Wednesday, March 10, 2010

SFGate: S.F. adopts new school-assignment system

This from today's Chronicle:
The San Francisco school board Tuesday adopted a new system for assigning students to schools, a hybrid plan that immediately came under fire for failing to pick a side in a long-running battle between neighborhood schools and diverse schools.

The new system was years in the making, as district officials attempted to sort out a way to balance the demands of parents and lawyers on both sides of the debate given the de facto segregation across city neighborhoods.

What emerged was a compromise. It gives children living in census tracts where students post the lowest test scores - typically low-income and minority communities - priority to attend high-demand schools. Those in the school's attendance areas would be next in line, followed by other students who want to attend those schools.

District officials said they hope that in the long run the new plan would help diversity, while giving parents and their children both school choice across the district and preferential status to neighborhood schools.

As controversial as the district's school assignment system has been over the years - including a history of lawsuits, a consent decree, years of debate and dozens of community meetings - the board's final decision Tuesday night was unanimous.

Yet even before Tuesday, a group of parents wanting access to the school down the street joined forces to buck the new system, saying they would bring the issue to the ballot if the board didn't adopt a neighborhood schools plan.

"The school district should be focused on education, not commuting," said parent Omar Khalif, in a statement for the newly formed group, Students First.

At the same time, the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area chastised the board for considering a plan that would contribute to a system of separate and unequal schools.

"A student assignment policy which fails to reverse and remedy racial isolation is not only out of step with the Board's legal obligation to desegregate, but the Board's stated goals for the redesign process," said staff attorney Kendra Fox-Davis, in a letter to the board Monday.

In a separate issue, the school board voted Tuesday night to close Newcomer High School despite an outpouring of support from teachers, students and parents. Newcomer, which offers a one-year transitional program for nearly 170 new immigrant high school students, will close at the end of this school year.

District officials said the Newcomer students would be better served at four to six comprehensive high schools and not be required to transfer after a year as they are at Newcomer.

114 comments:

  1. I applaud the BOE for making hard choices. I've been in the system for 8 years and feel that the solution they came do was better than what's been considered in recent years, and does as good a job as possible of balancing out many challenges needs and priorities. No system was going to make everyone happy, but this one does a better job than what we have now.

    Also, while I know that it was a difficult decision, I applaud them for making the tough choice to close Newcomer. I was ESPECIALLY pleased that this decision was driving by data and facts regarding how students were progressing academically in the more comprehensive high schools and that, unlike in the past with school closure decisions, made purely on emotion.

    I'm not always in agreement with all member of the BOE but I think that this group is working better than their predecessors on many of these tough decisions.

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  2. It's interesting that you say that because several Board members expressed their reservations about this policy despite their votes in favor. When you say it does a better job, what exactly do you mean? It does a better job of what?

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  3. "Densely populated attendance areas - students who live in attendance areas that do not
    have sufficient capacity to accommodate all the students living in the attendance area."

    Does anyone know who this preference works? If my daughter gets shut out of her neighborhood because it gets filled up with CTIP1 students, does she fall under this preference? Or does it only apply to attendance areas that do not have sufficient capacity to accomodate all students in the neighborhood before the other preferences are considered?

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  4. I think what most of you do not understand is that, historically, the people in the ctip1 areas so not put in applications in time, and do not know how to game the system.
    So these paranoid fears of all the spots at your local schools being "taken" by kids in Hunter's Point are just ridiculous.

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  5. And also, they will not provide bus service to the schools anymore, so te people in the CTIP1 areas will not be able to get their kids there. This new system will lead to MORE segregation, not less, it is all about saving money and being an easier system to administer.

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  6. Interesting. Couldn't you just rent a room in one of those resident hotels in say the mission or tenderloin or hunters point and then apply to one of the highly desirable schools while you live in Pac Heights? Nobody at the school would know how you got in just that you are on the list and you'd jump ahead of everyone that was in the neighborhood of that school.

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  7. In the new system I wonder if rank order will still be the tie breaker. It would be good for EPS to clearly communicate this from the start to avoid more 0/7 results.

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  8. 7:21, that kind of shenanigan has been used forever in applying to popular schools, under systems based on home address.

    Now-State Sen. Leland Yee made the news in the '90s for using someone else's address to get his kid into Hoover MS, for example. For that matter, people out of district sometimes use others' addresses to get their kids into SFUSD schools. A friend was registering her son for Lowell (there is or was a process requiring in-person registration), and the person in front of her was busted on the spot for using a relative's SF address while living in Oakland.

    Lots of people have said that SFUSD should do more detective work to root out these shenanigans. Of course, the cost would come out of our kids' classrooms.

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  9. "Does anyone know who this preference works? If my daughter gets shut out of her neighborhood because it gets filled up with CTIP1 students, does she fall under this preference?"

    Yep. Also, I think there's a lot of hyperventilating on this. I don't think you're going to see CTIP1 families schelpping across the city to take places at Alamo. More likely you'll see parents applying for better schools that are not that far away from their neighborhood: it'll be parents shifting from Willie Brown Academy to Flynn, Taylor, Glen Park, SF Community or from Cesar Chavez to Alvarado or Moscone rather than from BV/HP to Grattan.

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  10. "And also, they will not provide bus service to the schools anymore, so te people in the CTIP1 areas will not be able to get their kids there."

    That's premature to say. There'll be reduced bus service, but I don't think there's specific plans yet. But the bus lines currently are pretty old, going back to the forced busing days and noncontiguous catchment area days.

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  11. From the SFUSD press release"

    "All elementary schools will feed into a particular middle school. At the beginning of the enrollment process, SFUSD fifth graders will receive an initial assignment offer to a middle school based on the elementary school they attend."

    Any thoughts on this? When will that information be available? So middle school is based on where you are going now, not where you live?

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  12. Wynns'amendment to strengthen prosecution will deter people. But they would have to actually prosecute because you cannot move a child out of a school beased on an allegation. I doubt the district is going press these fraud charges.

    In the meantime if they are so concerned about preferences going to the wrong kids why use a CTIP method where there are without doubt many high SES children living in and around Western Addition housing projects and elsewhere?

    I can understand the need to identify potential low performers for K entrance, but why not identify indidvidual for the preference at MS and HS? They are already identified under weighted student formula.

    Some people posting here don't understand a basic Title One issue. Any district that gets those funds under Part A have to offer choice to students at PI schools and transportation to the choice school. This is the law and it requires that some busing take place. The other side is that few kids take the choice under title one because they get it through the last and the new system.

    The district doesn't want kids to use Federal choice because it is a snub to the PI school and it gives the district less political bargaining power when the Fed DOE wants them to close failing schools. I know that the T1 money doesn't come close to covering transportation so there is little advantage for the district to encourage T1 choice in that regard.

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  13. How will this affect alternative schools and immersion programs? I expect the pressure on these will increase considerably, since they're the only remaining opt-out under the neighborhood captivity program.

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  14. Yet even before Tuesday, a group of parents wanting access to the school down the street joined forces to buck the new system, saying they would bring the issue to the ballot if the board didn't adopt a neighborhood schools plan.

