Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Hot topic: Anyone without a school?

This from a reader:
What are people who are still without a school planning to do? What tips do you have for those who are still waiting to get a public or private assignment they like?

47 comments:

  1. We are 0 for ... 15, 16? However you count it, it's a bummer. Long ago, I'd put my daughter on the waitlists at some preschools that had preKs. I just kept answering 'yes' if they asked if we wanted to stay on the lists. I'm very thankful that I did because my way-backup-plan is coming into play. We have a spot for her in a preK and we're waiting for our waitlist school. The preK programs seemed to have spaces as late as a month ago. It might be worth checking into. The preKs at co-ops can often be somewhat affordable and the workday amounts to approx three hours. I really think she's ready for K though and am hopeful that we'll get a K spot. (late July birthday)

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  2. It is a good idea to hold back a child with a late BD in most cases and particularly with boys. But if your daughter is ready for K and you hold her back she is going to be older than most through her school career and she's likely to get bored at each grade level. Strategizing to get a good placement should not include holding her back unnecessarily for a year in my humble opinion.

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  3. We have 8 K spots left in our newly added 4th Kinder class at Edison Charter Academy- 22nd/Delores. One Kinder class will be a 50/50 dual language Spanish/English if anyone is interested.
    Thanks to so many folks who have come and toured/registered so far!

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  4. People, run, don't walk and snag one of these K spots at Edison. You can stay in your SUFSD waitpool and know that you at least have something for K. If you are anywhere near Noe, I would do this.

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  5. Why do I feel that this blog has turned into a PR Campaign for Edison, which I may add has zero history to support "running" to it.

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  6. Kate -- today (June 30th) is a new waitpool run. Could ANYONE who gets any kind of letter (or knows of someone who does) post that fact, just to let the rest of us know that letters have gone out? I'm guessing the letters don't arrive until Friday, but we are sitting on pins and needles and wanted to hear if anyone gets anything in the mail. (Then we know we won't.) Thanks to everyone!

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  7. Just spoke to EPC and they said letters mailed today so probably won't arrive til tomorrow. Also the IT person is out so the waitpool lists may not post til tomorrow as well. More waiting and nail biting for all!

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  8. To June 29, 2010 10:45 PM

    I've really struggled with the situation regarding "strategizing". I felt like it wasn't my goal to just get her into any K that I could, rather to get a spot for her in a school that we feel good about. I like the preK format and class size, and teacher/student ratio. I can't say I feel that good about the K we were offered, but do feel good about the one we're waiting for. I honestly didn't think we'd be 0 for however-many. I've never heard anyone regret the extra year. We're going to see if we get a letter this week, and then re-think our plans. Anyone with experience choosing between waiting out a K or putting their child in preK, I'd love to hear from you.

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  9. Most people don't regret holding their kids back because most late bloomers benefit with the extra time as was the case with mu older son. If they don't need it, it is not a benefit but a hindrance.

    I understand that this does not solve your plaacement problem. My point is that picking a school you are comfortable with should not require holding back a child that is ready.

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  10. If you opt for private pre-K, then can you apply for public 1st grade next year? I thought that public K was not required, so you could go straight from private pre-K into public 1st grade.

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  11. We put our kid in a private preK-8 that had an opening when we were forced out of our preschool. We were too late (it was July) and too young (late Dec. birthday) for the public lottery and every preK program I called was full with a long waiting list--until the school we're in said they'd take him on a trial basis. We enrolled in out of pure desperation. We both work full time and had to find something for him to do during the day. The private school was cheaper than hiring a full-time nanny, and I did not want him with a nanny anyway because I feared he would be too much the center of attention and get spoiled. The school turned out to be a great fit. It was like the universe forced us into the right place at the right time.

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  12. For the 1000th time, and I know nobody wants to hear this, you will be STUNNED and AMAZED how many slots open up all over town, come the end of August, through September.

    My daughter started school in mid October at a high scoring K school two years ago, and everything went off without a hitch.

    Just wait. Enjoy your kid. And know that you WILL have a spot in the Fall.

    I know you didn't want to hear this for the 1000th time, but it is true.

    There will be shocking numbers of openings at Clarendon, Rooftop, Grattan, Sherman, and all those places. And the other schools that totally rock, like Fairmount, Yick Wo, Sunnyside, Harvey Milk, etc etc. will have slots too.

    The only folks who end up feeling screwed by this system are the ones that throw up their hands and move from the City before school starts because they think they don't have a school.

