Thursday, February 11, 2010

SFUSD press release: Superintendent Presents Proposal for New Student Assignment Method

February 10, 2010 (San Francisco) –Superintendent Carlos Garcia has presented a proposal to the Board of Education for a new way of assigning students to San Francisco’s public schools.

The recommended policy would allow elementary and middle school students who live within the attendance area of a school to receive an initial assignment to attend that school.

This is a shift from the current system, which requires families to submit up to seven choices and participate in what is called the diversity index lottery. The current system has had limited connection to where students live and has resulted in racially isolated schools, the dispersion of students throughout San Francisco, and under-enrolled schools in certain areas of the city.

The high school assignment process will be simplified, but will remain a choice process.

Staff, who spent over a year working with researchers and gathering community input to develop the superintendent’s policy, say the proposal allows for predictability and reduces the amount of parent effort required to enroll children in school while maintaining a degree of choice for families who may not wish to attend their neighborhood school, and provides an opportunity for the district to use multiple strategies to create diverse learning environments instead of relying on student assignment alone. The increased predictability also provides the district with an opportunity to more cost-effectively create instructional coherence from preschool through high school.
“This proposed method is simpler for families,” says Special Assistant to the Superintendent, Orla O’Keeffe, who leads the redesign initiative. “All you need to tell us when you sign up for school is where you live and where you want to go to school. This will require less time and effort for parents. If they choose to, elementary and middle school families can participate in a choice process that will allow them to apply for city-wide schools and programs in attendance areas other than their own.”

The Board of Education established three priorities for the redesign of student assignment: reverse the trend of racial isolation and the concentration of underserved students in the same school; provide equitable access to the range of opportunities offered to students; and provide transparency at every stage of the assignment process.

Creating a policy that met these goals was difficult. After months of conducting simulations for more than six different options, staff concluded that different choice systems are limited in their ability to reverse the trend of racial isolation — and the concentration of underserved students in the same school — because the applicant pools for individual schools are racially isolated. In addition, not all families have the same opportunity to understand which schools they might like and submit their choices on time.
Neighborhood schools are similarly limited in their ability to reverse the trend of racial isolation and the concentration of underserved students, although some schools may become less racially concentrated than they are today, and many schools would have a more robust enrollment.

After thoroughly investigating the options and consulting with national experts, staff concluded that to reverse the trend of racial isolation and the concentration of underserved students in the same school through student assignment alone, the Board of Education would need to assign students to schools they have not historically requested and to schools far from where they live. For example, some students living on the west side of the city and in the north of the city would need to be assigned to schools on the east side of the city and the southeast side of the city, and vice-versa.

Instead of taking an aggressive approach that would not take parent choice or proximity into account, the proposed policy is designed to work with other initiatives that will encourage families to enroll in schools where they will add to the diversity of the school.

“A new student assignment system is one part of creating educational environments in which all students can flourish. Making sure every school is high quality is the most important concern for all of us, and a student assignment system alone cannot ensure school quality, although it does have a role to play,” says Superintendent Carlos Garcia. “We believe that this investment in neighborhoods is a strategic use of limited resources and will enable us to assure more quality schools in every neighborhood.”

O’Keeffe says that the policy provides a framework that can be modified over time.

“This is designed to be flexible and easily monitored and adjusted if it is not accomplishing the Board’s goals,” says O’Keeffe.
All schools, except those designated as city-wide schools, will have attendance areas, which will change over time. Current attendance area boundaries will not be used. The superintendent will identify programs and schools that will not have attendance areas, and these will be designated city-wide programs or schools.

Elementary and middle school, transitional year students (incoming kindergarteners and sixth graders) will receive initial assignment offers to their local attendance area school or, if their attendance area school does not have sufficient capacity, to the nearest attendance area school with openings. For elementary and middle school students who enter the optional choice process, if there are more applicants than seats, the choice process will give preference to applicants in the following order: 1) younger siblings,
2) students who reside in Census Tract Integration Preference (CTIP)1 areas, and 3) all other students.

Students will not receive initial assignment offers for high school. High school enrollment will be exclusively through the choice process.

Immersion schools, K-8 schools, and language programs will be designated as city-wide and will fill up through the choice process. There will be no local preference or initial assignment process for city-wide schools or programs.

Members of the public are encouraged to attend the Board of Education’s Committee of the Whole meeting on student assignment in the SFUSD Board Room on February 17, at 6:00 p.m. The board is scheduled to take action on the superintendent’s recommendations on March 9, 2010.


  1. This is going to be interesting. THere simply isn't enough room at Grattan and McKinley for all of the families in the attendance area. Some will be sent to John Muir and freak out. Just like they do today.

    Ditto with Claire Lillienthal and other trophies.

    The problem is too many middle class families feeling entitled to the same trophy schools. Even if they *move* to be near those campuses, doesn't guaranty there'll be room.

    Stay tuned and watch the shit hit the fan!

  2. 6:20am - I agree, some small schools can not enroll all kids in their area - perhaps they will give parents who do not get their assignment area school 1st priority in the lottery? And since CL is a k-8 I think that will stay an "alternative" school with no attendance area - therefore lottery only.

    But you know what - it does not matter to much to me now since my child will start this August and I am stuck waiting for my lottery result letter.

  3. What about if parents choose not to list their attendance area school?

  4. 7:54am - I believe the new system will work as such: You will file an "intent to enroll" by a certain date to the school district. You will get a letter assigning you to your "assignment area school" and then you can choose to take part in a "choice" system for all schools in the district. So you will be assigned your "assignment area school" but can then also do a "lottery". Gives you at least a bit more certainty (ie you will not get xyz horrid school if you go 0/7 on lotto).

  5. How is an "attendance" area defined?

  6. I don't envy those tasked with drawing up the new attendance areas. I would assume they will use existing data to try to set the attendance areas based on two criteria; 1) an estimation of the number of children that live in that area matched against the school capacity, and 2) an attempt to draw diversity into that area. We will probably see some pretty weird attendance area shapes. I recall reading somewhere that some families may find that their attendance area school is not the school technically closest to their home. Alvarado, for example, will probably have an attendance area that draws from both Noe Valley and the Mission. People who live a few blocks north or south of the school may be outside the school’s attendance area, while people who live a dozen blocks east will be within it.

  7. For the city wides schools, what does it mean that those from the lower performing "tracts" will have priority before everyone else? Up to a certain % of class total, or until there are none left or the class is full, whichever comes first? That will matter a lot for the demographic composition of the classes.

    Any language requirements for the immersion schools?

  8. anyone know when they anticipate having these new maps available? my current local school is all immersion, so I have no idea what my new attendance area will be...

  9. If the district has decided to move to a neighborhood or local assignment process it is completely unfair to remove certain schools arbitrarily. Claire Lililenthal IS the only local school in the Marina, Presidio Heights and those living in the Presio and Ft. Mason. The other closest schools are Sherman and Cobb. But those schools will have kids fron their nighborhoods. So, how will the dsitrict accomodate all the children?

    And what about the new montessori school? or Argonne?

    After all of these discussions, has there been throrough research by area to make sure that the system can work?

    This can positively or negatively impact property values - so it better be well thought out!

  10. After the previous posts, I must say I am surprised that the Superintendent is proposing a system that starts with neighborhood schools. I think the commenters here are right -- prepare for some crazy map drawing. One thing is clear: there's no way anyone can comment on the Super's decision or the Board can vote on such a system without seeing (1) the map and (2) the list of citywide schools. Rachel, I think you are going to have to put your foot down about that. We the parents are simply not going to tolerate you all passing a proposal like this without seeing those two vital pieces of information first.

  11. I do not believe CL ever was an assignment area school - If you look at the current map half of Presidio Heights falls into the Peabody "assignment area" and the other half as well as half the Marina into Cobb. Argonne has also never been an "assignment area" school. As with the rest of the k-8 they have always been considered alternative (therefore lottery) schools. So they are not "removing them arbitrarily". And remember you can always apply to get into them, regardless of your neighborhood school (you will not be REQUIRED to attend the school you are assigned).

  12. i got the sense from a post from rachel norton elsewhere that these maps (CTIP and Attendance Area) will be available sometime in the fall. i'll be biting my finger nails until then. i ditto the questions about how many spots the CTIP1 people can get at the non-assignment area schools. if they can take 100% of the slots, it could drastically change the constituency of those schools. they sort of describe what those schools are, but i'd prefer a "list" b/c i don't understand which schools would fall under "language program" which is listed as somehow different than immersion. can anyone put together a list and post it here?

  13. Crystal, dear. I don't think property values are exactly at the top of the board's list of priorities. And anyway, if you bought your home in the current system, it wasn't exactly a selling point then either, right? I'd say you're trading even. I'm in the same boat! (Our neighborhood school is depressing...) That's the way the cookie crumbles in this town.

  14. DITTO TO 10:48!!! But, the maps aren't due out until fall, so it ain't gonna happen... I don't understand how so many smart people do so many things in such a bumbling way. I mean, they're too smart to be "bumbling" so I have to believe that they are actually hiding things from us. I don't want to believe that, but how can they not have all these details worked out after all of this time? It just doesn't make sense.

  15. Well, McCoppin is 1/3 bilingual, so I'm wondering how that factors in as a language school. Not that it's a high demand school anyway. This whole transition is so confusing!

    I'm most curious about what they'll do with start times. What if your assignment area school doesn't jive with your schedule? And will they adjust times now that they won't have so much busing? Can you imagine the outcry from parents whose kids already go to those schools? If they changed a start time once my kid was in a school, I would be very upset. Ugh.

    And changing the map every year, and forever adjusting the dials? That's a simpler, more transparent process? Are they out of their minds? I'm ready to throw in the towel.

  16. random rant- is there a tactic to play if your assignment area school is acceptable (i.e., you could live with it, but not excited, and a bit nervous), and you get in, but you still want to 'SHOOT FOR THE GOLD' and go for a non-assignment area trophy school? it's such a blessing and curse at the same time!!!

  17. 11:08, did they really say they're going to change the map every year? did i miss something? that's insane. maybe a slight change every 5 years or so, might make sense... where did you see that, every year? that can't be right.

  18. Until they get rid of "alternative schools" the whole process will remain a sham designed to allow the SFUSD to say they are doing one thing will doing the exact opposite. The local school for a family that lives next door to Claire Lillienthal is Claire Lillienthal not Cobb. Any system that claims otherwise is simply a cruel joke.

  19. Yep, sooooo much "simpler". They are going to have to find answers to all these questions (if they haven't already, but are "hiding" them as someone suggested), and it won't be so simple all of a sudden.

    My child is in a school already, but I want to know how the demographic will change for my son who won't be in for another few years.

  20. 11:27, for those of us that can't afford to live a block from CL, it's not a cruel joke. alternative schools give us a chance at something better. sorry it's cruel to you.

  21. To 6:20 am

    Since I have lived in the Upper Haight for 16 years, I don't feel entitled to go to a "trophy" school. I do expect to have my children attend their neighborhood school, which I would guess is be De Avila since it is just a few steps from where we live. However, since the SFUSD decided without community involvement to make it an immersion school, that school is not an option for me, since I prefer a GE program. Is it the fault of middle class families in the Haight, Cole Valley and Buena Vista that schools like Clarendon and Rooftop happen to be in our neighborhood. NO!! Families in these areas haven't been able to access them any more easily then other folks from all over the City. So many of us have had to schlep to other parts of the City because we have been frozen out from schools in our very own area!!!Please stop with the self-loathing white middle class talk,especially against us in the Haight.

  22. Will it be a pure lottery system for who gets into over-subscribed assignment area schools? Also, all the (non-citywide) trophy schools would presumably fill up with kids in their assignment area, so those schools would not have any seats for kids doing the choice option. The pool of choice schools with available seats then becomes smaller than it is now, right?

  23. From the article: O’Keeffe says that the policy provides a framework that can be modified over time.

    “This is designed to be flexible and easily monitored and adjusted if it is not accomplishing the Board’s goals,” says O’Keeffe.

    I read this to mean they can change whatever they want, whenever they want. Perhaps the map won't be redrawn every year, but I would imagine they'll do it periodically. And if there are simply more kids in a neighborhood area than can fit into the school, they'll have to figure out some way to make it fair (a lottery among neighborhood applicants?).

    Gosh, it's a can of worms. I don't envy the district and BOE.

    The focus needs to be on making more schools acceptable to more people.

  24. 11:39, I feel your pain. It was ridiculous how the De Avila Chinese Immersion decision was made in the dark of night.

  25. People, read the actual language from Supt. Garcia: it will answer many (though not all) of your basic questions. Rachel Norton linked to it on her blog at

    One question is how many spots will be reserved for CTIP 1 students vs. neighborhood students--i.e., how can they prevent schools from filling up with kids from either category and leaving the others out? And for citywide schools, how many for CTIP 1 vs. CTIP 2? (I'm interested in this one as a prospective high school parent myself.) Supt. Garcia has suggested in his report that 40% would be CTIP 1 in the initial run, which makes some sense as CTIP 1 is supposed to represent approx 40% of the kids in the district--the lowest 2 quintiles. That might be adjusted at the end of the process to accommodate the actual pool of applicants.

    I do think that for non-citywide elemetary and middle schools that this system will tend to freeze out families from CTIP 2 neighborhoods who don't like their local schools. Presumably they will enter the lottery for citywide schools--hopefully with less competition since some families will accept their original offer. But they won't get much in the way of pickings from the neighborhood attendance schools by the time the local kids and CTIP 1 kids have been given spots. Except at the under subbed schools, of course.

    The real losers here will be those families living in marginal neighborhoods that get designated CTIP 2--maybe by a block or two--whose local schools are very dicey. I'm not talking about the decent schools vs. the trophy schools, because that is just a myth--we have many decent schools. I'd take Francis Scott Key or Harvey Milk in a heartbeat--there is way, way too much anxiety out there about some of these non-trophy schools. I'm talking about the API rank 1 schools. Some CTIP 2 families will get assigned to them and yeah, the shit will hit the fan when that happens, right?

    Another issue on SE side will be the designation of language immersion schools as citywide. That will leave very few options for families living in Potrero Hill in a CTIP 2 area. Where will they be assigned?--not Buena Vista. Are Daniel Webster, Flynn, or Starr King to be citywide because of the immersion programs there, or only the immersion half? So where do the Potrero families go for local assignment? Moscone? Taylor? Carmichael? These are already full.

