracts. Within that group, younger siblings of current students would be placed first, and then all other CTIP 1 students.
  • 60 percent of seats would be set aside for students who live in CTIP 2 census tracts (the top three quintiles, based on each census tract’s average score on the California Standards Test). Within that group, younger siblings of current students would be placed first, and then all other CTIP 2 students.
  • A big question: what if, after the first round of applications are placed, there is a waiting list for one group and empty seats for the other? Should the board release any empty seats to the waiting list? Or keep them empty if and until other students from the target group request them?

Tell me more about “city-wide schools.” What does that mean?
City-wide schools are schools that do not have any local preference. We will still draw attendance areas for all schools, because the system should be flexible enough to re-designate schools as needed. But schools that are designated city-wide schools will not enroll students based on where they live. Right now, the working list of city-wide schools is:

  • Language programs, such as immersion or bilingual programs. These programs have eligibility requirements that must be met before other preferences kick in (more about that in a minute);
  • Other programs with eligibility requirements (e.g., Montessori);
  • K-8 schools.

Preferences for city-wide schools (assuming eligibility requirements are met) would be:

  • Younger siblings;
  • Students who attend an SFUSD Pre-K program at the school;
  • Students living in CTIP 1 census tracts;
  • All other students.

How can I tell what attendance area I live in?
Right now, you can’t. Once the Board approves a new policy, the staff will get to work drawing new attendance areas. For elementary school, they will be contiguous, but your attendance area school will not necessarily be the closest school to you. The Board has asked for more clarity on what criteria the staff will use on drawing boundaries. Boundaries could change from year to year, but would be subject to the criteria as defined in the Board proposal. Families would be told what attendance area they reside in before submitting an application.

Read Rachel's full post

147 comments:

  1. Thank you so much Rachel for your post. I was wondering if there was an discussion of the propriety of creating "special education attendance areas" as the Super suggested in his earlier posting. As you probably have heard, a lot of special ed parents (particularly Inclusion and Special Day) feel that parental choice is really important for special ed. Special needs kids have unique needs; and different schools' Special Day and Inclusion programs are different. Moreover, as you probably know, these programs are generally wonderfully diverse (wish my school was as diverse as its Special Day class is!) and so there's really no diversity concern here that should be motivating such a big change. Was there any discussion about whether special ed assignments and, if not, do you have any thoughts about it? (And, thanks, Rachel for continuing to listen to us parents out here who are VERY appreciative of your work.)

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  2. To be honest, Rachel, this system doesn't sound very different from what we have now.

    It is good that they got rid of the language criteria, which are so expensive and difficult to classify.

    However, since kids who are already in a Child Development Program will be at the top of the list, right after siblings, but before the general pool of local residence, we will still have many residence who cannot get into their local school.


    Again, we are faced with the conflict between serving poor children, the one's who qualify to enter a Child Development Center, and serving the local school population.

    I don't see that there is an easy resolution between these two.

    However, I do think that such a policy is likely to lead to further disengagement of middle class parents from public schools.

    The trajectory of an increasingly poor, childless or private school city will continue.

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  3. Rachel, thanks for sharing information with parents. You seem to be the only person on the school board who thinks we matter.

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  4. I'm reposting what I wrote a little earlier as it these new articles have been added back to back -

    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. Dispassionate 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.

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  5. Anonymous @10:15, the service attendance zones are intended to address the needs of all special needs students. I have one myself.

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  6. Indeed yes, thank you, Rachel.

    I wanted to point out that Rachel actually has an even newer post up on her blog, responding to a campaign by Marina, Pac Heights, and Laurel Heights neighborhood schools advocates who want Claire Lilienthal made into a neighborhood, not citywide, school.

    Rachel passes on the information that a grand total of 101 students from the Marina, Pac Heights, Presidio Heights, and the Presidio participated in round 1 last year, so at least for now, demand patterns are not robust enough to warrant creating a new neighborhood school. Many of these families are closer anyway to Sherman, Peabody, Sutro, Lafayette, Cobb and Rosa Parks--neighborhood schools all, six of them spread along that corridor.

    I personally think the neighborhood vs. citywide balance issue will be much more dire in the Mission and surrounding neighborhoods. I don't know the exact numbers, but I would bet my last dollar that there were a lot more than 101 applicants in round 1 last year from the Mission, Bernal, Potrero Hill, Castro, Noe. A LOT more. That's not even counting the Tenderloin and Lower Haight, SOMA. Maybe Rachel has access to these specific numbers though.

    However, many of the east side schools (or programs within them)will be on the list for citywide:

    Paul Revere (K8 and SI)
    Flynn (SI--half)
    Fairmount (SI--all)
    Alvarado (SI--half)
    Marshall (SI--all)
    Buena Vista (SI--all)
    Starr King (MI--half)
    Daniel Webster (SI--half)

    Combining halves, that takes six schools off the table for assignment in those neighborhoods.

    That leaves the following ES neighborhood assignment options for a very large number of kids:

    Flynn--GE half
    Alvarado--GE half
    Sanchez
    Bryant
    Chavez
    Moscone
    Starr King--GE half
    Daniel Webster--GE half
    Harvey Milk
    Glen Park
    Junipero Serra

    Again combining halves, that leaves about eight schools for a significant percentage of the total number of kids applying to the district--(eight is only a few more schools than the ones on the NE side near Pac Heights, Marina, etc.!) In other words, we have too many kids and the NE probably has too few as a kids/schools ratio.

    So where will all these eastside kids be assigned? This is a serious question, not just about the perceived quality of these schools: Will there be enough actual seats in these east side 'hoods to offer true neighborhood assignment, once all these programs are taken off the table?

    Sure, I would also note that several of the eastside options are very low-performing. I assume that is the main issue for NE families who are hoping for assignment at CL rather than Cobb, by the way.... it's about jockeying for a good neighborhood assignment, right? Any talk of unfairness should take note of the geographic concentration of lower-performing schools, which is NOT mostly in the NE part of town.

    But my main concern here is about whether there are enough seats at *any* school, no matter what the test scores, for the kids over here on the east side.

    I hope the folks doing the maps will quickly tackle the seats/schools ratio, because it could be a big mess, especially if transport is not provided out of the neighborhood to overflow schools. Maybe Paul Revere and Carmichael, despite being K8 schools, need to be made neighborhood assignment. Maybe even some of the immersion programs. Maybe some additional schools in low-demand areas in the central part of town need to be made citywide to accommodate overflow from the highly populated Mission/environs area.

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  7. Rachel - can you please address at the K level, if you are a non-sibling and you are shut out of your attendance area school, what your priority cohort would be to getting into other schools?

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  8. Rachel, another parent who really appreciates your work.

    Having toured all these SE schools, I find the idea of having most of them snatched away as neighborhood schools truly upsetting. It was SE-siders who built up these schools, investing their time, love, and hope in them. So those on the N side get preference for their trophy schools AND access to the ones SE-siders built, while SE-siders get no preference for the latter? That seems monumentally unfair, a way of giving the privileged sectors of this city even more "stuff," while taking away from the people who were willing to live and invest in the less privileged sectors.

    I was the parent who walked skeptically into the public schools and emerged very proud of my part of the city and what it has to offer -- on my working list are 5 of the 8 schools mentioned by 11:57. Now, between the budget cuts and this new system, I'm pretty furious, truth to tell. Not to mention being appalled that people would push for Lillienthal to be a neighborhood school and let the rest of us rot.

    Rachel, I hope you can be a voice for those of us on the SE side.

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  9. Marcia,

    I was very impressed by your heartfelt comments.

    I can't say I really understand the new system having read it through a few times by now and with the supplements cited by Rachel. I guess that is because the proposal has not provided much of the needed information as to how capacity issues will be addressed.

    Why do you feel that SE residents will lose schools? Help me to understand. Do you think that many of the alternative schools will be made neighborhood schools? Or vice-versa? Are you worried that is what will happen?

    Could you explain please.

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  10. 10:57 a.m.

    You can bet that there will be way more than 101 students from Pac Heights, Presidio Heights and the Marina applying for K if neighborhood gets you a preference. I think Rosa Parks, Sutro, Peabody and Lafayette are much closer to other neighborhoods - like the Presidio, Lake,Laurel, Inner/Center/Outer Richmond, Lower Pac Heights/Western addition. So, that leaves Cobb and CL for the Presidio/Pac Heights folks and Sherman and CL for the Marina folks, though Polk Gulch is likely to also spill over to Sherman. You are not talking about lot of spots here particulalry with the latest uproar at Cobb, the boundary lines for an attendance area will include a huge chunk of the Western Addition - 50 at Sherman (3rd class is bilingual), 50 at CL (3rd class is Korean immersion so who knows where that fits in), and Cobb 75 (assuming the Montessori is gone and is city-wide). That is 175 spots, factor in 30% siblings from out of the attendance area that is 140 spots. Without CL, you are at 125 spots. Now, factor in the 50 kindergarteners or more from the Western Addition and you are at the point that there is not enough spots without CL.

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  11. Thank you Marcia Brady, as a fellow SE-sider, I could not agree with you more and am truly alarmed by the proposals. I understand that language programs are highly desirable, and that is why the proposals on the table aim to make them citywide programs. Still, on the SE side of town, where high-performing schools are scarce or non-existent, these language programs are a crucial point of entry for middle class people into the public school system. Give SE siders preference at these schools = more people opting in. Shut them out = with limited access to high performing schools, the rapidly growing number of middle class families with children on the SE are very likely to exit the city or opt out (I would).

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  12. 1:01, I assume that if demand actually soars in Pacific Heights then they will look at it again, but they can only start with real numbers.

    If you are only talking about Pac Heights, Marina, and Presidio Heights (I see you left off Presidio, Laurel Heights, Lake, and inner/outer Richmond), then last year there were a total of 83 kids applying in Round 1 from those two neighborhoods, according to Rachel.

    There are probably more kids that that in public school on my *block* in the Mission.

    Sure, demand in Pac Heights and the Marina could go up with robust neighborhood preference, but it may also be true that most families that would even consider public school at least put in a Round 1 application--if only for CL and Sherman and go 0/7. You really think demand in those two neighborhoods is going to jump so much? We'll have to see, and then they can make changes, but even if it goes up by 50% (doubtful), then that puts demand in those two neighborhoods at 125 total. The Marina and Pac Heights are just not densely populated like the east side--and their kids will much more likely go to private school no matter what the assignment system is.

    Even counting Western Addition kids, 50 spots at Sherman and 75 at Cobb--plus dozens of spaces at Rosa Parks, and also Redding for some of the kids on the Van Ness side of Pacific Heights, across from Polk Gulch--well, this looks pretty spacious from the perspective of the east side. In Potrero, Bernal, Noe, and the Mission, counting all the halfsies programs due to immersion, we're looking at what, 400 spots for maybe 800-1000 students. Those are very different deficits than what you are projecting! It's a fact that the SE has more kids than capacity, and the northside has more capacity than kids. That is just true.

    Saying that, I do understand the angst of knowing that you could be assigned to Sherman or Cobb, depending on what block you are on. We have those issues over here too, believe me!

