Friday, March 19, 2010

Hot topic: Immersion schools/Round II

This from a reader:
Today I spoke with the principle at the Immersion school where I had hoped to send my daughter (We were 0/7). I was trying to get an idea about how many places may open up that were saved for native speakers. He said that the spaces saved for native speakers are not released until after round 2. This is not what I have been hearing from folks on the board. He said that a couple of principles have been trying to get the board to release the spots sooner but as of now the spots are not going to be released until after Round 2. I have no ideahow to stratigize. It doesn't make sence to waitpool a school that doesn't have openings. What did people do last year? Is there anyway to talk to someone in EPU without going down there (cant go til next wenesday).


  1. Is this from the same person who has been posting on the Mandarin Immersion Parents Yahoo group? As multiple people have said on that list, historically spaces have opened up during Round 2 for non-native speakers in the Mandarin immersion programs. FWIW, I put JOES MI #1 last year (for my English-only-speaking child), went 0/7, but got in off the wait pool in Round 2.

    Good luck!!

  2. We have the exact same issue. I've always heard that spots for non-english speakers will be release to english-only speakers for round two, so we thought we had a good chance to get a spot. However, now I hear differently.

    Can someone with access talk to EPC and report back on this issue? We spent several hours there yesterday (it took an hour for the counselors to move from #93 to #95 on the list and we had 15 #s to go so finally we had to leave). And nobody from EPC has returned our calls.


  3. @12:31 - I think this post might be related to something Dorie posted on another threat (Thanks Dorie!):

    "Dorie said...

    "Last night at the John Muir counseling session the EPC representative claimed that native speaker openings at CIS De Avila WOULD NOT be given to English speakers in Round 2. Instead, SFUSD would leave these slots empty in the hope of recruiting native speakers through the rest of the summer. Can anyone confirm this? "

  4. I don't know what their policy is (as if that makes a difference anyway), but logistically, they would want to reserve spots for non-english speakers as long as possible, since they are the ones who might have skipped applying by any deadline...

  5. today an EPC employee emailed me the following (regarding SK):

    "In Round 2 we will still attempt to place the needed cohort of Chinese Native Speakers into the program.

    Currently the school is full with the appropriate amount of English speakers. We will review the possibility of filling additional English Cohort Seats only after Round 2 prior to the May 28th notification period, only if we do not reach our required balance of target language speakers.

  6. To 3:02,

    This concurs with the conversation I just had with the EPC

    "In Round 2 we will still attempt to place the needed cohort of Chinese Native Speakers into the program.

    Currently the school is full with the appropriate amount of English speakers. We will review the possibility of filling additional English Cohort Seats only after Round 2 prior to the May 28th notification period, only if we do not reach our required balance of target language speakers."

  7. So, for those of us trying to strategize Round 2, does this mean we should *not* assume that new anglophone seats would be coming open at these schools?

    Is this the case for the Mandarin programs only?

  8. I'm sorry, I guess I have poor communication skills, since the EPC comment just sounds like Fedspeak.

    I would very much appreciate if someone who knows could please answer the following question with few, mono-syllabic words:

    Will seats that were targeted for "spanish speaking" seats be opened to "english-only" kids in the round 2 waitlist if there aren't sufficient "spanish speaking" round 2 applicants?

    To make this clear, here is my situation (which I imagine is common):
    - My daughter only speaks english
    - I would very much like her to go to a dual immersion language program (in spanish)
    - I went 0/7 in the first round

    I would like this basic information to guide whether or not we should waitlist a spanish-immersion program. If the seats are *not* opened up, then I would say my child has no real chance of getting into a spanish immersion program (in round 2). But if those seats *are* opened up to english speakers, then we have at least a slim chance.

    Is my question clear? Can someone guide me?

  9. At our Spanish-immersion school, English-speakers who got in off the waitpool didn't get in until the 10-day count.

  10. anon 8:50p

    what was your school, and which year did that occur?

  11. 8:39

    My understanding is they will not release the Spanish-speaking spots until later in the process, in hopes of attracting more Spanish speakers to attain the right balance for the two-way programs. I don't know when. Probably worth continuing to ask before each waitpool run.

    If your primary goal is Spanish immersion, then I would suggest waitpooling/R2 at Webster, Revere, and perhaps Marshall (which tends to have more Spanish speakers anyway). These will have shorter waitpools than Alvarado and the others.