    "The school district should be focused on education, not commuting," said parent Omar Khalif, in a statement for the newly formed group, Students First."

    What is this group Students First? They don't have a website. Who is Omar Khalif?

    I like neighborhood schools. But before I got involved I'd want to know more about Students First. First Student is a school bus service. Ironic

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  15. Dear 6:20AM

    you posted:
    "I think what most of you do not understand is that, historically, the people in the ctip1 areas so not put in applications in time, and do not know how to game the system.
    So these paranoid fears of all the spots at your local schools being "taken" by kids in Hunter's Point are just ridiculous."

    and what YOU don't understand is that there is signficant outreach in these areas to ensure that parents are aware of the sytem and how to 'game' it. I would love to see your historical data on CTIP1 residents failure to register for school

    I do agree though that hyperventialating over underprivledged students taking neighborhood spots is a bit reactive. There is no school which has been 'overtaken' by out of neighborhood underprivledge students.. only privledged students who's parents can afford the time and effort (or hire someone) to cart their child around the city.

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  16. I love the idea of renting a property in a CTIP1 area just for school registration! Its much cheaper than 150K for private.

    Please, to those that do it.. let a homeless person or family stay there.

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  17. My feeling about this process is, given the failure of CTIP1 folks to actually use their preference on a timely basis and given the lack of busing, this is really going to be a neighborhood system, at least for the top tier neighborhood schools. But, and this is a big but, for the rest of us this could really open things up. For the top tier neighborhood schools, if you are not in the neighborhood, you can forget about getting in. For example, if you are not in Alvarado's neighborhood zone, you are not getting in to Alvarado GE. There will no longer be the "long shot" possibility of getting into one of the top tier neighborhood schools. The interesting flip side is what this will do for demand for the alternatives and the K through 8's. I could easily see folks in top tier neighborhood schools just going with that school (other than those bent on language), and that might, I say "might," free up some space for the rest of us to get into K through 8's and non-language alternatives. The last minute fix the Board did with middle school too could really ease the minds of those folks in the top tier school neighborhoods. They don't have to worry, as they did before, about middle school -- everyone in that top tier elementary will be fed into the middle school. So that may ease the pressure to get into a K through 8 for those who worry about getting into good middle schools. Again, very iffy, but I see this perhaps opening things up for the rest of us.

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  18. can someone post a link to the proposed neighborhood borders and nieghborhood schools? Anyone know when this will be set?

    (I post this because three years ago we were in Miraloma, two years ago Miraloma/Sunnyside and this year Sunnyside.. I could see us being in Glen Park next year! We live equil distances from each of these schools yet our zip code is the same as West Portal!)

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  19. My major concern is the use of census tracts rather than individual family financial data, for the reasons stated by 7:21 . . . and more on that below.

    Otherwise, I expect the result of the assignment system will be old wine in new bottles. Low SES families will continue to participate in the system at a lower rate than high SES families. Higher SES families will continue to fill high-demand schools in disproportionate numbers. Schools will remain imbalanced and segregated to some extent. From stories like Daniel Webster and Rosa Parks, it's pretty evident that if you want better mixing of low- and high-SES status families, the school has to happen before the mixing happens.

    There is an awesome link on the SFUSD web site; hope it comes up:
    http://portal.sfusd.edu/template/default.cfm?page=policy.placement.assignment.so_far_maps_data#mismatch It shows how many students from each neighborhood currently attend schools inside and outside their neighborhood, which was something I'd wanted to know for ages. For each neighborhood it shows the percentage of students who attend in-neighborhood schools, and for each school, it shows the percentage of the student body that come from the neighborhood.

    An oft-repeated statistic to "prove" that low SES families request schools outside their neighborhoods is that 70% of BVHP kids attend school outside that area. Well guess what I learned from the SFUSD web site. There are almost 2500 elementary age kids in BVHP and nowhere near that many school seats in BVHP. They have no choice but to go elsewhere. The largest group, 737, do go to BVHP schools. The next largest numbers go to school in, in order, Excelsior (403), Bernal (206) and the Mission (182). After that, the order is Castro-Upper Market (87), Outer Mission (86), Potrero (77) and Vis Valley(69), and Twin Peaks (54). BVHP actually has the HIGHEST percentage of in-neighborhood kids of any neighborhood in the district.

    The Mission has 1900 kids, almost half of whom go to school in the Mission, and the rest are concentrated in Bernal, Castro-Upper Market, Noe and Potrero.

    Vis Valley has 1450 kids, 486 of whom go to school in Vis Valley, with other concentrations in Excelsior, Crocker Amazon and Bayview.

    Those are just some examples. When you look at the numbers, although some kids in areas we tend to think of as low SES do take advantage of the choice system to go to distant schools (and the new system should still allow that), a large majority, while not necessarily "in neighborhood," are staying close to home.

    The main group I think is at risk for being disadvantaged by the new system is low-income Asian families living in the northeast and northwest of the city, where there are no CTIP1 tracts. Those families got preference under the old system but will lose it now. Given the cultural importance of education to the Asian community, if this turns out to be the case, I expect the district will have another legal fight on its hands.

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  20. "When will that information be available? So middle school is based on where you are going now, not where you live?"

    Yep. For ES, the default assignment will be based on where you live, but for MS it'll be based on which MS your ES feeds to. If you don't like it, then you go through a choice process, similar to the current system.

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  21. "From stories like Daniel Webster and Rosa Parks, it's pretty evident that if you want better mixing of low- and high-SES status families, the school has to happen before the mixing happens."

    Or more specifically, you need magnet programs to draw high-SES families to schools with predominately low-SES kids.

    Which is a separate issue, really (how to we get more magnet programs, if that's what we want to do), from student assignment (how do we divide up what we've got).

    "The main group I think is at risk for being disadvantaged by the new system is low-income Asian families living in the northeast and northwest of the city, where there are no CTIP1 tracts. Those families got preference under the old system but will lose it now."

    I'm not so sure. There are strong schools in the NE (Parker, Yick Wo), and in SE around Vis Valley and Portola (e.g. Taylor, Longfellow). For the trophy schools that appeal to Asian Americans, the CTIP1 percentages are almost a rounding error: e.g. 6% CTIP1 for AFY, 4% for West Portal, so it's not like there's a lot of demand for those programs from CTIP1 parents.

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  22. Anonymous@10:55.

    Good points. The reason BVHP has too few seats is because SFUSD has wants to force them out with a feit compli, or however you spell that french term. This lack of seating drives the need to push kids to other schools and diversify. The irony is that the community diversified in the meantime. And now there is no room for the diversified population to go to their neighborhood school.

    This is why our organization, Students First, wants to put Neighborhood schools on the ballot - to force SFUDSD to create the capacity to keep communities thriving. Good local schools will free up room at alternative schools and create more choice, particularly if you also promote more of the successful alternative models.

    That's why Students First is about achievement, neighborhood schools, building communities and a school district that serves those communities, not the other way around.