    But again, the board has to look at numbers: Based on actual, documented demand patterns we may be seriously out of whack on the east side. Not projected, based on the idea that many more people will be entering because of a new system, but real demand now, from families with no option to go private in many cases. How will they handle this? Where will the overflow go?

    They can: 1) extend neighborhood boundaries up to schools like Rooftop and Miraloma, and provide transportation, or 2) try to lure a significant percentage of families to citywide schools elsewhere (and they'll need to make sure that schools like CL and Lawton stay citywide to make room), or 3) they'll need to designate some of the citywide schools in our SE area as neighborhood--for example, Revere, Carmichael, or Daniel Webster (GE and SI). This makes so much more sense than making CL a neighborhood school, simply based on the numbers.

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  13. Well - the list is actually much smaller than 11:57 outlines.

    Bryant, Chavez, Sanchez and Moscone all have billingual strands and each has (I believe), only one GE strand. Based on my understanding, billingual schools will be citywide schools as well.

    SFUSD certainly does not have enough GE schools to assign everyone a GE school in round I - It is completely IMPOSSIBLE.

    Let me say this again.

    THERE ARE NOT ENOUGH GE SEATS TO PROVIDE A ROUND I ASSIGNMENT FOR ALL STUDENTS. PERIOD.

    How, on earth, does SFUSD plan to implement this new assignment system given this REALITY?

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  14. Don, I'm not Marcia, but to answer your question:

    A high number of schools or programs on the SE side are slated to be designated as citywide. That is because we have a number of magnet programs that were placed here in part to lure middle class families in through the choice system. There are not so many such schools on the north and west sides of town, Claire Lilienthal being one as a K-8 school. Also, it is known that there is excess school capacity on the north and west sides of town, and under-capacity on the south and east sides.

    I think we SE folks are expressing our concern (anger, upset?) that there is a campaign afoot to further limit citywide slots in other parts of town, when their capacity is likely fine, but we also hear protests at any suggestion of limiting even a few of our immersion programs to neighborhood access over here--when we will be having significant capacity problems. The folks on the west and north sides have won their long battle for greater neighborhood preference. But they need to recognize the capacity issues that are real. It's not just about avoiding low-performing schools, either, a la a choice between Sherman and Cobb. It's about whether neighborhood schools will even be possible if all those schools like Fairmount, Buena Vista, Paul Revere, Marshall et al are off-limits.

    Look at the hard numbers. It's a real concern.

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  15. 1:46

    I agree with your overall point that there may not be enough GE spots to offer to all incoming K'ers.

    Just want to say that I don't think all schools with bilingual strands will be made citywide, but rather that those *spots* will be. Perhaps Rachel can clarify this.

    Thus, you are correct to say that significant portions of the Mission and Bernal schools will be even further off limits for neighborhood assignment, even aside from the immersion programs and K-8 being made citywide.

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  16. Marcia Brady and others complaining about the SE immersion schools:

    I am one of those parents who went in in the first year of a SE immersion program and do not live on the SE side of town. Many in the immersion programs do not live on the SE side of town and were the pioneers who built up those language immersion programs. Just so you have your facts straight, now that they are more built up they have attracted more people from the SE side, but the pioneers came from all over, not just the SE.

    I do understand your frustration though.

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  17. Thank you, Anonymous@1:52.

    That helps.

    But when you say there is less capacity in the SE that doesn't jibe with the many underenrolled SE schools that have emerged as students were bused out. Are you speaking specifically about these specialized program schools?

    Rachel said the demographers have stated that few will NOT get their neighborhood assignment-(that seems counterintuitive to me, but I guess if you can redraw the maps in any fashion,than practically anything is possible). But of course if neighborhood kids get the spots at what were formerly coveted SE citywide schools, then fewer will be getting citywide spots, obviously.

    I also wonder about your contention that the other side of town has won its battle for neighborhood preference. It seems highly unlikely that the great majority of neighborhood residents will get an trophy schools if they all want them.

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  18. The MS policy sounds completely wacky. I'm so glad we applied this year so my kid isn't stuck with ISA MS in Potrero Hill. I'm assuming the buses to Hoover and Aptos from the Mission are being cut, though.

    "For students entering 6th grade, the preference order would be a bit different:

    1. Students who live in the attendance area of the middle school. This is highest so that the district can send assignment offers to all students already enrolled in SFUSD elementary schools. This should boost our participation rate significantly.
    2. Younger siblings of students currently enrolled at the middle school;
    3. Students who live in CTIP 1 census tracts (see above);
    4. All other students."

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  19. Totally agree, Potrero Hill Dad. Choice works so well at the middle school level. Kids love it, they get invested in the schools they helped pick, and it is great to have a choice of programs (rock band and 826 Valencia at Lick versus full band/orchestra at Hoover, to give one example).

    I'm not persuaded that "guaranteed assignment" will push any more middle class+ families into Horace Mann or ISA, either. Better to create magnet programs, like at James Lick and now Everett, to draw them in. If my kid were assigned to Horace Mann or Everett today, I'd be looking hard for other options, because they don't have the musical/arts options my kid wants, nor the honors program.

    We are very much wondering about the status of those buses from the Mission for the next year (assuming they will definitely be cut the year the new assignment policy is implemented). I'm prepared to have my kid use MUNI, as he does already on days he stays late after school for sports or whatever, but I wonder how much losing those buses will affect the diversity of Hoover and Aptos in particular.

    Why is no one on the board talking about middle schools?!? It's the lost group in the mix here. I say that as someone who is not affected by this as my kids have been/are going to middle school under the current assignment system.

    I'm very glad the high school level is projected to remain citywide though!

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  20. What about the central area of the city? Like the Haight/NOPA. I am really wondering what schools in this area will be "assignment area" schools. We're considering buying a house in NOPA but it's scary to think we might be assigned Everett at the middle school level!
    Those Outer Sunset homes in the fog are looking better by the minute..

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  21. 1:01 "You can bet that there will be way more than 101 students from Pac Heights, Presidio Heights and the Marina applying for K if neighborhood gets you a preference."

    What you meant was there will be way more demand if their neighborhood school is CL and only CL. Hence the fight to make CL a neighborhood school.

    I agree that there is a capacity issue, plain & simple, in the SE when you take out city-wide schools. That said, this notion that the west side has won the neighborhood school battle is stretching things quite a bit. I live in the very northwest portion of the outer sunset. There would have to be some serious rigging for my son to be assigned anywhere but FS Key - far from a trophy school and, quite frankly if looking at the playground says anything, very asian.

    Would I like to have some wort of preference for considering Lawton (k-8 and less than 0.5 miles away) or even Jefferson (a straight shot on the N line)? Sure. But at some point, you just have to buck up and acknowledge if you want your kid to go to school close to your home (which SE parents seem to want), then you have to take the neighborhood assignment, trophy school or not.

    City-wide programs are there for anyone. If you have one near your home or commute that works for you, great, apply in the lottery. Otherwise (or if your lottery draw isn't great) pitch in with your neighbors and make your neighborhood school work.

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  22. Totally agree with 2:14 -- there have been numerous comments on other strings here about how families are NOT interested in neigbhorhood schools by the time middle school rolls around, about how the different middle schools have evolved unique (and important) differences that are designed to attract kids citywide (you want dance, you go to Lick; you want great sports you go to Giannini and Presidio), and that the middle schools, frankly, are MUCH more diverse already compared to the elementaries, so there really isn't a giant problem in the first place. So I am floored by the fact that it appears that, last night, the Super has actually tightened the neighborhood preference for middle school -- it is now the prime one and trumps all others -- even, somewhat bizarrely over sibling (sibling preference cannot be that big an issue for three-year middle school programs, come on, SFUSD!). I think it is clear that this is being driven by the need to cut bus runs down. Of course, unless they want western middle schools with 100% one ethnic group, they are going to have to have noncontinguous neighborhood zones for middle schools -- notice that Rachel mentions only that elementaries' neighborhood" zones will be contiguous and says nothing about middle school. So for the middle school crowd, the most important issue is going to be to see the maps. The old maps, for example, had zones for Hoover, Lick and Aptos in the Bayview and parts of the Mission. I'm imagining they will do something like that. The second most important issue is whether any middle schools (other than the K through 8's and the immersion programs at Lick, Everett and Hoover) will be designated "citywide." On this issue, the 2010-2011 enrollment guide has no middle school with the moniker "alternative" after its name, a possible indication of suitability for city-wide status. I am intrigued by Rachel's suggestion that fifth grade parents getting immediate "offers" to go to their local middle school will somehow improve participation rates. She may be counting on parents forced into less-well-performing eastside middle schools to "grin and bear it" and band together to improve the middle schools rather than leaving for privates or for the 'burbs. The problem with middle schools is that, while they are not "long" to turn around (only three years in length), they are "deep" -- the individual grades are huge at 300 and up. So a band of 20 families that might have a huge positive impact in turning around an elementary school with 60 or 80 kids in a grade is going to be a drop in the bucket in a middle school where each grade is 300 kids or more. Certainly for the first year (and my family will be in for middle school next year), it is going to be VERY rocky -- not sure I'd chance it.

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  23. 2:10 PM, sorry, I did not mean to undermine those parents not from the SE who worked on SE immersion programs -- but I think it is fair to say that the majority of those working on them probably were from the SE side, where there was a vested interest in making more local schools viable.

    It's possible, I suppose, that the energy of parents shut out of their local immersion programs will leak over to schools like Junipero Serra, where there is a rockin' principal. But it's also possible that SE-siders will just exit the system if they don't get an immersion school.

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  24. Nicole,

    SE parents want local schools, yes--IF they are good schools. Our neighorhood has one of the highest rates of exporting our kids to other areas of any part of the city. That's not because we don't want to walk to school. It's because we have the greatest number of lowest-performing schools. I don't mean merely low: I mean lowest. Check out the surveys that were done as part of this process by the Parent Advisory Council and other groups. They raise up the voices of SE parents much better than this blog does.

    Sunset parents have had a much lower rate of trying to export their kids, by contrast, even with the choice system. That's because there is a much higher percentage of acceptable options out there.

    I can understand a family just not liking their kid's neighborhood school, and by all means you should try your chances for Lawton (citywide option) if that is so for you. But there is no comparing Francis Scott Key, with its good test scores, and many of the truly dismal and overwhelmed schools over here. You are lucky, because FSK is a decent option! Most if not all of the schools out there are baseline decent if not great. That is why the Sunset has been one of the driving forces behind neighborhood schools.

    As for FSK being overwhelmingly Asian--well that's to be expected for any Sunset school, yes? (I personally think that's a wonderful thing, but then, my husband is Asian.) We have a segregated city, and that's what Sunset kids look like--surely you can see that in your neighbors. Asian kids are the largest racial group in our district by a long shot. In the new system, schoolyards will be looking even more segregated, btw.

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  25. 2:52, about middle schools: very well said.

    Why is no one on the board listening to these comments about middle schools? I have raised this issue throughout the comment/feedback process. I don't hear any response.