    You can also waitpool/R2 at several immersion schools, and put some "safety" schools in there as well. Maybe Junipero Serra? if that group of parents goes forward. Or Rosa Parks JBBP. These are nice options that are better than 0/7 and may be better than your assigned school. Then you would have an option while you continued to waitpool your preferred SI option. It does seem to be the case that a school like Alvarado opens spots in the 10-day count. SI could be a long wait through the summer.

    Hope that helps.

  12. The message I received from EPC is that:

    They will review the possibility of filling additional English Cohort Seats only after Round 2 , and prior to the May 28th notification period, only if they do not reach their required balance of target language speakers.

    I interpret that as if you are an English Only family, waitpooling is still viable for your immersion school, but not putting it down on the amended 1-7, as seats will open up after Round 2, and that's when your waitpool school is the only active item with the EPC, as the amended list dissolves after Round 2 is completed. I hope that makes sense.

  13. If you want a Mandarin immersion program but don't get into one in SF, there is an option for doing an inter-district transfer to a Mandarin Immersion program at College Park Elementary School in the San Mateo-Foster City School Distict. We visited and thoroughly researched it, and College Park is a really great school!!! It's Mandarin Immersion classes in K-5, combined with an excellent Mandarin after-school program. There is also a possibility of combining Mandarin Immersion and gifted and talented placement in grades 4 & 5 because College Park is simultaneously the School District's Mandarin Immersion and Gifted & Talented magnet school. For children from SF, College Park will accept inter-district transfers if there are spaces (which I think there are as of today) For more information, go to, and call the school asking for "Tish," the administrative assistant to the Principal. It would be quite a long schlep to and from SF every day, but if one of the parents works on the Penninsula and could do drop off and pick up (which was not our situation), it would be workable--or if you were willing to move to the San Mateo area ultimately. Best of luck.

  14. At my daughter's school, they are stepping up recruitment of native Spanish speakers, but even still historically many do not enroll until the summer.

    Last year the spots were not released to English speakers until school started.

    Noidea if that's relevant to this year's situation though.

  15. we were accepted into some private schools and are making the decision this weekend if we can afford it or not. Having gone 0/7, I am wondering if others are facing this problem. Are there any schools that more than a handful of people have been assigned to and what to make it the next Miraloma with elbow grease and intention? If so, write to me and let me know what schools are on the way up so to speak.....Or if there are schools many of us feel we were assigned to and are on the fence about... PLEASE

  16. This Round 2 change seems so unfair to me. I understand the premise of the dual immersion program but, many families applied ON TIME and it isn't right that EPC will hold seats open looking for people who may not have applied at all. If they didn't participate in Round 1, then they should be at the end of the line, not the front! If EPC can't fill the ideal makeup in Round 1, they should release those seats to all families who want/need them.

  17. I wouldn't want my kid to be in an immersion class that was 75% English-speaking. I don't have any beef with the EPC holding spots. We need native speakers in order to make immersion work.

    Lots of families don't have access to the internet or are too busy working their jobs to be fully aware of deadlines.

  18. This is insanely unfair given that we made all our decisions based on what we were repeatedly told at tours: the slots open up in round 2. That's how it worked all previous years too. If you're going to make a change like this you MUST tell people before hand, so they can make informed decisions. It seems not only unfair to change it now, but borderline illegal.

  19. I was at a soccer game yesterday and ran into someone who's been very familiar with this process from the inside for four years and here's what she told me:
    Nothing has really changed.
    The District has always opened up the target language seats that didn't fill "at the end of Round II" and the "at the end of Round II' has always been a little bit of a linguistic fudge. The District, as it has always stated and always tried to do, wants a good split between speakers of the target language (be it Spanish, Mandarin, Cantonese or Korean) and non-speakers of those languages in their respective programs.
    However those native speakers don't always materialize.
    So, she says they've always kind of waited until the last minute of Round II to open them up, in the hopes they can create the balanced classes (native speakers and non-speakers) that achieve the best language learning results for everyone.
    The only thing that's changed is that they're being a bit more upfront that they wait until the end of Round II to open up those slots.
    But, and she was quite clear on this, they've never actually released the seats until the very end of the Round II process. So there won't be any less seats opening than there have been in the past.
    I had believed that those seats were opened after Round I was over. I apologize for having misinformed people.

