Tuesday, March 16, 2010

June's Story - Our Assignment Letter

If you read my comment in the "Round I Letters" post, you already know we did not get good news on Saturday. Even though we felt we put down a balanced list (in my opinion much more balanced than many of our friends who got an assignment) we went 0/7 and were assigned Cobb GE.

Johann and I went through many emotions this weekend. Anticipation, excitement, anger, disgust, frustration, sadness and were left feeling slightly numb. We went into this process hoping to make it work for us, knowing we would not be able to stick it out till the 10 day count. So now we had some decisions to make, and they were forced decisions. We do not have a back up private or parochial and we will not enroll Madison at Cobb.

We decided we will wait until April 30th when the waitpool is drawn. We will waitpool the school we feel has the best odds and re write down the rest of our choices for round II (and yes I know this is pointless, but who knows, little of what happened round I makes sense to me), possibly adding New Traditions. If the letter comes without a school from our waitpool or list we are moving to Walnut Creek. We do not want to leave SF, but we have little choice. We would move to Antarctica if it meant our children will get a good education.

Please do not tell me "if you just wait it out it will generally work out" or "you will get something that works for you in the end". I don't want to hear it any more (I have already heard my share of it - all from people who got one of their 7 choices). I can not go into the summer knowing my child does not have a school for the fall, wondering if it will work out. Unless someone can guarantee us our waitpool school - I do not want to hear it.

We are working on the assumption that it will not work out at the end of April, and are already researching Walnut Creek so we are ready to move. Anyone who knows good preschools, swim schools, gymnastics etc there your input is very welcome!

For those of you who got a choice this weekend - I am very happy for you, really I am! For those who did not, I feel your pain. I hope whatever decision you make it works out for you in the end.


  1. Best wishes to you to find the right school. Having a backup plan of moving to Walnut Creek is a sound decision. I too would do whatever it takes to give my child the education they deserve.

  2. Same exact situation, assigned to Cobb as well. We are moving to Marin unless a miracle happens.

    Look at the bright side, at least you will have the summer weather to enjoy, and Walnut Creek has some great schools.

  3. Good luck to your and your famly. Hope you find the right school that works for you.

  4. Have you considered Albany? Small houses, but we have been really happy here. Our older child attended a very good SFUSD school through 2nd grade, but we grew weary of the uncertainty heading toward middle school and thinking of high school. So we moved to Albany and it's been great. It's walkable (more than my SF neighbhorhood was), there is BART, it's right near North Berkeley, there are loads of kids on every block, the schools are good and fairly diverse. But best of all for us, the high school is very solid. While it's a public school and not perfect (crowded, big classes), the 95% college acceptance rate puts our mind at ease...instead of having to play the roulette for high school in SF, which would have thrown me over the edge! (I knew I personally couldn't handle the stress of my kids possibly getting a rough HS.) Good luck to your family!

  5. 0/7 as well. June, your honesty is refreshing. I have my fingers crossed for your family that you get in your waitpool school. I understand the stress that comes with the uncertainty and why you would not send your chid to an underperforming school. May I suggest you look at Hillwood Academic Day School as an option, it is not parochial and I hear it is very sweet. I believe the tuition is $700 a month and includes before/after care as well as hot lunch.

  6. I am sorry to hear of your pain and frustation in finding the right school for your child. I will keep my fingers crossed for you and your family.
    I am a REALTOR in Walnut Creek and have clients who can recommend gymnastics and swim club facilities. There are many choices in different parts of Walnut Creek. If you would like to view more information about Walnut Creek and its schools, feel free to visit my website. Scroll down on the left menu choices and click on 'schools'.
    I truly wish you the best of luck!

  7. June, I'm so sorry.

    It is a huge hassle and a loss for SF if you move, but I have to admit that I love Walnut Creek. . . Especially if you love the outdoors and warm weather.

    FYI: Gina Khan salon is great for hair in Walnut Creek.

  8. June, I appreciate your candor about your situation, and I do not blame you one bit for devising an exit strategy. Reading your post made me really sad because you are one of the very families our district needs in order to succeed.

    No one should have to wait until summer, August, Sept. or beyond to know that their child will be attending an acceptable school. It's absolutely absurd, and I, too, am tired of hearing people say "it will all work out in the end." If everyone waited it out (instead of choosing to go private or move away) it would NOT work out for everyone. There simply aren't enough seats at good schools.

    Many of us have jobs and need some certainty about our child's kindergarten schedule. The current process does not value that need. It values the need for diversity instead.

    And I agree the process of who gets what school makes very little sense. We got our 3rd choice - Lafayette - but another kid in our preschool whose family put it first got shut out. I feel bad about that. I suppose it just means our name came up earlier in the lottery process and our first and second choices were no longer available? So we got our third choice. And when the other family's name came up, there were no more seats left at Lafayette? This is the only explanation I can think of. Someone correct me if I'm wrong.

    All the best to you on April 30th. For our schools' sake, I hope you get a great school here in SF.

  9. Real Estate Agents: quit SPAMMING this website, like vultures.

  10. Best of luck to you and thank you for being honest.

  11. I am really sorry that you have gone with no good choices for school. I can't say that I know how you feel because we got one of our 7 and it was not a filler but an acceptable school last year. I agree that it really is crazy for the school district to think that parents will want to send their child to an under performing school to fulfill a social agenda. I think they should shrink or close under performing school and send the children to better performing schools.
    I really hope round 2 works out for you and you can stay here. I don't fault you at all for wanting to move if you don't get a good school and neither should anyone else. Some schools it may be possible to turn around but some schools will not be able to turn for a long time if ever considering the population. Good luck!

  12. My previous post may have made it seem like schedule is the most important thing to know. Of course the quality of education at the school is at the top of the list, but we as parents also need to consider where the school is located, what time it starts and ends, whether or not there is before/aftercare, etc. Not knowing any of these things until possibly Sept. is just too daunting to many families. Can we blame them for fleeing? I truly hope the new assignment system is more sane.