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  26. 3:16 pm -- this is 2:42 again. I don't know either why no one is listening. I also think a lot of elementary school parents don't know how radical a change is coming. I'm just disgusted because no one has been bugging for neighborhood schools at the middle school level. No one. And to think that the actions of folks in Inner Sunset upset that they couldn't get their 5 year old into West Portal is now going to screw up things for middle school families that WANT choice is just mind-boggling. And when that Inner Sunset parent realizes that the net result of this is that their kid is going to grow up and go to a middle school that is 90+% Asian (as could well happen with Hoover), I don't think they are going to be happy either.

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  27. Just wondering...If you get shut out of your neighborhood school, and you get assigned somewhere else that has room, where do you fall in line for the city-wide lottery? If you're in a high-performing tract, are you put in the last group, along with kids who DID get their assignment area school but want to try the lottery while they hold their seat? It's pretty obvious who the winners and losers are in this scenario.

    As for middle schools: I ditto the observation that no one making these decisions seems to care that the middle school model does not appear to need to be fixed.

    I don't have a middle school-aged child, but I must say I've never heard anyone complain about the middle school choice system. Is it really about cutting expenses that come with busing? How much money is spent each year to bus our middle school kids to the schools they choose?

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  28. 3:14

    I know all of those things. All things considering (55% free/reduced lunch, super minority with 59% Chinese), Key does have good test scores. I guess for that I am lucky.

    It doesn't mean that I can't wish for a more diverse school where my half latino kid who looks very white would interact with a multitude of kids (much like he does on his block with is nowhere near 60% Chinese for children by the way). It also doesn't mean that that Key, with over 55% on reduced/free lunch doesn't have its work cut out for it. It's no Bayview, but still.

    Maybe all the SE families should move to the Sunset? You'd get your non-risky school (whatever that means) and I'd get some diversity. Win-win for all.

    With that, I better go take my kid to the FS Key playground before diner.

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  29. The solution for you and everyone in your census tract is to tank the standardized exams bad enough to become a CTIP1. You get the best of both worlds. There are probabably some decent schools nearby, and you get preferences from the school district for assignment to those schools. So prepare for the next exams: Do as bad as you can. Organize your census tract.

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  30. 3:35/2:52--

    With the choice system, demand patterns from now-popular (not always, as we know!) and centrally locaated schools such as Alvarado GE, Miraloma, Grattan, Clarendon etc. have been shifting toward Aptos, James Lick, and Roosevelt middle schools from the original "must-haves" of Hoover, Giannini, and Presidio. This is good, right? There are so many more options, not too much stress over getting in, and no need to travel as far as Giannini and Presidio from central and east areas of town.

    I wonder how many current Alvarado GE parents are aware that they may be willy-nilly assigned to Mann, Everett, ISA, or Denman and have low priority for Aptos, Hoover, Roosevelt. I guess the SI parents will be assigned to James Lick and now Everett. I wonder how they will work that out.

    You are right, current elementary parents are not paying attention the way prospective K parents are. They will NOT like this plan, for the most part.

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  31. If we get assigned Everett, there is NO way my kids would go there. I'm sorry, it might be getting slightly better, but it right now scores a 1 on GreatSchools.

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  32. I posted this on rachel norton's blog too and my comment is awaiting approval.

    What am I missing here?

    4800 total elementary seats
    25% citywide = 1200 citywide seats
    4800-1200 = 3600 seats available for round 1

    4600 students expected to apply

    So this means 1000 families will get NO assignment in round one (b/c SFUSD won’t assign a family to a citywide school)

    21.7% of families will get zero assignment in round 1.

    Is that right? What am I missing?

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  33. What a Can of Worms.

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  34. There are enough K seats if you factor in both the "local" seats and the city-wide. There is a spot for every kid and prior to receiving an assignment the computer program will attempt to get you a seat at a school that you requested before offering you your neighborhood preference in K - at least this is what I understood at the meeting.

    This is what I posted as a response to Rachels blog about the lack of requests from the Marina, Presidio, Ft. Mason, Cow HOllow, Pacific Heights, and Presidio Heights:

    Ok - I appreciate that you are at least willing to provide and analyze actual facts when you are looking at the options. BUT how in the world do you expect to only look at first choice requests for these schools from these areas in a silo? Everyone in these areas know full well that they had and will continue to have very little chance of getting in, which, would lead them to list other schools first and put Lilienthal down lower on the list.

    I understand the dynamic of many children in the area not even attempting to attend and opting out of the district because they do not think there is any chance they will get in. This may be a closed minded way of looking at the scenario - but that is back to the original question I posed, what percentage of families from these areas go 0/7.

    Finally, if you are so certain that there is no demand from this area then there would be PLENTY of spots for kids all over town, right? So, making it a local school would still leave plenty of room for other kids…

    I do not buy that the BOE has truly considered the whole picture. So, I am sure you will continue to hear MANY good reasons to reconsider, and I hope you will dive deeper into the issue.

    While I am at it, how does the Argonne attendance area going to feel about being a year round school if that isn’t what they want?

    Again, I hope the BOE considers all of the neighborhoods and their needs carefully and doesn’t make biased and unsubstantiated assumptions.

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  35. "There are enough K seats if you factor in both the "local" seats and the city-wide."

    Why would you figure them both in in round 1?

    The whole idea surrounding this new assignment system is that you are assigned your neighborhood school first, then there is another citywide lottery. Has that changed somehow?

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  36. I *think* the idea is that you submit your application (name + address verification + list of desired schools in rank order). Then the computer attempts to give you as high a pick as it can above the default "neighborhood" school. The hope is that enough families opt out and get a higher pick--likely citywide but perhaps even a neighborhood pick that someone else opted out of--to not have any neighborhood schools over-booked.

    Part of what Rachel keeps saying is simplicity and avoiding waste is that they think they can have you rank your choices as you really want them, and that the computer will be able to trade spots in such a way as to maximize more people's highest choices. This would be an improvement over the endless strategizing over odds in the current system.

    This is how I read it, anyway.

    You can see what the problem is. Citywide schools will fill up with a combination of CTIP 1 and lucky others. Those near high-performing schools will happily take that default if they don't get into one of their higher picks, and CTIP 1 will fill out the rest of the desirable neighborhood schools. But CTIP 2 families near low-performing schools, who are not so lucky as to grab a citywide or neighborhood alternative, will be out of luck. Same as the current system, basically, except that the pain will be concentrated geographically.

    My question is, will there be waitpools?

    I sincerely hope the Board of Ed takes seriously the problem that so many SE schools are supposed to be designated as citywide--a good number of the SE's best schools/programs, in fact. I understand the concerns of Cow Hollow vis a vis Cobb, but we have a much bigger deficit of spaces over here in the SE, and a lot more low-performing schools as well. These are simply the facts. Because of the demonstrated capacity issue, we need more local schools over here and more citywide schools in other neighborhoods to level the playing field. Otherwise this is a real slam on SE CTIP 2 schools.

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  37. Since Argonne is already an alternative school, wouldn't it most likely be deemed a citywide school? You post assumes it would be made a neighborhood school.

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  38. 7:06--If you are CTIP2 in the Southeast, would you be tempted to try to become CTIP1 by failing the CST exams? NBA teams used to throw games at the end of the season just to win a higher draft choice.

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  39. Betty, you have a good point. Shouldn't year round school programs be city-wide alternative schools? Right now, it is not on their list, the one with K-8's and programs.

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  40. Betty, Correction.

    I have not seen their list of alternative schools. I agree, it does seem reasonable that special schools such as the year round Argonne should be a citywide school.

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  41. 8:58 I get that you are being snarky. However, I'm sure you understand the impracticalities not to mention moral difficulties of telling a bunch of relatively privileged schoolchildren across an entire census area to flunk their exams. This is why the district are going to CTIP. Harder to game in some ways, unless you really want to move into a poorer neighborhood. Some do and will, but for other families that will bring other issues they don't want to face (I say that having lived in several of the tracts labeled at CTIP 1 according to the mockups presented at recent BoE meetings--experienced the house break-ins, regular shootings nearby, drug dealing, etc). Rachel Norton says that they will be stringently enforcing the address verifications and imposing penalties for fraud.

    I'm actually not opposed to CTIP being used and CTIP 1 students in particular getting a leg up. If any group needs a leg up, this is it.

    My beef is that this proposal privileges one group of not-poor families over another, based on geography, i.e., CTIP 2 westsiders versus eastsiders for the most part. Property values will be affected, and in terms of school assignment it's unfair. People made plans based on the old system, and now this.

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  42. from something Rachel Norton just wrote on her blog @ www.rachelnorton.com in a comment:

    ...the “choice” round and the initial assignment all happen in one step. If you watch the Feb. 17 meeting you will get an in-depth explanation of how it would work. It’s very complex to explain but very simple to the end user. Essentially, everyone turns in a form listing any number of school choices – you would no longer be limited to seven choices, nor would you be penalized for choosing fewer than seven schools. You simply rank your choices in the order you truly want them. Your worst case scenario is your attendance area school (unless it is oversubscribed, in which case you would receive an offer to the closest school with space — I’m assured by the demographers that they are able to minimize this scenario while drawing boundaries, and “overfills” would be processed ahead of the general lottery. Read my two “Delving” posts again for more explanation).

    Anyway, many people will rank a citywide school higher than their attendance area school, receiving that school and freeing up space in attendance area schools.

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  43. Barney, I'm not sure. (Yay for pen names. Now isn't this more fun being a big purple dinosaur than boring ol' Anonymous?)

    I was under the impression that alternative schools would likely remain alternative schools, but obviously anything could change at this point, and apparently, forever. I'm not aware of other extended-year schools. Isn't Argonne the only one?

    It's all very confusing, fer sure. But I suppose we shouldn't start throwing stones until the district irons out the details - except by then it'll be too late!

    Hmm...

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  44. 4:34 pm -- I think someone needs to ask Rachel Norton on her website why this change is affecting middle school assignments the most. Effectively, parents asked for ELEMENTARY neighborhood schools and the Board is responding with MIDDLE neighborhood schools. That is just whacked. Someone also needs to get the word out to current elementary school parents about how middle school assignments are going to radically change. And it is not just going to affect Alvarado GE parents. I'm sure the Miraloma and Clarendon parents will NOT be happy to learn that Hoover and Aptos are likely out for them. Can someone put some of the analysis outlined in comments above on the Miraloma parent listserve?

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  45. Let's start to be honest folks. If you are not assigned to the closest school to you.. then you ARE NOT going to your neighborhood school. You are randomly assigned to a school.

    Neighborhood school means the school CLOSEST to my house.

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  46. 11:01, not in this town. Not if they draw you out of the map. Not if your school is oversubbed with neighborhood kids. Not if the school closest to your home is city-wide.

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  47. 10:47 - The way I read Rachel's post below, she's saying that there is neighborhood preference in both elementary and middle schools.

    http://rachelnorton.com/2010/02/19/delving-into-the-student-assignment-proposal-part-2/

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  48. After enduring massive cuts to the UC system, including to my paycheck and those of my colleagues and our staff, and tuition hikes to the point that I could no longer send my own kid to UC on a UC salary, I'm bitter beyond belief about the budget and school assignment mess in SF. Nor, obviously, can I afford private school. What is wrong with this state? Why does the government here think that destroying the public sector is going to benefit its economy? I would leave CA in a heartbeat if I had a choice (but I am in a profession where you don't choose where you live). At least if I lived in Mississippi, the schools would be better-funded and the cost of living lower.

