Monday, March 22, 2010

Hot topic: How are private school parents feeling about public school budget cuts?

This from a reader:
I know this would be a contentious topic, but I wonder how some of the private school parents are viewing the disastrous budget cuts and the SFUSD teacher and parent efforts to address the cuts and try and improve the situation. It felt odd to march down Valencia Street on March 4th with the kids at Friends looking curiously at our group through the metal fence.

I am sure it feels safe to have your kid in a school not facing budget cuts but how about beyond that? Do private school parents hearing about the crisis facing the public schools feel the urge to come out in support, to donate money, to move their kid to a public school so they can bring their resources with them? What do they tell their children who hear about all the problems facing the schools that kids who may be their friends and family attend?

It is a little different than hearing about kids with money problems on another continent or in another country--these are the kids in our city, our community. I would like to read some good things here from private school parents, because right now a part of me feels just sick about the divide just growing and growing between rich and poor.

64 comments:

  1. Snore, this is just going to fill up with snarky comments. It's inviting trouble.

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  2. We are private school parents and when I think of the school budget cuts, I get as angry as I do about everything else that is wrong with this city/state/country: cops and SF bureaucrats who make $200K a year in pension payments at age 50; a 'victory' that a healthcare bill passed that is essentially a private, complicated system that barely improves the current one; that many people live in hunger in SF (one of the richest cities in the world); that corporate incomes have actually decreased since 2000 and college and housing costs have risen over 100% in that time...the list goes on an on. The whole American capitalist system is broken and public school is just one of the victims. We lived in Europe for 10 years and think about moving back there every day. America is over-rated!

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  3. I find the way that this topic is posed to be oh so jejeune.

    "Private school parents" and "public school parents", at least the ones reading this blog, are mostly the same parents, except that one group managed to find a compromise with the lottery and the other didn't.

    As a result, one group has some expendible income, and for the most part, the other group does not.

    And private school parents do pay state and federal income tax, as well as property tax, and on top of that, have to pay for private school.

    In essence, they're paying for the privilege to stay in San Francisco, by paying for private school. They're paying for the privilege to pay for public schools that are poorly administered, and of limited quality and availability.

    So what I want to know is whether all people in San Francisco are willing to step up to a property tax based on income.

    And families should also get a deduction if they haven't been able to gain entry to a school that meets minimum state standards.

    After care should be universally available. And if not, another deduction should compensate for that.

    Once these were implemented, perhaps then we could have that conversation about budget cuts.

    The fact remains that the combined cost of free preschool, aftercare and 12 years of public school easily amounts to a benefit of over half a million dollars for some families.

    Private school parents do not draw on any of these resources.

    I'd say that the expendible income of public school families exceeds that of many private school families.

    So why don't we instead have that conversation.

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  4. 'I would like to read some good things here from private school parents, because right now a part of me feels just sick about the divide just growing and growing between rich and poor.'

    Schools are doing just great!

    Fell better now?

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  5. My kid is not old enough to go to school yet so I am not a private nor public parent. I am interested to see if the new school system will improve the current public schools.

    I haven't tour any public schools yet. But just hearing all the nasty comments about SF public schools is enough to make me leave SF.

    What I want to know is public schools in the Peninsula is really better than SF? do they have more funding? Seems like everyone who is starting a family is leaving the city and moving down South.

    I used to live in Europe too and have been thinking about moving back.

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  6. 5:23, DO tour the public schools. DO talk with current public school families. You will not get the picture from reading anonymous snarky comments on this list. It is worth looking into the reality before you make decisions. San Francisco public schools are (on many metrics) the equal of many Peninsula school districts. We have a range of schools, some of which are not so great, many of which are just fine, and some of which are considered "trophy" in having more suburban-like demographics and special programs.

    It is also important to understand that test scores usually track demographics; it is most interesting to see if the school beats (or fails) its expected demographic outcome--for example, Moscone and Taylor do way better than their low-income populations would predict.