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  23. I really wish the "Students First" group would focus its efforts on improving the public schools so that more middle class families would go to them than waste money and lots of time on a ballot measure. We have a year of unprecedented cuts. I was just at my school's Site Council meeting. We were told to expect K to be 24 kids next year; 1st through 3rd is going to be 27 to 30 kids in a class; and 4th and 5th will be at 33. All supply monies cut entirely; all class trips out entirely. Our PTA, which in five years has NEVER been able to raise more than $50,000, agreed to raise over $70,000 to try to keep at least a few extras as well as some supplies in the classroom. My goodness, let's put off all this pontificating for a couple of years and focus on staunching the worst of these effects. If these cuts keep going, there won't be ANY public schools worth attending in SF!

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  24. How does one get into an SFUSD PreK program? Are tehy open to everyone? And are they considered good?

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  25. My new business plan:

    Open pre-schools near Clarendon, Rooftop, etal. - I'll be able to charge above market rates since I'll be proverbially in control of the "golden tickets" which would grant priority placement to these schools.

    (OK, I won't do it but I guarantee you this will start to happen.)

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  26. Good for you 12:37. I think a ballot measure is a waste of time, energy and money that could be devoted to helping schools, and I'm the one who put up the data showing that a significant majority of people attend schools close to home.

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  27. My understanding is that low SES kids get first crack at SFUSD pre-K programs and other kids only get spaces if they're available.

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  28. "There are almost 2500 elementary age kids in BVHP and nowhere near that many school seats in BVHP."

    But Malcolm X and Willie Brown are amongst the smallest enrollment, barely half-full in the case of Malcolm X. Which indicates that BV/HP parents aren't battering down the doors to get their neighborhood schools: it's demand, not capacity, causing only 30% of BV/HP parents to go out of their neighborhood.

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  29. "Good points. The reason BVHP has too few seats is because SFUSD has wants to force them out with a feit compli"

    Don, this is incorrect and you've been told so before. Malcolm X has an enrollment of less than 120: it's at less than half capacity for its physical plant. Quit making stuff up.

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  30. You don't know your facts. One school is an incomplete picture, but the picture you want to believe and convey.

    This excerpt is from a poster on this thread:

    There is an awesome link on the SFUSD web site; hope it comes up:
    http://portal.sfusd.edu/template/default.cfm?page=policy.placement.assignment.so_far_maps_data#mismatch It shows how many students from each neighborhood currently attend schools inside and outside their neighborhood, which was something I'd wanted to know for ages. For each neighborhood it shows the percentage of students who attend in-neighborhood schools, and for each school, it shows the percentage of the student body that come from the neighborhood.

    An oft-repeated statistic to "prove" that low SES families request schools outside their neighborhoods is that 70% of BVHP kids attend school outside that area. Well guess what I learned from the SFUSD web site. There are almost 2500 elementary age kids in BVHP and nowhere near that many school seats in BVHP. They have no choice but to go elsewhere..."

    Those that insult the most usually know the least.

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  31. "I'm the one who put up the data showing that a significant majority of people attend schools close to home."

    Where the heck are you getting that from? According to:

    http://portal.sfusd.edu/data/epc/Comparison%20of%20student%20residences%20with%20location%20of%20school%20attended.pdf

    - only five out of 36 neighborhoods (Crocker-Amazon, Excelsior, Inner Richmond, Marina Outer Richmond, and the Marina*) had a majority of kids in that neighborhood go to schools in that neighborhood.

    The mean for kids going to school in their neighbourhood is *37%*. Given there's multiple schools in most neighborhoods, the number going to their "local school" is even lower. Given that, it's hard to believe that there's a huge silent majority of people seething that the district doesn't guarantee them their local school: most people prefer *a different school* from their local school, given the numbers.




    [*However, only 86 kids from the Marina go to SFUSD in the K-5 grades. Yeah, there's a big demand for Lilienthal to become a neighborhood school. Uh-huh. Hammering at the doors, they are.]

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  32. Fact checker,

    If you bothered to actually check the "facts" that you claim are untrue you would have found this - copied from the district website at the address referenced in my previous post and by the another commentor above.

    "While there are many more neighborhood students than seats in schools, under the current system Bayview and surrounding areas actually have surplus space. Their schools are under-enrolled because students choose to attend schools in other areas of the city.

    •70% of elementary students who live in Bayview attend a school in other areas, and 90% of middle school students who live in Bayview attend a school in other areas of San Francisco.
    •66% of elementary students who live in Visitacion Valley attend a school in other areas, and 72% of middle school students who live in the area attend a school in other areas of San Francisco.
    •Many elementary students living in Bayview, Visitacion Valley, and Excelsior are scattered throughout the District’s schools. About half of the students in these three areas attend a school outside of these three areas. For example, of Bayview elementary residents, about half do not attend a school in Bayview, Visitacion Valley, or Excelsior."

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  33. "You don't know your facts. One school is an incomplete picture, but the picture you want to believe and convey."

    There are ~1700 slots in K-5 in BV/HP. There are 737 kids enrolled in K-5 in BV/HP. Tell me again how a lack of capacity in BV/HP is forcing them into other neighborhoods, Don.

    You. Do. Not. Do. Your. Research.
    Before. Flapping. Your. Gums.

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  34. I'm getting confused who is talking to whom because no one uses a name.

    1:25 I'm talking about the number of kids that live in the southeast relative to the number of seats available. Yes, there are some empty seats in BVHP, but if the 70% of those that leave were to stay, the demand would far exceed supply. It is all in the districts website and it states this quite clearly.

    You seem to be discussing how many kids go to their local school as a proxy for determining demand. I disagree with this analysis but that is another discussion.

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  35. "•70% of elementary students who live in Bayview attend a school in other areas, and 90% of middle school students who live in Bayview attend a school in other areas of San Francisco." District portal

    Plus it is well understood that the actual number of students living there is greater than the reported numbers.

    Instead of reading between the lines just read the lines themselves.

    Don't. blame. me. if. you. didn't. get. an. appropriate. education.

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  36. 1:25, I don't think that stats really back up your argument. I mean there could have been a lot more than "37%" of kids that WANTED to go to a neighborhood school but didn't get it in the lottery. You can't really look at stats of where kids go to school and infer that is where they WANTED to got to school. The lottery just assigns them and you could argue that a lot of the time the lottery assigns one of the 7 chosen schools, but sometimes parents where strategic and didn't put schools near them if they are super popular. I just don't think your argument holds.

    "The mean for kids going to school in their neighbourhood is *37%*. Given there's multiple schools in most neighborhoods, the number going to their "local school" is even lower. Given that, it's hard to believe that there's a huge silent majority of people seething that the district doesn't guarantee them their local school: "

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  37. "I mean there could have been a lot more than "37%" of kids that WANTED to go to a neighborhood school but didn't get it in the lottery."

    61% of applicants get their first choice, though. So, at most, 60% of applicants (37%/61%) put a school in their neighbourhood first. However, about 30-40% of applicants [haven't done the exact stats] put an alternative school as #1 (and alternative schools, by definition, aren't neighborhood schools). So you're looking at 35-40% AT MOST putting their neighborhood school first as their lottery pick.