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  49. 10:47--you ask why the middle schools are getting such a huge overhaul?

    The question could include why the maps for middle schools will not be contiguous; why the school district will be cherry picking areas all over to mix up the demographics of the middle school's attendance area?

    Could these be the answers?

    1. No money for buses.

    2. The need for reducing racially isolated schools is greater at the middle school level than at the elementary school level. There was some discussion earlier that the academic achievement gap was more a middle school problem than an elementary school problem. (I'm not so sure. Maybe a lot of the problems start in elementary school and then show up in middle school, when there are more grades to look at for below grade performance.)

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  50. One mitigating idea for this change in middle school assignments is to have a two year "grandfathering" transition period where kids already in elementary schools in a particular neighborhood will get an offer to that neighborhood's middle school, even if the family itself does not live in that neighborhood. Parents of current third and fourth graders who are well on their way to middle school should be able to go to the same middle school, even if the families live elsewhere. What do you think of this idea, Rachel?

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  51. 7:22 - I'm fed up too. I'd leave if I could sell our house and not lose $100k in the process. I'm a native and I'm fed up. Yuck.

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  52. The assignment system does not have to be so complicated. Complexity leads to distrust an lack of transparency.

    Just have neighborhood schools and guarantee that everyone in the school's zone has a spot even if that requires building some capacity over a few years. Have a choice lottery system for the alternative schools and any spaces left over at neighborhood schools. If the community as a whole wants to have preferences in the lottery process so be it.

    There will be winners and losers with any SAS, but this is simple, direct and provides choice to the extent that choice seats are available.

    One other thing I would add is this - the district cannot be given carte blanch to change the maps and schools at will. Communities have to have the right to provide public comment on such crucial issues as closure, redesgnation or boundary changes.

    Maybe the public should be given the opportunity to vote on assignment redesign. If they feel that it was jammed down their throats between now and March 9there will be lingering discontent over the process.

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  53. New Charter School proposed for the Mission district to serve poor and immigrants:

    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/
    blogs/inthemission/detail?entry_id=57483

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  54. New charter school in the mission... This school is laughable. All the schools in the mission already serve the poor immigrants. HA!

    A better idea for a charter school in the mission would be a high performing academic school - focused on high achieving students and families of all race and socioeconomic background.

    Besides - What we need in the mission is more GE programs, not more ESL/spanish billingual programs.

    More poverty pimps and "enthnic heritage" hustlers out there. They don't seem to have an interest in teaching poor, disadvantaged people skills to be successful in this competitive environment, just skills on how to be helpless victims.

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  55. CAn someone please explain to me the rationale for Claire Lilienthal GE and Rooftop being K-8 schools? The middle schools are on separate campuses, so why not make them separate middle schools?

    I understand why k-8 IMMERSION programs would make MORE sense than the current model. (All the research in support of immersion is based on kids staying in immersion through 8th grade.)

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  56. 8:50--Possible explanations on why CL and Rooftop are k-8.

    Perhaps the parents in those schools wanted to expand up to the 8th grade. Perhaps the parents were in good schools and simply wanted to keep a good thing going. Who can blame them?

    And if the fifth graders continue with their classmates into the sixth grade, its still one school, albeit on different campuses.

    The question might be, why are any of the k-8's citywide alternative schools instead of local neighborhood schools? The answer, I think, is that the public schools are in competition with the private schools for students.

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  57. Perhaps someone can give us some history on when/why Claire Lilienthal and Rooftop were made K-8 alternative schools. I can't blame the people of Presidio Heights for wanting the most beautiful school in San Francisco (the only school in town that looks like a private school) to be a neighborhood school now that the system is going to a more neighborhood-centric SAS. It does seem like there's a shortage of public schools in that part of town, but I'm no expert.

    However, if that happens, it would only seem fair to do this with other city-wide schools. But then, if you take very many city-wide schools and convert them to neighborhood schools, that leaves a lot less choice for people like me who don't like their neighborhood assignment.

    I think people in Pacific Heights and Presidio Heights and the Marina might want to be asking why the district made Newcomer a Montessori school, which is one big step removed from being accessible by the vast majority of kids in this town, no matter what zip code you live in. If there is truly a dearth in neighborhood schools in this swath of town, then the Montessori decision was a bad one.

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  58. 4:31,

    I find your comments to be pointless and somewhat abusive. Rather than insulting, make a case.

    To Betty, Read Caroline Grannan's Examiner blog (which is still up, but she's no longer posting). She gives some of the best history on the subject, although I don't remember if she answers your specific questions. Also, take into consideration that she is very much a pro-school choice advocate (not charters) and against neighborhood schools in general, as I understand it.

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  59. Since the majority of parents seem opposed, how is it that these are the people who got elected to the school board? Why does it not feel like representative government?

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  60. Claire Lilienthal doesn't have a separate middle schools campus. There is a k-2 campus in Presidio Heights and a 3-8 campus in the Marina. The school has 4 classes per grade (including the Korean Immersion program) and with that configuration there would not be space for a k-5 at the Presidio Heights campus.

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  61. 9:32am: I don't think its true that most parents are opposed to this plan. I think its just that parents are more likely to voice their opinion on this blog if they are opposed. I and many parents support neighborhood schools, but feel that its pointless to voice our opinions at this time when it looks like its going that way anyway. It would be like rubbing it in. I think the statistics from the K-File surveys and the surveys from the SFUSD researchers show that the majority of parents support neighborhood schools (although it is very close). I know thats not exactly the same as supporting this proposal, but my guess is that more parents than you think do in fact support this proposal.

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  62. to 11:27,

    From what I hear offline, even parents who supported neighborhood schools are nervous about how this will play out, as the map is not yet available (and it looks like it won't be until the fall?). Everyone just seems to be holding their breath.

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  63. Tell those that request their neighborhood school and don't get it that it's a neighborhood schools policy. If the district can deliver than fine. But if large numbers don't get it, coupled with the reduced chance of getting an alternative assignment with the increase in such applications likely, I think there will be some unhappy campers out there.

    Personally, I would only call it a "neighborhood schools" SAS if there is a guarantee. A preference is qualitatively different. And with the variances likely with boundaries and redesignatons, how can anyone take comfort in their prospects?

    Check out the NY Times article that just came out. Don't have the link right now.

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  64. Don, if you won't call it a neighborhood school student assignment system, what do you call it that is short and snappy?

    How about this:

    We use to have Parental Choice, with all schools as citywide schools. Now we will have Limited Choice, with most schools as assignment area schools. Choice has been cut down, plainly speaking.

    Limited Choice. No sugar coating.

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  65. Here is the link to the New York Times article about SF school assignment redesign:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/21/education/21sfschool.html?scp=2&sq=school%20assignment&st=cse

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  66. I just put in a question to Rachel Norton about the reasoning behind the airtight middle school neighborhood-only change. I got a response from someone named "Leslie Yee" who appears to be under the (mis)impression that there are not, right now under the choice system, thousands of middle school kids TODAY who ride Muni to and from school. Take a ride one morning on the 48, Ms. Yee, and see how many kids get off at Hoover! Rachel herself has not responded. Nor did she respond to the perfectly appropriate suggestion of some type of transition for those families now knee-deep in elementary schools outside their Superintendent-mandated "neighborhood." That's interesting, as I know that many elementary school parents on the eastside of the city are in for a shock when they realize that they are going to be assigned to Horace Mann, Denman, Everett, or Visitacion Valley. As far as I'm concerned, this is the hidden bomb in the Super's proposal.

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  67. 9:42--this is Leslie Yee. I understand what you are saying. Your position wins at the high school level. It is not winning at the middle school level.

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  68. Barney,

    Almost everywhere in the United States children have a guaranteed spot at their neighborhood school. Why is it only here that is considered anathema?

    The current so-called choice system is not real choice. That is just a name to make you think that it is, just like the so-called neighborhood school proposal is not neighborhood schools and just so named to make you think that it is. No doubt we will find that many neighborhood children do not get assigned to their oversubscribed neighborhood school(NS).

    If Garcia REALLY wanted NS he would commit to building capacity, but he makes no such claim. He is just tapping into the current interest in NS to promote his policy.

    The real strange part of the whole thing is not the deception. It is the backtracking on social justice. How in the world can he put in the preferences for diversity w/o providing the transportation? Choice matters most when you are forced to attend a PI school otherwise. But w/o transport it is no choice at all.

    My older child is going to middle school next year. I have one or two choices for where I want him to go. But the district will claim that if I list half of the 14 middle schools in SF and get one of them I will be satisfied ( from their perspective). That is not choice unless I get one of my top preferences.

    This is a terrible mess to be sure. The only answer is to focus on making every school a good one. Easier said than done. But until that day, their will be dissatisfaction with any SAS.

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  69. FWIW my middle school kid and most of her friends take MUNI to and from school without any problems.

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  70. 12:10--you're saying, treat middle school assignment just like high school assignment.

    1. How much money will SFUSD really be saving by reducing transportation at the middle school level?

    2. Is Muni safety acceptable?

    3. Is money even the driving force behind the Superintendent's proposal?

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  71. "Integration does not drive achievement."

    Don, the research shows that if you can drop the %age of low-SES kids below 40%, the results for low-SES kids (and not-low-SES kids) goes up dramatically. Your seat-of-the-pants assessment doesn't jibe with the research.

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  72. "Rachel passes on the information that a grand total of 101 students from the Marina, Pac Heights, Presidio Heights, and the Presidio participated in round 1 last year, so at least for now, demand patterns are not robust enough to warrant creating a new neighborhood school."

    Y'know, the irony that Marina/Pac Heights attempt to make CL a neighborhood school is going to be foiled by those same parents having essentially boycotted SFUSD is very sweet.

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  73. "But when you say there is less capacity in the SE that doesn't jibe with the many underenrolled SE schools that have emerged as students were bused out."

    Don, there's underenrolled schools in BV/HP. Maybe Revere and Webster and Serra still have a few GE slots. But its not the case with Taylor, Flynn, Moscone, Monroe. Any of the immersion programs is busting at the seams.

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  74. "3. Is money even the driving force behind the Superintendent's proposal?"

    Trying to keep a primarily-choice driven system was going to be hard at the best of times.

    The impression I have, though, is that the primary driver is the incessant complaining about wanting neighborhood schools.

    As guaranteed neighborhood assignment for someone means reducing choice for someone else, that means a very reduced choice component in the new system. Those of us who benefited from choice (most parents, but especially those in the SE), weren't making enough noise to against advocates of neighborhood schools.

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  75. "Effectively, parents asked for ELEMENTARY neighborhood schools and the Board is responding with MIDDLE neighborhood schools."

    Parents didn't ask for neighborhood schools in consultations. They asked for the ability to choose schools close their home that delivered a good education. Slightly different. The proposed system goes some way towards that, although I'd have preferred a greater choice component per Option 3.