    4:42, the whole private school parent victim thing is oh so unattractive. There may be families that have expendable income because they are in public schools. Good for them! Good value, good choice. The vast majority of our public school families had no such choice, financially--more than half our families qualify for free/reduced lunch.

    It's not just a lottery thing. Many of us made our "compromise" with the lottery without going the trophy route (often in R2 or beyond, yes); there are plenty of decent schools and not all are super-over-subscribed. I'm not talking about the below-state-standard schools, so don't throw that at me. I'm talking about schools in the 7-9 range and in some cases higher on the similar schools spectrum. Plus, the new system will make finding an acceptable school easier, I'm betting. The changes were made in response to parent advocacy.

    To the original poster: I too saw the Friends kids staring at us as we marched past. My daughter wanted to know why they weren't marching. It definitely felt strange to see all those white faces behind their gate, watching as our very diverse, spirited, rainbow crowd walked past! My son said he felt sorry for them stuck inside there while we got to have fun. I wonder how they felt about it, and what their parents and teachers told them.

    Btw, it's important to say here that I know of several private and not-yet-sure families that marched with us, including at least one Friends family. For that, I am very appreciative. :-)

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  7. This is such a false debate. There are rich people and poor people in this city. The divide is great. Do public school parents storm the streets every day to fight those injustices? I highly doubt it. Most of the white middle and upper-middle class parents I know at our SF public school own property, eat pricey organic food, drive nice cars, go on vacations, and generally live a privileged life. There is ALWAYS someone with less than you, and ALWAYS someone with more than you. How much you give back/try to change the world is the philosophical question of the ages.

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  8. I'm so tired of arguing this public school vs. private school thing.

    Why don't we make peace for a moment and gang up against the parochials?

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  9. 6:25, thanks for the chuckle. Or, the publics, private and parochials (or anything else that starts with a "p") can all gang up on those freaky homeschoolers :).

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  10. Public/private/parochial vs. Homeschoolers might be too much of a slaughter...

    ...unless we let Juvenile Hall play for the Homeschooler team.

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  11. Public/private/parochial vs. Homeschoolers might be too much of a slaughter...

    ...unless we let Juvenile Hall play for the Homeschooler team.

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  12. Go Juve!

    (Kids today still call it that.)

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  13. WORST.TOPIC.EVER.

    Signed,
    "Private school family"

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  14. I wasn't able to get any of my private school parent friends to march with us on the day of action.

    They are all horrified at the budget cuts and say it is wrong not to invest in education... but I'm not sure they care enough to ACT (call/write legislators, march in protest, actively advocate for reforming Prop 13, etc)...

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  15. interesting reactions, to me this topic looks more like someone who is curious about what parents of kids in private schools are thinking and/or doing about the budget cuts to public schools rather than someone trying to spark the private vs public debate.

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  16. This decision has been a tough one (choosing to go the private route next year). I believe in public education as it is a fundamental fabric of a successful society and I am hoping that one day this society will prioritize funding public schools. Even though life is hectic, I'm hoping to continue to volunteering at our local public school. I don't like how this blog throws around labels like "private school parent", with all it's negative (and in many cases, very false, implications).

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  17. 8:04, please. I don't buy the well meaning comment that you are a big supporter of public schools but have decided to go private. That's an oxymoron.

    Going private is a totally valid decision anywhere you live, but it is a statement that you believe your public school system is working for your kids. People who go private think they are getting something for their money that the public school cannot give, which means you don't believe in the public schools.

    I can afford private. I believe in public schools. I send my kids to public school.

    With the $20,000 I save, we can go to Europe, afford organic food, save up for college, pay for tutors if needed, language and music classes, and high quality summer camp, and in general, spend more time with my kids because I can relax and not work at a career I loath. I think I'm doing the best for my kids.

    I also think that private school parents think they are doing the very best for their kids. And for their kids, maybe they are. For my kids, I am making a different choice.