    I was 0/15 a few years back, and so were many of my friends, and we ALL got slots in August, September, and October.

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  13. Thanks for the responses, especially the person who gave me the preK example. In response to Don, I hesitate about my choice because I'm aware that just because I think she's ready for K doesn't mean she is. She got a too young letter from our one private app, but I take that with a grain of salt. I truly wish I didn't have to consider schools I don't feel good about. The system has many downsides, but I'm trying to do what's right for my child, not just switch my waitlist school so I can get her into a K. It's a catch 22, but I'm glad I have somewhere for her. Ugh - but should I compromise so she's not, as Don said, the oldest. As far as I can tell, it's more common for private school applicants and some boys to wait the extra year before starting K (privates have an August birthday cutoff). So she wouldn't be the oldest in terms of graduating from college, but would be in terms of entering public schools next year. The other poster who said we could apply to 1st grade is correct. That's an option. Thanks for listening, I think I'm just wearing thin with all the waiting. I really appreciate this forum.

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  14. to 2:21

    Thanks so much! That's so helpful to hear. I like it. :)

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  15. "The only folks who end up feeling screwed by this system are the ones that throw up their hands and move from the City before school starts because they think they don't have a school."

    No.

    Not true.

    Many parents waitlist at non-trophy schools and do not get a placement.

    Probably the majority.

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  16. "I was 0/15 a few years back, and so were many of my friends, and we ALL got slots in August, September, and October."

    Yes, a few years back, not the last two years.

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  17. KEEP THE WAITLIST OPEN UNTIL SEPTEMBER 10TH.

    I think it would be worth EVERYONE'S effort to lobby the EPC to hold the waitlist open through the first week of September. The EPC can do the 3 day count or whatever but keep the waitlists open for people in the system.

    People don't want any school, they want a school that will work for their family.

    The EPC should hold the waitlist open until the first week of September. Give the system time to process, not only the no-shows, but the kids that decide to leave public for private when spots open up there as well.

    The current system rewards families that can afford to stay in private.

    I will be writing an open letter that others can use to lobby the EPC

    Thanks

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  18. Please make this letter well publicized. I would love to participate in this lobby to keep waitlists open and allow transfers between SFUSD schools.

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  19. we are also 0 for 16 . . . we got into a good parochial school--that was our backup. our hope is that something will open up after the first few days of school and we will pull our child out of the parochial. i know not everyone can do this but we were assigned a really bad school and i just can not send my child there. people kept telling me that we would get something--but we haven't so far. we can't really afford the parochial after this year, so if we don't get a good public (how ever that happens) we will have to move in a year or two. honestly this process has made me question why i even stay in sf. it is almost as if the political machine wants middle-class folks to leave the city. i predict that in another decade or so, sf will be filled with only the ultra rich and the lower-mid class/poor. all of my friends in other bay area cities just walk down to their neighborhood school and sign their child up. here we have to go through this crappy system and then sit on pins and needles for middle school and high school assignments later on. it doesn't really end...

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  20. we are also 0 for 16 . . . we got into a good parochial school--that was our backup. our hope is that something will open up after the first few days of school and we will pull our child out of the parochial. i know not everyone can do this but we were assigned a really bad school and i just can not send my child there. people kept telling me that we would get something--but we haven't so far. we can't really afford the parochial after this year, so if we don't get a good public (how ever that happens) we will have to move in a year or two. honestly this process has made me question why i even stay in sf. it is almost as if the political machine wants middle-class folks to leave the city. i predict that in another decade or so, sf will be filled with only the ultra rich and the lower-mid class/poor. all of my friends in other bay area cities just walk down to their neighborhood school and sign their child up. here we have to go through this crappy system and then sit on pins and needles for middle school and high school assignments later on. it doesn't really end...

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  21. I don't think the people leaving are the losers. This system is crazy. We settled on a non trophy school four years ago and now here we are ......... In our fourth attempt to transfer! And we haven't even gotten to middle school yet! I would leave but our kids' friends are all here now as are their extracurricular activities. But if I had to do it over again I would be In ALbany!

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  22. I think the 3 day count is a very bad idea, especially this year with the school calendar changing. I don't think it's inconceivable that some families may not know that school starts in mid-August. They may not show up for an entire week, only to find out their spots were given away. For people who don't read this blog, I think it would be easy to miss the fact that the school calendar has changed. I don't remember getting any notices or phone calls from the district about the change. Anyone else? I support moving the 10 day count up to a 3 or 5 day count but I don't think it's fair to do that without warning when the school start date hasn't been very well publicized.