  20. Thanks for the update, Beth.

    If things are not really changing, then fine. Hopefully someone at EPC will eventually learn how to be consistent and transparent and avoid all these misunderstandings.

  21. I wish EPC would follow their published rules. I don't see any except for......

    The following is a summary of the priority groups within the waiting pool:

    1. Approved Medical Appeals

    2. Permanent full-time site-based staff who live in San Francisco and wish to have their child attend the school where they work and have worked for the past three years, but their child didn’t get assigned in Round 1.

    3. Approved Family Hardship Appeals

    4. Younger siblings

    5. Students who listed 7 choices on their application form in Round 1 and did not get an assignment to any of those 7 choices.

    6. Students who submitted an application on time for Round 1 and did not receive an assignment to one of their choices

    7. Students who submitted an application on time for Round 1 and received an assignment to one of their choices

    8. Students who submitted an application on time for Round 2 and did not receive an assignment to one of their choices

    9. Students who submitted an application on time for Round 2 and received an assignment to one of their choices

    10. Students who submitted their application after the Round 2 deadline.

  22. Thank you for posting those details, Beth.

    One thing I can add is that I re-toured Starr King last Thursday (March 18), and the principal that he would be having some meetings with the school district to have those held-back seats opened up a lot earlier. Who knows where that will go, but he is going to try.

  23. The difference is that they are more successful this year in attracting native speakers. This is good for the programs. It is just not good for us in the waiting pools. I heard that Jose Ortega has filled it's Mandarin speaking spots for the first time. This doesn't work for me - but shows that it has earned a good reputation in the Mandarin speaking community.

  24. I'm pretty sure Beth's children are at Starr King, unless they've transferred.

  25. How would the principal know how many incoming siblings are expected?

    There is no requirement for families to inform the school of any incoming siblings that far in advance.

  26. Anyone know if there might be first grade openings at De Avila or Ortega?

  27. This blog is useful for opinions and subjective information about schools and the public school process, but if you are looking for accurate answers to enrollment questions, please contact EPC:

    •Abeyta , Dolores. Placement Counselor, 241-6085 x3115,

    •Fokin, Archie.. Director..241-6214

    •Garcia, Milagro.. Placement Counselor. 241-6085

    •Gong, Hans.. Placement Counselor. 241-6085

    •Korngold, Shem.. Placement Counselor. 241-6085

    •Kwong, Lynn... Placement Counselor..... 241-6085

    •Lam, Esther.. Placement Counselor.. 241-6085

    •Li, Xiao Tang....... Placement Counselor... 241-6085 x3152....

  28. Dorie, Beth Weise is not a parent at CIS, just a very informed and active parent in the Chinese Immersion Community.

  29. I am not sure those round 2 suggestions are all from CIS parents. However, I wouldn't blame them if they did because that's their experience last year(I got the story at the tour). The school couldn't fill native-speaking spots and as the result, filled the spots with English speakers. This may still be the case this year, but we don't have any real data to indicate either way.

    My wife once talked to someone whose kid couldn't get into Alice Fong despite having sibling preferences. That means for AFY, there are more siblings than openings (for that particular year anyway).

    So, even with the sibling preference taking 60%, CIS is probably still a better chance any AFY and West Portal CI.

  30. Dorie,

    Please take a deep breath and re-read Beth Weise's post from 3/21. This information is no different then the information that was given out during the school tours and this past Thursday's Round 2 EPC sessions. The CIS parents shared what information they had with you. Your response was to disparage the parents. The CIS community is very supportive and respectful of each other.
    I can truly hear your frustration with the enrollment process. However, your comments about the CIS parents are very inappropriate.
    If you have further concerns, please direct them to the EPC staff.

  31. This comment has been removed by the author.

  32. "My wife once talked to someone whose kid couldn't get into Alice Fong despite having sibling preferences. That means for AFY, there are more siblings than openings (for that particular year anyway)."

    AFY hasn't been around that long, and I've never heard of a year in which it had more sibs than places (although one year it's afterschool was almost completely sibbed out). The person may have been referring to trying to get an elder sib in. There's several parents there whose younger sibs go to AFY, but whose older sibs weren't so lucky.

  33. Two years ago we waitlisted AFY fr K and there were siblings on the priority list, waitpooling as the person who posted at 12:30 must have applied that same year.