    To answer the question posted, I think private school parents just feel lucky their kids aren't the victims of the whims of budget cuts. As a public school parent, I think my kids are going to be just fine, and get a great education no matter what; I just think it's totally unfair to inflict this massive disrespect on the teachers and administrators. They are going to do a great job no matter what, but they deserve less worry and less stress. They are the ones who will suffer. They are real pros, and would never let the kids suffer--20 kids per room or 25 kids per room.

    Frankly, I think paying for public school solely through property taxes is silly. All residents of SF, including renters!, should pay some sort of per capita "great schools" tax and raise the money that way. I bet you that renters would vote for such a tax. For the cost of two parking tickets, the schools in the city can have a Renaissance. What a deal.

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  18. Ugh. Sorry about the typo. I meant to type that the decision to go with a private school means you DON'T believe the publics will do the job.

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  19. How funny -- I'm certain I don't know the reader whose comment makes up the original post or the subsequent commenter, but during the march, I had the EXACT same reaction to the privileged children of Friends ensconced safely behind their fence while the unwashed rabble marched in the street for funding for ALL our community's children.

    Hmm -- the "word verification" is "cults."

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  20. Maybe we should just have a fist fight and get it over with. Public school parents vs. private school parents. Meet behind the baseball diamond after school, we'll have a rumble. Just like in The Outsiders.

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  21. "They're paying for the privilege to pay for public schools that are poorly administered, and of limited quality and availability."

    Of the 70-odd public elementaries in SF, there are ~35 where I'd go "yippee" to get them, 20 where I'd feel happy to send my kid to them, and only 10-15 where I'd say "no way".

    One finds low-information parents at all ends of the income spectrum, it seems.

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  22. "Why don't we make peace for a moment and gang up against the parochials?"

    I toured 30+ schools, public, private and parochial.

    I want to put in a good word for the parochials, despite being an agnostic public school parent.

    The parochials give a strong education at a low price point - lower funding per child than the publics. And the parochials in the Mission area have a strong sense of their social mission in catering to those on limited incomes - and walk the talk even more than, say, SF Friends or Synergy. They deserve a lot more kudos for what they do.

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  23. I'm going to give a shout-out to CAIS as an independent private.

    The CAIS Institute, with federal funding, is running summer camps for the Mandarin Immersion students at Jose Ortega and Starr King. I've got a heck of a lot of respect that CAIS, rather than seeing the publics as competitors, sees them as collaborators in expanding Mandarin fluency in the Bay Area.

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  24. "What I want to know is public schools in the Peninsula is really better than SF? do they have more funding? Seems like everyone who is starting a family is leaving the city and moving down South."

    Going by the Greatschools ratings:

    Burlingame, Atherton, Palo Alto, Hillsborough, Millbrae, San Carlos - yup, better than SF.

    San Mateo, Mountain View, Brisbane, San Jose (proper) Pacifica - about the same as SF.

    San Bruno, Sunnyvale, South City - A shade worse than SF.

    Daly City, Alum Rock (another bit of San Jose), Redwood City - quite a bit worse than SF.

    Does that answer your question?

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  25. We've always been a public school family - for 12 years. Now we are going to be a private school family. In our case, the choice came down to two wonderful options. But my high school kid felt much stronger about one school that happened to be private. So, since it is possible, we are going with that. It is a joy to see a kid who is so enthusiastic about their soon-to-be community. There was a good attitude about the public school option, no sense of entitlement. But just obviously didn't feel that it was an environment that would be as warm and comfortable. So, I agree that the question is a bit of a false debate. It came down to one specific setting over another specific setting. By the way, I am overall very pleased with the education my children received in public school.

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  26. This question is so loaded. Not all private school parents are from the aloof privileged class. My husband's grandparents were dirt poor. I am a kid of immigrants. We've made the decision to stay in SF and we could have gone either way in terms of private and public. Many people are not clearly one or the other- it's where you got in that makes the difference. The political rhetoric and moral high ground come afterward, it seems.