  13. It is NOT true that *only families who got one of their choices* are telling you that if you pursue the process it will work out. Many, many, many people who are telling you that also went 0/7, or the equivalent in earlier forms of the enrollment process.

    My sympathy over the frustrating situation. But do not discount the advice that it will work out! It's true and valid.

  14. You're talking about a computer lottery here, not an entity with a brain that is strategizing about a social agenda:

    "...it really is crazy for the school district to think that parents will want to send their child to an under performing school to fulfill a social agenda...."

    Sadly, June didn't win the computerized lottery. Then the computer, not an entity with a brain and an agenda, assigned her child to the nearest school that had openings after the lottery. The school that had openings was an underperforming school, for logical reasons. It's a computer. It is not thinking, strategizing, operating with a social agenda or finding ways to pick on parents with advanced degrees, either.

    Hang in there, June!

  15. 10:46 AM

    Please, we all know it's a computer but there is an entity of people with brains who designed this convoluted system to begin with who felt that diversity was the priority. That's all people are saying.

    Best of luck, June. Hope you find a school that works for you soon.

  16. Does anyone know if you have to register at your assigned school to participate in the March 26 deadline waitpool and submit an amended school list?

    I have read the "Amended Choices/Waiting Pool Request Form" ten times and it does not make it clear.

  17. 10:42, let me clarify - the people in my social circle who are telling me to wait it out all did get 1 of their 7. I am aware that many people went 0/7 and waited previous years and it did work out for them, and I am not discounting your advice - but I simply can not wait not knowing.

    Thanks to everyone for their best wishes!

  18. You do not have to register at your assigned school.

    We went 0/7 last year and did not register at our assigned school participated in Round 2 and waitlist. Also submitted an appeal. Somehow our appeal was miraculously approved and we got our waitlist choice.

    If you know you are never going to let your child set foot in assigned school don't register there. Maybe this is true and maybe not but we were family that was not going to participate in the system unless we got something better and we did through appeals.

  19. enjoy your high taxes in walnut creek! Property taxes are the reason we cannot afford to move, and if you can afford to move, then, well, you can afford an affluent school.
    WE have come to terms with the fact that we will have to enrich our SF children with private music and art. my son was accepted to Paul Revere, our first choice, and we know it's a low performing school. It's local, we are dedicated to Bernal Heights.
    My son is very bright, is a reader at 4.5 and knows a lot of things most do not, and yet we are sending him to a low performance school with a lack of a GATE program. We believe school is more than just testing, it's an experience.
    Like I said, enjoy your property tax increase...

  20. 11:22

    You do not need to register at your assigned school to participate in the Round 2 / Waitpool process. If you are really, really sure that you would never send your child to the assigned school, then it is better that the district know that now so that the space is held open.

    I would suggest that you do check out the school, though. There are absolutely some schools where I would NOT register my child, but there are some that you may not have heard of that are really quite decent. Even if you want to hold out for immersion or closer to home or whatever, your child would have a good kinder year there.

    Example, I saw one poster say he/was was considering not registering at Jose Ortega GE. Jose Ortega happens to be a very nice school in both programs (see Kate's video just posted on this site for more info), so unless it is an impossible school logistically, it is worth checking out.

  21. 11:32 - Did you know Walnut Creek has rental housing?

  22. 11:22 - Got assigned to Cobb, so not checking it out, but I otherwise agree with you.

  23. Its too bad that you feel that discouraged. The assignment system is unfair and places too much burden on families but I think picking up and moving is extreme (unless you can afford the expense and like the burbs). I don't buy that there are only 10 or 15 schools that are "good."
    I got 0/14 last year. We enrolled in GE at an underperforming but up and coming school. No regrets about choosing it. I decided not to do the 10 day count but I was shocked at how many people got into top schools during the 10 day count and after. So if that is really what someone wants,it is attainable (though you have to put in due diligence).
    However,once most people experience a school that isn't on everyone's list, they realize how their perceptions of what makes a good school is often off base.

  24. 11:32 - you, and those like you who state they are from Bernal, are the reason I'm starting to really dislike people from Bernal. I lived in Bernal 17 years ago when most people living there wouldn't set foot in it. I don't know if you did or did not, but many making comments about moving to other areas wouldn't have had "Bernal pride" even 10 years ago, so please don't make rude comments to someone trying to provide a good education for their child. Each family is different and what is right for you may not be for someone else but who is to say who is right and who is wrong. I think neither.

  25. 11:32, I am not sure why you are directing such anger at me. FYI - we rent currently in SF and will most likely do the same in Walnut Creek for a while, burning the property tax bridge when we get there :-)

    Congratulations on getting your first choice! I am sure your child will thrive there.

  26. 11:22, no you don't have to sign up at your assigned school to do the amended choices form. And whether or not you sign up doesn't affect your Round II or wait pool chances.

  27. I don't blame anyone for getting mad and leaving. I really don't. We were lucky last year and got our first choice in Round I. Even so, we might move out of SF once our son hits middle-school age. SF is a great city, but it's not the most family-friendly place in the world. You have to be very lucky in your job and schools and other basics of living. Everyone has their own threshold, and when you've had enough, it's time to get out.

    I remember the crazed stress over the SFUSD process last year and I'm watching a coworker stress out about preschools. Gosh, after a while you gotta wonder -- why are we suffering like this?

    One thing that has kept us from moving is having to take BART or drive every day to work. But that might not be an issue for your family.

    Best of luck to you and your family. We will miss you and other families driven away by this crazy system. I don't know if the new system will be better, but it can't be worse!

  28. Just to say this whole process does not always get easier as you go. We got Denman for MS, and it wasn't on our list and we live in the Inner Sunset. So we are also considering moving. An up-and-coming elementary school is one thing, but a low-performing MS or HS is really detrimental for a child's long-term educational prospects. I wish we moved years ago, this is so stressful!