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  76. "Almost everywhere in the United States children have a guaranteed spot at their neighborhood school."

    Not in New York, LA or San Jose (where there's stories of people camping out to get into schools with too few places for their neighborhood), or even Pacifica (uses a lottery).

    "Why is it only here that is considered anathema?"

    Because, unlike in a suburb or exurb, there's the ability to give people choice and to find a fairer way of allocating places at good schools than Can Your Mummy and Daddy Buy Into An Expensive School District. Why is choice considered anathema by you?

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  77. "Just have neighborhood schools and guarantee that everyone in the school's zone has a spot even if that requires building some capacity over a few years."

    Don, the quicker and cheaper way to do that is by reducing the attendance area of the more popular schools. There's sufficient capacity to accomodate all kids across the district. West Portal's attendance area is going to end being a lot smaller than on the current map, and weaker schools with less demand will get larger.

    You're trying to pretend there aren't hard choices here, but there are.

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  78. "Sunset parents have had a much lower rate of trying to export their kids, by contrast, even with the choice system. That's because there is a much higher percentage of acceptable options out there."

    In fairness, Sunset and Richmond parents do export their kids to the privates and parochials (only50-60% in publics) far more than SE parents (83% in publics). So this limited-choice system is probably a win for the district in terms of boosting enrollment.

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  79. Don, we don't want anymore insect-ridden, rodent-infested, mildewy "bungalows" eating up every square inch of our playground, especially when the district has capacity elsewhere. The SAS fiasco will not be resolved by adding more bungalows and destroying our campuses. Schools cannot be expanded ad infinitum, because school sites do not have the infrastructure (lunchroom scale, toilets, library space, multipurpose rooms, play yards, computers, PE-art-poetry-dance-theatre professionals (supported by PTA funds), etc) to handle 10% and 20% increases in student population.

    The old 7-choice lottery would still be serving us well, because it had neighborhood preference (which the new SAS does NOT have). SFUSD only needed to eliminate the silly questions (except language for language programs, confirmed by testing) and to eliminate most of the "alternative" school designations (except immersion/bi-lingual programs). Other than CTIP1 priority, which I see as a good solution for allocating seats fairly, SFUSD went to far in the redesign.

    Lastly, when will the lottery go entirely electronic, like Camp Mather. Parents should be able to see the number of requests for a particular school and make changes right up to the lottery deadline. They also need to have siblings register early and to post the real number of available seats at every school on the SFUSD website before the lottery. These would be REAL changes in the SAS. Everything else is a sham.

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  80. Choice has primarily benefitted those who know how to use choice.

    From Rachel's blog:

    "Getting rid of choice seems like the easiest answer, and indeed there seems to be a consensus on the Board that choice will need to be more limited under a new system than it is now if we are serious about narrowing the opportunity gap for all students."

    Rachel is saying this.Why is she saying this? Because she knows that choice benefits unequally. And with transportation gone choice for those with the greatest need is dead. Am I the only one who thinks that social equity cannot be done w/o busing? This failing to provide real choice with transport seems a bit hypocrtical of the Board when you consider that diversity is their primary objective.

    To respond to the anonymous poster ( me thinks that Rachel is up early) who says I speak from the seat of my pants - this from Rachel's blog:

    "When a school’s proportion of AA/L/S students changed, did its achievement also change? Yes.  Researchers focused on the change between 1999 and 2008 in SFUSD schools. They found that as the number of AA/L/S students in a school increased, Math and English/Language Arts scores decreased for all students enrolled at the school." Dec14

    The answer to achievement gap issues is not in assignment systems. Stop moving the kids around and move the teachers instead. Move them where they are needed most. Provide incentives with all the money wasted on promoting and running the SAS. But any kid should be able to opt out of a failing school and by provided transportation in accordance with Title One law.

    Also from Rachel's blog:

    "Was the concentration of AA/L/S students related to teacher experience and teacher turnover? Yes.  Schools with high concentrations of AA/L/S students had teachers with significantly less experience than other SFUSD schools (average, based on data for 2004-05 through 2007-08, was 10.3 years experience at AA/L/S concentrated schools  vs. 13.4 years for other SFUSD schools). Moreover, schools with high concentrations of AA/L/S students were much more likely to be staffed with first and second-year teachers (3.7%) vs. other SFUSD schools (2.1%). Finally, schools with high concentrations of AA/L/S students were less likely to retain teachers over the period than other SFUSD schools."

    No sh*t Sherlock.

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  81. Leslie Yee -- I appreciate your response to me comment above and didn't mean to disparage you. I am just in a (continuing) state of shock because me and a whole bunch of other folks out there have third and fourth graders now in schools outside what is likely to be their "neighborhood." We were required to adjust to a (basically) parental choice system, we adapted to it, and our kids are now too deeply into their schools to transfer to what are likely to become our neighborhood elementary schools. And unlike at the elementary school level, there appear to be no likely candidates for "citywide" status -- other than the few immersion programs. Thus, we will now be faced with whether to be the "guinea pigs" to try to turn around middle schools like Horace Mann, Everett, and Denman. I was involved in turning around a "second tier" school for elementary. We were successful but I'm not sanguine about the likelihood of turning around middle schools with 300 to 400 in a grade and with entrenched, endemic problems not easily addressed. I, and a whole bunch of others, will likely bolt the school district for middle school rather than face that prospect. The flip side of that equation is that middle schools that have really gotten significantly better through the choice system -- Aptos, Hoover, Marina -- are going to be seriously jeopardized. For those schools, the wonderful diversity you see there now will be gone. I think everyone on the Board should spend five minutes and watch the kids coming and going from Aptos, Hoover and Marina and ask themselves: why am I destoring this picture?

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  82. Will there be a percentage "cap" on the number of tract1 accepted to the citywide schools (say 40%), leaving some space for those from tract 2 areas without a decent local option?

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  83. There is little ethical difference between the neighborhood school proponents and the choice proponents. Those that benefit from either model want to have that model. The distinction between NS proponents as self-serving but choice as not, is false.

    That's why it is better for the city to vote on what type of system to have. SFUSD can go about executing it based upon the will of the voters. Caroline has said that the voters don't understand the issues because most are not public school parents. The voters are taxpayers.They have a right to express their views.

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  84. 9:34, as a current Aptos parent whose kids will not be affected by the decision to revert middle schools to a neighborhood assignment system, I support what you say. One of the great qualities of Aptos right now is its diversity, which closely mirrors that of the district as whole. Aptos is now third in the city among the large middle schools in terms of test scores, and showed adequate yearly progress last year for all significant subgroups, of which we have several.

    Diversity for Aptos means not only the largest group, which is Asian (Chinese and Vietnamese primarily). It also means African American kids from Ingleside and the Bayview, Filipino kids from OMI and Ingleside, Latino kids from the OMI and also the current satellite attendance area in the Mission, from which busing is provided (and the bus fills up); and yes, diversity at Aptos also means the white kids who are coming in from Noe Valley and central SF who represent a climbing percentage--something like 12%, maybe more now.

    Unless the attendance boundaries for Aptos are drawn non-contiguously, diversity will suffer. Same for Hoover. Same for Marina. AP Giannini will become even more Chinese. Same with Presidio. And unless there are comprehensive arts and honors programs brought into Everett, Mann, and Denman, will they really be able to keep the white, middle class families of the Mission and Sunnyside/Glen Park etc. neighborhoods? Or will racial isolation persist as families flee via the lottery or flee the district altogether?

    One exception may be James Lick. it is an interesting case as it is now half Spanish immersion. Making it a neighborhood assignment school may make the GE program even more attractive as it is already in improvement, with many attractive programs (although no honors or large music programs). They could make its boundaries cross Mission and Noe and it could work as a succesful diverse school that mixes middle class and poor. That's the one I see having the most success in a neighborhood model.

    But I worry for Aptos, Hoover, and Marina. Why mess with success?

    I really, really hope the Board will reconsider the middle school aspect of this proposal and move to make it more citywide. I say that without vested interest; it's just my observation as a current parent who has been through a couple of tour cycles on the middle school level, and attended many sporting events at that level, so I have a fair idea of the schools.

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  85. "There is little ethical difference between the neighborhood school proponents and the choice proponents. "

    No, Don. The stronger choice mechanisms (Option 3) meant less desegration of low-SES kids than Option 6 (what we're getting now).

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  86. Don:
    ""When a school’s proportion of AA/L/S students changed, did its achievement also change? Yes. Researchers focused on the change between 1999 and 2008 in SFUSD schools. They found that as the number of AA/L/S students in a school increased, Math and English/Language Arts scores decreased for all students enrolled at the school." Dec14

    The answer to achievement gap issues is not in assignment systems. "

    Don, it's remarkable how you can read something and fundamentally not understand it. It's a profound gift. Reread what Rachel posted and try to understand that shuffling teachers around won't give the same results the results in research that Rachel quoted.

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  87. 11:34,

    Without the busing necessary to make choice a reality for those without transportation, the plans you cite in the abstract make no difference when applied in practice.

    You have to read between the lines. It is just like Carlos Garcia telling the School Community Summit crowd that class size reduction penalties are, in effect, an atrocity. If you don't know anything about it you just clap your hands in applause. But if you understand that the State dramatically reduced these penalties to help the districts, you would know that Mr. Garcia is not being totally up front, just like with this assignment system.

    Pardon my loose syntax.

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  88. WHY DO YOU BOTHER ARGUING WITH HIM?

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  89. Thank you, 11:23 am. I think the parents at Aptos have a lot to offer this current debate. Aptos is unqualifiedly a success and could be impacted by this change. And Aptos improved not with displacement of anyone, but rather the full and voluntary inclusion and representation of all races and ethnic groups. Watch the kids go into that school and you can't help but be amazed at how wonderfully diverse the student body is there. You are right that Lick is the one school that may be benefitted by this assignment change. But Lick was already changing and improving tremendously under the current system and, in all likelihood, it was going to continue to improve. My goodness, class size limited to 25 kids, a beautiful dance floor, great rock band program, and wonderful writing program make Lick attractive to anyone. Anyway, I hope you and others at Aptos, Hoover and Marina will continue to speak out about the positive developments at your schools -- positives that may get lost in this radical change. What I fear -- and I'll be honest here -- is that, at the end of the day, forcing parents and their kids to be guinea pigs is just not going to work.

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  90. I provided the exact quote which was pretty clear. So you seem to think you are so much more capable why don't you explain it. An insult is not an explanation, except perhaps in regard to your own personality.

    Moggy, take a breathe of free air.

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  91. I think the middle schools get lumped in with the elementary schools in this whole new process for 3 reasons - (1) the alternative K-8 schools in the system committng some students to schools in the first place; (2) the ability to creatively draw the maps to achieve overall higher achieving schools with hopefully greater integration - a more even playing field (which will mean some schools will be brought down a notch or 2 and others up a notch or 2) and (3) the cost of busing. I am an incoming K student parent so, I frankly, have no idea which middle schools are considered good, so-so, bad or ugly. But, it seems to me that the folks who do not like the new system, do not like it because it means their assigned school is likely considered bad or ugly. Can I blame them? No, but lets be honest about why (e.g. fearful of the bad and ugly) and perhaps focus on the biggest blunder of this new assignment proposal - no maps from which to assess reality. If I had a kid going into 5th grade, I want to know my odds so I can figure out my options - move in SFUSD, start looking at prvates, move out of SFUSD, etc.