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  27. Someone else has posted this comment here: Sending your child to Catholic school when you don't want him or her taught to be a Catholic is like sending your child to Republican school when you don't want him or her taught to be a Republican. (Fill in the adjective of your choice: Why, that's incredibly ______________.)

    I've seen an in-law's report card from a San Francisco parochial school. The very first subject on it is religion, including a separate grade in prayer. I'm sorry, but it's inane to send your kid to be taught to pray in a religion that you don't believe in. For believing Catholics, that's something else; I'm addressing non-Catholics.

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  28. As a private school parent, the way the budget cuts make me feel is that my kid would NOT be guaranteed of getting a great education in public school. We can afford to send our kids to private school (and feel very lucky to be in that position) and in my view there is no better use for our money than our kids' education.

    Would I like it if I felt that we didn't need to opt out of the public schools for my kids to get the best possible education? Yes. Am I willing to do something I see as compromising that education (i.e. send my kids to public school) for the sake of the public school system as a whole? No.

    That being said, I think the budget cuts are horrible but somewhat inevitable given the fiscal hole we've gotten into in this state and this country.

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  29. Private school parent.
    Care deeply about public education.
    Have worked to prevent public school budget cuts in the past & present.
    Have marched & demonstrated.
    I believe we need a serious change in political leadership in this city/state as far as education is concerned... just waiting for the voters to catch up with me on that one...

    Totally over the public v. private shibboleth that plagues this site.

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  30. private school parent here--

    we got our lottery choice, but when it came down to it, my child would could have neither handled the HUGE classes and discipline in parochial schools, or the large classes and age gaps in our public schools. I'm not blaming either one of the systems, but i had to make a decision for my child and it makes me feel guilty as hell.

    we pay over $45, 000 a year in property taxes--$45,000 a year. When i drive my kids past the parents in the morning urging us to honk to support public schools I feel i should be with them, but I also financially support our neighborhood--the school and the center.

    no one in our family has ever been able to afford private until now, and i would like to believe if my son weren't so "quirky", we would have gone public too.

    In the end, I do what i can, but if you have a nation that has clearly drawn the line between the haves and have nots, and I vote Democratic or green or socialist, and its still not enough what else can I do!?? I'm not going to send my child to a place i know he would fail--I already had him tested for autism, and there is some debate as to whether he falls on the spectrum. I just want all kids to have the education he does. Tuition does not impact us at all financially (morally is a different story), so it was a relatively easy choice for us.

    One thing i must note however, is that this blog is FILLED with people who are new to being the disenfrachised and it stings, huh?

    I grew up in schools that were largely minority and rough (i"m both), but back in the day, we all managed to get a pretty decent education (though honestly, i probably got saved by another dirty trick of the publics, tracking and gifted classes). Now that all the people who studied art and humanities see (too late) that the a--holes (such as myself and my husband) who studied Finance and law have instituted the kleptocracy, the whinnning begins. I hated studying finance--but i grew up with Reagan telling you point blank what he was going to do to this country, so i realized i was going to have to make money and lots of it.

    It should come as no shock, no?

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  31. 12:25, wow, brutal honesty there. I respect that. Never feel bad about doing what you feel is best for your kid, OK? Especially if you grew up minority and economically on the edge. I'm glad for you that you have options now.

    Me, I'm in the opposite position of having gotten a bang-up private education on financial aid, K-12. Went into the humanities, oops (mistook myself as someone with the privilege of doing so). I love what I do, but I feel guilty as hell that I can't give my kid what I got educationally, as the days of significant aid for lower-middle-class white kids are over. And snarkoids, don't tell me to change careers. It just isn't that easy in middle age.

    So I guess you can feel guilty no matter what you do. Maybe that's why there's a lot of defensiveness on this blog. We're all trying to do the best we can for our kids in a culture which doesn't actually value childrearing or children.