  29. No way these peeps lived in Bernal 17 years ago. They all moved there about 5 years ago when they were having their first kid, bought houses at the peak of the market, and are now angry that they can't move b/c they are underwater. Which totally sux, but they are a bitter bunch, on this blog anyway.

  30. Bernal Mom here - I did not make a value judgment here. I am aware of rentals, and good for them to afford such an option (i think)
    I am only stating this because many of us considered moving because of education. Trust me, I would love to live in Atherton for the schools, but we cannot do it.

    If people want to live as nomads for the sake of their children's elementary education, that's fine. Property tax increases are not something people consider. The increase alone for a middle house would be enough to pay for an affluent school.

  31. "Just to say this whole process does not always get easier as you go. We got Denman for MS, and it wasn't on our list and we live in the Inner Sunset."

    Yes, and that's exactly why people move. It's a slog the whole way.

    I find it almost ridiculous that people are faulting June for a wise decision not to wage the enrollment/underperforming school/need to pay for afterschool enrichment battle for the next 13 years.

    No city is worth that. And, I'm sad to say it, but increasingly, with its lack of city maintenance, lack of park funding and generally dysfunctional leadership, lack of access to healthcare, San Francisco, in particular, is a city not worth taking on.

  32. Huh? Housing is cheaper in Walnut Creek, whether you rent or own.

  33. "If people want to live as nomads for the sake of their children's elementary education, that's fine. Property tax increases are not something people consider. The increase alone for a middle house would be enough to pay for an affluent school."

    How silly. Nomads! The SF enrollment process creates nomads out of us, even without leaving the city.

    Property taxes in other parts of the Bay are not necessarily higher. At least you get something for those increased taxes.

    Anyway, the powers that be really want all up upper middle class types to leave the city anyway. They're doing an excellent job.

    Soon, there will be two San Franciscos, with a carefully crafted line somewhere along Market.

    So what's the big huff if we decide to move. There's certainly no incentive for us to stay.

  34. I would gladly live like a nomad to give my kid a better education.

    I went to a school on the east coast that would be considered a gem by SF standards. My school had art, gym, gate, decent teachers, etc.

    I was considered the top of my class. However, the gem I went to did not prepare me for college at all. I was stunned. I was able to get into college, but my freshman year at college was all catch up.

    My parents were fooled by my good grades at a mediocre school.

  35. 12:04

    Looks like middle school is getting harder! I'm sorry for that. Will be interesting to see how the new system affects everything at that level.

    I'm not one to judge you for moving, but I hope you will do the R2 lottery and waitpool thing. Spots could very well open up at Roosevelt, Hoover, Presidio, and the other large schools. You at least have a lot of viable options out there in the Sunset if you can get one of those spots.

  36. I went to school in southern california and I have yet to find a school in SF that meets any of the opportunities I had as a kid. California is THIS now.

  37. if you want a suburban lifestyle, move to walnut creek or marin or where ever. if you want an urban lifestyle stay here.

    we had kids, moved to the east bay for a few years (including buying a house) and moved right back to SF. we hated the surburban lifestyle.

    no need to freak out after going 0/7 in round 1. it is only round 1 and there are months of changes ahead.

    your child will do fine regardless of the school. there are positive experiences to be had at all SF elementary schools. there is also the possibility to change schools for first grade. if you find cobb unacceptable, and you are persistent, you will get another placement.

  38. 12:27

    I also attended a well-regarded suburban public high school back east, in the 1980's, and found in college that it was mediocre in some important ways. By contrast, the honors education my kids are getting in middle school here is quite rigorous. I never had these kinds of assignments every night. They are learning math at a rapid pace at least a year ahead of where we were back then. More is expected of reports for social studies. And on and on.

    Also, the competitive academic spirit seems higher to me here. I guess this would be good or bad depending on the parent's view, but I think we suburbanites figured we'd just go on to college no problem. Kids don't assume that here. In many cases they are first in the family. They are hungry. When my daughter hit middle school she told me she had to step up her game. And she has had to, to stay in the game for Lowell admissions.

  39. How much are property taxes in Walnut Creek? I would be surprised if they are much more than San Francisco, and you get more sq feet for your $ (rent or home purchase price). Even an increase in property taxes would cost less than private school.

    I don't think cost is a reason not to move to Walnut Creek. I think desire for urban life and desire for no commute are reasons not to move, but cost is a reason TO move.

  40. Just looked up on the CA tax accessor's site - the property tax rate in SF is 9.5%, in Walnut Creek is 9.25%, in Marin county is 9% ... which one is higher and why?

  41. Well, not all suburbs are the deathly 1970s Edward Scissorhands-like suburbs of many of our youths. I grew up in one of those and wouldn't subject my kids to the same. But I'm the Albany poster again...heck, our new neighborhood is more urban than our past home in Miraloma Park. We walk everywhere, live in a 'charming' old house, eat great food, see performances at Zellerbach, and go to the city all the time. BART does take 10-15 minutes longer than our old bus commute (well on a good Muni day, that is!), and that's a pain, but not the end of the world. Actually, while SF is a nice small city, it's not really that urban. As an SF resident, I spent loads of time driving to and from our assigned school, to Trader Joes and the like, which was a more suburban existence than I have now, ha! But please don't come to Albany actually, our schools are already too crowded :-)

  42. Those are sales tax rates. There is also the restarant's Healthy San Francisco surcharge.

    Property tax should be in the 1-2% range. I'll search.

  43. We are in the same exact situation, June - 0/7, assigned Cobb, no private/parochial back-ups, we will not send our daughter to Cobb and plan on moving outside the city if we do not get a much better school selection on April 30th. We have gone through all of the emotions you have so I sympathize with you - our children are lucky to have parents who care so much and will do whatever it takes to get them a quality education. So that will happen, it's just the matter of when and where.