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  92. "Don, the research shows that if you can drop the %age of low-SES kids below 40%, the results for low-SES kids (and not-low-SES kids) goes up dramatically. Your seat-of-the-pants assessment doesn't jibe with the research."

    That's interesting, but how do you get to that "below 40%" number when the district is 55% free or reduced lunch? And how do you get there when it appears (and I hope Rachel will chime in if this is wrong), participants in any choice system are disproportionately outside the free/reduced lunch group.

    Here's some data from the schools that are under the 40%, followed some data from other schools above 40%, some a little above, some a lot above:

    Alamo: 30% disadvantaged
    Latino 50% proficient

    Clarendon 11% disadvantaged
    Really high proficiency for all groups

    Grattan 25% disadvantaged
    African American 35% proficient
    Latino 45% proficient

    Lafayette 36% disadvantaged
    Latino 54% proficient

    Lilienthal 19% disadvantaged
    Latino 69% proficient
    African American 46% proficient

    Rooftop 32% disadvantaged
    African-American 53% proficient
    Latino 57% proficient

    Commodore Sloat 40% disadvantaged
    African-American: 56% proficient
    Latino: 46% proficient

    Sunset
    40% disadvantaged

    West Portal
    39% disadvantaged

    Alice Fong Yu 25% disadvantaged
    African-American 44% proficient
    Latino 85% proficient

    As for less affluent schools (there were some schools with near 40% numbers but I wanted more of a contrast):

    FS Key 60% disadvantaged
    Latino 55% proficient

    Moscone 89% disadvantaged
    Latino 55% proficient

    Sherman 56% disadvantaged
    Latino 62% proficient
    African-American 48% proficient

    ER Taylor 72% disadvantaged
    African-American 50% proficient
    Latino 56% proficient

    Ulloa 54% disadvantaged
    African-American 27% proficient
    Latino 73% proficient

    The point: Schools with fairly high concentrations of low income students are capable of performing comparably with their more affluent counterparts when it comes to historically under-performing populations. It would be interesting to know how many students at these schools travel far from home to attend. They may point the way toward more successful schools in every neighborhood.

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  93. Your request for a map is certainly reasonable, but just keep in mind that Carlos Garcia clearly stated that he will reserve the right the change the maps "periodically" if they are not meeting his/their goals. There will always be a big asterisk on any map.

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  94. On the middle school assignment system issue, I have a question that has been bugging me. I have heard repeatedly that the high cost of "busing" is the main reason why the District is going to have airtight neighborhood middle schools. That is, we can't expect a 12 year old to take Muni which is why we are going to have neighborhood middle schools. Yet, Rachel conceded (at least by implication) that the neighborhood maps for middle are going to be noncontiguous, meaning that there are going to be chucks of the Bayview-Hunters Point that are going to get assigned as their neighborhood school western middle schools. So how exactly is the District proposing to transport those kids from Bayview to, say, Hoover? If they are planning to bus them, which is what I am imagining they are going to have to do, then why not let families CHOOSE to transport their kids too? I mean the District can't have it both ways in this argument, can it? It just shows to me that the cost of busing argument is specious and that, rather, the change at the middle school level is pure social engineering -- force middle class eastside families into failing eastside middle schools and pray for the best. Isn't that what this is really about?

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  95. 2:27 Muni safety is a real issue.
    Recall the crazy guy who attacked Muni riders recently, including a 6th grader. Muni might be relatively safe on the westside, but the eastside is a different story.

    Just because middle school attendance areas will be non-contiguous does not mean transportation is not a real issue. There are long bus rides and very long bus rides.

    The gerrymandered areas will not be pretty, and will be less than compact, but they can serve the purpose of diverse demographics and serve the purpose of avoidance of very long bus rides.

    I still would like to see the maps, though.

    How much money will the district save by reducing busing at the middle school level? I don't know. Commissioner Wynns said that she wanted a discussion about transportation. I think we never got it.

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  96. Anonymous@2:13,

    Thank you for explaining to the other anonymous the absurdity of his/her claim or belief in the meaning of some raw statistical analysis. I don't mind the insult from that person, especially when it comes from spmeone clueless like that. It's an affirmation.

    Then there is also the little problem of the achievement gap within schools, which Rachel ignores in her "news" reports.

    I am for diversity and for busing.

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  97. Let's say a few words about education instead of who gets what sdhool.

    The Black-White Achievemnent Gap (2010). Read the book.

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  98. Barney: Between chapters, watch The Wire. Very illuminating.

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  99. Low scoring areas have too many inexperienced teachers. The inexperience really hurts in the teacher's first year, no matter how good she latter becomes. There is simply a learning curve to be gotten through.

    So we can best help the low performing schools by supporting the teachers at those schools, especially the ones in their first year. Give them subsidized housing. A Section 8 for first year teachers. Ask the voters for the money.

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  100. Barney,
    The teacher quality/experience issue at low perfroming schools isn't thank simple a fix. Once teachers get seniority they transfer out. You have to be able to change the system to stop that. Otherwise, Program Improvement schools will just be post graduate training sessions. Seniority has to be changed and that has always been an impossible issue in collective bargaining.

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  101. correction - "isn't that simple".

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  102. 'That's interesting, but how do you get to that "below 40%" number when the district is 55% free or reduced lunch?"

    You can't, but having schools that are 11% free/reduced and ones that that are 80% free/reduced ain't anywhere near an optimum.

    The point is: neighborhood schools will increase income segregation within schools over the current choice system or over other alternatives (Option 6). Increased income segregation will increase the achievement gap, because low-income kids in schools predominantly low-income kids do poorly.

    From http://www.beyondchron.org/news/index.php?itemid=7756

    'Rothstein [from the economic policy institute] found that “A school’s average student achievement appears to decline almost linearly as the school’s percentage of children receiving subsidized lunches increases.'

    "In Albuquerque, New Mexico David Rusk spent ten years studying the effect of poverty concentration in Albuquerque’s public schools. During this period Rusk examined the test scores of 1,108 third and fifth graders who live in public housing. Rusk’s study controlled for sex, race, ethnicity and household characteristics, and what he found was “that for every percentage point decrease in poverty among public housing child’s classmates, the child’s test scores improved 0.22 of a percentile.” To explain it another way, “attending a middle class neighborhood school with 20 percent poor children rather than a high poverty neighborhood school with 80 percent poor children meant a 13 percentile improvement in an average public housing child’s test scores.”

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  103. "Yet, Rachel conceded (at least by implication) that the neighborhood maps for middle are going to be noncontiguous, meaning that there are going to be chucks of the Bayview-Hunters Point that are going to get assigned as their neighborhood school western middle schools."

    Orla O'Keefe stated in the subcommittee meeting in answer to a question that attendance areas would not be noncontiguous. Now, she's not the decision-maker, but that's a sense of what the staff desire.

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  104. "To respond to the anonymous poster ( me thinks that Rachel is up early) who says I speak from the seat of my pants"

    I'm not Rachel. However, as you want to believe SFUSD is out to get you, feel free not to believe me.

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  105. 2:27--you state your case as middle class eastside families losing their choice to opt out of failing eastside middle schools. If I may put words into your mouth, you see middle class eastside families being forced to do the grunt work of desegregation--or social engineering--as you did state it.

    CTIP1 students can leave to CTIP2 areas, but middle class CTIP2 areas in the eastside will have a next to nothing chance in the lottery to go to a westside CTIP2 school. You have lost parental choice of schools. I agree that that is how it hits home to you.

    What do you want? The book, The Two-Income Trap, talked about public school vouchers. A person could live in a modest area of housing and rental prices and be allowed to go to school in an area, even another school district, of more expensive housing. I think you want something like that.

    I suggest you ask that CTIP2's that border on CTIP1's be treated like a CTIP1. You want back your parental choice of schools .

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  106. Feb. 23 at 8 am -- thanks for the comment. I don't know whether Orla is driving this bus. She has said some things in the recent past that have turned out to be wrong. I would expect that the pro-diversity forces on the Board will seek to do something noncontiguous, particularly with middle schools. Note that the Super's report does suggest that there may be "limited busing" for specific objectives, so that is the door-opener. Anyway, I see that commenters are mixed here on this thread. I would just point out to those following this debate that the folks arguing for parental choice are mostly the ones with experience, the ones with kids in upper elementary school grade levels, or middle and high school. If I were a parent with a preK kid, I'd be listening to their cautionary words.

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  107. 9:16, you make a very good point. It seems like the current lottery assignment process is much like labor and birth. For most, you get through it thinking it's the worst thing you've ever experienced. Then the memory fades and you have the beautiful child (or acceptable, if not great school) and it all seems worth it.

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  108. Betty -- this is 9:16 am again. You are so right. Six years ago, when I went through the lottery, I was like the pro-neighborhood schools crowd. After much hand-wringing, we went with what was then a second-tier school outside of our neighborhood and, with some bumps, have done great. So have a lot of other parents. But it appears that the tsunami of budget cuts and pressure from pro-neighborhood parents have conspired to end parental choice for good. I personally think that the district poisoned the well for parental choice with all the opaque things in the old lottery system -- you know, the period when a mother's education level gave one a preference, the time when European-born middle class parents could get a preference without the kid being tested; etc.

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  109. 12:01 wrote: "I personally think that the district poisoned the well for parental choice with all the opaque things in the old lottery system -- you know, the period when a mother's education level gave one a preference, the time when European-born middle class parents could get a preference without the kid being tested; etc."

    I agree. The old system was supposed to give lower socio-economic kids/families the opportunity to rise above their circumstances by putting them in the front of the line for any school. It was abused by non-low SES families who lied on the app (no HS ed for Mom, no preschool for kid!), and also gave preference to non-low SES families who happened to speak another language at home, at least until this year. (Imagine the resources wasted testing hundreds of kids who are perfectly fluent in English. I shudder, and yet I was tired of my bilingual friends all getting their first choice schools.)

    And to top it off, the algorithms didn't even match the applicant pools. Grrr.

    The craziness of it all made many, myself included, long for a more predictable and less game-able plan. Hence the proposed neighborhood assignment system, which appears to be just as complicated as the old one, with less choice for many of us (if you're not okay with your neighborhood assignment but are in a high performing tract - us!).

    (sigh)

    I don't have the answers. It's vexing.

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  110. The complexities of these SAS options as well as the current system creates an environment in which it is hard to see the forest through the trees. So I always try to shed as much of the detail as possible and attempt to get to the crux.

    The currect system is NOT choice. Let me give an example. My older son is going off to middle school next year. By district standards I should write 7 choices, half of all middle schools. That isn't choice. And if I get one I am deemed by the district to be a satisfied customer. But I have only 2 schools which suit my needs for proximity to home.