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  32. Are the parochial school advocates just shrugging off the hideous reports coming out of Europe about the child abuse scandals reaching right up to the Pope? I honestly don't see how anyone could remain a Catholic, let alone send a kid to a school run by those people. Don't you need priestcams or something?

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  33. We were assigned to Rosa Parks and are going private. Less than 40% of 2nd graders are proficient in Math and Reading/Writing. These statistics aren't acceptable for ANY child in the City (rich/poor, legal/illegal). I think some of our schools are an abomination.

    We "own" our home (not really as we have a mortgage). I would happily vote to repeal Prop 13 and for another parcel tax.

    Providing our children with a quality education should be a top priority for the government and we can assist through additional taxes.

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  34. "What I want to know is public schools in the Peninsula is really better than SF? do they have more funding? Seems like everyone who is starting a family is leaving the city and moving down South."

    Look carefully at which districts have local parcel taxes. The districts that do not have them are declining in quality rapidly, cutting programs and staff left and right.

    Some high quality community supported districts are: Hillsborough, Burlingame, Palo Alto

    Districts to avoid (no parcel tax): Millbrae, San Bruno, South San Francisco

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  35. "I've seen an in-law's report card from a San Francisco parochial school. The very first subject on it is religion, including a separate grade in prayer"

    So? I'm a lapsed Catholic, and went through a Catholic education which was a lot more regimented and authoritarian than anything in the U.S. - the parochial schools here made my jaw drop with how *little* religion was a component, or that they were doing comparative religion in *5th grade*.

    Your kid's going to be exposed to multiple belief systems, and is going to have to learn to deal with them, and for you to talk about them in a circumspect manner.

    My 6-year old is a dedicated materialist - no Santa, no Tooth Fairy, no other supernatural entities: but those are conclusions he came to, rather than me directing his thinking. Personally, I'd rather they get some exposure to religious ideas now, rather than their first exposure being in late adolescence or adulthood, and becoming a fundie. I'd think of it like vaccination.

    Regardless, parochials give a quality inexpensive education. And many non-Catholics in the city take advantage of them.

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  36. "What I want to know is public schools in the Peninsula is really better than SF? do they have more funding? Seems like everyone who is starting a family is leaving the city and moving down South.

    Going by the Greatschools ratings:

    Burlingame, Atherton, Palo Alto, Hillsborough, Millbrae, San Carlos - yup, better than SF."

    I agree with Burlingame, Atherton, Palo Alto, Hillsborough, and maybe even San Carlos, but definitely NOT Millbrae. Millbrae has NEVER passed a school parcel tax. At this point in California history, you want to be in a district that has great local support for schools.

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  37. We're choosing to spend our money on private school for now. Better than blowing it on two cars (we don't have one), a huge mortgage on an underwater house(we rent a small place), trips to Disneyland (we prefer camping and house swaps), clothes (we wear stuff till it rips), iPhones, flat screen TVs, and all the other stuff many people find "essential". And then there are those money-wasting SAHMs. Many of them are "blowing" 80-100K a year or more by not working. You see how ridiculous it is to talk about other people's finances!? How other people spend their money is none of my business.

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  38. "I don't buy the well meaning comment that you are a big supporter of public schools but have decided to go private. That's an oxymoron."

    No, it's not. One can want quality education for every kid while seeking the best quality they can find for their own kids. Obviously the public school applicants here are doing just that. I want everyone to have access to health care too, but I'm not going to go in for a triple bypass at the free clinic if I can help it.

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  39. If you were in a relationship or job where the other party had less and less and less and less to give you every year, you would eventually leave. And you would not feel it was your fault and that you needed to change it. That's the school situation. I pay property taxes, fed., state and city taxes and vote yes on more. But I will not send my child to a school that isn't up to snuff. And I'm not happy other people are stuck there, but I'm not staying just because they're stuck.