    And I am with you, I too am tired of hearing people tell me it will work out (although I suppose, what else can they really say except for that they are sorry it didn't work out?). I refuse to go through the summer not knowing and continuing on with this frustrating system - our children deserve to go to a quality school and I will not gamble on that by sticking around and crossing my fingers all summer that the system that has failed me thus far will come through for us.

    Hang in there - as much as I hate to hear it lately, I do know that things will work out...it's just unfortunate that I may have to leave the city I love so much in order to have things go my way....

  44. I found this on Contra County Assessor's page. It does not say Walnut Creek specifically but:

    "Property tax rates vary by area. In Contra Costa County the tax rates average approximately 1.1% of the property's taxable value."

    Maybe someone else can search better on or just knows Walnut Creek's specific tax.

    San Francisco is 1.14% according to office of assessor-recorder.

  45. Median home price is higher in Walnut Creek, therefore sq ft per sq ft, you will pay more in taxes. That's the point.
    I have owned in Bernal neighborhood for over 10 years. I am not on the hill. We are far from underwater.
    I am not bitter - there is definitely a high level of projection on this blog!

  46. Are people really trying to figure out the property tax in Walnut Creek vs SF based on June's comment of potentially moving to Walnut Creek and RENTING a home???? Instead why don't we all just support someone who is deciding what is best for HER family and HER kid's education - or just say nothing!

  47. 11:32

    The comment "Enjoy your higher taxes in Walnut Creek" was not helpful. It represents a nice kick to someone who feels they have no options but to move out of the city.

  48. I fully understand the desire to leave. We are in your shoes and had the most serious talk of leaving SF to date.

    It's like a hazing process for those who are 0/7. How much do you *really* like what SF has to offer? I guess the only silver lining (even that's perhaps too generous to say) is that it forces you to look at where you are at and assess your choices for your kids. We're exploring Albany and Alameda and would consider Berkeley but it also has a lottery system.

    We, like you, rent so it's easy for us to pick up and move. What gives me pause is that I did live in east bay and didn't like it. I also know that we'd have to find a preschool for our youngest, make new connections w/other families, deal with commuting which now is only 20 minutes. etc. etc. etc.

    But, I do also feel that we should try and tough it out since there are so many things that I love about SF and living in an urban environment. Things like murals, museums, music, parks, all the interesting people I come across and know, great food, etc... There are those things elsewhere but here it's so immediate. You don't have to drive far to encounter much of this. Flip side being the cost, the homeless problem, the crime.

    I also have to battle my own envy of families who *seem* to have so much more options than we do. Like being able to pay for private school. I know, of course, that it's not easy for them too but that doesn't keep my envy from creeping up and making me jealous. Not pretty, I know.

    To sum it up, my approach is to figure out what I love, what I hate, research options then go with my gut instinct.

    This is a long winded post and not sure if it is at all beneficial to you. You sound like someone who's trying hard to make the right choices for you and your family and I wish you all the luck!

  49. 1:29...thank you.

  50. 12:51 scribbled: "How much are property taxes in Walnut Creek? I would be surprised if they are much more than San Francisco"

    (and the other person muttering about property tax rates being 9.25 percent .... dimwit! That is sales tax!)

    If you already own a house and have for a few years, your property taxes are lower because the assessed value is lower ...

    if I bought a home in Walnut Creek for 950K, then I would be paying THREE TIMES the property taxes I pay now, on my home currently assessed at 320K, but worth 1.5 mil.

    Do people really have THAT LITTLE economic sense to understand that?

  51. Wait until next year. Move to a dark green CTIP1 zone, and then apply to Kinder (or 1st grade) a year later.

  52. 1:29PM Exactly!

    Why does it matter so much to some people where June might or might not move? They are waiting for April to get a better school option, othewise, they'll move. That's the choices they are making it and let's just hope it works out for the best and they get a school of their choice come April. I don't know why people here feel the need to compare their decisions with someone else. If you're happy with your decision/choices, great, otherwise, let June and her husband be without adding snarky comments about property taxes. Wow.

  53. "Also, the competitive academic spirit seems higher to me here. I guess this would be good or bad depending on the parent's view, but I think we suburbanites figured we'd just go on to college no problem. Kids don't assume that here. In many cases they are first in the family. They are hungry. When my daughter hit middle school she told me she had to step up her game. And she has had to, to stay in the game for Lowell admissions."

    Frankly, this sounds like my husband twenty years ago.

    I wonder what San Francisco will be like twenty years from now when these kids who have driven their way through from the bottom are confronted with the same lack of access to schools issues. I'd bet they won't be accepting a school like Cobb.

  54. 1:35,

    Your tax should be about $3,500/year. If you moved to the $950,000 house in Walnut Creek, your taxes would be about $10,500. So an increase of $7,000, which is tax deductible, by the way. Compare that $7,000 to a $20,000 private school tuition bill per child. Who is the dimwit?

  55. May I remind everyone that plenty of people got one of their choices. What generally happens on this blog is that you start to feel like no one got a school they put down on their application - but in fact that isn't the case.

    And yes, I do have to repeat, by the time school starts something will work out.

  56. Don't expect the results to change dramatically with the second round. Change will happen over the Summer. We also went 0/7 and then 0/7 the second round. We got in to our first choice school the Friday before school started. We didn't apply to private schools, and we can't just up and move. I didn't want to hear people say "wait it out" but they did. And they were right. We are committed to the public schools in SF, irrespective of their horribly screwed up enrollment process. My apologies that it has not worked out for you, June.

  57. I feel your pain! I'm glad you have options to find the best education for your child. Thank goodness I have options to move to Marin but it's something I never thought I would have to do. Not to say that I feel "entitled" but honestly, I do. I am a product of SFUSD...graduated from Anza ES(aka Wallenberg High School), Presidio Middle School, Lowell High School and where does my child end up? 0/7 and assigned to a school that still has openings for R2. Good luck June...you're doing the right thing!