    There is a lottery because demand (for certain schools) exceeds supply. So how is everyone going to walk away happy? I commend those that go off to some second choice school and make a go of it. But many people won't do that. They leave the district. Why do you think the population of SFUSD is 55% SES?

    The community meetings showed that there was overwhelming support for neighborhood schools and not just in the "better" neighborhoods. The only way to move this thing forward is to have the city vote on it. Let the people speak.

    But the real answer lies not with SAS, but in raising student achievement. All the effort that goes into this does little to benefit outcome. Thousands of hours and millions of dollars should be spent on achievement, not complex lottery schemes.

    I'm not trying to paint the issue with a broad brush- just trying to get to the heart of the matter.

    Don

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  111. I would still like some hard data about the schools requested by low SES lottery participants in Rounds 1 and 2 under the current system.

    First question is geography: Are the schools near home (not necessarily within the outdated attendance area maps, just near home)? Near caregivers? On family commute routes? Are they destination trophy schools that take the family long distances out of their way or force early rising to catch buses across the city?

    The second is desire for academic performance: What percentage of low SES participants are requesting schools with rankings 6 or above in the lottery? Is it a lot, or are low SES participants less likely to emphasize test scores in making their selections?

    We have been spending a fortune leading the horses to water. Are they drinking?

    Or would we make wiser use of our limited resources trying to improve schools in struggling neighborhoods? With examples like Rosa Parks and Daniel Webster, it seems like if the schools offer something good, the middle-class families will follow. Isolation is reduced not by moving poor kids out, but by moving middle-class kids in (who of necessity must displace some of the lower-income kids--what becomes of them?).

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  112. Today's paper was all about the massive layoffs SFUSD must issue. We are heavily in a budget deficit. There is no money for transportation outside of special education. That is the monetary reason for the return to attendance area schools. I won't say it is the only reason. The westside has always wanted the return of neighborhood schools.

    The question is, what constructive request can you make to address your concerns? Be specific. I have previously speculated that CTIP2's that border on CTIP1's be treated like a CTIP1, to give back parental choice to some of the middle class families in the eastside.

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  113. Barney, it seems like you want to blur the census tract boundaries for your own benefit. Is this true? I don't mean to make an accusation. I'm just trying to figure out why you'd only do it in the SE? Your suggestion only complicates the process. As in, "We do this, but then, well, actually we do this in this case because of this..."

    Can you help me understand your logic?

    We live near an under-demanded school with marginal diversity. But we're in a higher performing tract. This would put my child At The End Of The Line for schools we're more interested in. But you want your kid ahead of mine? Even though our tracts are in the same category? I'm confused. (Our kid is entering K this fall so it's all hypothetical.)

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  114. Betty,

    I said that eastside CTIP2's would benefit if any CTIP2 that borders on a CTIP1 would be treated like a CTIP1. Since all the CTIP1's are eastside, only eastside CTIP2's really are affected. If the westside ever develops a CTIP1, westside CTIP2's would then also get the benefit of this blurring of census tract divisions. This blurring does diminish academic diversity to return parental choice to the scheme of things, for at least a few parents.

    It is up to those parents in the CTIP2 areas that border CTIP1 areas to take up this suggestion. I was just trying to provide a concrete request that they could make, in the language of the student assignment system.

    Westside CTIP2 is getting neighborhood schools. Eastside CTIP1 gets academic diversity preferences to go out of the area.
    Eastside CTIP2 pretty much gets chained to their assigned areas. If they want some of their parental choice back, ask for it back. This is one way they can do it.

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  115. Barney,

    Your statement is contradictory -"Westside CTIP2 is getting neighborhood schools. Eastside CTIP1 gets academic diversity preferences to go out of the area."

    If the Eastside CTIP1 students go out of the area, where do they go? They go to high demand neighborhood or citywide schools. In the case of neighborhood schools and as a point of fact, each space taken by someone from out of the assignment zone is one less seat for the children that live in the zone.

    I believe that the new proposal will pass with some slight modofications. The district is not going to be interested in blurring the distinction between SE CTIPa and 2 boundaries. If they did that it would be a negation of the concept of CTP itself. Won't happen.

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  116. Don, you say there are "only" two middle schools that serve your needs for proximity. I'm intrigued by this notion. Can you tell me why your middle school must be very close to you? I'm honestly asking this because I'm going into the middle school assignment system next Fall and I can tell you that my kid is VERY involved in where she wants to go and that proximity is VERY low on the priority list. So I'm wondering whether you've had a chance to really look at these middle schools. If you did, you'd find that each has very different approaches to the honors/general ed issues and very different music/athletic programs. Will you be happy when the District effectively tells you that you have ONE choice? Are you valuing proximity above all the other things about these schools? If, as I'm guessing, you live on the westside, what do you think is going to happen to diversity in those two schools with this new system?

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  117. Don, I have not read the latest protocol. My understanding of the local preference over CTIP preference balance was that it was very likely that high demand assignment area schools would fill up with locals and leave nothing for the lottery for CTIP1 applicants. Only if room was available would the lottery apply.

    For the citywide schools, the CTIP2's that border CTIP1, let's call them CTIP3, would get treated just like a CTIP1. Both the CTIP1 and the CTIP3 would have a great advantage in getting into a citywide school, such as a K-8. Yes, there are winners and losers. You are right on that score.

    All I was saying was that if a group of parents wanted to get back some of the parental choice tht they were losing in the new system, they must ask for something specific that they want the Board to do. The worst that can happen is that the Board says no. So why not ask for it?

    Anyone that wants a better deal out of the new system needs to identify what that better deal is. It is not enough to aimlessly complain.

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  118. It's a of bit a wry feeling to have to listen to all the indulgent diversity rhetoric while everyone is vying for position at the top of the heap. This is a real mosh pit - a perfect example of the San Francisco Rice-a-Roni brand of elitism and progressivism, whichever best suits suits the moment.

    And not once in all the decontructionist arguments heard here has anyone pointed out that most secondary schools with Advanced Placement have sorted their kids, so that any 60/40 representation is just on paper schoolwide. The classes are tracked or from another perspective – segregated.

    So what good does it do to have CTIP if the kids are not sitting together in the same classes?

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  119. Don, please put a lid on it. Honors classes are the next target for the Green/Green-leaning members of the BOE. This current reduced-choice assignment system is already hard to swallow for prospective MS and HS parents without further losses.

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  120. I don't think you get my drift. I'm the last one who wants to see AP go. I want to see it expanded. I was not expressing an opinion on it, but rather pointing out that no one is taking the AP affect into consideration.

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  121. Don has been stalking Rachel for a year now. he is obsessed and she should get a restraining order against this creep. He sends her threatening abusive anonymous emails that have been traced to his IP address.

    Don't feed the trolls, people.
    Don't let this jerk use this forum as a place to trash Rachel.

    Here's a sample of one of Don's psycho emails to Rachel, that was posted on the sfschools yahoo group:

    (( Dear Rachel:

    So you too are one of these people. The Third Reich repeated their mantra about the Jews over and over until people began to believe it - people who took the word of others without question.You have show me that you have little respect for law or for the opinion of others when it conflicts with your own. That's because you are weak. You just want to be liked. Tell me, why a blog instead of a webpage? As an elected official you have no problem censoring out opposition? What do you believe in? There is a depth to the constitution that seems to escape the average mind nowadays. In short time the transformation will be complete if you do not think about what it is that makes society free. Yes,I KNOW, IT IS YOUR BLOG AND YOU CAN DO WHAT YOU WANT. This is how far you go in your understanding of the material world.
    Bring on the sock puppets! ))

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  122. Don -- I asked you the question above about your preferences not as a rhetorical device and not to single you out, but because I'm truly puzzled by your and other elementary school parents' support for this neighborhood middle school approach. As much as I value parental choice, I can at least see the arguments at the elementary school level for why parents want schools close by them. But I honestly don't see any sense to this "neighborhood first" policy at the middle school level. And I think you and other pro-neighborhood people are being hoodwinked by the very pro-diversity Board members you decry. This is a patently obvious efforts to jam middle class parents into eastside middle schools with major issues. To clue you in on the middle school world history: pre-parental choice, there were only two really good middle schools in the city -- Presidio and Giannini. Hoover, Aptos and Marina were messes, and Roosevelt had major problems. With parental choice, what happened is that, slowly, painfuly, and not completely willingly but at least voluntarily, middle class parents, many from the eastside, started to migrate to Hoover, Aptos, Marina, Roosevelt, and Lick. Now they are all reasonably good choices for the middle class with varying levels of diversity. Each also has evolved very different approaches to honors/GE and music/athletics (again something you'd reasonably expect to see with parental choice -- if you don't like that approach, don't put that school down). What the Super -- and I believe the Board -- is trying to do is now force many of those middle class parents over to the failing eastside schools --Denman, Everett, Horace Mann, and Vis Valley. They hope to do in one year through essentially coercive means what happened over many years of parental work and lots of ups and downs. What will happen to Aptos, Hoover, Roosevelt and Marina is anyone's guess (depending on the maps) but I think one can read the tea leaves and see that those schools are likely to become less diverse. It also means that folks who remain within these school's zones will have lost the choice for some really important differences between them. Just an example: if you are now in Roosevelt's attendance area but your kid went to a school that doles out GATE designation stingely but your kid can do honors, you are in big trouble. Roosevelt only lets GATE kids into Honors -- your kid will lose at least one year of honors classes as a result. Your otherwise bright kid chokes on STAR test exams? If you're in Hoover's zone, too bad -- your kid can't take honors classes but must be in the GE classes. You philosophically feel that education is better when honors and GE kids are mixed together and really like the Aptos and Lick approach on that question? Too bad, you live on the west side and those schools are out of your neighborhood. Does this at all make sense to you or are you seeing something here I'm missing?

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  123. Thank you, 11:22. These are the right questions. I am a current middle school parent, so my concern about this is not vested interest; my own children will be unaffected by the new policy. I ask because I have seen the benefits of school choice at the middle school level. I have toured the middle schools over several years, so I have a fair sense of what distinguishes them. We spent a lot of time thinking about these questions (honors versus no honors, class size, arts programs, etc.) when we went through it. I have not heard any answers to these questions, however.

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  124. CTIP2's that border on CTIP1's should be treated like a CTIP1.

    These CTIP2's on the border (call them CTIP3) might be the ones most tempted to purposely fail on the standardized exams in order to manipulate their way into CTIP1 status.

    Suppose that we redefined CTIP1 as the bottom 20%, not the bottom 40%?
    Then gave CTIP1 treatment to CTIP2's that physically border on CTIP1's (CTIP3, in my terminology). I would guess that we would end up at about the same place as far as maps go.

    But, the CTIP2 that ranked in the top 45%, who just missed out of dropping down to 40% and being rewarded with CTIP1 status, would have to go all the way down to 20% to manipulate the system. For sake of the integrity of the standardized exams, I endorse the CTIP3 approach.

    Eastside CTIP2's that want back some of the parental choice that they are losing in the new system should ask for the CTIP3 approach addeded to the current definition of CTIP1 as the bottom 40%.