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  38. I agree with the last comment regarding the other converstation about local school interest.

    Regarding BVHP this is also from the district website:

    Table 4 shows the elementary matrix table. The table compares the neighborhood of the
    students’ residence with the neighborhood of the school in which they were enrolled. Each row
    shows where students living in a particular neighborhood were enrolled. For example, the first
    row shows where students living in Bayview were enrolled last fall. There were 2,474
    elementary students living in Bayview who attended a regular or citywide SFUSD school. Of
    the 2,474, 737 (30 percent) attended a school in Bayview. Another 206 attended a school in
    Bernal Heights, 87 attended a school in Castro/Upper Market, and so on, across the row.

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  39. If indeed a neighborhood schools initiative goes on the ballot it will win by a wide margin.

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  40. Don: "If you bothered to actually check the "facts" that you claim are untrue you would have found this"

    Don, you said: "The reason BVHP has too few seats is because SFUSD has wants to force them out with a feit compli, or however you spell that french term."

    Do you not understand that the stats I've posted indicate that *there isn't enough demand to fill the slots in BV/HP*? That far from SFUSD forcing BV/HP kids into other schools because there's not enough capacity there, that BV/HP parents are *choosing to send their kids somewhere else*.

    There is, in fact, like I posted, a vast amount of slack capacity in BV/HP.

    And that most parents in San Francisco send their kids to a school outside their neighborhood.

    You seem to think you can post stats that contradict your point, and then say they support your point. I don't know if your thinking is so muddled you don't understand the stats, or whether you're being disingenuous.

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  41. '"I'm the one who put up the data showing that a significant majority of people attend schools close to home."'

    "Where the heck are you getting that from?"

    I got it from the SFUSD web site, here's the link: http://portal.sfusd.edu/data/epc/Comparison%20of%20student%20residences%20with%20location%20of%20school%20attended.pdf

    The graph shows that 30% of the kids who live in BV go to school in BV, and it shows that 70% of the students who go to school in BV come from BV. The graph goes neighborhood by neighborhood to show (a) where that neighborhood's kids go to school and (b) where the students in a neighborhood's schools come from. Most BV kids who leave go to the Excelsior, Bernal and the Mission, not over to schools in the northwest part of the city. Yes, some do go farther afield, which I acknowledged, but the majority do not.

    My point was not that huge percentages attend their "neighborhood schools." You are right that in most cases regardless of the economics of the surrounding area, fewer than half the students come from "in neighborhood" and in some cases almost no students come from "in neighborhood." Rather my point was that when you look at the data, a very large majority of students attend schools geographically close to home, though not necessarily in their own "neighborhoods." For example, kids who live in the Mission are highly concentrated in schools in the Mission, Bernal, Noe and Potrero. Attendance data in even more affluent neighborhoods like the Haight and Noe skew close to home.

    My point is not to jump on some "neighborhood schools" bandwagon. Rather my point is that when you look at actual enrollment numbers, proximity matters, a lot, to a lot of people, across the economic spectrum.

    I also pointed out that SOME kids (but by no means a majority) in low-SES areas do take advantage of the choice system to go to schools farther afield, and that there is nothing I'm seeing in the new assignment system that would stop them from continuing to do so.

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  42. This really just boils down to where you live. If you live near a nice neighborhood school that you would like to attend, then you are pro-neighborhood schools. If you live in an area where you do not like the neighborhood school and do not want to send your kid there, then you are pro-lottery. It's really that simple. And probably not too many minds will be changed, unless they move.

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  43. Of course proximity matters, at least until Scotty beams us up.

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  44. You know, I'm for neighborhood schools b/c I live 3 blocks from a great school that is over subscribed and my son wouldn't have gotten in under the old lotto. But they haven't drawn the school lines on the map yet, we'll probably get screwed and I'll be screaming 'I want choice' with all the Bernal parents!

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  45. The conversation is getting too convoluted to follow. Someone suggested using pen names. That's a good idea to make the blog more user-friendly.

    About nieghborhood schools versus choice, too much time and resources are expended in the asignment process. I know Omar Khalif is a parent in Bayview who is active in school district politics. He ran before for Board I think. He is right. The conversation is gone far afield. We should be spend our time making schools better places for kids to learn instead of all this driving back and forth, which is a kind of metaphor for the going around in circles.

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  46. 2:29 pm -- actually that's not entirely true. If folks living near the trophy schools delved more deeply into the specifics of each school, they'd discover that the elementary and middle schools in the city are extraordinarily diverse, with lots of extremeley significant differences between them. This becomes a particular issue in middle school, where you have major differences in middle school's approach to honors versus general ed programs. So, for example, our neighborhood middle school (it is two blocks away from his elementary so we think it will definitely be ours) is a wonderful, great school that is extremely in demand. But it segregates honors classes from general ed classes based SOLELY on fifth grade STAR test scores. Our kid is extremely bright, but chokes on testing. We think he can handle honors-type work and want him to go either to a middle school where he can prove that he can do honors work or to one where honors and GE are not so segregated so, again, he can do the work he is capable of. If SFUSD had a strict neighborhood-based system, we'd be screwed. Thankfully, SFUSD's new assignment gives us a chance to try to get into a different middle school, and that's precisely what we will do. So you are wrong -- a closer look will show you that this is NOT just about where you live. I would encourage EVERYONE who is knee-jerk pro-neighborhoods schools to do this type of deep-dive into the schools here. Collar people with older kids and ask them about their schools. I think you'll come away with a profound realization of just how different each school in the city is.

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  47. The BOE wants to go round and round and all across town. Families do not.

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  48. Can anyone point to a high-res version of the CTIP map (or at least one with street names)?

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  49. Anyone know what the thinking was behind the PreK priority? Won't some kindergarten classes, like Grattan, just fill up with PreK kids leaving little room for attendence area families?

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  50. Don wrote:"Those that insult the most usually know the least."

    Yup, that's true. Those WHO insult the most, usually know the least.
    And Don is the only one here who I see hurling insults.

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  51. Can anyone point to a high-res version of the CTIP map (or at least one with street names)?

    Best bet is to google "census tracts San Francisco," which will take you to the US Census factfinder page. Click on address search. Put in your street address and click "go." Next highlight "Census Tract: Census Tract [number that is listed that corresponds to your address.] Click on "map it." Your census tract will pop up on a map. Street names will be visible.

    You should be able to tell from the shape of it, and comparing it to the SFUSD map, whether you are CTIP 1 or CTIP 2. If you are still unsure, try other addresses around you to see if they match other census tract numbers.

    This sounds more complicated than it is....

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  52. I am kind of impressed that Don does not get more ticked subjecting himself as he does to the abuse that anonymous people dole out on this blog. He's dished out a couple of tame insults to be sure. I think he keeps it in check much more than others do. I'm posting anonymously but I'm not insulting anybody. I have yet to see anyone get the better of him on this blog.

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  53. 7:14 ... another sock puppet of Don's. YAWN.

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  54. Anyone know what the thinking was behind the PreK priority? Won't some kindergarten classes, like Grattan, just fill up with PreK kids leaving little room for attendence area families?