  58. 1:29,

    I think everyone is supportive of June and decisions that she has already made.

    At the same time, others are trying to MAKE decisions so some information may be useful.

    And, yes, even renters do pay for property taxes through the rent they pay every month. Do you think landlords just eat the property tax bill?

  59. 1;44

    you're assuming people can afford to pay 3 times their current property taxes, and triple their mortgage.

    It's isn't a tax deduction if you make no money.

    (That troll is a real estate agent, smelling blood. Disgusting. )

  60. I am the MS parent who posted earlier who got Denman. I wonder how many of these K parents will be "committed" to public schools if they get a rough MS a few years down the line. I'm sorry, but I used to be committed to SFUSD, but now I really wish I moved out of SF sooner. Our friends in Marin and Burlingame do NOT go through this level of stress. Yes their lives are a bit more boring, but I would love a bit of boring routine right about now as my 5th grader is crying over being assigned Denman...I can't put her through the stress of waiting until the end of summer to know where she will go to the middle school.

  61. 2:27 - That is the hardest part of this. By 5th grade, friends and peers are a big part of the equation for our kids. If we end up with poor options for MS, not only will we have to move (or pay for school), my kids will have to start over socially.

    Not sure I want to set-up that scenario for myself or my kids. That is why people move to the burbs when the kids are young - Gives everyone more time to make friendships and build community.

  62. 2:41,

    Good point. I will definitely take that into consideration.

  63. To 2:27 -- I saw your post and thought to myself, that'll be us next year! Our eldest is in fourth grade and we are very nervous about the middle school situation in the city. It galls me that, every time on this website I raised concerns about the middle school options, someone with much older kids would immediately pounce on it and say that it is really easy to get into good middle schools in the city. Well, that was then . . . and this is now! It comes a little late for you, but if it is any benefit, Gateway has proposed extending its high school program to middle school starting Fall 2011. If the Board approves it, there will be at least ONE charter option for parents of middle school kids. (Yes, I know Creative Arts also has middle school grades, but I think other strings on this blog make clear the problems that place has right now.) The worst of it is that, as I'm sure your experiencing, moving to the suburbs now would be very disruptive to your kids. They have their friends, their extracurriculars etc., etc. They are old enough to know what they want in everything, but not old enough to appreciate the tough bind you are now in. Anyway, good luck to you.

  64. 2:27, where did your daughter apply for middle school? It's been easier in the past, I think; I'm wondering where she got shut out. We went through it this year as well and no one we know didn't get one of their choices, although we know one family that got James Lick GE and is waitpooling for SI.

  65. 2:11,

    No, I'm assuming that 1:35 who has house worth $1.5 million (more than the $950,000 house she mentioned in Walnut Creek) will not have any additional mortgage. Why would she?

    So her extra cost is the $7,000 I mentioned.

    There are many reasons to stay in San Francisco, but cost is not one of those reasons.

  66. They changed the system, starting next year, all elementary schools will feed a middle school. You're in the elementary, you are automatically assigned to the middle school. All the friends together to the same school. So at least you don't have to worry about that anymore, now high school, that's still a lotto. . .

  67. There are nearly a thousand families in June's shoes. That is a lot of uncertainty. The system is changing, hopefully for the better but this year these families need to make the choices that are best for them. If that means moving, then it means moving.

  68. June, I applaud your courage and willngness to make decisions based on what is right for your family. I also applaud your courage in sharing your story with people who are so quick to judge. I have learned a lot from reading about your decisionmaking process and am glad you chose to share it with us. Best of luck!

  69. Good for you, June.

    It's a relief to see someone share a real story with honesty. There is too much rosy colored view of SFUSD on this blog and god forbid people mention moving to a more sane environment or going private.

    The truth is that people face June's decision all too often. Many of them do choose to go suburban. Others go Catholic or private if they can afford it. Not many blog about making that choice, so I'm glad you have done so.

  70. "There are nearly a thousand families in June's shoes. That is a lot of uncertainty."

    As opposed to the certainty of knowing, if you live in the Excelsior or Crocker-Amazon, that your neighborhood school is weaker academically.

    I'm sorry, the lottery is a fairer system than neighborhood schools; and we've seen a steady increase in the number of schools deemed acceptable. 1,000 families have to either wait it out or shift to another system, and that's bad. It's also immediate and visible and everyone knows about it.

    But what you don't see are the X number of families living in neighborhoods with weaker schools that either would move to the suburbs or to privates or parochials under a neighborhood system.

    Right now, a kid from the Excelsior or Vis Valley has the same chance of getting into Clarendon as a Forest Hill kid (maybe slightly better). Next year that won't be the case. Some of us think that is a sad thing to end. However, the new system will generate more business and copy for more realtors, and instead of fretting over the lottery, we'll fret over whether we're in the best neighborhood for our kids or should we have taken a place 8 blocks over.

    Just wait and see what appears on this blog next year.

  71. "Right now, a kid from the Excelsior or Vis Valley has the same chance of getting into Clarendon as a Forest Hill kid (maybe slightly better). Next year that won't be the case."

    I thought Clarendon was going to be a system wide lottery school?

  72. Personally, I like my neighborhood school. I would like to have been able to get into it easily, as opposed to going the really hard route of going 0/14 and getting in the first week of school, while other folks from other parts of the City could get it in. It looks like June liked her neighborhood schools too. Why can't people take their energy that they focus here, excoriating the district and their neighborhood schools and put it towards lending a hand at their neighborhood school? Build a strong community - where the friends you have at school are the friends in your neighbhorhood as well.

  73. not clear yet, other than that the immersion programs (which are mostly on the east side of town) will definitely be citywide lotto. Presumably they will designate several on the north and west sides as well, for balance and fairness--and it isn't far-fetched to believe they will correspond with the ones already labeled as alternative.