    I don't envy those tasked with designing maps that reconcile middle class anxiety and attempts to avoid worse (residential-based) segregation than ever. The bottom line is that the same people will (at least at first) be fighting for the same spots. This system just doles them out in a different way. The real question is will the schools continue to improve under this system so as to expand the pool of acceptable schools--as has happened under the diversity index system.

    I'm personally only affected by the high school process, but I do think this could have a negative effect on middle schools such as Hoover and Aptos that have done an admirable job of diversifying across the economic and racial spectrum. I worry about the loss of school buses from the Mission to those two schools--they have brought both Latino and white kids to schools that would otherwise be largely Asian. In the case of Aptos, test scores rose last year for all sub-groups, and that school has improved greatly over the last eight years or so.

    But maybe the new system will help diversify Horace Mann and Everett, who knows? I don't see Giannini getting any less isolated, mainly because it is so far out in the Sunset with terrible MUNI service to get there compared to the others. Ditto MLK and Gloria Davis, because who will send their kid on MUNI over to those neighborhoods at the age of 11?

    Anyway, good luck everyone figuring all this out.

  26. 12:10, thanks for the thoughtful post. It is difficult to be objective when viewing the new proposal if you have skin in the game. We are all looking through different lenses.

  27. One big change in here for people with Inclusion kids. The Super's statement says that Inclusion kids will no longer be considered in a separate lottery based solely on parent choice (along with some unknown process at SFUSD HQ), but will have a "special services attendance area" which will be their designated school. We are wondering how this is going to play out as a practical matter when, as Ms. Franklin kindly posted on this website some months ago, 76% of the middle school Inclusion slots are at just three schools -- Giannini, Hoover and Roosevelt. Seeing how different different programs are at different schools, I'd prefer to maintain some parental choice in both elementary and middle school special ed programs. Every special ed kid is different and parents need to be able to find a program that is going to work for their kid. Now it is true that there was always this bizarre unknown SFUSD Special Ed office decision about whether the parent's choice was going to be honored, but I'm a little worried about losing parental choice on what is a very complicated -- and highly individualized -- issue.

  28. 12:10 says --- That will leave very few options for families living in Potrero Hill in a CTIP 2 area. Where will they be assigned?--not Buena Vista. Are Daniel Webster, Flynn, or Starr King to be citywide because of the immersion programs there, or only the immersion half? So where do the Potrero families go for local assignment? Moscone? Taylor? Carmichael? These are already full.

    Um, yes. Now we go back to strategizing for private along with, I bet, lots of people on Potrero Hill. Great. Watch the Live Oak applications skyrocket if they shut us out of all or half the programs in our nearby schools.

  29. I'm speechless. I can't believe they "proposed" the neighborhood option over the choice option.

    Something crazy is going on behind closed doors. The other option that was under consideration would have preserved choice AND had a neighborhood element in assignment. AND everyone was assigned at the same time - not assignment, then lottery.

    Please - If someone has the inside scoop - please share. This sounds like an about face by SFUSD

  30. 12:56, this is 12:10 again (I'm a current middle school parent who has lived through several permutations of the old assignment system).

    Yes, I think it's true you Potrero folks do not fare the best compared to either the west-siders or those in CTIP 1 areas like the Inner Mission, Excelsior, Portola. I'm really sorry! This was not what I advocated for myself, and it's basically a sop to "neighborhood schools" folks on the other side of town. I don't have a horse in this race now, but I feel your pain as a fellow SE-sider.

    That said, I hope you will wait to see the actual assignment map before throwing up your hands. Who knows, maybe you'll be assigned to a school you love. Gerrymandering could happen. And even if not, it would still be worth it to apply to a citywide program. I would be looking at Webster, Revere, and Flynn for sure if I were applying for K for 2011, and it sounds like at least their language programs will be citywide. I figure competition for DW can't be too high from west side people given they will have the assignments they've been wanting for years anyway, and DW is waaaay on the east side of town (unlike Alvarado). So hang in there, at least until you know the real lay of the land.....and good luck!

  31. Yes--they really must address the fact that so many language programs are on the SE side of town, and if they make those "citywide" then where will the SE folks be assigned? If they are all API 1-3 level options then that will not go over very well! I'm still trying to figure out why the westside folks should get neigbhorhood assignment (good for them, with all their high-scoring schools) AND access to the best schools on the eastside--while Potrero/Bernal/Castro folks are shut out. Anyone?

    By the way, I do not begrudge the CTIP 1 folks the leg up....I'm looking at the unfairness of giving middle class westsiders so many options and middle class eastsiders, well, not so many.

  32. Hey 3:07
    I think alot of the families on the West Side wish to stay on the West Side. I don't see alot of families from the SE travelling all the way to Lafayette, Alamo, Peabody and even Sutro which are on the NW side. Why does this need to be a neighborhood vs neighborhood kind of competition? Maybe folks over that way hunkered down, stayed with their neighborhood schools over the year, and guess what, now they are "trophy" schools. Families on the SE could do the same thing.

  33. 3:23

    3:07 here.

    Well, sure, we'd love to have up-and-coming good schools over here on the east/south-east part of town.

    Why, look! We do! We have these increasingly popular programs at schools like Buena Vista, Flynn SI, Alvarado SI, Marshall, Webster SI, Fairmount, Revere SI, Starr King MI. These are schools/programs that fill up quickly. Many people "hunkered down" over here and built these programs up. Cool! We have popular programs over here. Surely we will benefit from access to these, our neighborhood schools.

    What? What's that you say? They will not be "neighborhood" schools? They will be "citywide" schools that people assigned to Alamo, Lafayette, Sunset, Jefferson etc will be able to apply to with the same level of priority as us, the local neighbors in a CTIP 2 area? Really?

    Oh, okay, then surely I'll have equal access to Jefferson across town. That would actually work out well for us since one of us works at UCSF ....

    What? No? I'll be shut out because I'm not a neighbor and I get no priority access due to leaving one block away from a CTIP 1 area?

    So where will my kid be assigned? We already have too many kids compared to schools over here. If citywide access to so many of our local schools is granted to lots and lots of families from across town, where will our kids go? We'll get neither local schools nor access to good ones.

    The issue is that most of our high-scoring schools seem to be on track to be designated citywide. That is NOT true in the NE part of town, other than Lilienthal.

  34. Well, as for alternative schools on the N side of town, the same is true for Argonne, CL, Alice Fong Yu, De Avila, Sunset, Lawton, and I'm sure there are more...

  35. 11:39 a.m.: I take it you haven't lived in the Haight for long.

    BAck in the day, before De Avila was closed, it was the reason so many Cole Valley and Upper Haight families went private or left SF. THey all wanted Clarendon or Rooftop, and when they got assigned to DeAvila instead (or even McKinley or Grattan) they FLED!

  36. I'm with 2:06 on this one. SFUSD has done an about face. They've gone from basically a parental choice system with different levels of preference to a neighborhood assignment system with an out to try to get into city-wide (and outside area) schools. I'd love to know what happened. The practical problem, however, remains: no one knows what this system is going to look like until we see (1) the maps and (2) the list of citywide schools. I don't buy that it is going to take SFUSD until the Fall to release the maps. They can do it now -- in fact, I bet you they already HAVE maps that they are looking at. For goodness sakes, this is not a Israeli-Palestinian peace process! In fact, if I were a paranoid person, I would hesitate to guess that they are going to make a grand announcement about how SFUSD is going to a "neighborhood assignment" system, get all the good publicity from the (to my mind) unthinking middle class folks in the center of the city who think this is going to guarantee their kid's admittance to Miraloma or whatever trophy school they are salivating over and then, in October, release a completely gerrymandered map. I hate to say this, but folks need tell the Board in no uncertain terms that voting on this proposal now, without letting everyone see a map and a list of citywide schools FIRST, is not going to fly with voters. If they want a recall petition, then doing that is going to get them one.

  37. 3:43

    Most of the schools you list currently offer a GE program, Flynn-Alvarado-Webster-Fairmont-Starr King. My understanding is that the GE programs will be filled using assignment area preference. It is only the language "programs" and the K-8 schools that will be city-wide.

    I wonder if Clarendon "GE" will become an assignment area program or a city-wide program. They consider themselves an "alternative" school and have some type of Italian language focus, but the application form defines them as General Ed.

  38. i wish someone in the know would give the rest of us a clue about what the citywide schools will be. so many people seem to have a good list in their head, but it's not obvious to all of us.

  39. 4:32 p.m., meet 10:48 a.m., and 11:05 a.m., 11:31 a.m... they're up to something, and they're hiding something. if they obfuscate things long enough so people don't know what's going on, they can get away with a little more. as you said, this isn't the f'ing IP peace process. there is no excuse for this lack of clarity and transparency, and they only thing i can conclude is that they're hiding it from us. and, why? b/c everyone is going to be pissed? but what motivation do they have to piss people off? that, i don't get? do they get paid by a certain group, elected by a certain group? really, i am baffled... but, they haven't done a good job, that's the only thing that is certain.

  40. 4:42

    It seems pretty clear that all the language immersion programs are going to be designated as citywide. Remember that Fairmount does not have a GE program anymore--they are going full-on Spanish immersion. Marshall is all Spanish immersion too. Alvarado is up in Noe Valley--great for the Noe families, I guess, but I am certain that Bernal and Potrero folks will not get into Alvarado GE under the new system, assuming the GE programs are designated as local not citywide, which is not yet clear to me.

    As for the rest, Flynn GE is definitely an up-and-coming program, especially with the IB program coming in, but it is only half the school--limited spaces. In fact, all the other GE programs are 1) only half the school, so I doubt there is adequate space to offer assignments in them to the kids in these neighborhoods; and 2) just as dismal in terms of achievement as the other low-API schools in the general area like Bryant, Chavez, Sanchez, etc., with the remarkable exception of Moscone, and Serra, which is a good school that is right now geared to an ELL set of kids (and kudos to them).

    Where does this leave the Bernal and Potrero families? Where will these kids be given initial assignment, if most of the spots are off-limits due to being language immersion? Will they be assigned a neighborhood or two over? Crammed into the remaining (low-performing) schools? These neighborhoods have supported our local schools, notably DW in Potrero and more recently Revere in Bernal. Now we will be shut out of the language programs we helped to build up and left with.....what? It's a shame.

    I thought the Option A as described by Orla O'Keefe last week had merit. The proposal as worked up by staff feels like a blindside in favor of neighborhood schools and against middle class families on the east side of town.

    I want citywide choice back!

    I also don't see how local schools make any sense at all for middle schools--even more than for elementary--given how few of them there are overall.

  41. This is a complete power grab by Garcia. When you read the text of the plan it clearly states that the Superintendent gives himself complete autonomy to gerrymander districts and to reclassify schools and to be able to do so at his discretion annually. Your neighborhood school today may not be so tomorrow. Representation of the community is rightfully that of the Board,not their employer. How can you call it a neighborhood schools plan (he is obviously tapping into community interest in neighborhood schools) if you don't know from one year to the next what your assigned school is?Neighborhoods schools are not about upping probability. They are about certainty.That requires building capacity and a commitment to families.The administrations only expressed commitment is to diversity,which under this plan,still trumps true neighborhood preference.

    I think the Board will go for this as it allows them to avoid the strife of a split decision. That's why Garcia foisted this plan now.It is a huge power grab in disguise.

  42. I agree. Between option A and B, I much preferred option A. The neighborhood first approach is, in my opinion, a complete about face in policy. And I think all the people who are in favor of it are those who live near good schools and assume (mistakenly) that they will now automatically get assigned to those schools. They won't I'm afraid, and they also won't stay in the system to help turn around a non-trophy school they are assigned to because the local school filled up. Worse, the lucky few who do get assigned to a good neighborhood school evidently can keep that choice and still compete with everyone else in a lottery for the city-wide school.

    I live equidistant from McKinley and John Muir. I will probably get assigned to one of those schools from what I can gather. Either way, I will participate in the lottery because neither is my top choice, but there is a world of difference between knowing you are assigned to one school or the other when entering the lottery, since I would seriously consider McKinley but never go to Muir. And in either case, when I do enter the lottery the odds of anyone getting into a different but good neighborhood school (let alone a trophy neighborhood school) are greatly diminished because I would assume the most or all of those slots were taken up by neighborhood residents and/or siblings.

    So for example, I have a hard time imagining that Sherman will not fill up completely with neighbor hood residents, and that many neighborhood residents would be assigned to a different school (Cobb?) because there weren't enough spaces for residents. Effectively, Sherman will be completely impossible for me to get into now. It may have been exceedingly difficult under the current system, but now it is basically impossible.

    FWIW, I do like the CTIP concept as a proxy for "diversity" since it is not blatantly racial, focuses on academic achievement which is easily verifiable (unlike income levels), and also address the basic issue of increasing academic performance for all students.

  43. 7:48 again - Other problems I see: 1) who will confirm addresses? Seriously. there is already fraud in the current system. (i know of 2 people at Clarendon who don't live in SF for example). Just wait until we have a neighborhood first assignment system. 2) for language schools that are part of the lottery, how will we confirm language proficiency? I know that is an issue even now, but I think it will be more of a problem going forward.

    And as another poster alluded to, all this talk of "refining" the system as needed just adds to the uncertainty. My first child will enter K in Fall 2011 and the next one the fall of 2013. I'd like to have some idea that the school I have toured this past fall will be the same as the school my first child attends and will be the same as my second child attends through the fifth or eighth grade. But if you change the maps every year, or other non-public criteria that will be used to populate the schools, I have less certainty about that. Is the Alvarado that I toured going to be the same place in 5 years as it is today? It all depends on the maps and/or lottery criteria doesn't it? So whatever system you put in place, please don't revise it for a period of time so parents get to understand it and feel comfortable with it. Refining things in a material way every year will not attract or keep middle class families in the system.

    Finally, the idea that the board will vote to approve the plan without seeing maps, lists of city wide schools and programs, an understanding of how the lottery works (do I just list one school or 7? Does the rank still matter?, etc.) is outrageous. It would be better to keep the current lottery in place for another year to iron all of these details out than to approve this proposal without more concrete and public information.

