Sunday, April 4, 2010

Hot topic: Stratford School

This from a reader:
I would be interested to learn more about the Stratford School in San Francisco. Can you please start a thread on this?


  1. I visited the Stratford School and met Principal Kelly Wood to take a tour. The school struck me as very rigid and regimented in its curriculum and style. Having said that I have heard very good things about the quality of education there.

  2. The school has only been in operation one year -- how can anyone know anything about the quality of education?

  3. Stratford Schools have been around for quite awhile in the South Bay. The one in SF only about a year. My take is that it is very rigid and the focus on academics is about as far away from progressive learning as you can get.

  4. This thing about "rigid" learning is nonsense. My daughter attended preschool there. Not rigid. Great teachers who love their jobs. Art. Music. Math. Science. 3Rs a grade ahead of age.

    People are down on this school because it is a new private school in the city. It's nonsense. Go and look for yourself.

  5. Could both @2:27PM and @6:01 provide a little more info. I've been wondering about Stratford. They've been slowly working their way up the Peninsula.

    For @6:01
    What are the examples of rigid focus?

    For @2:27
    How is the education in upper grades "progressive," "project based" or "experiential?"

  6. Matthew Wulfstat, President of Stratford Schools, and his wife decided to send their K aged child to a school in the City other than Stratford.

    That should tell you something.

  7. I assume it is a private school that Wulfstat sens his kid to but if its a public, would love to know which one.

  8. I think it's Brandeis

  9. "Matthew Wulfstat, President of Stratford Schools, and his wife decided to send their K aged child to a school in the City other than Stratford.

    That should tell you something."

    Meh. The principal of West Portal sends his kids to St. Cecilia's: does that mean West Portal is teh suxxor?

    It's good if a principal eats their own dogfood, but there are reasons (e.g. religious ones) why they may not.

  10. My younger child is currently in the Stratford pre-K class. I have another child in a "trophy" public. My impression is that Stratford is very structured, and academically focused, particularly compared to the publics. The level of instruction in the pre-K is similar to what I saw in the public K. A typical Stratford pre-K art project might involve a discussion of master painter Monet followed by student’s recreation of Water Lilies using finger paints and cut paper. I recently received an email message from one of the Stratford schools on the peninsula, a K-8 school. It said 95% of the graduating 8th graders were accepted to their first choice high-school, including schools like Bellarmine and Menlo School (private high schools so prestigious that even I have heard of them!).

    The teachers and faculty are very warm toward the children, and the atmosphere at the school is always very calm. I don’t know much about the upper grades, so I encourage people to check it out for themselves. We will be moving child #2 over to public school next year. The reason for this is that we really want the language program offered at the public. Plus, you can’t beat the price.

  11. @8:54

    Thanks for the details. Since everyone has different goals in an educational environment, it's always nice hear some specifics.

  12. We looked at Stratford a couple of years ago for Kindergarten. The SF campus hadn't opened yet, so my son was tested/assessed at the Palo Alto location. My understanding was that if he passed the test, he would have been admitted (no essays/no interviews needed).

    He failed the test. When the principal reviewed the test with me, she explained that *entering* Kindergartners were expected to have beginning reading skills. Then she showed me the worksheets and tests current Kindergartners were working on - which were much more advanced than I would have expected for Ks.

    My son had been at a Montessori pre-school, where reading was definitely not emphasized at an early age. Stratford offered to retest him a month later, but we declined. The school was pushing academics a little too early for us - which is great if that's what you want for your child. But it wasn't right for us.

    My son's now reading at two grade levels above his age, and devours book reading at night. It just "clicked" for him at a later time - which was fine with us. He was also accepted at 3 of the competitive private schools (two single-sex, one co-ed).

    I think Stratford is a fine school if your primary goal is academics - think lots of worksheets and tests etc., which can be interpreted as "rigid". For us, we were looking for a school that focused more on experiential learning and intellectual (as opposed to academic) challenges.

    It's still a school worth checking out.

    1. Even if you primarily care about "academics", there is a lot of (academic) criticism of this kind of early pushing. To me it sounds like a good recipe for teaching a child to hate school and feel inadequate.

  13. FYI, that principal at West Portal started his younger kid in K there this year. The older kid is at St. Cecelia's. I forget why, maybe she was already there when he started at WP, or maybe he couldn't get her in WP, he had just started there and I think the rule is a teacher/administrator has to be there 3 years to get priority for their kid.

  14. I believe nobody is exempted from the lottery in SFUSD, not the teacher, not the administrator, not the principal.

    So, I wouldn't be surprised if he couldn't get his kid into WP.

  15. This is on the Appeals form:

    Permanent, full-time staff who live in San Francisco and who wish to have their child attend the school where they currently work for at least three years and did not receive an assignment offer
    to their school in Round 1, may submit an appeal for Round 2 and will have priority in the waiting pool after approved Medical Appeals.

    But maybe they don't live in SF. Now he's been working there for 3 years he can get the younger kid in. Also this principal is BIG on holding kids back, especially boys. He gave a big speil and hand out on K readiness. His kid had a summer b'day and he still held him back.

  16. The WP principal is pretty new though. So maybe when his older kid was at the K age, he hasn't lived in SF for three years yet.

    Yes, he gave a big lecture on making sure the kid is old enough to be ready for K at the tour. Guess what, all private schools knew that. They are very strict on the birthday requirement.

  17. I am thinking of Statford school for my child (after abysmal luck with publics)- any one with an updated review? Any parent out there with any info on the San Francisco campus in particular?

  18. Stratford is great on its basic academics, but is a miserable fail in terms of progressive education. I have witnessed two instances of blatant racism occurring at the school. The first was during Thanksgiving when a group of students exited the school wearing fake Indian headdresses. The second was just yesterday when the same teacher had her students color chili peppers with sombreros and mustaches and surround them with words like taco and burrito to celebrate Cinco de Mayo. I got into it with the principal on the first instance but wanted my son out of there so didn't take it beyond the school. Today I called the regional director to complain. They are clueless and teach in a 1950s style education. I'm happy to be sending my child to another school for Kindergarten. He's in the junior k there.

  19. Sounds pretty harsh.Was your kid happy there?
    I ask because we did choose Stratford (not a choice, really- we failed miserably in public lottery). How do we know when it becomes a problem. How late is too late? Sigh...the stereotypes about Stratford, are, unfortunately true, then...

  20. My son was happy there, but I did shield him from all of this. His Junior K teacher was great, and I think she recognized the problem but had little control over it. I would say that if you see something early, say something. In retrospect I should have been more diligent about making sure something had been done after the Thanksgiving incident, but I wasn't sure if Stratford would be retributive. His teacher hadn't done his evaluation yet and it had to be cleared through the principal first. Your child will be able to read quickly!

    The other problem I didn't note was the discipline. My son is a good kid, rarely breaks rules, but of course he does. He's been to the principals office 3 times. Which I think is ridiculous. It's always been a first offense, and there never was a second.

  21. Folks, Does anyone know what the email address of Mathew Wulfstat is?
    I find an urgent need to write to him questioning some of the values the school has been built on.