  74. To the parent who got Denman MS, I suggest you at least visit it. They have an amazing 6th grade science program, and the teachers I know there are dynamic and engaging. Yes, there are many poor students at Denman. Another thing to keep in mind: if you apply for 7th grade from a low API school, you're a shoe-in for Presidio. (The one person I know who was assigned to Presidio MS after Round ! came from a low API ES.)

  75. Personally, I like my neighborhood school. I would like to have been able to get into it easily .... Why can't people take their energy that they focus here ... and put it towards lending a hand at their neighborhood school?

    Well, isn't that the point of the new system? People who want their neighborhood school will be able to stay there. Of course, not everyone will like their neighborhood school, or they will want a special program like immersion, and they will have a chance to change schools via the lottery--most of them going to citywide lottery schools.

    I'm sure it won't be perfect--at all, because the fundamental problem is not "neighborhood" vs. "choice" but rather how to allocate those schools that are unpopular. Plus not everyone will like how the neighbhorhood schools are allocated (what do you mean I got Cobb instead of Sherman???). In a diverse district, there will be unpopular schools. But it should address your issue much better than the present system. It's really a victory for neighborhood advocates.

  76. No currently the way the proposal stands is that only Language programs and K-8 schools would be citywide. It'll be interesting to see how they draw the boundaries though. The area is pretty sparsely populated.

  77. June, I am so sorry to hear how things went for you. I agree with everyone says about doing what you think is best for your child and your family. Thank you so much for the time you spent writing reviews for us, and I hope you end up in a situation you are happy with.

  78. 10:46,

    There is a social agenda. It is based on the finances of a family. The questions asked about whether a family is eligible for public assistance, section 8 housing, food stamps or are homeless. Please, I have lived here all my life and am a third generation San Franciscan. There has been a social agenda here for a long time. If you don't think so read up on the school assignment history!!

  79. Thanks for your honesty, June. We also went 0/7 and have experienced the same range of emotions as your family this weekend. Best to you and your family.

  80. June we just had a new kid join my son's class(K) this week! (so the class now has 23 kids..) A whole slew joined in the first several weeks. And another one of the K classes went up to 23 as well to accommodate another student...flexibility that wasn't publicized early on

  81. Hi June,

    We went 0/7 last year and like you, didn't have any back ups other than moving to Marin. So, we took a long, hard look at the schools for our "waitpool" choice, which is your best option for changing your 0/7 status since the waitpool is run before Round II. No way we could have sat through the 10-day count - it takes nerves of steel.

    We ditched the trophy schools and looked more carefully at good, solid schools with larger capacity (our thinking - the more kindergarten classes, the more likely there will be movement). And we got our waitpool choice! We couldn't be happier with our child's education at our big but very sweet school - which for some reason flys under the radar. Maybe it's the early start time...

    So hang in there until Round II, and if you end up in Walnut Creek, enjoy the better weather and backyard bbqs - something I miss in the city!

  82. Too bad if you don't want to hear this, but it's true! Do not move to Walnut Creek. All the spots open up in August and September. Two years ago I went 0/15, and a bunch of us from this list joined together in an email list as support. Of the 15 or so who "waited it out" all except one family got assignments to schools we now love. A couple of us who moved to the East Bay, and two I think moved to Marin--they all got schools they would have attended has they stayed. One got Clarendon.

    So don't him and haw about "don't tell me..." because someone has to tell you.

    I got Yick Wo. My buddy got Sunnside. Two friends got Flynn. Three I know of got Rooftop, Clarendon. there were something like 9 openings at Grattan.

    So don't tell me not to tell you. Sorry.

  83. Hey guys, please don't think that financially well to do families have any more options that the folks who can't afford private school.

    I sent kids to private, then went public and am happy with my decision. For what it's worth, I can tell you that it's actually a lot more difficult and less likely that you will get accepted to a private school. It's like they are ALL like Clarendon. It just ain't easy.

    At least with the SFUSD, you get a school. Even if you don't like it. And then of course it seems EVERYBODY is eventually very happy with the school they get after going through the process, changing once or twice, working it, and getting the magic call off the waitlist in August and Sept.

    Frankly, that's golden, compared to going to two to three interviews with psychologists for each private school--we applied to seven for our daughter--only to come up with nothing. And even if you do come up with something, it's $20,000 per year.

    Public school is the best thing that every happened to our family. We came to it as a result of a shocking turn in our financial lives three years ago. We've recovered, but I would never ever send my children to private elementary school again in this town. What a waste.

  84. Was in the same situation last year. Got into a private, but didn't love or even like it, so moved to Marin in July. BEST decision ever. We are happy and our daughter is thriving. Schools are SO MUCH better than any of the publics in the city. I'd say go for Walnut Creek and relax. Good luck.

  85. So sorry for the frustration.

    It blows my mind that this crap has gone on for so many years.

    People will hate me saying this.

    GO BACK to neighborhood schools. If you don't like the school. MOVE. You can move out of San Francisco.

  86. By all means, move to Walnut Creek.

    But also, you need to ask yourself: why is Cobb so unacceptable?

    Is it the test scores? There are all kinds of issues with test scores, but certainly it's an issue for many people. Some kind of commute/timing issue? Those can be serious, too.

    But frankly, a decision to trash a school - a school with happy families and teachers - in a public place without any kind of explanation and no actual information like a visit is offensive and privileged.

    I'm sorry you don't like your school placement. Given your absolute dismissal with little objective evidence, it's certainly for the best that you don't enroll there.

  87. Here's my favorite Denman story: P.E. teacher Marilyn Laidlaw (a Balboa HS alum, btw!) has invited me several times to take P.E. with her class. Once they were doing gymnastics and I learned, along with the rest of the 7th graders, how to do a handstand. The second time she had a special needs class integrated with her general ed 6th graders and they were doing square dancing. It was a riot and the kids LOVED IT!