  44. Agree with poster above, the maps and the city wide designations need to be in place before approval. Further, what is being considered in the maps? Kids who currently attend or census data? Because I would guess there are several hundred kids in the Marina who live no where any school but Sherman and CL, who attend private schools currently. Now, if they knew Sherman and CL were one of their assigned schools, there may be a huge jump in enrollment. What kind of priority, if any, do kids get who are bumped from their neighborhood attendance area school? Do they go to the bottom of the pile? Because I can see some serious overcrowding for those attendance areas which have trophy schools now. How does SFUSD determine which kids get bumped? What is the process? What a mess.

  45. My gosh, everyone has their panties in a jumble on this topic. If this new proposal puts you in the attendance area of a good school then you are for it, right?

    If not. This is proposal sucks. I get it.

    Bottom line. It's better than before so I'll take it.

    Anonymous #1: According to the research posted on SFUSD there is plenty of room at Grattan and McKinley for families in the attendance area. Guess we'll just have to wait and see on that one...

  46. Thanks for trivializing our concerns Amanda.

    I think one worry (among others) is that even people who live in an attendance area of a good or trophy school will not be assured a spot there. It sounds good to say "neighborhoods first" but will SFUSD deliver on that when there are 120 k aged kids in a neighborhood and they all think they will be assigned to the great school down the block. And, can you post a link to the research you are referring to? I would love to know how many school aged children entering K in 2011 live in the McKinley or Grattan attendance area since that is my neck of the woods. Of course, since we don't know what those attendance area maps are, then whatever research is posted may/may not be relevant, right? And even if it's true for those 2 schools, what about other great neighborhood schools that we know are going to be oversubscribed? If they are not oversubscribed, by the way, that will only be because they draw the maps in a way that will artificially limit the population of local students (like a 3 block radius around Alamo).

    Without seeing the maps and data, this is all moot, right? Make it public already. They either have the information (in which case they should show it) or they don't (in which case this entire plan is just a shot in the dark leaving way too much discretion and authority to Garcia and the SFUSD staff).

  47. what happens if you live in the neighborhood attendance area when you apply for K , but then move later on? Are you forced to leave a school you've been at for 2, 3, or 4 years because you suddenly have to move to another neighborhood? How will addresses be confirmed every year? I'd prefer a "choice" system similar to what we have now with a preference for certain census tract areas - maybe in place of the socio-economic questions that are currently asked.

  48. I think the hope with the new plan is that many people will get a neighborhood school they can live with, thus taking them out of the ensuing lottery. The people left over will have a better chance at getting alternative schools, because fewer people will be vying for those spots (many will have already been assigned and accepted their neighborhood school). It would seem this will be less wasteful than the current system, although there will always be many, many people who are unhappy, no matter what. Our lives are all so complicated. When we were kids, yes, you just went to the neighborhood school. But mom probably didn't need to be downtown by 8:30, with her kid assigned to a neighborhood school that didn't start until 9:30. Yes, it's complicated.

    The big question is, and someone asked this earlier:If you get shut out of your neighborhood school, where do you fall in line for the lottery - in front of, behind, or in the same cohort with kids from lower performing tracts. I have no idea. How should they be lined up? I don't know.

    It's a big IF, especially if your assigned school is popular. And truly, they have no way of knowing how many kids will apply to a neighborhood school. Even if there was a census, many kids attend private schools, so it's impossible to predict. (But not so hard to predict that more families will promptly move into trophy neighborhoods, further exacerbating the problem.)

    It's an imbroglio for sure and I do not envy the people designing this new plan. Let's try not to skewer them too much until we have more information. It's a thankless job.

    One silver lining - if people get assigned their less than stellar neighborhood school, it's a great opportunity to band together with your neighbors to create a better school. (Think about those property values!) Of course, if your neighborhood school is undersubbed (ours is) we could have done that in the old system...

  49. Whew! Thank you 9:47 for your post!
    You are exactly right on this.
    The district is trying to provide a "little more" certainty to the process (what parents said they want), more simplicity to the process (what parents said), and balance out many challenging needs within some difficult legal boundaries.

    IMHO I think that the proposed system will help but that it'll trade out some problems for others.

    No student assignment system is going to solve all the problems it seems some on the BOE, or parents, or anyone - want.

    Overall, I think the recommendation is an improvement.

    I just want them to move on with it and start focusing on what really will make a difference: making sure every school is a quality school. As cliche as it's become, THAT is what will remedy the student assignment challenge.

  50. Folks talk about getting "shut out of your neighborhood school", but I have a feeling that will be rare. The district has fairly good data on the approximate number of children living in each census tract so they can design attendance areas that match the school capacity.

    I also believe that they will make the attendance areas small for trophy schools because they will assume that a high percentage of residents in those areas will accept their assignment. They will also gerrymander attendance areas to fit their diversity objectives. So I think the question will not be "Do I get my attendance area school?" I think the question will be "Do I live the the attendance area of the school that I want?"

    I also agree with some other commenters that this system will succeed if the distict is able to reduce the incidence of western parents selecting choice schools because they got shut out of the one in their neighborhood. With the western families satisifed, there will hopefully be more spare capacity in the citywide choice schools for parents that are unhappy with their neighborhood options.

  51. As a result of the administration's assignment proposal,the community is going to get the perverse pleasure to see just what these board members are made of. If they go for this proposal sight unseen (as in no maps or school classifications) we will know for sure who the boss is and who are not acting as the elected representatives of the people. But perhaps SFUSD will be saved if the people get a chance to weigh in. Read between the lines.

  52. Even if boundaries and school classifications are provided before the vote, Mr. Garcia has said that he can change your boundaries or make your local school an alternative or an alternative a neighborhoods school.

  53. Ok, my son is in inclusion, in elementary school. NONE of the schools anywhere near me have Inclusion programs.
    I live in the panhandle. Where would Carlos assign my child, under his "second-class-citizen-special-education" zones?

  54. Feb. 12 at 6:30 -- I've got a kid in Inclusion too who will be going to middle school in 2011 and am VERY worried about this proposal too. Most of my worries are because, as you will see once you start looking, Inclusion programs vary wildly from school to school almost as much as special ed kids vary in their needs. That's why I really think parental choice should remain primary in special ed assignments. And I really don't think there are significant diversity problems in the special ed classes like in the general ed classes. In fact, I WISH my kid's general ed classrooms were as diverse as the Special Day Class kids at his school! So I would like to ask the parent rep on the Special Ed Committee -- Ms. Franklin -- if she could kindly comment here and let us special ed parents know how she thinks this will play out.

  55. Rooftop and CL are K-8 schools and keep their "alternative" classification in this new assignment system. This classification impacts many people in these attendance areas. These schools have two campuses; therefore, THEY DO NOT NEED TO BE ALTERNATIVE SCHOOLS! Each school could be easily redivided into a K-5 elementary school and a 6-8 middle school. SFUSD would need to recalculate the number of K classes for the new K-5 campuses to insure appropriate numbers on each site, but it would be quite easy to accomplish. Also, perhaps the CL Korean strand could be moved (to Rosa Parks?), allowing more space for the CL K-5.

    Another questionable feature of the redesign is the two-step process: attendance area assignment, followed by the City-wide lottery. Even people who LOVE their attendance area assignment are going to throw their hat into the ring for the City-wide lottery:
    “Hey, it’s free, what have I got to lose?”
    “I might get lucky and win the jackpot.”
    “I’m going private, and this is only my back up strategy.”

    Meanwhile, many people who “lost” in the attendance area round are going to be holding on for dear life. I have not read anything about the particulars for this complicated process, but two things could provide equity and eliminate the possibility of people coveting good seats in their attendance area while “testing the waters” for something better:
    1 - It should be MANDATORY that you give up your attendance area assignment in order to participate in the City-wide lottery.
    2 – The SFUSD must post the number of open (available) seats at all schools one month before the City-wide lottery submission deadline.

    How would this work? Assignment letters would go out in March (for example), and then you have two weeks to register at your assigned “attendance area” school. If you register at your attendance area school, then you are done. In April, SFUSD posts the number of open seats at all schools, including all the alternative schools, language immersion schools, etc. If you did not register at your attendance area school, then you can enter the City-wide lottery, which would occur one month later. After the City-wide lottery, everyone can wait list at any school or program. We know that there will be a lot of movement throughout the summer with empty seats in Sept. because, as we know, disgusted people will have moved out of the City or gone private, and they will not have the decency to relinquish their seats.

    Before voting on any assignment option in the redesign, little details like this should be ironed out.

  56. This is just a proposal to the BOE; they have to vote on it, so it's unwise to jump the gun and get too crazy.

    If it passes, we won't know until the maps come out for sure whether this will be acceptable and leaving the board free to adjust the maps constantly seems like a huge can of worms.

    However, the bright side to me is the acknowledgment by Garcia that quality and location are more important to parents than diversity. The "alternative" schools have historically been among the highest academic performers and those will remain city-wide options. The use of census tracts appears to be intended to give disadvantaged kids a fair shot at openings in popular schools.

    I still expect to get assigned to John Muir and not Grattan under the proposal because there are too many kids in Cole Valley for Grattan to take them all (DeAvila Chinese immersion will be a city-wide program) but at least it seems like it would be less stressful and more environmentally friendly.

  57. 10:08, i agree it's early to get too frantic, but if we don't raise our concerns, we don't know if they're considering them. they've made this process less than transparent to say the least, and they shouldn't be picking a plan without having these details figured out.

  58. I will hazard a guess at what caused this sudden change in the Super's position. The first proposals -- A and B -- both maintained parent choice, albeit with varying types of preferences. The members of the Board who are (and I'm trying to be civil here) more on the side of wanting to push for more diversity -- and want set zones -- signaled that they would not support either choice-based proposal. At the same time, Board members more on the middle class parents' side wanted something to show middle class parents that they'd get their neighborhood schools. So . . . the Super, counting votes on the Board, cut the baby in half -- the pro-diversity crowd get what they think are zones; and the pro-neighborhood crowd get what they think are neighborhood attendance areas. The key question --what are these zones/neighborhood attendance areas going to look like and which schools are they going to apply to? -- are kicked down the road to be hashed out over the next six months. Have I got it right, Rachel?

  59. Yes, of course if you want to be in the city-wide lottery you'd have to relinquish your seat at your neighborhood school. Otherwise the process would be bedlam. I would think that would be mandatory.

    I also think the process would have to start earlier. If the public and private process are not synched up it'll be a bigger mess than it already is.

    I wonder in lower performing tracts, when people are assigned their neighborhood school, if there is going to be outreach to try to encourage families to look beyond their assigned school? Since so many people in the lower SEC sector haven't traditionally even enterted the lottery, (and thus been assigned the closest school with seats) it would seem many will accept their assignment, which would not help the BOE's diversity agenda.

    But you can't make people apply across town just to create diversity. Same problem. Different set of rules.

    Which brings us back to the most important thing - making all schools better. It's not an easy task, but it should be the main focus.

  60. It will be interesting to see if they turn any of the alternative schools into neighborhood schools where there aren't many neighborhood schools. It does seem only fair, at the expense of eliminating good city-wide options for the rest of us.

    I, for one, was hoping for a more zone-oriented system, where you had 3 or 4 choices that were near your home and you entered a lottery knowing you'd get one of them. (We happen to not the school right around the corner from our house because culturally it is not a good fit for us.)

    It appears this zone option is no longer on the table. Perhaps it was just too complicated to implement.

  61. I really think there should be more focus on the return to local-area middle schools in this proposal. I'm very glad that high schools will remain citywide, as there is no reason why kids that age should be limited in their choice by where they live, but I think the same is true for middle school.

    I realize most here are focused on the K search, but middle school will be upon you soon. Have you begun looking around for middle school options? My older child LOVED the choice process and felt very invested in the school she put first on the list. Other than Giannini and Presidio, it hasn't been so hard to get your #1 school. So why go to neighborhood schools at this level? Adding programs (like SI at James Lick and Everett) seems to be increasing diversity (albeit slowly) without the neighborhood mandates. I fear losing a lot of people in certain neighborhoods if this goes forward, as families that might have looked at Aptos or Roosevelt or James Lick but who will now find themselves shut out. Why not citywide for middle school along with high school?

  62. I'll second 12:27 on the middle school issue. I really think the past five years has seen an improvement in middle school diversity, not a reduction. And 12:27 is right that there's been a huge broadening in middle schools that are improving, both academically and diversity-wise. It is not just Aptos and Roosevelt that have improved -- look at Marina Middle, Lick and even Everett. So what's the problem at the middle school level that needs to be fixed?

  63. I just think this proposal needs meat on the bones before the public can comment and before it can be voted on. Posters bring up good questions about the priority of kids shut out of their neighborhood area? The lack of a list of city wide designated schools? Inclusion programs not appropriate for neighborhood assignment? Finally, lets get to start times. If there is going to be this neighborhood area seems like the busing is going next or will be far more limited - does their master plan intend to elimnate the 7:50 and/or 9:30 start times?

  64. 12:09, BINGO!

    Among the many flaws in the process towards generating a new system and the current proposal, one stands out for me:

    If the new maps DO NOT exist right NOW, the recommendation is irresponsible at best.

    If the maps DO exist and are not made public immediately following the final vote in March, providing transparency was never a priority.

    The current timeline has the maps being unveiled in the fall, just as the new system is implemented. Laughable.

    The work done by Parents for Public School-SF and Parent Advisory Council made it clear that the public does not fully trust SFUSD.

  65. The start time issue is a big one. If they go to 8:40 at all schools I can assure you all hell will break loose. Personally, I love the 8:40 start time and in many districts, you get one start time for all schools. But it's hard to change things up on parents who signed up for a certain schedule and are committed to it.

    Has anyone been at a school where they changed the start time and if so, what happened?

  66. Re middle schools, I recall attending various information sessions where Orla O'Keefe and others were saying that "middle and high schools" would likely be left as citywide choice (though perhaps with levers, along the lines of the current CTIP proposal, to give access to low-income kids to high-performing schools, which I support). I don't know when it changed to include middle schools in the "local preference" schemes, but I think it's a bad idea!

    Yes, it's true, Aptos, Roosevelt, Marina, James Lick, and more recently, Everett and Francisco have all gotten some new buzz in the choice process. I know this because we just went through it this year for the second time, so I have a point of comparison from a few years ago. This is progress. Why mess with progress? And do you really hear parents screaming about middle school access? I don't. Elementary and high school yes, but not middle.