    I don't know the official reason, but I figure it's because kids in the SFUSD pre-K programs tend to be lower income and it gives them a little boost.

    I bet Sutro will be the only school close to filling up with siblings & pre-K students. It has only one regular (non-ELL) kindergarten class.

    Also, for the most part the pre-K programs aren't located at in-demand schools. Argonne, Grattan, Flynn, E.R. Taylor, Francis Scott Key, Jefferson...any else you'd put on that list?

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  55. Uh, Grattan and Flynn are in-demand schools, definitely. Had I thought it would get me in like Flynn to Flynn, I'd have lobbied hard to get my kid into their Pre-K. I do agree, though, that if it gives low-income kids a boost, it's fine.

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  56. Buy aren't there 20-30 kids in those programs? With sib slots, that doesn't leave a whole lot of slots for the rest of us. Signed (obviously) a Cole Valley mother.

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  57. To be clear -- the six schools I listed are the ones that I'd call popular and that have a pre-K program.

    My point was that most of the pre-K programs aren't at popular schools. People aren't breaking down doors to get into Bret Harte or John Muir.

    I put Flynn on my list of six but I don't know if it should be there. I don't think pre-K will help you get into the immersion program, and the GE program isn't that hard to get into.

    I just thought of another (slightly cynical) reason for the pre-K preference: it rewards people who have lived in the neighborhood for a few years and may cut down on carpetbaggers.

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  58. On a slightly different tact, folks looking at middle school options for Fall 2011, note that GATEWAY has filed with SFUSD to open a middle school charter. GATEWAY is a wildly successful high school charter and has garnered a lot of praise for its teaching methods and diverse programs. For example, unlike other charter options, GATEWAY has taken on quite successfully special needs kids. This is definitely a development that offers folks an option at the middle school level. I know that we are going to give it a serious look over, if it gets SFUSD approval. Let's hope that it gets the approval it so richly deserves.

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  59. Anyone on this blog have a problem with anonymous persons making these incessnt accusations? Those who hide behind anonymity should refrain from attacks, at the very least. This is shockingly bad behavior and it says something about society that others accept it. The moderator is not responsible but could make an effort to induce civility.

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  60. But aren't there 20-30 kids in those programs? With sib slots, that doesn't leave a whole lot of slots for the rest of us. Signed (obviously) a Cole Valley mother.

    If class sizes increase next year as planned, Grattan will have 72 K spots.

    My guess is that, even with the pre-K preference, as a neighborhood resident you'll still have a better shot at getting in under the new system than you would have with the lottery.

    On a side note, it's interesting how demand for Grattan shot up from 35 first-choice requests in 2006 to 103 in 2009. Only four years ago it wasn't that hard to get in.

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  61. I think the neighborhood school ballot initiative is not well thought out. Given the space constraints of city living, it doesn't even seem possible that the district could guarantee a spot in a neighborhood school for those who live in areas heavily populated with kids, like Cole Valley and Noe. There are fire code restrictions mandating that K classes be on the first floor, so you can just add another classroom. Nor are bungalows always an option, give the lack of yard space at many schools. The concept may sound simple, but I doubt it would be workable.

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  62. "Rather my point was that when you look at the data, a very large majority of students attend schools geographically close to home, though not necessarily in their own "neighborhoods." For example, kids who live in the Mission are highly concentrated in schools in the Mission, Bernal, Noe and Potrero."

    And within that area, you have about 15 elementary schools which families are choosing from.

    15 is much greater than 1.

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  63. The article said that this organization wants to put a measure on the ballot for neighborhood schools. I recall that Don said it was nonbinding, which tells me that it is meant to be an advisory measure. I suspect this is intended to send a message. A shot across the bow.

    Something else you said about not being able to guarantee a spot. The new system can't guarantee seats. ANY new assignment system would take time before it could work as intended. That's exactly what our superintendent said at the meeting the other night. I think that goes for neighborhood schools too.

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  64. "Given the space constraints of city living, it doesn't even seem possible that the district could guarantee a spot in a neighborhood school for those who live in areas heavily populated with kids, like Cole Valley and Noe."

    Neither Cole Valley nor Noe are that heavily populated with kids: the whole of the Haight, including Cole Valley, has 279 K-5 kids in SFUSD, and Noe has 310. Compare with Bernal (1,035), Excelsior (1,989) Mission (2,052) or Vis. Valley (1,452).

    The Mission is seriously short of school capacity, by about 900 slots. Noe and the Haight/Cole have a substantial surplus.

    We've outbreeding you here in the SE.

    [Data from http://portal.sfusd.edu/template/default.cfm?page=policy.placement.assignment.so_far_maps_data#mismatch]

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  65. "Anyone on this blog have a problem with anonymous persons making these incessnt accusations?"

    Ah, grow a pair, Don.

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  66. "We should be spend our time making schools better places for kids to learn instead of all this driving back and forth, which is a kind of metaphor for the going around in circles."

    Yeah, but by creating a quasi-market for schools, you help improve schools: as funding follows the student, the schools that can't attract students become unviable, so they either have to change (like happened at Webster, Revere, Flynn, even Alvarado if you go back far enough) or close. You get what you incent, and giving choice gives principals a big incentive to make sure their school is attractive to prospective parents.

    If you think Charters are a good idea because they introduce choice, then the same argument holds for giving a large element of choice for school district schools.

    SFUSD has 54% low-SES kids, but performs as well (mean API of 777, 46% of schools exceeding API 800) as districts with much lower percentages of low-SES kids (e.g. Alameda, Mountain View, Sunnyvale).

    Can neighborhood school advocates can point to another school district using primarily neighborhood assignment with a free/reduced lunch percentage of students of more than 50% that has an average API of 750+? If neighborhood assignment is so superior, and the lottery so damaging, it should be a piece of cake.

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  67. "The BOE wants to go round and round and all across town. Families do not."

    Except the 63% of families who send their kids out of the neighborhood.

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  68. " I know Omar Khalif is a parent in Bayview who is active in school district politics."

    And who sends his kids to charter schools. I don't understand how one can argue getting rid of choice between district schools by switching to neighborhood schools, but then advocating choice by having charters.

    Choice for me, but not for thee, it seems.

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  69. As a mother from BVHP, I thank you for reminding me just how elitist, classist and racist my fellow San Franciscans can be.

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  70. "You seem to be discussing how many kids go to their local school as a proxy for determining demand. "

    Don, in 2009, Malcolm X Academy had one first choice application.

    One. Uno. Odyn. A-haon. Une. Yat. Eins.

    If there are BV/HP parents begging for their neighborhood school, they're concealing it very well.

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  71. BVHP Mom, I support neighborhood schools and will support a ballot measure for them. DOes that make make me elitist or racist to want my children can go to the school down the street? That's a stretch to say that and very reactionary. To put some perspective on this many districts across the nation have returned to the neighborhood school systems. Many have choice and neighborhood schools.


    The disagreement that people have can be resolved through democratic channels.

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  72. Low SES students are not achieving at same rate. CHinese low income studnts outperform other low incomes. And how many studnts we have who are Chinese here? Half the district.