    I am not sure whether Marilyn is the reason to sign up at Denman or not, but she's certainly a huge plus, and her kids learn a lot of great skills and have a wonderful time in the process.

  88. Um, 8:35--why would anyone have to see three psychologists to go to a private school? Not true in our case--just admissions directors.

    In any case, we must all respect a parent's decision to make the best choices for their children and their lives. Far be it for others to judge. Everyone's tolerance of uncertainty is different. And because children are not widgets, a good choice for one child might not be a good one for another. So let's please not judge that either.

  89. a question regarding moving out of the city for schools: is there somewhere we'd find good schools and other kids with same-sex parents? this isn't rhetorical, I'm really asking. thx.

  90. Cobb is objectively a terrible school (API rank of 3 out of 10). I also visited Cobb and interviewed the principal when the "lottery" sentenced my child to Cobb. No parent with viable alternative choices would send her child to Cobb. We lucked out and got into a private otherwise we were ready to move out of the City too: moving is something a parent must be prepared to do in order safeguard her children's education. Attacking June, 10:41, for stating the obvious about Cobb right now when she's gone 0 for 7 and is effectively being forced out of the City is despicable.

  91. 9:24 - Very interesting that you moved to Marin and supposedly love it yet you spent your free time trolling this blog.

  92. RE: good schools and same sex parents:

    How far are you willing to go?

    A good friend of mine who is a midwife and used to work at the amazing midwifery program at St. Lukes, moved to small town in Massachussetts.

    Vancouver and Victoria, in British Columbia, have legal same sex marriage, great schools and open minded attitudes toward sexual orientation.

    Alameda? Palo Alto?

  93. My husband and I break out in hives in the suburbs, our throats close up and we need to carry the Epi-Pen with us. We are 0/7, but hope and intend never, ever to leave San Francisco. We will make it work here. There are vibrant and cool learning opportunities for my kid around every corner in this city. The societal problems that are in our faces every day are also great teaching opportunities.

  94. 9:24
    It is great you are happy, but how do you know the schools are so much better in Marin than here? Seems to me you cannot compare without first hand experience of attending both. I think the public schools here can potentially offer things the schools in Marin never can.

  95. "is there somewhere we'd find good schools and other kids with same-sex parents?"

    try Alameda

  96. I don't think the schools in the burbs are necessarily way better, it's just the idea you don't have to stress out about a lottery at every step of the way. And I do think some public high schools in some burbs can be "better" - in just that they are smaller and have more of a focus on getting kids to college. I went to a mediocre HS in a Marin suburb for the first two years, then a trophy public HS in Marin for the second two years, and the difference was incredible. I am so glad my parents switched me over those last two years.

  97. 12:17, June was not "attacked" for not liking Cobb. The poster defended Cobb, which is not the same as "attacking" her. The poster didn't disparage June at all.

  98. June, you sound exactly like me two years ago. I went through this process, along with Kate, and found myself 0/14, assigned to John Muir, and totally depressed. My husband and I made the same decision as you and began to house hunt in Marin County. I have to admit, that after the shock of going 0/14 had worn off, and the decision was made to move, the idea of starting fresh somewhere else sounded pretty nice. I felt totally in control of our destiny.

    Only after being pre-qualified for a home loan and taking dozens of tours of homes for sale and for rent from Mill Valley to San Rafael, were we contacted by SFUSD offering us a spot in our waitlisted school. Luckily we were not yet at the point of no-return, and in the end we decided to stay.

    I just received an assignment letter for child number two, who received a sibling preference. It was a relief not to have to go through lottery-hell again. I just wanted to say good luck, and let you know that others have been where you are today and lived to tell about it.

  99. Yes, your post, more than any, reminded me of what it really was like to go 0/7. I just wanted to scream any time someone told me "it would all work out," or "it's not all about test scores," or "we got off the wait list for Clarendon three years ago two weeks before school!" or "well what did you expect with that list?" I know people were trying to help, but no one really seemed to understand how upsetting I found the idea of facing weeks, if not months, of more uncertainty. (Fortunately for us, it ended up being just weeks -- we got our #1 round 2 pick. But that doesn't mean those weeks of waiting weren't very hard.)

    I hope it all works out for you. Best of luck.

  100. We were 0/14 last year along with most other kids in our daughter's preschool. We did have a Catholic school back up and are still there. I think we will stay (despite the fact that we're not religious) because our daughter is settled through 8th grade now and the budget cuts to the school system are pretty terrifying.

    There are probably still Catholic school spots out there. Have you considered getting a spot in a parochial school and then waiting out the summer and count? All but one of our daughter's preschool classmates were called up off of the waitlist for their public slot over the summer. They were already enrolled in Catholic schools and most decided to stay put leaving those slots open to others. The person who didn't get called up got a slot once school started and one family moved away. I don't know how you feel about parochial schools but just thought I would throw that idea out there. We were feeling the same way you are last year and I really feel your pain. I appreciate your honest post.

  101. Re gay/lesbian families in Alameda, there was recently organized opposition there to a proposal to include some LGBT stuff in their curriculum and counseling. Big contrast to here in SF where the school board made an effort to find funding for the coordinator and website for LGBT students .... that's not to say there aren't welcoming families over there, just that it is not SF with the overt support that exists here both in the district and through groups like COLAGE, etc.

  102. p.s.
    You do know there are 2 school districts in Walnut Creek, right? I don't know anything else about it, except that a co-worker has his kids in one, and he prefers it to the other district for some reason.

  103. Of course it's understandable why 0/7 families would resent being asked "what did you expect with that list?" or something similarly unsympathetic.

    But how can they feel the same way about a nasty crack like that as about the sympathetic and encouraging comment (based on reality over the years) that if they hang in there, they'll get a school they like?