    I think it is totally unfair to limit kids of middle school age based on where they live. Many of them will be willing to travel across town to get to programs (like music) that they like. While it is true that the middle schools all have the same curriculum, that doesn't mean they are the same. I know of people who chose James Lick GE this year because of the small class sizes (via a multi-year grant plus added funds for low-income kids)--because that is a priority for their children for various reasons. I know of other from the east side who are willing to travel to Aptos for the jazz band or Giannini for the chorus or Presidio for the Japanese. Lick has a good unified arts program, but many of the other east side schools don't--I think Horace Mann teaches guitar? or is that in the afterschool program? --but their non-academic period seems to be focused on literacy tutoring due the high number of ELLs and non-proficient students. Does the district have a plan to add arts programs to the east side schools?

  67. One thing the proposal does right is to designate high schools as citywide. THANK YOU for that, SFUSD, Superintendent Garcia, and hopefully BOE!

  68. Hi 9:40am,

    Katy Franklin here.

    Special Education assignments should, by law, be made in IEP meetings. Written offers of placement are supposed to be made at IEP meetings, not by strange lottery systems or administrators who have never even met your kid.
    The district takes the illegal position that "programs" are decided in IEp meetings, and that placement is for "programs", not actual places, not actual school sites. It's wrong ... this assignment system is illegal for our kids, and we should do a class action lawsuit against SFUSD if they keep on not complying with I.D.E.A. and the Ed Code.

  69. The big clamor about high schools was back in 2003, when there were mass protests by parents who wanted to get their kids into Lincoln HS.

    The district handled the overflow there with an unusual show of special attention, by creating a bus run from the Sunset District to Galileo HS. Balboa's reputation was on the rise, meanwhile. So the fact that Galileo and Balboa are now considered desirable eased the pressure, and I very rarely hear anyone freaking about about high school anymore.

  70. There's no way the SFUSD can guarantee everyone a spot at the closest school -- physically impossible in many cases without increasing class size because K classrooms must be located on the ground floor.

    But this proposal is about as close as you can get to a guarantee, with less stress.

    Pretty much all the data people are asking for in this thread (including the CTIP maps, not including the new attendance area maps) has already been made public. It's online here:

    including this very telling map of how many open seats there are in each neighborhood (green means more school capacity than kids who have a home address in that neighborhood):

  71. Here's what the proposal on the SFUSD web site ( says about entering the lottery part of the process:

    "After receiving initial assignments, elementary and middle school students will have the opportunity to participate in an optional choice process. At this time, students will elect whether to retain their initial assignment in the event that they do not receive any of their choices while participating in this choice process."

    The way I interpret this is that a person assigned to Alamo or Sherman (or any other excellent neighborhood school) does not have to give up that assignment to enter the lottery. They only need to elect whether they give up their assigned school in the event they do not receive any of their choices in the lottery. Unfortunately, this is the only language I could find on the subject, but as other have pointed out, why should any student assigned to a great school get an additional "free" chance at yet another great school with everyone who was shut out or who lives near a terrible school. There seems to be no justification for this.

    I hope that the proposal was simply poorly written on this point. Seems to me that in order to enter the lottery you need to give up your assigned neighborhood school beforehand and regardless of whether you get one of your choices. Maybe I am missing something here, but this really seems unfair.

  72. 8:40 - The capacity map is misleading as it only takes into account the home addresses of students currently enrolled in SFUSD schools.

    We know several private school families in Cole Valley and the Upper Haight who would have gone public if they had gotten a spot at Grattan by the Summer.

  73. From an earlier post: "After receiving initial assignments, elementary and middle school students will have the opportunity to participate in an optional choice process. At this time, students will elect whether to retain their initial assignment in the event that they do not receive any of their choices while participating in this choice process."


    This is positively absurd. You retain your seat while you try for something better? And get the same shot at an alternative school as someone who either lives near a crappy school (but in a high performing tract) or got shut out by their own neighborhood school? Obviously they haven't thought this through.

    This would mean that people aren't giving up their seats until AFTER the second lottery takes place, which would just drag out the agony even more for so many. It would just add so much complexity to a process that is supposed to be simpler.

    I SO want to be optimistic about the new design, but when I read nonsense like this it makes me want to throw in the towel right now. Surely this is a misprint. Rachel Norton, can you please tell us it ain't so?

  74. Yup. The rich (in neighborhood schools) get richer, via a free pass to try to for something better, thereby cutting off at the pass those who are desperate. I SO wish they had just tweaked the current strategy, which is so much more fair to everyone.

    I've been worried about this outcome--a return to neighborhood preference--for awhile, and cannot understand for the life of me why so many of my mom friends from Bernal, Potrero, Glen Park, and Dolores Park areas have been all down on the diversity index lottery. As hard as it was to navigate, at least it gave us some possibility of choice. With savvy choices (I don't mean Clarendon), we had a shot at some very nice schools. Now we will be shut out.

    I so hope the BOE will reconsider this proposal. Take a look again at Option A, and seriously, consider making many if not all of the schools citywide choice. Either that, or do not include our best SE schools (the language immersion programs) as citywide. And for the love of mike, if you must go with this option, don't let people keep their assignment school if going into the lottery.

  75. I am trying to understand why they would choose to allow people to hold their spot at their neighborhood school while they try their luck in the lottery. Any ideas on the logic of this?

    It encourages people to put down unrealistic choices because they know they can't get shut out of their own school. It would seem we'll just end up with the masses all listing the same 7 schools just like before, knowing they have something to fall back on if the don't strike gold.

    All of a sudden it gets really complicated again. My brain hurts.

  76. Same old lottery, except those lucky enough to afford a West Portal-type address get to sit in leisure while the rest of us sweat. I guess this is like WD-40 to the squeaky wheel.


  77. Btw (in case any board of ed members are listening to us rant)....I have no problem with giving true preference to the poorest kids, however that is calculated, through diversity index, or CTIP 1, or whatever. By all means, give them a boost into whatever school.

    It's treating the rest of us non-poor folks with fairness that is my beef. I hate that where you live becomes such a critical deciding factor. Why not give the CTIP 1 folks preference up to a certain number of seats, and then do citywide lottery for the rest of us? A lottery is fair. This is more or less what is being proposed for high school, right? That sounds fair to me. Certainly middle school could be done that way---and I really can't think why not elementary either. This seems like a way to appease complaining parents, but not all of us wanted neighborhood schools! How does this actually meet the goals as set forth by the board?

  78. i think if rich people get into their rich neighborhood school with their rich friends they won't do the lottery. that sounds, simple and stupid, but i actually think it's true. they don't want to schlep their kids around either, and they're less apt to move b/c they actually own a nice home in their rich neighborhood. i'm a renter, i'll move to rent in the good school neighborhood. they won't.

  79. I think you are right that people in affluent neighborhoods will be less likely to schlep to another neighborhood - unless there's a specific program they're interested in.

    Actually, I think the intention of giving those with a neighborhood seat a try in the lottery without losing their seat is to try to encourage as many people as possible to try the lottery so as to create the most diversity possible. If everyone just takes their neighborhood school assignment then there will be more segregation among neighborhoods. This is the only reason I can think of for giving people a seat and a chance at another seat at the same time.

  80. The whole idea behind a neighborhood school is that the neighborhood can easily get involved to make the school great. That means fund raising, time, effort, getting businesses involved. Most of the reason behind "trophy schools" is parental involvement.

    It is shocking to hear that parents don't want to make their neighborhood school great. That is what many Portero parents have done.

  81. Well it's not always quite so simple as wanting to make your neighborhood school great. Our neighborhood school is McCoppin. It is a very Chinese school. According to Adam's Amazing Spread Sheet, it is hardly an in-demand school.

    One third of the school is taught in Chinese. (Bilingual, not immersion.) The school mascot is the Dragon. (On the outgoing message for the school the principal says, "Go Dragons!") Unless the demographics change drastically with the neighborhood lottery, my child will be one of very few blond heads on the black top.

    I would like to help 'turn the school around' -meaning make it more diverse, add extra programs supported by a robust PTA, and thus make it a more in-demand school, but my guess is the school doesn't want to be 'turned around'. The people there seem happy that there's a school that caters to a specific population in SF, meeting their goal of celebrating the culture and language of China.

    It would be awkward to make my imprint on this school. I hope this doesn't offend anyone reading this blog. It's just too daunting.

  82. Some of the comments here are absurd. Just because you live near a decent neighborhood school doesn't make you "rich" and how would getting a chance to apply for a city-wide school, having been placed at a decent neighborhood school, make one "richer"???

    I live near a decent neighborhood school -- Jefferson-- but why should I have to give up my neighborhood placement if I want to shoot for an immersion program? Do you think the district would guarantee a seat for my child for an immersion program? I think not, especially considering that I may not live in CTPT 1. I'd like to know that if I didn't get my choice, that I would still have my neighborhood school. There is nothing wrong with keeping our options open. You would do the same, no doubt.

  83. Who are these rich people? If they were rich, they wouldn't be considering public schools, now would they? Think of some of the west side areas with great schools-- NOT RICH. You have the very eclectic Richmond with lots of renters, young families new to the country from China, Russia, families living in section 8. Come on. Stop ranting about the Rich. They're not in the market for public schools. We're all hard working families with young children and we're all trying to do our best to provide for our kids' education.

  84. 9:12
    You do sound simple and stupid.

  85. this is one of the problems with neighborhood preference. it pits neighborhoods against neighborhoods. it also affects property values. at least before we were all in the same boat.

    i'm not saying that anyone is "rich" here. but you have to admit there are gradations of winning and losing in this system that are based on where you can afford to live.

    of course if you are in the jefferson attendance area you want to keep that assignment while you apply to an immersion school in my neighborhood. problem from my perspective is that you are poaching on some of the limited attractive spots in my neighborhood. if i had an equal shot at jefferson as you had at fairmount, maybe you'd feel the same way as i do.

    let me just guess that if the attendance area map turns out to be so gerrymandered that you don't get put into jefferson, but rather into mccoppin or sheridan, you wn't be feeling quite the same way. it's all a matter of perspective. you might try seeing it from the perspective of someone whose initial assignment school isn't jefferson.

    i just hope they make many of the schools citywide school, including jefferson :-)

  86. The are pros and cons.

    PRO. What if the hard economic reality is that there is no money left for transportation, outside of Special Ed.? Then, would it make sense to let local kids go to local schools as much as possible? And the optional choice process lets those who can provide their own transportation or are willing to travel on Muni to go outside of their area.

    CON. If that is the case, why didn't you say so? Why can't you say that it is all about money?

    Furthermore, show me the map. You can't expect me to buy some mystery meat. Come back when you have the map.

    And furthermore, the choice to go outside of my area is meaningless if the local kids have taken up all the slots. Thanks for nothing. What are you selling me?

  87. @12:24

    What exactly are you looking for in a school? McCoppin has an API in the 800's. It has a district average of white kids (10%). Great reviews of the school overall.

    If you are concerned about the 'chinese' nature of the school. I would respectfully suggest that it would not be the worst thing in the world for your child to have a deeper cultural understanding of Chinese culture than most Americans in the upcoming century. And speaking as someone who grew up as brown in a sea of white, it generally makes you a stronger, more confident person when you are forced to deal with standing out in a crowd.

  88. 1:54

    Yes, you have hit on it. This is all about money. Notice that in the same proposal, Supt. Garcia talks about eliminating all buses except for a very few elementary lines. THAT is why they are including middle schools in the local area school scheme, even though many parents and kids really like the choice aspect at that level.

    I agree with you--I wish they would just say that it is all about money. Certainly they will have even greater segregation under a neighborhood plan with almost no buses, no matter how hard they try to gerrymander the assignment areas. How will Lakeshore or Harvey Milk retain their historic African American populations in this new plan? Will Aptos still look like the district in terms of ethnic breakdown, if buses from the SE part of town are eliminated? I doubt it. How is this plan going to meet the ostensible goals of eliminating racial isolation, etc.?

    I like the simplicity of the CTIP plan, and I support giving those families a shot at a certain percentage of seats in any school. That's a good thing. But--will the district support them with transportation, or even outreach at the application level? If not, then this is all a mirage.

    And as for fairness for the rest of us, well, it's just not, especially compared to the much-maligned old system. At least that system had all the non-poor families in the same boat.

    I wish they would at least extend the "citywide" high school plan to middle school. And if they insist on this neighborhood scheme for elementary, at least have a geographically balanced plan for designating a goodly number of citywide schools, so that all neighborhoods have equitable access to good schools.

  89. 3:58 wrote: "How will Lakeshore or Harvey Milk retain their historic African American populations in this new plan? Will Aptos still look like the district in terms of ethnic breakdown, if buses from the SE part of town are eliminated?"

    It would be easy enough for SFUSD to see how those set ups would affect those schools, simply by seeing which SFUSd are in that neighborhood attendance area.

    But yes, Harvey Milk, Lakeshore, Rooftop and Lillienthal will all will become very White and Chinese in a few years' time.

  90. What a total bitch fest this thread is. Following this blog for the last months has helped me decide one thing.

    I want nothing to do with the public schools -- not the school board, not the parent community.


  91. The New Student Assignment Method (N-SAM) is insane.

  92. 6:31 -- You are naive if you think there are no ugly politics in private schools...

  93. I think the whining on this site is not a true reflection of parents in the school system. I also think there have been some good comments about the new system in this thread.

  94. i agree that the decision to go with this system may be strongly affected by the factor of decreased bus costs. the district is trying to save all the money it can.

  95. Small point of information regarding this question:

    "Will Aptos still look like the district in terms of ethnic breakdown, if buses from the SE part of town are eliminated?"

    Aptos has a satellite zone in the Mission with SFUSD busing. But Aptos students come from the Oceanview-Merced-Ingleside, Excelsior, Vis Valley (including the Sunnydale Projects) and the grittier parts of Bernal, including the Alemany Projects -- via Muni.

  96. Let's go for 100 comments.

    Now that we know the real reason for going back to neighborhood schools (no buses), what are our ideas on how student assignment should work?