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  73. "You seem to be discussing how many kids go to their local school as a proxy for determining demand."


    Well, looking at the 2009-2010 data, there were ~4,700 kindergarten applications. Of those, almost half the first preferences (2,185) went to only 11 schools (AFY, Lillienthal, Clarendon, Grattan, Miraloma, Lau, Lawton, Rooftop, Sherman, West Portal) out of the 70-odd elementaries.

    Again, I'm not seeing a nascent desire for neighborhood schools: more a burning desire to get into the trophies.

    But, because I'm a generous person, it does make me think that there is a possibility where you could be partially right and me wrong: many, if not most, of the 11 trophy schools have populations that skew, ethnically and socioeconomically, far from the mean in SFUSD. If neighborhood schools (and the current system) siphon off some of the demand from the trophies, then it could better rebalance the population not only the trophy schools but also the non-trophy schools. And I'd have to eat my words.

    Let's see how the new system plays out.

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  74. As mentioned above, Gateway is trying to set up a middle school. The link to a petition is below. It is due today, Friday. Print it, sign it andfax it over to the school.

    http://www.gatewayhigh.org/www/about/ms-materials/Gateway_MS_Signatures.pdf

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  75. Grattan with 72 slots (hopefully not) minus 30 slots for CDC kids = the end of Grattan as a high demand school. The board can social engineer all they want, but you just can't force people with choices to go to school in a high poverty environement.

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  76. Actually, Gateway HS has decent but not "wildly successful" achievement. Friends of mine with kids there like it but also worry that its standards are lax -- "it's too easy," their kids say.

    Gateway is known for serving students with mild disabilities, but not with the more severe disabilities that are most challenging and expensive to work with.

    Opening a new middle school -- and one that probably has private money to do a serious marketing campaign -- will harm our existing middle schools.

    SFUSD offers quite a few successful middle school options, and they're improving. Families who want a charter middle schools may also choose the K-8 Creative Arts Charter (more artsy/progressive) or the 5-8 KIPP San Francisco Bay Academy or KIPP Bayview (more disciplined/regimented).

    The Gateway middle school is not needed, and will hurt existing middle schools, so why are they taking the trouble to propose it?

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  77. To 7:26 -- Gateway middle school IS needed. I just sent in my petition to the school. The public middle schools in the city are all very large. That works great for kids who do well in large classes. But kids who need smaller grade sizes, kids who "fall in the cracks," need alternatives. Our son has mild ADD and we are TERRIFIED of what will happen to him in a grade with 400 kids. The K through 8's are impossible to get into. We know, we have tried -- for four years straight we have tried to transfer into one of them without success. (Our fingers are crossed for this year -- we get the letter tomorrow, but we're not optimistic.) You noted Creative Arts as a charter with middle school grades. We looked at it and, unfortunately for the reasons noted on other strings and after seriously considering it, Creative has too many issues to make it an alternative for us. So I beg to differ. Gateway Middle DOES offer us a serious alternative. We are very excited about it.

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  78. the fax number to send off the middle school petition today is 415-749-2716

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  79. There is only one public middle school currently that will probably work for my child with dyslexia and dyscalculia. Gateway would offer a second school. I seriously doubt if having a second school for a kid with learning differences to go to will "hurt existing middle schools." What will hurt is being stuck putting my kid in a high pressure learning environmnet.

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  80. My younger child is ADHD so I understand your concerns. However, I am not as concerned with the size of the school as much as the size of the classes. which are going up everywhere. Of course, if a school has smaller class sizes they are naturally smaller schools by population.

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  81. Gateway opening a middle school is exciting and really needed.

    Stop the anti-charter rhetoric.

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  82. People are intentionally and misleadingly equating "neighborhood school" with "nearby school." "Neighborhood" per the district refers to City planning districts. Most schools do not draw the majority of their students from within"neighborhood" as that term is used technically. However, most schools do draw the majority of their students from within neighborhood and from nearby neighborhoods.

    Also, lottery participation ("demand") is one thing and enrollment is another. We all know that low SES, African-American and Latino families do not participate in the lottery at anywhere near the same rate as Asian and white families and families who are not low SES. This even though there has been outreach to try to change this for several years running. The high demand for certain schools is a reflection of the fact that resourced families are all trying to get spots in the same coveted schools--but when they don't get them, as most of them don't, where do they actually enroll? The statistics by and large show that if they don't go private, they stay relatively close to home. The job of educating kids comes after they enroll . . . how their families play the lottery is not particularly relevant.

    Again, I do not advocate a pure neighborhood system and won't be jumping on any so-called "Students First" bandwagons. I do believe that the obsession with the assignment system is not achieving the goal of getting a critical mass of low-SES kids into high-performing schools, nor is it achieving the goal of getting higher-SES kids into low-performing schools unless there's an attractive magnet attached. I'm not low-SES so I risk being condescending, but it seems to me that transport and inconvenience have got to be huge factors here. Middle-class families can exercise "choice" with relative ease because they can usually drive their kids wherever is needed or hire others to do it. Low SES families, who are already struggling in ways middle-class families can barely imagine, are more likely to have to get themselves and their kids up at ungodly hours to put them on SFUSD buses or take the unreliable MUNI. You can tweak the assignment system until pigs fly, but I don't see how you can overcome this reality.

    I do support continuation of a system that give low SES a guaranteed number of slots at high performing schools--if they want them. The new system seems to attempt that though I would have preferred to see continued use of individual family data rather than census tracts. However, I also must agree that it's a better use of scarce resources to bring the schools to the kids rather than trying to somehow entice the kids to come to the schools.

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  83. I'm not opposed to the Gateway middle school charter. I'm a middle school parent whose child will not likely look at the Gateway HS (a little too lax, as someone said), but I know kids who have succeeded there.

    That said, I do want to point out that there are smaller MS options for those whose kids would benefit from them. James Lick is a smaller school with grant-supported small classes for several years into the future (I think it's 25-28 kids/class). I know a number of parents who put James Lick GE first this year because of that. There are some fantastic teachers there and it is a great community. They don't have the big music programs, but the unified arts rotation is amazing in a different way--rock band, dedicated art studio, dedicated dance studio, etc. Plus 826 Valencia onsite, offering 1-1 tutoring in writing.

    Also, there is probably space at a K-8 like SF Community. We know kids who transferred into Aptos from there because they wanted a bigger school and the opportunties it offered. SF Community is a place where everybody knows your name. And I assume these departures would open up space there. Same with CACS, which has a reputation as far as I know for having a good approach to learning differences.

    My own kids want the bigger school at the MS level. But I will say the honors classes can be challenging and competitive--the math teacher this year is moving very quickly through the material and is expecting the kids to study on their own to deepen their conceptual understanding. I spend 15 minutes most evenings going over math concepts! And my kid is getting extensions in other classes, including extra book reports and and higher work expected (longer papers, long bibliographies, footnotes). If that seems too competitive, I would indeed look at James Lick or SF Community, neither of which track into honors.