    Either way...the only accurate information anyone could have on siblings is EPC. As some parents are on the fence, due to birthday, as to when they want their child to start K, as a younger or older kindergartener. Some parents apply for siblings and sit on their spot all summer to decide if they will do PreK another year or enter K. I have not done this myself, but have heard of it.

  34. In the end you make the waitlist choice and remember what a fellow blogger once quoted from a Clint Eastwood movie, "Do ya feel lucky, punk? Well, do ya?"

  35. 2:43...well put!!! A much better attitude than blaming a school or parents at a school for going 0 for 7.

  36. Having been trying to get my kids transferred from one SI prog to another for 2 years now, I have been repeatedly told by EPC that NATIVE SPAN-SPKING SEATS WILL REMAIN EMPTY & never be filled by English speakers. Ever. Of course, this only applies to the "better" SI schools, but is totally not true for others. As in many things, EPC does whatever they want. If it's Alvarado, they will watch & hold the language balance to the letter, but at other SI schools they'll just fill seats willy-nilly.

  37. 12:41 - Why don't you say you are native speakers? If the EPC tests your child now they are fluent no?

    btw - I am super pissed at the EPC surrounding your post. This is a complete lack of transparancy.

  38. To 12:41: we can't be re-classified as "native speakers". Yes the kids are fluent, but SFUSD will not test them b/c we did not list them as Spanish Speakers when first applying to SFUSD for kg. So my kids will always be trying to get spots for non-Span spkrs (the hardest to come by). After 1st grade they do not allow transfers into SI by English-spkrs unless the transferring kids has been in SI at the orig school. But b/c historically SFUSD has done a bad job at getting the right "mix" for immersion, usually if English-spkrs leave a program in say 2nd grade, they will try to fill those seats with native Spanish spkrs for improved balance.

  39. 12:31 and 12:43 - Are you the same person?

    I am wondering if something can be done with the district in this area. That is - Convincing the district to drop balancing requirements after 1st grade. I am new to immersion in K. But if all the kids are fluent in spanish by the end of 1st grade, what is the objective of balancing at that point in time?

    Are you on the SF_AME list? Maybe we can connect there?

  40. My apologies to Beth Weise--I misunderstood and believed she was a CIS De Avila parent.

    I didn't think my previous post was so inflammatory that it deserved to be taken down, but evidently I was wrong. I apologize and will attempt to communicate what I meant in a more constructive way.

    I am enormously grateful that almost all of the schools we visited offered us "accurate-enough" information about the numbers of siblings and our likely odds in the wait pool/Round 2 that we could make good strategic choices about our rankings. We appreciated it more than I can say, and believe that it was one of the most valuable things we could have hoped to learn on our tours. That information was probably the only reason that we did not go 0/7. I wish I could back and personally thank all those parents and principals, because I think there's ample evidence (on this blog and elsewhere) that no one can hope for anything similar from EPC.

    Just for the record: I am actually the parent who wrote "Do ya feel lucky, punk?" I do have a sense of humor about this process. We were very fortunate to be assigned a school that we like very much (although it is not an immersion program, and having drunk the immersion kool-aid, we initially found that quite disappointing). I wish that everyone had been so fortunate.

  41. Dorie: Precisely the point, you wrote that quote, but lost your sense of humor with the post that was removed. This process is hard on all families involved in the kindergarten lottery. Wishing you the best with your assignment, and hope you will put your awesome passion and enthusiasm to support your school.

  42. For those of you that can't get an "Immersion School", think about McKinley. They started an after school language program for both Spanish and Mandarin. The cost is about $160 a month. The children get 2 hours Monday-Thursday of instruction. If you need further after care, the program ends at 4:00. there is another after care program that was prorated for those in the language classes of $150 a month and it goes until 6:00. The additional aftercare is run by a non profit called ASEP. They are great and on ever other Fridays take the kids on field trips if it isn't raining. This sounds like a better deal that some after cares that run over $300 a month.

    Plus McKinley is a really great school with an awesome principal and a great set of dedicated teachers with a wonderful PTA!

  43. I am SO glad that wacko Dorie (Chances are, there's one in every school) is not going to an immersion school. She reeks of negativity that is not good for any child. I think SFUSD teachers do a great job and are underappreciated, but I think parents who volunteer their time and contribute so much positivity to their school communities are underappreciated even more so! I just toured CIS de Avila and I'm hoping to get in on Round II. I was completely sold by the parent volunteers who so patiently answered the many questions that I had about the school. Thank you CIS de Avila parents for your help, even if I don't make it in! Good luck to all.