    Attendance area school and its backups. The worst case scenario that we want to avoid is an assignment to a school you cannot physically get to. How about every school attendance area (School A) also gets two or three backup schools (Schools B and C) that are physically close to school A? That way, if you cannot get into School A, there might be room at School B or School C.

  97. 6:31 -- You are naive if you think there are no ugly politics in private schools...

    understatement of the year. 6:31 gets the award for dumbest reason to put aside an entire category of schools out of hand. have fun jumping from the frying pan into the fire! unfortunately there is no escaping icky bitchiness when it comes to school politics, especially getting into them. if anything, the publics are less so when it comes to getting in as assignment is based on somewhat faceless policies--diversity index, or now, apparently, where you live. on the other hand, it settles down a lot in all categories of schools once you are part of the school community and dealing with real people face to face.

  98. 6:31pm..

    What I think you might consider is that the recent rounds of budget cuts have caused a great deal of unease among many people, and that that unease can contribute to what you consider as unacceptable the bickering or bitching on this blog among people interested in public schools. But give people a break, and accept that tension might be higher these days. (I also am not so naive to think that there would be no bitchiness without budget cuts; bitchiness comes with anonymity too). The plus is that the recent tensions and worries about the budget cuts and about the school board can also be galvanizing. My kids are at a public school that I didn't especially want, but have come to appreciate. You should witness how galvanized the parents are at the school. They're up in arms, and are coming together in a way to address the needs of their kids and of other kids in a more dramatic way than they might have otherwise. And that surely will have some positive effects. Anyway, please don't dismiss an entire community of people and parents just because of the angst and frustration that people can express on a free wheeling, anonymous blog. I wish you the best of luck in your school search and assignment.

  99. It is ok that there is less integration in the SF schools today than there were 15 years ago.

    How can I say that more segregation today is ok?

    The earlier level of integration, in terms of reducing over-concentrations of African American and Hispanic students, was achieved by discrimination against Chinese Americans in San Francisco.

    Discrimination against Chinese Americans was the claim of Chinese American parents in the Brian Ho case.

    The parents asked, "What business was it of the school what percentage of the student body was made up by students of one or another race or ethnic identity?"

    SFUSD responded that the school district was not prepared to defend itself in a court of law.

    The judge then advised SFUSD to settle. Out went the racial caps of the Consent Decree. In came the Diversity Index of the modifed Consent Dcree. We have resegregated ever since.

    Liberal San Francisco becoming more segretated in its schools-- is that backsliding on social justice?

    Wait. That earlier desegregation was false. It was achieved by illegal means. It was like cheating with steroids in baseball.

    The comparison we should make is not from today's integration to that of 15 years ago.

    The comparison, instead, is whether we are living up to what we can do today. Are we listening to what the parents of African American, Hispanic, and Pacific Islanders say is needed?

  100. "6:31 -- You are naive if you think there are no ugly politics in private schools...

    understatement of the year. 6:31 gets the award for dumbest reason to put aside an entire category of schools out of hand. have fun jumping from the frying pan into the fire! unfortunately there is no escaping icky bitchiness when it comes to school politics, especially getting into them."

    Sorry, already have been at private school for more than half a year.

    Parents at the school do not complain like this. For the most part, they are happy and have their head down, making sure they can earn enough to pay for tuition.

    They have the decency to not hand out ADVICE to other parents. Surprisingly enough, the parents don't seem to be trying to game the system in the way that I see here.

    I like the new student assignment proposal. We might have given public a chance had this system been in place for a few years.

    It seems like the most financially practical proposal I have seen. Although the details aren't out, it is nice to finally see some hard decision making and an attempt to recreate neighborhood schools.

    Good for Garcia.

  101. 8:40 p.m. -- You're still new to your private school. You're not on the board. Wait 'till you're in middle school and are no longer blind to the ugly politics.

    It is beyond ugly, especially since so much of it is about money. (Gotta keep donors happy.)

  102. I find the whole issue of SFUSD ending busing quite a twist here, and I'm really surprised by the fact that the Super's notice suggests that people can hold their neighborhood slots while they go fishing in the citywide choice lottery. The more we are picking apart this recommendation, the more it seems to be completely half-baked. No maps, no list of citwide maps, a special ed assignment redo that appears to violate state law, and this simply incomprehensible suggestion that folks can hold a slot in their "neighborhood" school while seeking something better in the citywide lottery. Way up in the comments I had suggested that the Super's recommendation was some type of bureaucratic cutting of the baby in half, trying to appease both the pro-diversity Board members and the pro-neighborhood Board members at the same time, with the hard choices kicked down the road until the maps and citywide lists come out in the Fall, but now . . . jeez, this whole thing seems more like it is just plain unworkable.

  103. I live in the SE section and we'll be applying for schools in 2011. I think we're gonna be screwed by this. :(

  104. 8:40 your comment that parents at your private school don't complain "like this" makes no sense. The comments here relate to an unclear, citywide policy about school assignment for next year. There is no analogous process for private schools, so no comparison between the parents at your school and the people on this list can be fairly made. Were this a bunch of parents ranting about the voles in the garden at a particular school I could accept your comment. If comparing apples to kumquats makes you feel better, fine, but do realize it's not a fair comparison.

  105. The article states:

    "Elementary and middle school, transitional year students (incoming kindergarteners and sixth graders) will receive initial assignment offers to their local attendance area school or, if their attendance area school does not have sufficient capacity, to the nearest attendance area school with openings."

    If the district cannot accommodate all the students in the attendance area how will they determine who gets the spot and who goes to another school? Did I miss something here? Is it a lottery? This seems like a very important question that no one is asking. Where is the transparency and simplicity?

    Also, considering that the attendance zones and school classifications can change, living in a zone guarantees very little when taking into consideration the first point as well.

    By far the largest issue is the capacity of the district to seat neighborhood kids in their assignment zone school. Unless the district can do that for the large majority of students in any given zone, saying that it is a neighborhood based system means very little.

    Also, as others have already noted, there is nothing to prevent someone from throwing their hat into the lottery since they have nothing to lose. This will make the chance of getting an alternative school very low indeed.

    The district needs to improve schooling across the board by focusing on the one really important achievement factor on the school side ( as opposed to the parent/student side)- getting more high quality teachers into troubled schools. We should be talking about assignment systems for teachers, not for students. Teachers have their unions to protect them. Parents (and students) have nothing except the board members they elect. That's why our children are always the pawns in the assignment game.

  106. Is it safe to say that the typical choice option will be used by a CTIP1 student trying to get out of his or her CTIP1 assigned attendance area? The free shot. To get academic diversity into CTIP2 schools. To benefit CTIP1 areas at the expense of CTIP2 areas. All true.

    Maybe a CTIP2 parent should just claim two residences, one in CTIP2, and a rental in CTIP1. Apply to the placement office, early and often.

  107. CTIP2 kids are going to be much more likely to get a school of their choice in the lottery phase, presumably in a CTIP1 school, because they are at the front of the line. CTIP1 kids are more likely not to get placement because they are at the back of the lottery line. Therefore, it's likely that CTIP1 kids are more likely to need their original neighborhood assignment than CTIP2 kids.

    People who have an unacceptable neighborhood school who are CTIP1 are clearly at a disadvantage.
    It's just the way it is.

    Here's a question about a different aspect of the proposed plans: The new assignment system only really affects K and 6. If they do away with busing to save money, where will that leave all the kids who have been riding buses to their schools? Surely they will not leave so many families in a lurch.

  108. 8:39 am--you are saying that a CTIP1 (Bayview) who wants to go to CTIP1 (Mission), because that's where the parent works, will lose in the optional choice lottery to the CTIP2 students. So CTIP1 (Bayview) is pretty much stuck in the Bayview. One way out: If he is willing to ride Muni on a long trip to a CTIP2school, assuming there are openings out there. Any simulations? Are there really that many CTIP2's trying to get into CTIP1?

    I think everyone is just guessing that there will be no more bus services. It seems the most reasonable explanation for this return to neighborhood schools. But the lack of transportation money is not front and center of the explanation given for the student assignment redesign. It's all talk about the isolation of minority communities and choice options that nobody is buying.

    Can we get a straight answer--are buses getting cut? One commenter said that the answer is yes, and its in the Superintendent's proposal in black and white, buried somewhat, but there nonethe less.

  109. Buses are getting cut, but not completely. The district is still required by law to bus special ed children that require transportation and Program Improvement student that opt out of their PI school. They get some federal funding for that purpose.

    The transportation issue is one of the big conundrums of this plan, besides the amazingly overt lack of transparency and lack of stability to zones and school types. How can kids from poorer areas get to schools across town to take advantage of choice? Not that busing has worked well anyway to serve integration policies, but without it the choice process for those lacking transportation is no choice at all.

  110. 8:39 here. Sorry, I got the zone names backwards. Meant to say low performing zone children would be more likely to get a high performing school in the lottery vs. a high performing zone kid.

    That's obviously the intention of setting it up this way.

  111. Well I'm afraid with the budget cuts we're all going to have a lot fewer choices. It's tragic.

    As many have stated here, the true challenge is to make all of the schools better. This is especially daunting with so much less money to pay for it.

  112. "Liberal San Francisco becoming more segretated in its schools-- is that backsliding on social justice?"

    Get real.

    You can't implement social justice when you don't have any money. California is headed the way of Mexico. Is their social justice in Mexico? Is their social justice in China?

    Not much.

    So why, when our public schools are filled with the children of recent transplants from Mexico and China, would their be social justice here?

  113. "8:40 p.m. -- You're still new to your private school. You're not on the board. Wait 'till you're in middle school and are no longer blind to the ugly politics.

    It is beyond ugly, especially since so much of it is about money. (Gotta keep donors happy.)

    February 14, 2010 9:21 PM

    So, 9:21, you're a personal authority on every private school in San Francisco?

    Since you brought it up, there are some politics at our school. However, they do not affect pedegody.

    I'm not going to get into the public/private debate.

    Bottom line: public schools in this city have been asked to correct every social ill, not only in the city, but in the world, for far too long. The general level of teaching has declined. Our kids are suffering. Parents are suffering.

    Complaining on this blog about this assignment method, or that, isn't going to do a damn thing.

    Read the papers. Learn more about the fiscal solvency of our state. Where is the revenue coming from? Where is it going?

  114. 10:27, Thank you for your post. Your view is not a popular one on this blog, but I agree with you.

    Break the law to come here and what do you get? A spot at the front of the line in our current lottery system. And next year, if you live in a lower performing census tract where (surprise) many immigrants happen to live, you'll have the same privilege. That is San Francisco's version of social justice. People are too PC to admit it, or even to see it for that matter, but it's the truth.

    Almost 50 percent of the incoming kindergartners in our school system are English Learners, and yet we supposedly have tight immigration rules for those who choose to immigrate legally. One can only surmise that many are here illegally. And who can blame them when educating their children is one of our top priorities? We roll out the welcome mat while refusing to ask whether or not their parents are tax paying citizens.

  115. 10:27 and 10:55--you have strong feelings on this subject. I am not understanding what you want.
    Explain to me what you want.

  116. Thanks 10:55.

    "Break the law to come here and what do you get?"

    Yes, it starts with assymetric access to the schools.

    In this city, you can add to that assymetric access to healthcare and childcare.

    It is middle class San Francisco American citizens and legal green card holders who are largely stuck with huge copays and uncovered costs from their insurance companies. San Francisco General is more than happy to pick up the tab for the uninsured.

    The copays and uninsured amounts continue to increase because, surprise! somebody has to pay for the ever increasing number of uninsured.

    Various family service providers provide FREE infantcare and childcare for Spanish and Chinese speaking immigrants.
    (If you are middle class, you may qualify for part-time preschool when you child reaches the age of four.)

    Language teaching. How about all the expensive programs to teach San Francisco immigrant children to speak english. (A full half of kids in this city!) Think about the parallel. Gee, I'm getting a little tired of living in San Francisco. I think I'll move (illegally) to hmmmm . . . Beijing! There's the ticket. Do you think that the Chinese government is going to invest in a special Mandarin/English immersion program, with one-on-one language intervention, for the next 10 years, to teach your kids Mandarin?

    How about welfare? The more children you have, the more welfare you get. And the more unlikely it will be that you will be asked to return to your country of origin.

    What a boondoggle.

    Difficult to talk about, hey?

    California is becoming a national laughing stalk. We can't even get TARP money. I suspect it is because the federal government judges us incompetent to make any hard financial decisions.

    Social justice? We have the right to turn California into Mexico. Go Baby!

  117. 11:33:

    "Explain to me what you want."

    I would like San Francisco to be governed in a fiscally responsible way that attempts to improve access and quality of education, healthcare, childcare and other social services for citizens and legal immigrants.

  118. Explain to me what you want in terms of the new student assignment method.

  119. "Explain to me what you want in terms of the new student assignment method."

    I like the idea of encouraging the recreation of neighborhood schools.

    However, the assignment method can't fix the effects of illegal immigration.

    Most of the frustration parents are experiencing isn't due to the assignment method. It is due to the effects of illegal immigration.

  120. I'll add:

    Sure, it is true that immigration is always a convenient scapegoat in hard times.

    But, really, a full half of kids in SF not speaking English!!??

    Yes, we have always had discrimination in our schools. Mostly against African Americans. But we never really got to dealing with that. Now we've piled so many problems on top.

    The magnitude of California's illegal immigration problem is very underestimated. It's not our only problem, but combined with globalization and loss of high paying jobs, it is beyond our means to deal with.

  121. I would like for US citizenship to mean something, starting with our school assignment process. I will write more about that as soon as I can.

  122. I have posted this before -

    Bottom line: Illegal immigration is a problem but not the major problem with California.

    5 billion cost overall out of a 118 billion dollar budget. Should we deal with it, yeah. Will all our problems disappear? No. Arguing anything else is disingenuous.

  123. 1:50PM, I read that article too.

    That analysis does not take into account of cost of educating and caring for the children and grandchildren of illegal Mexican immigrants.

    The following article is a better and deeper analysis of what is happening in California with regard to illegal immigrants from Mexico:

    Do We Want Mexifornia?

    The above article doesn't mention the effect of illegal immigrants from China. It is true that Chinese immigrants seem to be more able, in many ways, to assimulate into our culture. However, when I see Chinese parents demanding their "right" to create schools and immersion programs that are formed from 60%, 70%, and 80% Cantonese speakers, I really wonder about their degree of assimulation into American culture.