    This is partly why I'm befuddled by the new system that funnels kids into a specific MS from ES, as the schools are quite different from each other despite covering the same curriculum.

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  84. Differential learning techniques is a key issue. Lick has it. Others do not. It is not all about small school size. Gateway appears to incorporate this concept.

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  85. 10:58 am -- thanks for your posting. You are right that Lick is a bit smaller. And while I was impressed with Lick, there is a serious question mark about the extent to which Lick will continue having particular special ed programs after this year --our kid's in particular. The principal, who I otherwise loved, thought Lick might be dropping the program. SF Community also does not have a full panoply of special ed programs, so that knocks it out for us. You see, why, as others have posted, for parents with special needs kids in the middle school level, there are just not a lot of alternatives. For us, Gateway may be the only thing that might work for us. I really doubt that the opening of Gateway is going to have any detrimental effect on the middle schools in the city.

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  86. I appreciated your comments. I did not understand this though:

    "I do believe that the obsession with the assignment system is not achieving the goal of getting a critical mass of low-SES kids into high-performing schools, nor is it achieving the goal of getting higher..."

    It seems very clear that the goal IS a to diversify, so maybe you were not as clear as you meant to be or I misunderstood.Could you explain?

    Neighborhood schools resonate with a lot of people because they are about community. SF seems to be less about community than it used to be. But in a world of multiple languages and cultures it is more important than ever that we keep our communties alive and schools are a central part of that. Certainly far more than places of worship here in SF ( no insult to them intended). We need places where locals come together to get to know one another and to help each other and their kids. With larger class sizes it will be very important in the early grades to get more volunteers in the classroom.

    I haven't done a study, but it seems natural that people will participate more the easier you make it to participate. If the school is far from home that would lower the participation from the community.

    We can no longer rely on the state to provide everything for our schools. This is particularly true when and where schools are on the barest bone budgets like so many are today.

    The neighborhood versus choice debate does have some relevance as one affects the other. What we have to remember is that quality schools trump diverse schools. And quality diverse schools trump everything. If we can make life a little less stessful and focus our attentions on achievement more, we will be on the right track. One way or another we have to get our state education financing priorities in order.

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  87. "I would indeed look at James Lick or SF Community, neither of which track into honors."

    SF Community is a great school, but being small the breadth it can offer in middle school compared to a dedicated MS is really limited. [The same is true for all the K-8s, really.]

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  88. "The neighborhood versus choice debate does have some relevance as one affects the other. What we have to remember is that quality schools trump diverse schools."

    Don, one of the concerns of the BoE, rightly, both from a moral and legal point of view, is the achievement gap between socioeconomic groups. We know low-SES students, especially AA and Hispanic kids, do far worse in heavily ethnically- and SES-segregated schools. That's well-documented research, across the U.S.

    From your point of view, the path to quality doesn't necessarily go through diversity. That's not true for all communities in this city, where getting quality for those kids is going to have to go through trying to increase diversity.

    And the BoE has a wider remit than just the interest of the neighborhood you live in.

    That's why Commissioner Kim, who's no slouch nor PC-spouting stooge, has been pressing SFUSD staff the hardest on options that increase diversity, because of the quality-diversity linkage for the most at-risk populations.

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  89. 1:37, you make some good points, but don't you realize that forcing diversity results in losing many, many families who either move away or choose private schools because they don't want to deal with such an unpredictable process? In other words, the district's deliberate attempt to create diversity actually eliminates many of the very families they are depending on to create a mix of kids. Therein lies the irony of this whole process. It's sad, but true.

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  90. It shows your willingness be unfair in your appraisal when you purposely leave out the rest of my statement which was:

    "And quality diverse schools trump everything."

    The thing is neighborhood schools will increase diversity to a greater extent than the systems they have used in the past and scrapped because they didn't meet their diversity goals.

    I find it kind of laughable that when the Superintendent introduced a stronger neighborhood policy, there wasn't too much outcry here. But when a campaign forms to do the same thing we are labeled as anti-diversity.

    I see Jane Kim in just the opposite light than the way you described her. No personal insult, just a difference in the way I see diversity being accomplished. She clearly stated that if CTIP1 doesn't use the choice preference they would more or less have to be convinced to do so. That seems very paternalistic to me. Can one decide how they want to use the choice without the Board telling them what the right decision is?

    And don't forget that Students First wants to strengthen choice by expanding the number of school that provide alternative programs, especially in the areas that need the most choice and diversity.

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  91. "And don't forget that Students First wants to strengthen choice by expanding the number of school that provide alternative programs, especially in the areas that need the most choice and diversity."

    What does this mean?

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  92. 2:40 "In other words, the district's deliberate attempt to create diversity actually eliminates many of the very families they are depending on to create a mix of kids. Therein lies the irony of this whole process. It's sad, but true."

    I'd have to agree with this.

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  93. Will Kim Shreee-Moofus use her expense account to send my kid across town in a taxi?

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  94. If the SFUSD wanted to drive white, educated, middle-class families out of SF public schools...what could they have done differently?

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  95. This is exactly what people have said about at least the previous three permutations of the enrollment system:

    "If the SFUSD wanted to drive white, educated, middle-class families out of SF public schools...what could they have done differently?"

    I think the version in the early-mid '90s really was the worst for that. You were automatically assigned to a school (usually the neighborhood school, which was not a popular concept at that time). You could apply to an alternative school -- but you had to be specifically *released* from your original assignment, and that request could and would be flatly refused based on the ethnic makeup of the school. Since white applicants were a small minority, their requests to be released were often refused.

    That system was in place just before our time, but the families with older sibs had gone through it. Come on -- you HAVE to admit that was the worst.

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  96. Someone's overlayed a map over the CTIP map.

    My house is in the dark green, and it is a nice part of NOPA!

    http://wangtime.files.wordpress.com/2010/03/ctip-overlay.jpg

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  97. 7:08am (March 12)

    Um...what the heck have you been smoking?

    I'm assuming (hope I'm right!) you won't be applying to Grattan due to all of those terrible low income children who will be elbowing their way in...

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  98. I think you may be reading the map incorrectly. NOPA is in a light purple area. The western part of Alamo Square park is light green. I guess if you live north of Fulton and east of Baker, that would be dark green. There are many very beautiful homes in that area, that's for sure.

    Anyway, I live in Alamo square Park area, 2 blocks from a dark green zone. I assure you no one around here made any purchasing or renting decisions based on schools. This is all basically the same neighborhood with the same demographic mix. But suddenly, the person across the street gets a leg up on a school while I get assigned to John Muir.

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  99. One side of Fulton is dark green, the other is light green. I am not reading the map wrong. One side of All around Alamo square park is dark green too.

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  100. NOPA is north of panhandle. But I guess as this area has gentrified, even people who live east of Divisadero and or adjacent to Alamo Square Park call the entire area NOPA. The restaurant on Divisadero called NOPA is technically not in NOPA. I've heard the area north of Alamo Square park referred to as Alamo Square Park or the Western Addition. I've also heard it referred to as the Fillmore. Anyway, you seem to be reading the map correctly, I just think of NOPA as referring to a different part of the map. Congratulations on living in the right CTIP tract by the way. Maybe I can rent a room in your basement to establish residence there...