  104. Because sometimes all you want to hear is "I'm so sorry." It's like when you tell someone there's been a death in the family, and someone says, "It's all for the best, they lived a long life anyway." I realize that's an extreme example, but it's the same idea. You just want empathy at first, and being told anything but "I'm so sorry" makes it feel like your feelings are being minimized.

    Believe me, now that I'm on the other side, I totally want to tell people that it's all going to work out (and I really do believe that). But her post just reminded me that that's so not what I wanted to hear in the first week or so after I received our letter.

  105. 12:12: Re: good spots for same-sex-parent families:

    I live in El Cerrito and two-mom families are not uncommon. WCCUSD isn't the best but I would definitely check out Harding Elementary. It's blocks from BART, very walkable. Brand-new building, nascent PTA, very diverse. I believe they have a grant that will keep class-size reduction in place for the next few years despite the fact that the rest of the district is going to 28 for K-3 classes.

    Best of luck to everyone.

  106. El Cerrito?

    My idea of hell.

  107. Gosh - that's so mean.

    6:43 - Ignore this person. Thank you for posting!

  108. Not going to agree that El Cerrito is my idea of hell but I have to say I don't think the schools are any better and thus I would not recommend moving there for the schools.

  109. I know the person that was asking about LGBT friendly enclaves with good schools is probably not considering a move out of the Bay Area.

    However, for the record, I'll post a few links about Vancouver's West End, a neighbourhood that is at least as LGBT friendly as San Francisco with the plus of having good schools:

    The Wiki Page for the West End:

    List of LGBT friendly community resources in Vancouver:

    The West End has been an LGBT friendly enclave for decades. It's not new, just not as well known as the Castro.

    Another neighborhood in Vancouver that is LGBT friendly is the Commercial Drive area. In culture, it's like Bernal.


    If anyone is interested in this, there are plenty of links on the how tos of moving to Canada.

  110. I was just trying to recall the town that my Bernal midwife friend moved to in Mass:

    It's Provincetown.

    She loves it and her and her partner were able to buy a house there, something they couldn't do in San Francisco.

    Schools are good.

  111. 9:19--El Cerrito poster here. Indeed, many of the issues facing West Contra Costa Unified mirror what SFUSD is grappling with, which is why I check in on this blog (that, and the fact that my niece's parents are in the thick of the SF K process).

    That said, as with SFUSD, we have many bright spots. Our schools are diverse without the stress of a lottery. We have popular, high-test score schools with amazing views that the LGBT parent wouldn't be able to find a space in because they're full already.

    My son's school is in Richmond. (yeah, we cross over from hell into Richmond for school). It's a 4 on Greatschools.net and I don't even know what its scores are--mediocre. I do know that my son goes to school on a pretty, sunny campus with great kids and a veteran, attentive teacher. Always at least one parent in the classroom to help out. Lots of field trips and special events to round out the experience. It's far from perfect (homework in kindergarten, class sized going up)--but it is so much better than how it appears on paper or computer screen.

    As for the original LGBT family question--Albany would also be a great community to check out.

  112. 11:11 p.m. the hills of El Cerrito have great views and I love the mid-century modern houses. BART is also right there. So, I think your suggestion and your observation that you really don't know what it is like at a school unless you are involved with it is spot on.

    June, the schools are great in Lafyette/Orinda area. Not sure about the LGBT community but it is one stop on BART to Rockridge so you still urban life at your door step.

  113. "I thought Clarendon was going to be a system wide lottery school?"

    No: the K-8's stay system-wide, and the immersion programs also, but IIRC Clarendon, which while historically was an alternative school, is K-5 and hasn't been designed as one that would stay city-wide.

    To be honest, while Clarendon converting to neighborhood school is a big boon to the city, it'd probably be best for the system as a whole if Clarendon became a neighborhood school. There's no particular argument for it not doing so, except that it gets stellar test scores: it's not K-8, and its not immersion.

    There might be an argument to keep the Clarendon JBBP program city-wide: but the same decision would have to be made for similar BBP programs (e.g. Rosa Parks).

  114. "We're exploring Albany and Alameda and would consider Berkeley but it also has a lottery system."

    Albany has a good school district. Alameda - you're not really getting that much better than SFUSD, on the average, and have less options at the MS and HS level.

    For all who went 0/7 - take a breath, and don't make any plans or deadlines with yourself. The shock of getting bad news from the district is still sinking in.

    Also, parochial schools are a good Plan B, and are far less expensive than the independents. Plus, you have the chance of an out-of-district transfer later in the year into a public. Next week, a lot of the parochials will have spots freed up as the independent private acceptances come out. It'd be a good time to call and see what your local parochial school has open.

  115. People's feelings SHOULD be minimized when they're far more despondent and pessimistic than reality warrants.

  116. "Hey guys, please don't think that financially well to do families have any more options that the folks who can't afford private school."

    Hey 8:35 poster,
    While I appreciate that you go on to say how great public school is, by virtue of now having a choice over private or public when you are well off--you do have more options. You didn't have a choice when you weren't well off, but when you are well off enough to consider either one, that is the very definition of having more options. That is what it means to have more resources than others. Something for all of us to think about.

  117. i just closed on a house in walnut creek the other day. i tried to enroll my kid in our neighborhood school and it was full. the only school with room is across town. he is currently in K at peabody. i'm hoping to get him into our neighborhood school for 1st grade. all the schools in wc are good, i just find it funny because isn't that why people move to the suburbs? we absolutely are not moving because of sf schools. peabody was our first choice last year, and leaving peabody is one of the hard things about leaving sf. that school is damn awesome.

  118. "i'm hoping to get him into our neighborhood school for 1st grade. all the schools in wc are good, i just find it funny because isn't that why people move to the suburbs?"

    Well, don't tell your story to Don Krause. He thinks rainbows unicorns who shit candy will appear if we shift to neighborhood schools.