  124. 2:06, thanks for the no-nonsense perspective. I find it very refreshing on this blog.

  125. "However, when I see Chinese parents demanding their "right" to create schools and immersion programs that are formed from 60%, 70%, and 80% Cantonese speakers"

    1:50, I believe you are mistaken. Immersion programs (Mandarin, and now one Cantonese) are very popular among WhiteFolks.

    The popularity of immersion programs (whether Mandarin or Spanish) among non-Chinese and non-Hispanic parents is the main reason the district has expanded these programs.

  126. Sorry, meant to say 2:06 is wrong, not 1:50.

  127. "1:50, I believe you are mistaken. Immersion programs (Mandarin, and now one Cantonese) are very popular among WhiteFolks.

    I am not referring to Mandarin Immersion programs. I am referring to Cantonese Immsersion programs.

    Check the demographic mix of any Cantonese immersion program in the city. (E R Taylor, Alice Fong Yu, for example.)

    Please tell me where the Cantonese immersion program is that has less than 50% Asian Cantonese students.

  128. FYI:

    The vast majority of illegal immigrants from China speak Cantonese, not Mandarin.

    There are some Mandarin speaking Chinese immigrants, but most are legal H1 visa holders with professional backgrounds. In my experience, they send their kids to private school (CAIS) or move to Cupertino, and elsewhere on the penninsula.

  129. This proposal is not a neighborhood school proposal. How can the district call it one when they know very well that they don't have nearly enough seats for students in many of the neighborhoods? This is true for both the over and under subscribed schools. West end schools are filled to capacity and southeast schools don't have enough seats for the population if more choose to go local. So they have to push both groups out to the middle.

    SFUSD knows there is a growing clamor for neighborhood schools all across the district and so they have answered that call with the new proposal. But it is only a neighborhood school policy in name. The prerogative they have afforded themselves to create preferences and redraw maps and schools is the antithesis of the neighborhood school concept, which is two things - a school near home and the assurity of attending it.

    SFUSD has made it clear that their first goal is diversity. That's funny, because I thought a school's purpose is education. When will they leaders see the no matter how diverse or color blind a school may be, that has very little to do with achievement. They should listen to the consultants they hired who have already informed them of this fact- the achievement gap within schools.

    We have to build up capacity to create neighborhood schools and assign more experienced teachers to high need areas.

  130. This blog is full of racist dogma.

  131. No, this blog has been taken over by Don and his cast of sock puppets.

  132. This blog has not been taken over by Don and his sock puppets. I wrote several entries about the immigration issue. Stop blaming Don. If anything, whenever an interesting conversation gets going, you blame Don and his sock puppets. It's getting old.

  133. Not Don here. Just a mom who sometimes writes on this blog from a more conservative view than most.

    It's interesting how many people are appalled at the thought of a middle class family gaming the system - for instance, in the current lottery system, lying about a home language or preschool. (Shame!) And yet SO SO SO many people on this blog obviously fully support the idea of coming to the US illegally and being first in line for our schools. Isn't this a hypocritical point of view? Am I missing something? Am I really a racist just because I want people to play by the rules?

  134. Moggy, stop blaming me for every anonymous post you read on this blog that you don't like. What is your problem? If you are so high and mighty why don't you use your real name? I will not be deterred in posting by the likes of you. It is getting old and you wasting time and space.

  135. Hi 5:24 PM,

    Another non-Don mom here.

    I wouldn't even say that speaking out about illegal immigration is a particularly "conservative" stance.

    What is conservative about preserving education and health care for Americans and LEGAL residents? I guess it is "conservative" in the sense of wanting to conserve public education.

    If you haven't read it, I would highly recommend the Victor Davis Hanson article:

    The accusations about racism really are getting old.

    There are no sock puppets here, just San Franciscans who love our city and our state.

  136. 12:50--I understand you to say that you support neighborhood schools. You are in support of the initial assignment to the attendance area school.

    You are also distressed about illegal immigration. If I ask you to not discuss illegal immigration in this blog, could you please do that? Your concerns are perfectly appropriate in other blogs.

    Don, I understand you to be concerned about the maps being redrawn all the time, among other issues. You have ideas directly related to student assignment. Do you propose voter approval of new maps?

  137. "You are also distressed about illegal immigration. If I ask you to not discuss illegal immigration in this blog, could you please do that?"

    Could you tell me why you think that a discussion about the effect of illegal immigration on our city schools is inappropriate for this blog?

    Also, since your are asking for a form of self censorship, could you let me know on what authority you speak?

  138. 7:04 wrote: "If I ask you to not discuss illegal immigration in this blog, could you please do that? Your concerns are perfectly appropriate in other blogs."

    This is absurd and offensive.

    Illegal immigration directly impacts our schools. It is absolutely relevant to the topic of school assignment, budget cuts, and anything else that affects education in the state of California. To think otherwise is extremely naive.

  139. I do not support voter approval of new boundaries. I do support voter approval for a workable neighborhood school with choice SAS. I believe that the traditional boundaries should be used and that, in the case where boundaries are nonexistent or satellite, new proximity-based lines be drawn.

    How could voters approve new boundaries anyway? On a yes or no for the whole city? By region, by attendance zones? I don't think voter approval is feasible. A nonpartisan commission ( if such a thing exists)could be given that charge.

    But the old boundaries should be respected and the neighborhoods let intact as defined, in part, by their schools. We have used these boundaries for decades. For what reason should new ones be drawn?

    Tremendous integration has taken place in assignments zones what were once highly segregated areas. Leave well enough alone and respect the school communities that exist within each boundary.

    The focus should be on education from here on out. We need to put assignment systems behind us and focus on the development of our schools, especially our most troubled schools.

  140. Thanks, 7:39.

    7:30 still here. Also, I am probably one of the least "distressed" people posting in this thread.

    Both my husband and I are lucky enough to be able to afford to pay for private school and be mobile enough to move out of state, if necessary.

    However, you're right. It is somewhat "distressing" to watch our public schools and our state go down the tube.

    So, I'm waiting. Please fill me in on why a discussion of illegal immigration on San Francisco schools is not appropriate for a San Francisco school blog.

  141. Illegal immigration is not the subject of this string. It is a national issue. Districts have to deal with education issues and while immgration of all sorts has a great deal of impact upon local districts, from a political and economic perspective there is little that can be done to make any kind of change one way or another. Try to stay on topic.

  142. Self censorship. I have no authority in this matter. I can only make a request. It is entirely up to you to what to do.

    The impact of illegal immigration does have an impact on education. Would you write it up as a topic and send it into Kate? It is entirely up to you what to do.

  143. I've seen a few references to a statistic that seems highly unusual. Can anyone confirm whether 50% of k students are ELL? Is this just a statistic thrown around by anti-immigration folks, or is that what the data shows.

    Also, for everyone who is anti-immigration, remember that children born in the US are citizens. So these children are, in fact, Americans and have a right to our schools.

    Nevertheless, the number seems very high, and I wonder if it's accurate. Furthermore, how does it compare to other cities, like NY and LA?

    Frankly, I am not so much worried about educating the children of illegal immigrants as I am about distributing too many resources to ELL to support families who have been in SF for many generations but choose not to assimilate (or just learn English - these are 2 different things in my mind). People are free to choose whatever language and culture they want for their children - I don't think people, should be forced to "assimilate." On the other hand I don't think scarce public funds should be used to preserve certain languages and cultures (particularly when we are talking about severe budget deficits). This is a zero sum game.

    ELL should be for recent immigrants only. And I have a hard time understanding how 50% of our kids are ELL by that definition. If 50% are ELL, I suspect it has more to do with entrenched populations in SF (who vote and want to preserve their culture) than it has to do with illegal immigrants (who do not vote and are worried about deportation, etc.)

    But perhaps the statistic is just bogus to begin with. Anyone know?

  144. Don, I'll leave it to you and the district and the name callers to fight it out.

    Name Caller:
    No amount of redistricting or student assignment or recision of prop 13 is going to fix what ails schools in California.

    Anyone who has had a close look at the California economy and budget can see that we are going to have wave after wave of cuts for the forseeable future. This year is just the beginning.

    Parents can scream and holler and protest. There is no money to be had. Silicon Valley money, the very thing that has allowed us to remain oblivious to our expenditures, is off-shoring and moving to other states. You can read about that in the post from the New York Times that I put up on the new thread that was put up today (re: private schools.)

    It does leave me a little puzzled though. Other states, such as Massachusetts, seem to be willing to do some hard thinking about conserving education and healthcare. They still have the best schools in the country. They don't have a problem thinking about the effect of illegal immigration.

    What gives with California?

    It is coming down to a fight over a few scraps and public schools that are among the worst in the nation.

  145. FYI - According to the district website, 27.9% of students are limited or non English speaking as of fall 2008. It is better to learn to navigate the district portal for information rather than making statements and asking others to verify for you. It is a simple matter.

  146. If this passes monthly rentals in hot attendance areas will undoubtedly get more pricey. And parents only need "live" in those attendance areas long enough for the first child to apply to SFUSD, the other kids will automatically get sibling priority.

  147. The Chronicle did an article about kindergarten two years ago that stated close to 50% of kids entering K were learning English. Does anyone else remember that article? I remember reading it and almost falling off my chair. My sister is a guidance counselor in elementary and I remember calling to talk to her about it. Perhaps the article wasn't accurate article?

  148. Cool. I own rentals near coveted schools.

  149. Don. The question was what % of enter K students are ELL, not what % of the student population of SFUSD is learning english. These are two very different things.

  150. Let the games begin, and I'm not talking about the Olympics.

  151. We are getting far off topic, but according to Ed Source 42% of California's incoming K classes are ELL. The number drops to around 11% by 12th grade. Given SF's demographics, I wouldn't at all by surprised to know that 50% are ELL. At My children's school the K classes are well in excess of 50% ELL.

    It is interesting that you brought up this subject. Economic Impact Aid, a TierIII categorical program was one of only two programs not made flexible by legislation last year - meaning that the money still has to be used for the intended purpose. But the money is often rerouted for other uses because the parents of ELL kids don't know or don't speak up.

  152. It's true, we have strayed off topic. The illegal immigration issue is the conundrum of the 21st Century in our state and country, and we aren't going to solve it on this blog. It's the elephant in the room, but let's ignore it for now.

    The new assignment process is the topic in this strand. I hope Carlos Garcia and the BOE are reading it because there have been some good questions asked that need to be answered before The Vote takes place.

  153. As with the current assignment system, apparently diversity and transparency don't go together very well.

  154. 1. Proceed with neighborhood schools,if we must, because of the prospective lack of funds for busing.

    2. Do not implement census tract integration preferences until address fraud issues are resolved.

    3. Go to the voters for more money. We need it.

  155. I re-read the Superintendent's recommendation as well as the "FAQ" sheet that is now up on SFUSD's website. It is true that the whole budget deficit seems to permeate the document. And I'm not quibbling with that problem. But the other strand I picked up in what the Super's saying is that the parental choice system (now that's the one we have as well as what Opion A and B would be) has been and will be too hard on the District because it makes it difficult for the District to "plan and allocate its resources." In other words, the District doesn't know which school is likely to be more demand and which isn't and gets caught with underenrolled and overenrolled schools. I must say that this is a breathtakingly specious argument. The notion that the District does not know -- from previous enrollment patterns, from test scores and from feedback from principals, parents and teachers -- which schools are going to be popular with parents and which are not is just absurd and the Super should know better than to trot out something like that. Moreover, it really bugs me because it suggests that the District doesn't think anything good has come out of the parental choice system in place the past five or so years. The notion that the rise in popularity of schools like Sunnyside, Miraloma, Aptos and Lick was a bad thing. Yes, diversity at some schools did not improve under parent choice, but they did at other schools.

  156. 2:10

    Why wait on CTIP until some (illusory) perfect system is found to address address fraud? Address fraud will be at least as much of a problem with neighborhood schools as with CTIP. More so, probably. At least with the old system it was less of an issue, other than outside-the-city folks trying to get into SFUSD. If you are okay with the neighborhood system, you have to be okay on some level with people trying to game the system via address fraud. Hopefully the district will have strict controls, but surely it will become an issue. That, and the impact on property values.

    2:31--agreed. We've actually had some version of the lottery for ten years now, not five, and schools have improved through this market-driven system. I am worried that we will now return to the problems we had under the old OER. Miraloma, Aptos, Sunnyside et al are success stories that did not exist under the old system.

    I wish they would do something closer to Option A. Or more like the proposal for the high schools--especially for the middle school level.

  157. 2:31 pm again -- sorry I left out the end of that line about schools like Miraloma, etc. -- I meant to say (of course) that they've significantly improved and that the Super seems to be trying to ignore all the positives of parental choice systems. And while I have all your eyes, I want to make another point -- nothing SFUSD has come up with deals with what seems to be the main sticking point in advancing diversity -- that whatever the assignment system that is picked, poorer and minority parents don't participate in them on time and, when they do, they don't have the time to educate themselves to make better choices. These problems do exist in a parental choice system, but they also exist in any system at all -- and that includes a neighborhood-based one. It seems to me that the current parental choice system is being used as a scapegoat. Rather, I'd like the smarter folks to think about how they could solve the main problem noted above. There must be a way!

  158. "Gives you at least a bit more certainty (ie you will not get xyz horrid school if you go 0/7 on lotto)."

    Err, not necessarily. If you're in attendance area for Super Spiffy School, but there's too many wanting that school, you may get bumped to Nearby Not As Nifty School, the nearest school with room.

    Which is OK if you're in the West, and most of the local schools are excellent-to-solid, but a bit of a different matter if you're in the SE. Especially as any magnet programs (like immersion) remain city-wide.

    So, if you're in Potero, and assuming you're not in a CTIP-1 census tract, you get a guaranteed slot in either Webster or Starr King GE (yippee!) with the chance of getting into a city-wide program or getting into whatever's left over in the attendance area schools - no chance at Miraloma, but maybe Milk if you're really lucky.

    For Bernal parents, in return for losing any chance at getting into, say WP GE or McKinley or Moscone, you get Flynn GE or Revere GE or Serra GE, with the chance that if those fill up you'll get Cesar Chavez or Hillcrest if you're unlucky.