    And by the way, the faces are equally white, asian and indian.

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  40. 10:20, I just wanted to say that there are perfectly legitimate reasons to send a child to a Catholic (or other religious) school even if one does not happen to practice that particular belief system.

    In addition to attending a number of adequate to fine public schools, I attended multiple private schools, including a Montessori school, an Assembly of God academy, and two different Catholic schools. My parents always sent me where they did for academic reasons and so that I could have access to the teachers they felt were best for me.

    I'm not Catholic, wasn't raised to be Catholic, and do not personally believe many of the established tenants of the Catholic Church. Going to Catholic school wasn't some kind of magic wand to turn me into a Catholic girl and I have to honestly say, nobody (not even the nuns...yes, I had actual nuns for teachers) tried to convert me.

    I, however, learned a great deal by going through Catholic school, including the religion classes. For one thing, it helped me better understand the beliefs of many (though not all) members of my extended family, and get a better grasp of the history of my family.

    I also believe it made me a more tolerant and more contemplative individual. There's nothing like being the sole outsider in a given situation to provoke independent thought and to learn the virtues of thinking before speaking. Such classes also helped me clarify what things in which I personally believed.

    There is nothing wrong with sending one's child to whatever school at which a parent honestly believes their child will thrive.

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  41. Do private school parents hearing about the crisis facing the public schools feel the urge to come out in support, to donate money, to move their kid to a public school so they can bring their resources with them?

    No because I do not feel SF Public schools are well administered. They have a cost basis that is unsustainable with their revenue, and are unwilling to take the steps needed to bring their costs down. In addition, the SF Publics have curriculum issues that are not acceptable to me (Everyday Math).

    What do they tell their children who hear about all the problems facing the schools that kids who may be their friends and family attend?.

    That most of what happens at their friends school is pretty good but the district doesn't do a very good job spending its money.

    And that our parochial school spends less per student and gets more for the money.

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  42. "Do private school parents hearing about the crisis facing the public schools feel the urge to ... move their kid to a public school so they can bring their resources with them?"

    No. Feeling the need to bring one's own money to public education is pretty much a vote of no confidence right out of the gate. Private schools were founded and are attended by people whose ideals (religious, pedagogical, administrative) were or are not being addressed by a public system.

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  43. "Do private school parents hearing about the crisis facing the public schools feel the urge to ... move their kid to a public school so they can bring their resources with them?"

    The opposite. I would feel like I was trying to bail out the Titanic with a thimble.

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  44. "Do private school parents hearing about the crisis facing the public schools feel the urge to ... move their kid to a public school so they can bring their resources with them?"

    The opposite. I may be headed to public school next year, but with my pathetic little resources, it feels like trying to bail out the Titanic with a thimble.

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  45. This question strikes me as really odd. How many parents at schools like Miraloma, Lillienthal, or Rooftop feel compelled to contribute time, money, materials, etc. to schools like Carver, Muir, or Cesar Chavez that have no hope of even approaching their levels of fundraising? Not many. So why would anyone expect private school parents to be big supporters of any public schools? Even public school parents typically only want to support the schools their kids attend.

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  46. "No because I do not feel SF Public schools are well administered. They have a cost basis that is unsustainable with their revenue,"

    SF spends less per pupil than the state average ($8,700 versus $9,300) despite having a higher cost of living area.

    "That most of what happens at their friends school is pretty good but the district doesn't do a very good job spending its money."

    Well, that may be because there's an impression that there's a big pot of gold used by the central office where they burn it while chanting hymns to Stalin.

    In reality, SFUSD central office spending is about 3% of budget: $13 million out of $400 million (there's also centralized services, like janitorial services, but those are services to the schools directly).

    A lot of funding is ring-fenced, unfortunately, because of our idiotic habit of passing initiatives to specifically fund one program or another. So there's less flexibility than you might think.

    "And that our parochial school spends less per student and gets more for the money."