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  23. It is important to remember that, while many spots do open up in August and September, many people do not get off of the waitlist at that point.

    We were waitlisted at a non-trophy school throughout the spring and summer (and fall) my son's kindergarten year, at our neighborhood school (large, not high demand). A few spots opened up, but not for us. And at our school and others that our friends had ended up in, a few people ended up getting their waitlist school, but the majority ended up staying for kindergarten (1st grade was another matter, as most of us transferred out successfully).

    I think it's really important to go to someone high enough up at the EPC at this point to find out what historically are good bets in August/September. These may in fact be the more trophy schools -- schools where there are more parents who are sending their kids to private but never told the school/district. Our year, Grattan and Lilianthal were good bets. Among the non-trophies: Sunnyside and Lafayette. I would find out last year's good bets and also talk directly to the EPC.

    Good luck in the current run, everyone!

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  24. Kindergarten is not a legal requirement, no. That said, I personally would advise against skipping it, since the state standards are quite rigorous.

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  25. To the person going to parochial and waitlisting public. You said you hoped you got something in the first few days and would pull your kid out of catholic school. You won't need to. Public school starts 2 weeks earlier than Catholic this year. That's good news for you. Less disruption for your kid if he does get into public, he will not even have started yet at the catholic.

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  26. I re-read my green letter I got from SFUSD after Round II. It said that this year they would give spots away if a kid didn't show up after 3 days. I read someone's comments here about that not being fair b/c the dates changed, but for K this is new to everyone, not a change, and parents should be responsible enough to find out on what day school starts.
    The letter went on to say that SFUSD would then fill open spots thru the end of August. So they will have the lists open for two weeks. Unfortunately they are scheduled to close right when the privates start. Too bad b/c some kids are going to get in privates off waitlists and that will open spots at publics, but those spots won't be available for SFUSD transfers so the public school kids get screwed. Maybe we can talk to Rachel Norton about this.

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  27. "I think the 3 day count is a very bad idea, especially this year with the school calendar changing."

    The shift to a 3-day count to give more time for slots to be filled, because of the 10-day limit for slots to be filled to receive funds from the state. It's a good thing.

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  28. The letters are out folks. We just got one saying that our kid got a transfer into Commodore Sloat. This is our second kid as the first got in to C.Sloat back in May. So now we are set. We are so, so excited!

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  29. Congratulations to you!

    Can you remind us of your story - I believe you were trying to move 2 kids for years..

    so, so happy for you!

    It gives me hope too!

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  30. anyone know why EPC still hasn't posted the new WP list? Supposed to happen yesterday, and still nothing today.

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  31. Just a reminder to inform your parochial/private schools ASAP if you get your desired public and will not be attending their school.

    I have a good friend that's a principal at a parochial ES and this system is a nightmare for them. As they are a "backup" school for SF and Marin alike, they have almost no way of knowing how many kids they'll actually have attending. They can lose as many as 20 kids in the first few weeks! Imagine budgeting and staffing for that. Just a reminder to make the call. They'd rather just know.

    Now to check my mailbox for "the letter"! Fingers crossed.

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  32. "we got into a good parochial school--that was our backup. our hope is that something will open up after the first few days of school and we will pull our child out of the parochial."

    FYI, friends of ours w/a parochial back up got a slot at Clarendon nine weeks into the school year, which they jumped at. Being at a parochial means you're counted as out-of-district, and after the waitpools dissolve are in better shape for a transfer than

    "it is almost as if the political machine wants middle-class folks to leave the city."

    No, but unlike, say, Piedmont, it's not focused on just satisfyin the middle-class class. An assignment system does two things: doles out the goodies (slots at good schools) and the booby prizes (slots at bad schools). Pure neighborhood assignment systems are simple but unjust: if you can only afford to live in an area with a crappy school, that's what you get. If you can afford to live in an area with a great school, that's what you get. Our system is different, and fairer to low-SES kids.

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  33. To 11:59 -- yes, we are the folks who have been trying, on and off for some years, to transfer our two kids. We got the first in C Sloat in May on Round II and the second in in C. Sloat just now. I have to say that I honestly would not have been able to do it without this site! (Sounds like a darn testimonial.) Unlike years past, this year I followed comments on this site and changed my waitlisted school several times to try to improve my chances. Demand seems to change constantly based on (some) parents' lemming-like behavior, and that means you really have to watch this board to see what schools are "in" and what schools are "out." I also followed this site's suggestions and went down and talked to the counselors. They gave me helpful advice and were really nice. Lastly, I didn't give up in earlier rounds, but kept going. Not that I didn't vent a few times on this site about how frustrated I was with the whole process.