    Memo to self: don't buy real estate in Bernal or Potero, 'cos prices are coming DOWN, baybee.

  159. "This is a complete power grab by Garcia. When you read the text of the plan it clearly states that the Superintendent gives himself complete autonomy to gerrymander districts and to reclassify schools and to be able to do so at his discretion annually. "

    Don, sorry, who else is going to do it? The current boundaries date back to the 1980s. There's been large demographic shifts since then, and I don't think school boundaries are suitable for decision making at the BoE or, *shudder* at a referendum. It's a decision that should be made at the staff level. If you're uncomfortable with it, then think of the wisdom of keeping the current city-wide lottery method.

    On immigration: Don has many bees in his bonnet, but being xenophobic isn't one of them. I don't think he's the anti-ELL troll.

  160. On the question noted above -- how to create a system that really helps improve diversity, there must be some way for SFUSD to hypothesize the actual number each year of likely academically challenged kids (public and Section 8 housing folks, ELL, food stamps and free lunch folks), chop off a set percentage of each school's enrollment (say 30% at the "notorious 11" plus Stevenson and Taylor and a lower number -- say 10% -- at the other schools) and hold those slots open for them. Let everyone else go into a pure lottery for the remaining slots -- no preferences, no favors, no neighborhood anything (other than sibling preference of course). Once the first day of school starts, any of those minority/ELL slots still unfilled are release them to the folks on the waiting lists. Wouldn't this type of proposal have a better chance of incresaing diversity than all the crazy machinations of the ideas being floated here? It would keep all the positives of the parental choice system -- giving people an incentive to band together to improve a particular school while ensuring that a minimum percentage went to the most disadvantaged kids. People participating in the lottery would know that, for example, their odds of getting into the trophy schools with the 30% (or whatever) set aside are going to be harder than getting into the ones with only a 10% set-aside. They can take risks or not. Watch and I bet you you will see an expansion in the number of improving schools over time with this system.

  161. 2:46, this is 2:10.

    I'm going along with neighborhood schools because a school that parents snd children can get to is mandatory. If there is no money for busing, we have to wean off of a big transportation budget.

    (How did we ever get a big transportation budget? I might be wrong, but, when the NAACP sued the school district over desegregation, SFUSD signed the Consent Decree and got extra money from Sacramento for the buses. When the consent decree expired, the extra money from Sacramento also must have expired. But not all of our buses services stopped.
    SFUSD picked up more of the tab. We don't have the money now.)

    Voluntary desegregation is just that, voluntary. So hold off on CTIP. Don't bite off more than we can chew. Run focus groups for the African American, Hispanic, and Pacific Islander communities to find out more completely what they think will help. We can add in CTIP at any time, if that is what we really want.

    If you are going to go with CTIP, you might want to do it this way:

    CTIPs 1,2, and 3 for low. middle, and high academic achievment. Give a school a goal of 1/3 CTIP1,
    1/3 CTIP2, and 1/3 CTIP 3. Local CTIP1 get preference over non-local CTIP1, etc..

    Make those attendance areas huge. In fact, make them even overlap. Give a local a reasonable shot at going to school somewhere not too far away. Give non-locals a chance to get in too.

  162. Anti-ELL troll? Um, actually, I'm just against rampant illegal immigration in our country, which puts a real burden on our schools. Sorry if that makes me a pariah on this blog. And you are right, I am not Don.

  163. 3:35 - I feel lucky I live in the mission. I will get a leg up in the lottery for the city wide schools.

  164. The problem with a largely anonymous blog is that that you can say anything and not be held responsible or not say anything and be held responsible anyway. The anonymity displayed here tarnishes the collective mind and, as individual acts, belies the trust that some have shown with the district. Why not speak as a free soul unless you feel you will be be injured by so doing ? I say you have already been injured by discarding your identity. It is an embarrassment and contravention of the high ideals that supposedly define the San Franciscan cosmopolitan ideal of social progress. One that can only be espoused under a cloak of anonymity in this cyber arena.

    I recognize that the exercising of my freedoms could prejudice the lottery process for my older son this year. I 'm not well liked downtown with all the bees in my bonnet. Truly, I have to wonder about the district's ostensibly transparent student assignment system. But to be sure, I think my freedom to speak out is a little more important in the long run.

    As for the blog, opinions can be interesting and taken in total they inform, even if only as measure of the lack of public understanding of the issues. But what passes for information here - well, let's just say - read before you write.

    So is this a neighborhood schools (NS) plan as they say?

    Up to sometime in December one can walk into any school and demand to take any empty seat as a student resident of the city. The schools w/o the empty seats are the ones that are at issue, what is popularly referred to as the tipping point, - what defines the issue. And that is that Garcia's plan does nothing to address this fundamental problem of scarcity. Unless the vast majority of neighborhood kids who want their NS get assigned to their NS, you don't have a NS assignment system, except in name. Until seats exist for all the policy is not living up to its name.

    Everyday I read something in the paper about the new neighborhood schools proposal. What neighborhood schools proposal?

    And while Mr. Garcia's plan gives himself autonomy to redesign the district in a unilateral fashion that is contrary to all conventions regarding redistricting, some of you may be more than willing to hand over the keys to the city. What are getting in return?

    Assignment systems are no substitute for achievement. What is the role of a school and a district?

  165. If bus routes are cut and current middle and high schoolers are expected to take MUNI to get across town, will they be expected to pay the probable new youth rate for a monthly card--$30? Or will SFUSD negotiate a lower rate for SFUSD students?

    This could be a serious problem for families who see their monthly bill rise from $20 to $60 for 2 kids, or to $90 from $30 for 3 kids in middle/high school. Tough for families living on the margins. Many families will probably not buy the pass, as it would be very close to cost of paying the youth fare every day. But that might mean missed classes if the family/kids can't find spare change in the morning.

    I hope BoE members are taking into account what is happening at MUNI and other city agencies!

  166. "Why not speak as a free soul unless you feel you will be be injured by so doing ?"

    Indeed. After all, it's not like someone on this blog is going to go to your place of work and demand to see your supervisor. No one here has taken something said online that seriously, eh Don?

    "I say you have already been injured by discarding your identity."

    Oh, get over yourself.

  167. "And that is that Garcia's plan does nothing to address this fundamental problem of scarcity."

    Don, any assignment system in a dense city is going to have to deal with (a) who gets into the great schools (b) who gets into the less desirable schools.

    In the exurbs and rural areas, geography is going to self-limit where people want to send their kids: they don't have to deal with the problem of people living near a crappy school wanting out, and people living near a great school want to ensure their kids go there (which means keeping people from outside their neighborhood out). Clarendon, Rooftop, Alvarado etc. can't physically and organizationally scale to accomodate all who want in. So you have to ration. New York, LA, San Jose, Oakland, even Pacifica (which uses a lottery) all face similar issues.

    Making all schools great is a worthy slogan. But it's not the same as talking about an assignment system (and often is a smokescreen for "jam tomorrow" for those living near poorer schools), It also obscures that an assignment system is a *rationing* system. You can either ration by lottery: or ration by neighborhood which, unless well designed (per the original idea that Orla O'Keefe had) becomes rationing by wealth/income as price differentials appear between neighborhoods based on their schools.

    Having neighborhood school boundaries shift by SFUSD fiat is *a good thing*, as it makes Real Estate agent hype less credible and less likely to create persistent price differentials, like exist in, say Oakland.

    [Although an assignment system is linked with student achievement (in that schools with concentration <40% of low-SES students have better student achievement, for low-SES and non-low-SES students). But they're still separate issues.]

  168. "chop off a set percentage of each school's enrollment (say 30% at the "notorious 11" plus Stevenson and Taylor and a lower number -- say 10% -- at the other schools) and hold those slots open for them. "

    Yeah, but the problem with reserving slots like that is the temptation for a tired EPC staffer to give Pushy Neighborhood Parent one of those reserved slot to make Pushy Parent Go Away. Also, remember 30% of trophy and 10% neighborhood would translate to about 15% more pissed-off parents in waitpools over the summer than the current system.

    "Run focus groups for the African American, Hispanic, and Pacific Islander communities to find out more completely what they think will help."

    That's already been done as part of the consultation process and by PPSSF/PAC. The short answer: They want good neighborhood schools, but to have a choice if their schools aren't poor. That's what this proposal gives them.

  169. "I'm just against rampant illegal immigration in our country"

    Go down to the border and join the self-styled Minutemen, then. It's not an issue for SFUSD, unless you're proposing they turn away children of illegals because of the choices their parents made.

  170. "Same old lottery, except those lucky enough to afford a West Portal-type address get to sit in leisure while the rest of us sweat. I guess this is like WD-40 to the squeaky wheel."

    Yeah, but the parents in the trophy school areas bitched to the BoE, and nobody stood up for the current system. Add that to the current budgetary pressure to cut bus service (it's not going to be completely eliminated, but there will be less of it), and you've got a recipe that's great if you live in Forest Hill, but sucks if you live in Potero.

  171. To 8:27 am -- I hear you that the neighborhood schools parents have been doing the most bitching. But you see here that there are lots of experienced parents who have chimed in expressing support for continued parental choice. And the District has spent the past eight years reconfiguring schools along a parental choice model. I just don't see how it can go back to a neighborhood school system given the wide disparity in offerings at the various elementaries in the city. As pointed out here, there are plenty of holes in the eastern side of the city. And I think the staff knows it too -- that's one of the reasons the maps aren't going to come out until the Fall. (The other being that I think the pro-neighborhood folks are going to be in for a surprise when they see the way some of the zones are gerry-mandered.) I'm also sad because I do think there's some value in diversity and I worry that taking away parental choice is going to make things worse. I worry that, for example, no matter how the maps are gerry-mandered, taking away parental choice is just going to doom many "neighborhood" schools in the city to even less diversity than they have now. People are complaining about westside schools now with over 70% one ethnic group populations. With this new system, they could easily be at 100% one ethnic group. No one wins when that happens.

  172. I have not seen any hard numbers about how many people request elementary schools that require long drives or bus rides, especially people who do not live near high-performing schools. It does not seem like a lot. The families we know at Grattan, McKinley, Claire Lilienthal and Jefferson live near those schools. But it would be interesting to know.

  173. You can't force people who live on one side of the city to go to the other side. They tried that. It didn't work. That's why there is a redesign happening. What you can prevent is high achieving students from all congregating at the same schools, by promoting neighborhood schools. Stakeholders built up certain schools. Now they need to start building up others, if they are truly community minded and want more high profile schools.
    If you have to choose between your local school or the low chance of getting into the alternative school, more people will opt to go local.

    Integration of neighborhoods has out paced the districts lumbering assignment schemes. If you establish true neighborhood schools again, you will have far more integration. Importantly, CTIP1 students will still be able to opt out with a preference for alternatives with a thriving choice system side by side with a neighborhood schools SAS.

    The Obama administration and his ED department does not view the answer to failing schools as one of shuttering and sending the kids elsewhere. For all RTTT's pros and cons, at least it is clear on the point that the solution to Program Improvement schools is in redesigning schools themselves, not manipulating student assignment systems. While some will continue to rail against neighborhood schools as an anti-integration scheme that benefits only the best, they fail to realize that the stakeholders at the schools themselves are the final arbiters of success or failure. The district's efforts should be in supporting students, teachers, and community to promote achievement, instead of clinging to the unsupported notion that intergation is, in itself, a method of scholastic success. Equity means little w/o real achievement gains. Equity is about opportunity not about absolute test score results. Why does no one on the Board or in the Administration ever discuss the real issues that drive achievement - student discipline, parental involvement and, on the ditrict's side, high quality teaching staffs?

    Regarding another anonymous, as far as "getting over myself", thank you for reminding me why I shouldn't take my freedoms for granted.

  174. "
    "I'm just against rampant illegal immigration in our country"

    Go down to the border and join the self-styled Minutemen, then. It's not an issue for SFUSD, unless you're proposing they turn away children of illegals because of the choices their parents made.

    February 17, 2010 8:23 AM

    To the writer that says you are against illegal immigration, you should know that there are fair and humane ways to limit illegal immigration:

    They are:

    1. Implement a refugee review system that tries to evaluate the need for the person to gain residency in California.

    2. Implement E-Verify. Fund it to correct errors. Fund a review system to quickly evaluate discrepancies and errors.

    3. Do not allow someone to drive with out a license and insurance. The E-Verify system should be used to determine if someone should get a license.

    Sure, it won't be a perfect system, but it will be much more fair than what we have now.

    To the person pointing the "Minuteman" and "Lou Dobbs" finger at every person who raises a concern about illegal immigration:

    Get real. The current system is unsustainable. It will only result in a downward spiral for our schools.

    Notice that I am not trying to undermine your character. I just don't think you have fully thought out what the long term effect for us all will be from illegal immigration.

    So I would ask that you stop with the attempts to undermine the character of people who express concern about the effects of illegal immigration on our schools and our state.

  175. I can see some logic for neighborhood schools on the elementary level, but the current proposal needs to be amended. My specific ideas are these:

    1) The current "Garcia" proposal will be very awkward for a number of neighborhoods, but it doesn't have to be this way. I hope the BoE will address the balance issue of too many citywide (immersion) programs on the east side of town, thus shutting out east side, CTIP 2 families. Either make some of these popular immersion schools local so that Bernal, Potrero, Castro, Noe, Glen Park folks have a prayer to get access to good schools, or make a similar number citywide in the central and west area of town so that there are enough spaces for SE CTIP 2 families to compete in a fair way in the lottery.

    2) I strongly urge the BoE to reconsider the proposal to give neighborhood preference to middle schools. Instead, treat them like high schools! These kids WANT choice, and choosing helps them invest in their middle school education. Most middle school kids are able to take MUNI if they want to go across town. There are so few middle schools anyway, and special programs within them are so uneven across the city. For example, most if not *all* of the full orchestra/band programs are on the west side of town--are non-CTIP 1 kids from the east side going to be shut out of these programs, which are often an avenue to School of the Arts? (I know they are talking about program articulation, but I assume they mean language immersion, not instrumental music.) Same with honors classes--I believe most of the honors programs are located on the west side of town. I know some families that don't want honors classes, and pursue spots at James Lick GE and other schools for various reasons, but many, many families do want them and they are a reason to stick with public for middle school as these classes rival the private schools in terms of curriculum and the level of work of fellow classmates. Please look at this issue! We were told throughout the process that high school and middle would likely be held citywide, and then there was a quiet switch to lump middle in with elementary as neighborhood schools.