    Yes, and I'm a fan of parochials, but parochials can also reject some of the most costly students to cater to: e.g. special ed kids, ELLs*. Now, that's mostly for good reasons: the publics have better resources for special ed kids or ELLs. But its still a big chunk of this city's population: e.g. 24% of the district is ELL.


    *Although some of the parochials (e.g. St. James, St. Charles, St. Anthony's) have a fair number of ELLs.

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  47. "This question strikes me as really odd. How many parents at schools like Miraloma, Lillienthal, or Rooftop feel compelled to contribute time, money, materials, etc. to schools like Carver, Muir, or Cesar Chavez that have no hope of even approaching their levels of fundraising?"

    I can think of at least three public fundraisers this year I've been to for other schools than my own public school. But I'm losing count, to tell the truth.

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  48. "And then there are those money-wasting SAHMs. Many of them are 'blowing' 80-100K a year or more by not working." -- 9:34, March 23

    So in addition to fanning the public/private flames, you want to snark moms out for the different decisions they made about childrearing? Nice. O work outside the home, but I don't feel superior to moms who did the math and saw that paying for kidcare for 2 ate up that pre-tax 80-100K pretty fast. Nor do I think that earning a salary is somehow MORE valuable than raising kids.

    Just stickin' up for the SAHMs, here, from a working mom. BS like that shouldn't be allowed to pass. Meanwhile, back to our regularly scheduled anxiety about private schools.

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  49. Ooops, "I" work outside the home. I don't know if O does or not.

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  50. This blog has officially jumped the shark with this topic.

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  51. I think the person was just saying that being a SAHM, especially during kids' school years, is a financial choice associated with a big cost (lost income) for many families. Not working often 'costs' a lot more than working and paying for private school. Whether you work or not, send your kids to public or private, those are all financial choices. How people spend their money is their choice. Getting on someone's case for "wasting" money on private school is the same as getting on a SAHM's case for "wasting" potential income.

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  52. I would contribute money to a foundation that benefits all SFUSD schools, but I don't feel like I have the knowledge to support any individual SFUSD school.

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  53. Re Rosa Parks.

    I'm no zealot, and I don't fault the person for seeing a school that is obviously dealing with a challenged population and preferring a nice and easy and not-at-all-challenged private setting. But I do want to stick up for Rosa Parks in the sense that I think you have to go way beyond the numbers to judge school quality.

    First of all, I think there is a misinterpretation here of what "proficiency" means. Proficiency is a high standard, not a minimal standard; it means the child has mastered the grade-level curriculum. It is a more than passing grade. Yes, I do believe that every child should do that. I just think the word connotes something far more basic than is the case.

    Also, California's curriculum standards are probably not as high as those of Massachusetts, but they are quite good, so much so that the new push to get states to adopt (voluntarily) a national standard is causing some concern that our standards not be watered down. National curriculum standards are a good idea--if they are set high enough in each area and are well-designed. Curriculum design and accountability is the part of the "standards movement" that is actually good, as opposed to the punitive focus on poorly designed tests that lead to drill and kill and firing teachers. Hopefully this will become the Obama focus instead of charter schools; but I digress.

    Anyway, the point is that Rosa Parks is clearly lagging way behind Grattan with its 70+% proficiency rates, but it is important to understand what that means and doesn't mean.

    Btw, Grattan's scores used to be very low, too. It is now in many ways a more functional school than it used to be, plus with more bennies thanks to the active PTA. It is also a different school demographically, with far more white/professional class kids than it had before. The fact that Rosa Parks is dealing with a more low-income population does not mean that the teaching or administration is bad or worse than Grattan's. In fact, Rosa Parks is filled with good teaching. Most of our kids would all do very well there. It would be interesting to look at the scores of the white and Asian and high-income kids at Rosa Parks (they are coming up in the lower grades).

    Rosa Parks is a school in transition from high-poverty to much more diverse/mixed. This transition only began a few years ago, and change takes time.