  44. Give Dorie a break. Wasn't she the person that organized to make sure they filled the spots at the DeAvila class that had been mistakenly omitted? And posted helpful information here so everyone knew what was going on? Understandable that she got frustrated at what she saw was misinformation that was preventing her from getting one of her choices in Rounds One or Two.

  45. to 9:45. Look. Being frustrated at the system is one thing. We all are! We're in the same boat looking to share information to get into a good school, but that's no excuse become a cannibal and turn on your fellow parents who volunteer their time to be helpful. Let's be constructive here and grow up!

  46. to 9:45. Look. Being frustrated at the system is one thing. We all are! We're in the same boat looking to share information to get into a good school, but that's no excuse become a cannibal and turn on your fellow parents who volunteer their time to be helpful. Let's be constructive here and grow up!

  47. 9:45... "Wasn't she the person that organized to make sure they filled the spots at the DeAvila class that had been mistakenly omitted?" She was one of many parents, including parents at CIS at De Avila, who communicated with EPC about having a second lottery before Round 2.

    "And posted helpful information here so everyone knew what was going on?" Again, a CIS parent was posting the same information to support parents on this site, as well as PPSSF.

    Dorie was the only person who got aggressive and took her frustration out on the CIS parent volunteers. This lottery process is frustrating for all those involved...but anger and frustration should never be directed towards parent volunteers.

  48. 9:45-Let's not give credit where credit is not due. A WHOLE LOT of people saw that mistake and contacted EPC! I want my kid there next year, and you bet I was aggressive on that phone with EPC!You think you and Dorie were the only ones? C'mon. I was one of many, but do not claim to have saved the world! Dorie...puh-leaze, enough already!

  49. I want to add some math to this discussion.

    If you toured the school, you would know that the current K and first grade has more English-speakers than native speakers. They couldn't get enough native-speaking kids so they filled the class with English speaking kids.

    There are a little over 100 kids. Assuming 70% are English speakers, that's 70 kids.

    After reading Rachel Norton's blog, we know that 26% of the incoming K have sibling preference. 26% of 70 is 18.

    15 of the incoming English-speaking K spots are taken by siblings.

    So, although 15 seemed high at the first glance, the calculation shows the number is right.

  50. Okay, wow. I can see why people prefer to post anonymously on this blog. Here's the background for why we were surprised about the number of siblings.

    We toured 15 schools. During those tours, 12 schools volunteered or offered on request the number of siblings they expected to register, which ranged from 10-35% of the incoming classes, with the higher percentages in K-8 schools, unsurprisingly. The only outlier was one popular immersion school that had a banner crop of English speaking siblings one year that made up 50% of the incoming class. They were emphatic that they told every prospective parent how bad the odds would be that year and that nothing close to that has ever happened before or since.

    Of the remaining 3 of 15, one said they’d never bothered to count siblings because everyone who listed the school got in during Round 1. “But we can find out if it’s important to you.” The last 2 of 15 said “not many” and “dunno, probably the same as last year.”

    Based on our experience, we assumed that (a) we had a good sense of the range of what was possible in terms of siblings and (b) that it was reasonable to expect that schools made this information available to incoming parents. We were wrong. Fortunately, we'd gotten good-enough information from that baker's dozen of schools to not go 0/7. As noted, very grateful for it.

  51. Dorie, you are not the first to go through disappointment with the lottery system, nor misinformation from a school or EPC. But, your removed post was harsh, cruel, and unnecessary! You may not be posting anonymously, but would you be willing to say such mean words to the faces of the parent volunteers your harsh words were describing? All the credibility you had earned in your many postings got quickly erased by that very irrational one. Enough said.

  52. The removal of post was a no brainer. Take a deep breath next time Dorie! You seemed to have pissed off a lot of well intentioned people who volunteered their time to help others like yourself, but here you are trashing them. Pathetic. I'm not one of them, so I'm not as offended, but your post was rather despicable and that's why people like you make people like me not want to volunteer my time. Why bother right? Someone, like yourself,Dorie, will just trash me for it. But anyways, you need to apologize to these folks who apparently tried so hard to appease such an obviously bitter and lowly person such as yourself.