A place for parents educating their kids in San Francisco
I'd like to ask your readers who have children attending Robert Louis Stevenson School, or who have visited, what their experience and impressions are.
We have been at RLS for many years and really like it. The best thing about it are the teachers -- they are hands-down the best we've ever seen. I think the test scores really reflect the excellence of the teachers. For example, there is very little "teaching to the test" at the school, and yet the students each year do remarkably well. Just this year the school received the "Blue Ribbon" award, given to only one other public school in the city. The PTA is getting more active, and just completed a successful fundraising auction for the school. The PTA is currently paying for a PE teacher, part of the librarian/computer teacher's salary, and before school tutoring. The school also has an Excel afterschool program (state-funded) and a paid afterschool program (Keep) that offer choice in afterschool care. All in all, we've been very happy with the school. I know the "hidden gem" term has been beaten to death, but RLS is truly a hidden gem!
We've been at RLS for for years also. We're extremely happy with the education provided. The principal is solid and many of the teachers have been here for a long time. The teachers and parents have a nice partnership in working together for the children. The school has a family atmosphere and feels very safe. The afterschool programs, KEEP and Excel are also top notch. It has been a hidden gem for years and now parents are taking notice and listing RLS as one of their choices. Check out the test score over the last few years and you'll see why.
Our son is in first grade at RLS and in the KEEP program. I would echo/confirm the above comments. We are very happy with the school and he is doing really, really well. Best of all, he loves it and is excited to go every day!
Yes, RLS does have some pretty good teachers. But a school is only as good as its principal. In this case, the principal leaves a great deal to be desired. She is solely focused on improving the school's tests. That means that special ed kids get little of her attention. The school has a heavy percentage of low-income students and that presents a great challenge as far as fundraising. But instead of working with the PTA to push them to their max, she appears to not know what to do with them. As a result, the PTA is way behind the curve of other schools' PTAs in terms of fundraising. When the PTA tries to do big splashy events, the principal pushes to scale them back. The result is that the fundraising nowhere naer matches where it should be in these days of budget cuts. When the budget cuts came, the school was terribly hurt. It will be even more hurt this coming year. The principal has also done little to address the limitations of the on-site paid afterschool program. That program offers absolutely no structured activities whatsoever and seems to continue only because its owner (who has been there for some 30+ years) knows she has a cash cow and keeps milking it. There is an onsite free state-funded afterschool program, but it is limited to kids who have learning issues and kids who are below income. So if your kid isn't in one of those categories, you are stuck with one lousy afterschool program and virtually no other. (There is a Mandarin afterschool program, but it attracts very few kids as it apparently is not very good.) Finally, the school has a terrible problem with diversity. Ignore the numbers in great schools as they undercount. It is literally 90+% Chinese. Now, this is not the principal's fault, and there are obviously serious limitations on what the district can do to address this issue. But anytime a school is 90plus percent one ethnic group, it is just not a good learning environment. So, to be honest, I do not think this is a good school. It needs LOTS of work to improve.