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  101. I think SFUSD has made a serious mistake moving away from a choice based system. They had the opportunity to revise and improve it, so that there would be fewer "wasted" choices, greater transparency and information available to families, and less segregation at schools. A choice based system encourages innovation and specialization of schools. The momentum was clearly in the right direction. Instead they have done a complete 180 in terms of the philosophical approach.

    I would be shocked if racial segregation doesn't increase dramatically, and furthermore, I don't really see how this SAS will attract and keep more white or middle class families in the system overall. I suspect it will increase the white and middle class populations at some schools, but not in the SFUSD overall.

    Also, it seems very unfair that affluent or educated folks who happen to live in the dark green zones (they were already highly unlikely to attend a bad neighborhood school) get a terrific advantage over everyone else in the lottery. If the justification is that this is easier to administer, this unfairness seems like a high price to pay for the administrative ease. And what about the administrative expense of making sure people don't use bogus addresses. There will be a huge incentive to fake addresses under this system - will the SFUSD effectively identify or punish frauds?

    The notion of a neighborhood school in a densely populated city where I can literally walk to 3 different elementary schools, and easily drive to 10, is hogwash. It sounds good, and placates people who live near a good school, and therefore assume that under this plan they suddenly are guaranteed a spot at Sherman or Alamo (or Lilienthal, which isn't even a neighborhood school!). I suspect many of these folks will be disappointed too, since these schools will probably be oversubscribed. We need more good schools, and I think a choice based system is a better way of reaching that goal in this city.

    I hope this works better than I think it will, both for my family and for the city as a whole.

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  102. Here is an example (excerpted w/o name) of what Students First recruits are saying:

    Hi All,

    I'm a parent of a 4 and 2 year old, and I just went through the ridiculous process for kindergarten this past Fall. We'll be receiving our letter tomorrow in the mail, but no matter what school she gets into (if any at all), I'm committed to fighting this until we return to the neighborhood school system. No family deserves to go through what we had to endure.

    As far as responding to the anonymous person who wanted me to explain a quote, I have come to the point where it is too much hassle to carry on back and forth converstations with anonymous people. It's confusing to try to figure out who I've answered and a waste of time. Use a pen name please and I'll answer your question if you like.

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  103. "The thing is neighborhood schools will increase diversity to a greater extent than the systems they have used in the past and scrapped because they didn't meet their diversity goals."

    Don, again, the simulations done by the Stanford researchers aiding Orla O'Keefe don't show this. Just 'cos you say this is so doesn't make it so. Basically, while there's a lot of ethnic diversity in San Francisco, on the attendance area level the ethnic distributions are pretty lumpy.

    "I find it kind of laughable that when the Superintendent introduced a stronger neighborhood policy, there wasn't too much outcry here."

    Mostly because one of the ideas behind the new system, devised by Orla O'Keefe with consultants from Stanford, was that it be flexible - if it's not working the way intended, if there are teething pains, there is flexibility in terms of the weighting of preferences, using reserved slots for neighborhood kids or for out-of-neighborhood kids, changing boundaries, etc. Need stronger neighborhood preference? Move that up in preference, etc.

    The idea being that this would make the new system durable: instead of doing a scrap-and-rebuild every eight years ago because it's not working, you build in flexibility so that you're tweaking the system at the edges instead of a complete rebuild. You don't know, and I don't know, if the system you propose or the new system will accomplish its goals. So why not leave a system in place that can be adjusted relatively easily?

    If you rigidly set the student assignment system by a referendum, we lose that flexibility. I don't think you're smarter than the guys at Stanford who devised the very elegant system for matching medical residents with assignments, and I don't trust you not to f**k it up, and I trust BoE members like Norton and Wynns and Yee who've seen several incarnations of assignment systems and what the strengths and weaknesses are.

    Look, recognise a good deal when you've got it. Of the six options considered, this is the second-most strongly neighborhood versus choice based.

    Do a victory lap and call it quits.

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  104. "1:37, you make some good points, but don't you realize that forcing diversity results in losing many,"

    Nobody's "forcing" anything. Nobody's forcing you to put down a school you don't want as part of the choice process. Conversely, neighborhood advocates are the ones reducing choice - they're the ones 'forcing' people into particular schools.

    Reason, a libertarian magazine, did an op-ed *praising* SFUSD's lottery system, for God's sake, for the choce it gave families. How often do you think a libertarian finds something like in SF?

    " many families who either move away or choose private schools because they don't want to deal with such an unpredictable process? "

    What about the many families who'd move away from the city if they don't get choice? Again, the stats support my argument that more prefer a school outside of their neighborhood than one within it.

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  105. It isn't "choice", it is a LOTTERY.
    Choice denotes some level of certainty, the old SFUSD had none, unless you put down John Muir as your 1st choice, then you'd almost certainly get that school.

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  106. 6:12, nope, not to send your kid , to send her own kid.

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  107. "what about the administrative expense of making sure people don't use bogus addresses."

    I hate it when people don't use question marks.

    To answer your question, they have put language in the assignment system policy that states they will go after people for fraud with civil lawsuits, and Carlos Garcia has stated that any children placed in schools because of the parents lying on applications will be removed from the school immediately.

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  108. KC,

    Why not just use your initials or some other pen name. I knew that you that you missed me.

    I'll give you an example of why the progressives are hypocrits. I have raised two issues on the blog about how flex CAT monies were not utilized for essential services and how EIA LEP that is not flexed (exempted) was used for teacher retention (essential services).

    To explain, the progressives want to safeguard all those tens of millions in Tier III programs because they are used predominately to benefit low SES students. I understand the need for many of those programs, but the state advisors are saying these monies should be used at this time for basic instruction, that's why they were flexed. SFUSD didn't repurpose it, despite the warnings. Then, on the other hand, the principals use the unflexed money that was safeguarded for ELD as flexible to do CSR. That is not socially just and it is unlawful. But with the current crisis, everyone is looking the other way.

    As far as the Students First neighborhood schools measure, if you want to debate me I will be more than happy to oblige you as long as you come out of the closet and use a pen name.

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  109. This Don person seems obsessed and is having back and forth conversations with himself as 8 different people. Is there any way to block his posts?
    He is making this blog really tedious. Doesn't he work or have a job or anything?

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  110. Ignore him. He thinks everyone is out to get him and that everyone is either someone named KC or Moggy. Demented.

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  111. Okay, I'm just catching up here and am frightened to ask an actual question about the assignment system, but here goes: when will the maps be available?

    For the record, I'm progressive and am just trying to figure out a school for my kids; I don't think I'm any more hypocritical than the next person.

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  112. 11:28, no worries. Everyone wants to see those maps. However, they won't be available until this fall.

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  113. "He thinks everyone is out to get him and that everyone is either someone named KC or Moggy"

    They're people on SF education lists from which Don has been banned.

    On that topic, who wants to take the over/under on how long it takes Don getting kicked out of the Omar Khalif election vehicle "Students First"? [I reckon 4 months, tops.]

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