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  125. 11:22 am -- I did post a question on Rachel's website about the middle school issue, but got no response from her. Someone else responded by saying that this middle school issue is all being driven by the need to cut down on busing costs. I just don't think that third and fourth grade parents realize what is coming down the pike. I don't know what else to do. I and others have posted questions about the effect of this new system on middle schools and we've been met by silence. I'd be happy if I heard that current elementary school upper grade parents 1) know that this is coming in all its details and 2) generally favor it. But I just don't think that has happened yet. And the result will be that, in September when the fifth grade parents all get letter saying that their kids have been accepted to X middle school, the you-know-what will really hit the fan but it will be too late to do anything about it.

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  126. Barney, or Don, or whoever you are, your whole border CTIP is nuts, sorry. There's no way they will go for that. The CTIP 1 and 2 thing is clean and easy to figure and they will not go with fuzzy boundaries.

    The solution for eastside CTIP 2 families will be access to citywide programs. I just hope they make enough of them on the west side to balance the huge number on the east side that will already make the east side out of capacity on the elementary level.

    The solution for middle is to revert to citywide choice as with high school.

    We'll see what they do! I agree with the previous poster that the current 3-4 grade parents don't see this coming and there will be a shock wave next year when they realize it. I know lots of parents who are assuming they can check out Aptos, Hoover, Roosevelt, Lick who will be very disappointed in the new system.

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  127. To 4:39 -- this is 11:22 am again. Your idea is spot-on. It would be great for example if they made Hoover and Aptos citywide. It would recognize that those schools (1) are reasonably centrally located so that parents from all parts of the city can access them (via MUNI at least); (2) are pretty diverse now; and (3) function reasonably well so they don't need a lot of "fixing." That would then give (1) eastside parents some chance at access to schools that are functioning well; and (2) give ALL parents (westside and eastside) a choice on this important issue of whether they want to go with schools that significantly differentiate between honors and GE (Hoover) and schools that don't (Aptos). I guess there'd have to be some tinkering with the maps as a result (maybe widen Giannini's and Lick's draw area?) but it could probably be done in an equitable fashion.

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  128. Anonymous@11:22.

    Thanks for cluing me in. I think you have some misconceptions about my views. I am all for AP classes. I think every school should have them, encouraging excellence.But like the Berkeley High science lab debacle, SFUSD seems to want to move away from AP. That's social equity for you. I made the point that AP programs are de facto segregation, my view is that achievement goals trumps diversity engineering. So I'm not espousing segregation, but I would not give up AP to have diversity.

    I also think you are absolutely right and that we need citywide middle schools to strategically replace some K8 middles that might go neighborhood and to create choice for that grade level.

    I hope that answers your questions.

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  129. 5:00--Hoover and Aptos as citywide schools. That is a specific proposal that you can ask for. I congratulate you on expressing what you want in terms of amendments to the proposed new system. More power to you. Go for it.

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  130. I'd say Hoover, Aptos, Roosevelt, Marina plus the immersion programs as citywide. That would make more sense geographically.

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  131. Wouldn't it make more sense to put desirable programs like language immersion, science, arts, etc in schools like Denman, Vis Valley and Horace Mann rather than try to force parents to send their kids there? This new proposal will be a bonanza to parochial school if it passes.

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  132. This reduced choice system sounds similar to what is in place in Oakland and Berkeley, which have been far less successful at attracting middle class families than SFUSD.

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  133. The demographics of Oakland are far different from San Francisco. Apples and oranges.

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  134. Last night Wynns and Kim proposed that CTIP1 be given preference after siblings and before neighborhood kids.

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  135. Will it matter in practice if CTIP 1 families don't participate in the "new and improved" lottery? Low SES families already have good opportunities to get into the highest performing schools (people who add diversity are assigned ahead of people who don't) but don't participate in the lottery at nearly the same rate as higher SES families. Why would this new system be a whole lot different? Use of census tracts as opposed to individual data seems even more subject to gaming by high SES families (borrowed addresses, renting a closet in an CTIP1 tract and having your mail sent there, etc.) than the current system. High SES families are always going to find ways to improve their odds, whether we have a pure neighborhood system or any kind of choice system. Low SES families are always going to be less savvy about playing the game--statistically that is. So really, why are we doing this?!!! Use the resources we are wasting fretting over the assignment system to help schools with concentrations of low SES-kids, as ER Taylor and Moscone have shown can be done.

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  136. This whole exercise is a cluster f**k. Sorry for the expression, but I am baffled by the whole process. A 'neighborhood' system that puts kids from other neighborhoods first? Huh? How are those kids even going to get there without funded busing?

    Who's on first? What's on second? What a mess. The old system is starting to look less evil. (But still with less busing, of course.)

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  137. Read Rachel Norton's comments about last night. With the exception of Special Ed, this is starting to look like pretty much a done deal. They narrowed the CTIP 1 areas into really the heart of the low-income areas in the city -- Mission, south side of Potrero, Bayview/Hunters Points, Vis Valley, Western Addition and Tenderloin. This definitely narrows the pool of kids who will get the CTIP 1 preference. Interestingly, they have now accepted a proposal to put the CTIP 1 preference first -- it is unclear from Rachel's post whether this is for both elementary and middle. Anyone attend last night here have an answer? Again, I'm struck by the fact that there is silence about the middle school issue, or at least Rachel's post says nothing about it. Nor is there more detail on the maps or the list of citywide schools -- particularly citywide middle schools. I did see one thing -- saner heads at SFUSD have decided to let the public comment about the maps for one month. Rachel opines that a draft of the map will be out in September for one month of public comment and then made final in November.

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  138. I'm telling people right now that if this atrocity goes through the voters should get a chance to weigh in on it. And while they are at it the Board of Education should be reformed to be more responsive to the needs of the communities they serve. Something along the lines of district elections.

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  139. I note that Rachel Nortion poo-poo'd the notion that there'd be many wealthier folks living in the CTIP 1 tracts who could take advantage of that fact to get to the head of the line. She seems to think that, by limiting the CTIP 1 preference to the 20% lowest CTIPs, the chances of that are quite limited. Unfortunately, she misses two facts. One, the Mission, Potrero, Western Addition, and even the Tenderloin have not insignificant pockets of new condos/luxury rentals smack-dab in the middle of these areas. See, for example, Buchanan Lane, One Polk Street, Symphony Towers. Two, unlike the European-born middle class language "preference" that people only heard about word-of-mouth, there will be real estate agents who will TRUMPET the location of condos and homes in CTIP 1 areas. This is what they are paid to do and, sorry, but they do a good job of it. I have a friend who is a real estate agent and just this past weekend our kids had a playdate. She and others at her firm have been closely watching the assignment system redesign and are really excited that this will give them the chance, for the first time, to trumpet certain homes as giving parents' preferences for better schools in SF. (Apparently the parental choice system had basically made it impossible for them to make such claims in the past, much to their consternation.) She's already seen the map on Rachel's website, and her firm has begun transferring it to street maps so that they are ready to publicize this preference when the Board votes.

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  140. I don't think there will be all that much "gaming the system" with this new system. There's a big difference between claiming that your co-op is not really a preschool or working the second language thing for diversity points, and buying a home or renting a tiny place and sending your mail there??? (even in nasty neighborhoods it's just not that cheap). The folks that borrow addresses are the Daly City / South San Francisco / Oakland folks with relatives in the city, not yuppies from Pac Heights angling for CL. I don't believe anyone would buy a place because it's in a CTIP1 area when they know the maps will be redrawn every year - that's nuts and if the realtors don't mention that little tidbit they could easily get sued.

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  141. 7:13, I would imagine that affluent people looking to buy homes would be much more interested in CTIP2 areas (good attendance area school, high test scores of neighborhood kids) than CTIP1 areas (iffy attendance area school, low test scores, not to mention high crime rates). As far as I can see, all the CTIP1 zones are located around public housing developments.

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  142. 7:13 pm again -- yes, you are right that real estate agents will most assuredly also tout the fact that a home is within the neighborhood zone of a particular school. I was just reacting to Rachel's post on her blog where she felt that the CTIP1 zones were fairly airtight and that affluent folks would not benefit. They are not airtight at all -- I gave folks three condo/townhome developments within the 20%CTIP1 zones right now -- and there are more. This is going to be particularly a problem in the Tenderloin CTIP1, the Western Addition CTIP1 and the Mission CTIP1. (I agree that it is unlikely the Bayview/Hunters Point and Vis Valley CTIP's will have affluent families living in them.) I just think the Board had better go into this with their eyes open and not pretend that there aren't going to be these situations when there are. And while I am commenting, I was astounded at the fact that the Board still seems not to be focusing on the middle school part of this assignment system redesign. Someone on her blog asked if CTIP1 preference would now be put first for middle schools as the Board just did for elementaries. She responded that that made sense but candidly acknowledged that the Board had not thought about middle schools. My goodness, yet another example of how the middle school assignment redesign is NOT being focused on! This is really scaring me. We've got third and fourth grade parents who have no clue what is coming down the pike and we have a Board that is also not focusing on the middle school aspect of this redesign. It really suggests to me that the Board (1) needs to more proactively alert upper grade elementary school parents to what is coming and (2) start focusing more on the whole middle school issue.

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  143. 7:13 pm again -- yes, you are right that real estate agents will most assuredly also tout the fact that a home is within the neighborhood zone of a particular school. I was just reacting to Rachel's post on her blog where she felt that the CTIP1 zones were fairly airtight and that affluent folks would not benefit. They are not airtight at all -- I gave folks three condo/townhome developments within the 20%CTIP1 zones right now -- and there are more. This is going to be particularly a problem in the Tenderloin CTIP1, the Western Addition CTIP1 and the Mission CTIP1. (I agree that it is unlikely the Bayview/Hunters Point and Vis Valley CTIP's will have affluent families living in them.) I just think the Board had better go into this with their eyes open and not pretend that there aren't going to be these situations when there are. And while I am commenting, I was astounded at the fact that the Board still seems not to be focusing on the middle school part of this assignment system redesign. Someone on her blog asked if CTIP1 preference would now be put first for middle schools as the Board just did for elementaries. She responded that that made sense but candidly acknowledged that the Board had not thought about middle schools. My goodness, yet another example of how the middle school assignment redesign is NOT being focused on! This is really scaring me. We've got third and fourth grade parents who have no clue what is coming down the pike and we have a Board that is also not focusing on the middle school aspect of this redesign. It really suggests to me that the Board (1) needs to more proactively alert upper grade elementary school parents to what is coming and (2) start focusing more on the whole middle school issue.

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  144. Why would an affluent family buy a condo in a child-unfriendly neighborhood like the Tenderloin or Western Addition rather than Noe or the Richmond? Somehow I don't think the possibility of qualifying for the CTIP1 designation for a couple of years would make the difference. OTOH, SRO rentals in the Tenderloin may become popular around the time families submit their SFUSD choices.

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  145. 7:13

    Wealthy people send their kids to private schools.

    Saying that people who can afford to buy property or rent condos in the dark green zone are going to do so to get into a public school is absurd.

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  146. My 2 million dollar house is in the dark green!

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