    By the way, I spoke up over and over for parental choice throughout this process. I guess they didn't listen to me.

  176. 10:57, thank you for your post. I find the character assassinations by people on this blog to be upsetting. It's easy to take cheap shots, so I guess I'm not surprised they can't resist doing it.

    I wrote a long response this morning, but decided to erase it. I suppose if people can't see the real damage illegal immigration is doing to our state and nation - as a blatant invasion takes place right under our noses- then even my best attempts to point out the absurdity of it all isn't going to make a difference.

  177. 11:22 AM:



  178. 10:57 and 11:22

    I don't deny there are issues and burdens with immigration. I just hope that we can summon the political will to compromise on the issue through comprehensive reform that addresses the border in a humane way while also offering reasonable pathways to citizenship for families already here.

    This would be a practical and humane solution to the problem that so many families have split status issues (parents without papers, teens and kids who are citizens and have never lived in the old country). Also on a practical level, 12 million people can't go back--it would devastate their home countries and destabilize the region south of the border that relies heavily on remittances.

    We need a solution that takes all these complexities into a account and stops the demonization and blame. I'd be willing to trade that for solutions like E-verify that also uphold labor standards (I'm nervous though about some of the guest worker ideas being put forth by agribusiness, which relies on cheap, cheap, exploited labor to pluck our chickens and pick our crops).

    In the meantime, many of the immigrant, ELL kids in our schools DO have papers because they were born here. Even if they don't, it is the right thing to educate all our kids. They will likely be here for the long haul.

    Can we find some common ground on this issue here on this blog (though I doubt Congress will given the state of the GOP....). Can we agree it's an issue on the large scale, and that the system badly needs reforming, but also recognize that SFUSD has to educate the kids who show up? I hate that this can devolve so quickly into Lou Dobbs-stye demogoguery. We can do better here in San Francisco.

  179. Here are my concrete suggestions to the Board of Education (Rachel, I hope you are reading this):

    1) Take special education Inclusion and Special Day assignments OUT of this redesign. Parents need to have choice for what is a completely individualized decision about kids with very different needs. And no one has ever said boo about a lack of diversity in Inclusion and Special Day programs. Parents should have the choice to provide their preferences and the Special Education Placement Office should fill them on a purely random basis.

    2) Take middle school OUT of this redesign as well. As the previous poster commented, middle school kids are fully invested in their choices at this point. There is no similar perceved need to be able to "walk" to your middle school. Moreover, diversity under the parental choice system has expanded in a striking way, so the issue is much less pressing at this point.

    3) For the actual redesign, I would urge you -- regardless of what you pick, neighborhood or choice system, preferences or none -- go to the root of the problem in the lack of diversity -- poorer parents not participating in the assignment process on a timely basis. Consider some minimum type of "set aside" of slots at ALL elementary schools for such parents, with higher percentages for the schools with 8 plus APIs, leave those slots open until the first day of school so poorer parents can access them, provide full counseling when they do show up to register their kid to ensure that they have an educated and full choice in the decision, and, if there are slots left open, then release them to others on the wait list at the end of the first day of class.

  180. OK 11:43:

    We don't need to find common ground. Turns out we have a lot of common ground.

    Of course we must try to do our best to educate every child in California, regardless of the residence or citizenship status of their parents.

    We need to find some fair solution for the families that have established themselves here. That is not only an issue for families that have entered the country illegally, but for families that entered the country legally on temporary H1 visas. They also do not have any permanent legal status.

    That's a lot to take on!

    In order to make it work, and in order to maintain some semblance of economic and social order, we really need to get serious about stopping further illegal immigration.

    It is true that many people in the world are not as fortunate as we are. However, I do think we should examine the destabilizing effect of allowing the most determined and able in Mexico to exit their country and come here. It is time for Mexico to get its act together and stop running an economy that depends so heavily on exporting labor. Yes, we have been complicitous in this. Yes, we're are going to have to wean ourselves off of cheap labor. However, our schools clearly do depend to some extent on an educated tax paying middle class. We can't completely undermine this.

    I'd tend to agree with another poster that this discussion can quickly degrade into a very negative Lou Dobbs style discussion. It's tough.

    I'd also agree that it not the only problem we have. Probably not even our main problem. However, it is a problem for San Francisco schools. Unlike Palo Alto and others like it, we don't as much hide behind a wall of high home prices and local residency.

    I'm not going to derail this blog with an endless discussion about illegal immigration. But I would ask people to start to think about the big picture of demographics and economy as it affects our city schools.

    Thank you all for listening. I am listening to you too.

  181. Take your off topic illegal immigration discussion elsewhere, please. It is not a problem is is solved by SFUSD.

  182. 12:15, your post was illuminating. Thank you for acknowledging the complexity of illegal immigration and how it pertains to the topic of educating California's children. I find it anything but off topic.

    We need serious and humane reform on many levels, from our schools, to our nannies, to our corporations. I, too, hope people will take the issue seriously and approach it with a healthy curiosity to better understand what needs to happen going forward in our state. To maintain the status quo is not an options if we care about the future for ourselves and our children.

    And now, back to our originally scheduled topic: the new student assignment system....(sigh)

  183. Meet Don halfway. Respond with your pen name. I'll be M.T. Don't use someone else's pen name.

    M.T. says

    You be the Superintendent. What's your plan?

  184. Dear gerrymandering advocates,

    Since when has it become acceptible for district boundaries to be engineered based upon race?

    Districts are redrawn when populations increase and greater representation is requires in legislatures. We don't redraw boundaries when racial demographics change. SFUSD has stepped into very murky waters here by moving away from simple population dynamics and into racial and socioeconomic ones. They are replacing the illegal quotas that they so much liked but couldn't by law use, with gerrymandered districts that are intended to serve the same purpose. That purpose, to integrate, is a valuable one, but it does not overide the wrongheadedness of taking someone's local school and giving it to someone else. We don't have communities. We just have one big SFUSD father now. And he knows best.

  185. Thank you MT. I am ADONymous.

    My plan is a straight ahead neighborhood schools policy that requires the district to build capacity to take all comers. Along side would be a choice system that gives preference to CTIP1 at alternatives. Don't move the chairs around. Build them. Kepp high achieving students from congregating at the same schools and spread out the high performers instead of trying to force the spread of the low performers.

    Then move on to the real issue of providing high quality teachers across all schools, using proven reading and other instructional methodologies, ending K-5 social promotion and demanding accountability by prinicipals for the use of district funding.

  186. Wow, 1:53, you are leaving out a lot of civil rights history there. Not just in Little Rock but here in San Francisco.

    By the way, congressional districts have frequently been redrawn due to demographic shifts, including racial ones.

    I'm not sure what you mean by "simple population dynamics" but de jure *and* de facto racial and socio-economic (residential) segregation has been a fault line for political protest, policymaking and community concern for decades now. You can't just assert that away.

    Hopefully we care about all of our kids in San Francisco, and not just the ones in "my" (huh?--isn't our smallest tax district at least San Francisco?? They all belong to all of us!) neighborhood or block.

  187. 2:09--You are the Superintendent. What's your plan? Please respond and identify yourself with a pen name of your choice.

  188. "What you can prevent is high achieving students from all congregating at the same schools, by promoting neighborhood schools."

    When the Stanford folks did their simulations, a strong neighborhood component in the allocation (Option B/Option 6) increased segregation, both racially and in terms of high/low academic achievement, compared to one with a stronger choice component (Option A/Option 3). You may wish neighborhood schools got us all ponies, but it ain't true. Hence the reason for the CTIP1/CTIP2 that people are slagging off here. But even with CTIP1/CTIP2, choice with lottery desegregates more than a guaranteed slot in your neighborhood school.

  189. Redistricting has beed done traditionally by elected representatives, not appointed ones.

    Gerrymandering works both ways. It can be used to devalue votes or vis-versa, depending usually upon the incumbent legisaltors drawing the boundaries. What is a fair way of being inclusive is strictly based upon the bias of the beholder.

    But terretorial integrity has always been a prime factor in fair districting, with higher value than other demographic concerns, though both are important.

    California has a new system as follows (excerpt):

    What is the Citizens Redistricting Commission?
    California's first Citizens Redistricting Commission (Commission) is a new 14-member Commission charged with redrawing California's Senate, Assembly and State Board of Equalization districts based on information gathered during the 2010 census. The Commission must draw the districts in conformity with strict, nonpartisan rules designed to create districts of relatively equal population that will provide fair representation for all Californians.
    Become a Commissioner—if you're eligible, submit your supplemental application!

    Does that sound like the system SFUSD might impose? They won't even tell us what the system is, but we should just go ahead and give unelected people full authority to redistrict without any ethical guidelines whatsoever?

    Elected members must take responsibility or a nonpartisan commission. Not superintendents.

  190. 2:32--Thank you for your comments. Could you provide your pen name? Anything you want. Thank you in advance for your cooperation.

  191. "My plan is a straight ahead neighborhood schools policy that requires the district to build capacity to take all comers."

    I guess we'll stack the bungalows. Should be seismically safe.

    You're assuming there's the funds, staff, and space to scale any particular school.

    "Along side would be a choice system that gives preference to CTIP1 at alternatives. "

    And everyone gets a pony.

  192. 2:40: I have a distaste for the CAN'T DO attitude particularly when coupled with sarcasm. You are forgetting that at one time all schools in San Francisco and most school around the world still today have neighborhood school assignment systems. The reason we can't seat everyone one is because we created a system that can't. We can recreate one that can. The same Stanford professors you cite also claimed before the Board that, in so many words, integration does little to further achievement. Read Rachels's blog on that.

    Neighborhood schools is not indulging in optimism, it is reverting to the norm. Seattle reverted to the norm last year.It won't happen overnight, but neither will Mr. Garcia's plan. And there is plenty of money to build capacity when you analyzed the district's assets.

    When Mr. Garcia floated this proposal he knew very well that in high demand schools the percentage of local kids was not going to fundamentally change much. But that didn't stop him from calling it a neighborhood schools system becausre he knows that people want some security.They don't get it with this plan.

    Parents are always thinking that they have little to say about the process. That it should be left to the professionals to sort out. I'm not going to be a slave to the whims and desires of the district without voicing my outrage. Today my school is a neighborhood school. Tomorrow it's another school. Or the school is an alternative. What kind of milieu is this to have to conduct your duties as a parent in the education of your children?
    Also, regarding map drawing, districts were gerrymandered more in the past than takes place today. We don't change the districts at will just to fit the flavor of the month.

    While Mr. Garcia and company through a party because the achievement gap closed by some insignificant fraction, we have educating that needs to get done. It isn't going to get done anytime soon if the entire district's assignment system remains a guessing game from here on in. When are we going to hear about possible solutions to the failing schools problem?

    Sorry for the rambling nature of this commentary.

  193. 2:40--Thank you for you participation. Could you identify yourself with a pen name? Give it a try. We've had almost 200 comments. Everyone's been anonymous except Don. Let's try it Don's way for awhile. Everyone, pick your pen name. And let's respond to each other--only--when a pen name is provided.

  194. It irks me to no end that we have a very valuable string going here where folks are making serious comments pro and con the Super's Recommendation, yet others in here are going on an on about illegal immigration, something that is really not appropriate to this string. And I hope that these comments don't turn off the readers -- like our fine Board member Rachel Norton -- who have been monitoring this conversation to gain insight into what parents are saying. And, for the record, I'm the person who put in comments above about keeping parent choice alive (at least more than what is in the Super's plan). I'm the person who is also worried about losing what little diversity we have now. So you can call me "Pollyanna." (Just trying to put some humor into this!)

  195. I personally learned a lot from the illegal immigration discussion. I read the articles linked through this blog - thought provoking. I also learned a lot from the prop 13 and 2/3 majority discussion when that popped-up on other threads.

    Part of the value of this blog is helping people understand the fiscal realities of the California budget and governing process. Prop 13, 2/3 majority and illegal immigration are all significant components of this budget crisis.

    Please stop telling people to stay "on topic". I find it obnoxious.

  196. And another thing - No one is "racist" or "inappropriate" for simply talking about the topic of illegal immigration.

    I have found many of the comments to be civil, thoughtful and nuanced.

    I found the City Journal "Mexifornia" article to be very thought-provoking. If you haven't read - I encourage you to do so.

  197. Hey, 4:37:

    I'm the guilty party who brought up the issue of illegal immigration, starting yesterday. it started with a comment yesterday when someone said the city hadn't dealt with its social justice issues.

    My lasts posts on this issue and in this thread were at 10:57am and 12:15pm this morning.

    I brought it up because I keep hearing people express a lot of hair pulling about districting and gerrymanding. I live in Bernal. I spend a lot of time in Bernal and the Excelsior. I've toured a number of schools in Bernal and the Excelsior. It is quite apparent to me that many of the kids in this area are the children of illegal immigrants (to put it bluntly.)

    The school board is clearly trying to figure out how to educate and integrate these kids. It does cost more to educate and integrate kids who don't speak English and are not set up to compete in our culture.

    I can also see, having read many comments, that many parents want to keep their kids happily ensconced somewhere northwest of Market.

    So, no matter how you slice it, there is a subtext of "I really hope I don't have to deal with the illegal problem" even if people don't have a complete understanding about the nuances of our current immigration problems.

    It is a tough problem and there really isn't any easy way for the school board or the rest of us to wiggle out of it.

    My apologies if you don't think this information is relevant to this thread.

    I'm done with expressing my thoughts on this!

  198. MT,

    I appreciate your efforts to get people to use a pen name if not a real name. I don't know if you will be successful though. It seems that people prefer to do it anonymously. Like a dating service chat room.

    As for the immigration issue, staying on topic is just a courtesy to other commentors. There are any number of blogs to comment on for this issue. If everybody just starts talking about their pet peeves, regardless of the topic, there won't be any point in using SF Kfiles.

    Perhaps someone should write an article and submit to Kate to get a separate discussion going. It is a crucial issue, but there are some basic guidelines to be observed when blogging.

  199. If you want us to use a pen name, tell us how.

    I frankly don't know how to do this?

    Do we need to create another Google account?