    The JBBP program is attracting a different set of families that able to raise money and provide resources. They have a wonderful greening program and an incredible cultural mix of programs including jazz district, Japanese culture of course, and much more. These transformations have not yet hit the test scores yet, but they will.

    Again, this isn't a plea to the parent to stay, only a plea that anyone take the time to consider all the factors and not make a snap judgment only based on the numbers. Not all low-test-scores schools are the same (nor are high-test-score schools, or private schools, etc.).

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  54. It seems that there is no shortage of issues of substance to discuss, but this is not one of them. How about a discussion on how best to apply private funds to supplement areas of shortfall?

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  55. Do private school parents hearing about the crisis facing the public schools feel the urge to ... move their kid to a public school so they can bring their resources with them?

    Do public school parents hearing about the crisis facing the public schools feel the urge to ... move their kid to a public school worse off than their own so they can bring their resources with them?

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  56. Do private school parents hearing about the crisis facing the public schools feel the urge to ... move their kid to a public school so they can bring their resources with them?

    Yes, this is going to happen.

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  57. It IS happening.

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  58. I would contribute money to a foundation that benefits all SFUSD schools, but I don't feel like I have the knowledge to support any individual SFUSD school.

    What exactly do you need to know? Anyone who reads this blog knows the names of more than a couple schools that desperately need money - Muir, Chavez, Parks, Cobb, etc. Call them up, ask if they have a PTA or other organization set up to take donations, cut a check and mail it. It's that easy.

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  59. "Do private school parents hearing about the crisis facing the public schools feel the urge to ... move their kid to a public school so they can bring their resources with them?"



    I heard some parents cannot afford private schools anymore due to the current economy, so there will be transfer.

    I am not an expert on how the school system works, but the more kids in public, doesn't that mean less $ spend per child? And what resource can private school parents add to public school where public school parents can't?

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  60. 5:38

    Each child brings more state money into the district via the weighted student formula. If all private school kids were in public, we'd have a lot more money to work with.

    Also, private school parents entering the public system tend to be on the whole wealthier and more connected than the average at public school--not that there are not plenty of wealthy and networked parents there already--but they bring with them certain abilities and clout (taken as a whole). For example, to run fundraising auctions and get lots of goodies to put up for bid; to write grants; and beyond that, to pressure Sacramento.

    As a whole, our public system has suffered from the loss of a significant number of upper/middle, mostly white, families since the 1970s, starting with desegregation. That's the history. SFUSD has benefited in recent years from the return of active, middle class families at many schools (Miraloma, Grattan, Alvarado, Sunnyside, et al).

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  61. March 23, 2010 2:18 PM: "I would contribute money to a foundation that benefits all SFUSD schools, but I don't feel like I have the knowledge to support any individual SFUSD school."

    One possibility is to give to the San Francisco Education Fund. I don't work for them and don't know too much about them, but I know they give grants to teacher-proposed projects at various SFUSD schools.

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  62. Well, my daughter and I marched down 24th knowing full well she's going private next year. I so, so want public school to provide her what she needs, but with her special needs and the school we're in, it is not. So we marched to support those who don't have the option, and now we are taking advantage of our option. I'm torn philosophically, but ultimately I need to take care of my child to the best of my ability.

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  63. "I am not an expert on how the school system works, but the more kids in public, doesn't that mean less $ spend per child?"

    Not really, because the majority of the $$$ comes from the state, and, IIRC, that's given on a per-pupil basis.

    "And what resource can private school parents add to public school where public school parents can't?"

    I don't think private school parents "owe" anything to the public sector. It'd be great if they shifted to the publics for social cohesion and funding, but if they're not going to the publics, I think the argument they're paying taxes for education but not consuming is convincing.

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  64. Thank you, 1:03. We need more like you who see the big picture as well as the family one. I'm sure you made the right decision for your daughter's needs (and were lucky to have a choice). Best of luck to her and you.

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