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  34. Responding to the questions posed in the original post: I suggest keeping hope alive that a spot will open up in the school you're waiting for, but also keeping an open mind about other lesser known schools where slots may open up that you may not have seriously considered before. We were 0/7 in the first round, but were lucky to get a spot at Rosa Parks JPPB program in the second round (there's a wait list now, but smaller than other schools). I had heard good things about this program, but was unsure about the school, which is in Western Addition and has lower test scores. As my husband and I have gotten to know the school and the parents, teachers, and neighborhood, we've been completely won over and are totally jazzed about this school, both the Japanese and GE programs. That said, I think 5 or 6 years ago, it was a different story. I think there are decent schools like this in the city that are easy to overlook.

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  35. Nothing for us. Just waitpool letter. I am feeling so demoralized by this whole process. I have had so many sleepless nights as it is and it is far from over. Trying to find a back up parochial or charter at this point as I am not convinced that waiting and holding out will work this year especially since you can't change your waitpool choice once school starts as in past years. This is just plain torturous. I told my 5 your old nobody knows what school they will be in next year until the first day of school so he thinks that it they way it normally works. How sad is that.

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  36. 4:47pm

    I'm so sorry for you. I feel your pain. I also had sleepless nights worrying about this last year. My child ended up starting at a parochial school. We pulled her out after a week and a half when we "got the call" from our waitlisted school.

    It broke my heart to hear my child scream and wail that she didn't want to change schools (total meltdown for kindergartener...and for mom, in private). But I did it anyway. Children are resilient and my child adjusted beautifully. I wish that was the end of the story.

    Unfortunately, I'm back in the same boat again this year with my younger child. It's a long story of siblings not necessarily getting priority in a language immersion school.

    I have mixed feelings. I know from personal experience that there is movement after school starts. But to have to go through the anguish 2 years in a row is very demoralizing.

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  37. "I told my 5 your old nobody knows what school they will be in next year until the first day of school so he thinks that it they way it normally works. How sad is that."

    I agree. It's unacceptable. Same thing happened to us. We finally said enough is enough, and went private after going 0/7 again this year with our non-trophy list.

    When I run into families on the peninsula with access to superb public schools, I think it is just a matter of time before we leave.

    I used to feel quite connected to the city and was involved in various volunteer efforts. Now I find myself gradually focusing my eyes toward Burlingame, Palo Alto, or Cupertino. Once you start to look, it's surprising and relieving to see that life is pretty great and much simpler there than here in the crazy, mismanaged city.

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  38. Yes, life is so much more pleasant when everyone is above average in income and every other way. No messy poor and downtrodden souls ... suburbia rules!

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  39. For people who are still looking at schools, I recommend that you take a second look at John Muir Elementary School. This has traditionally been a very troubled school but things could change significantly with reconstitution. A new principal, responsible for the turn-around seen at Starr King, will be taking over at John Muir. The school is also undergoing massive renovations right now and will be completely renovated by the fall. Principals return to their offices in late July, so parents could probably talk to the new principal and tour the school to get a feel for it.

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  40. Chris Rosenberg is fantastic. I wish John Muir the best of look. It looks like there's hope for this school--at long last.

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  41. 6:30 - Why - Is it supposed to be some badge of honor to go to underfunded schools? What's your point? Suburbs are easier when it comes to schools, and raising kids in general... I don't think anyone would argue with that. As far as cost, renting in the suburbs is probably cheaper than here as well so I don't get your point.

    In my opinion, a lot of it boils down to inertia. Many people decided to stay in the city when their kids were babies. Now they have been here 5 years with kids, made some friends and there's no energy to move, even if it might be a less stressful life...

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  42. 6:30 PM:

    I'm sorry?

    You seem to be confused as to why San Francisco is losing the middle class to the 'burbs. Most of us moved here to participate in a multi-racial and socioeconomically diverse city.

    However, what we find is a city that isn't very diverse in either of these ways.

    It is also not affordable. For the middle class, their taxes are likely to get more bang for the education buck in, yes, the suburbs.

    Perhaps you haven't been to the penninsula in the last few years, where education minded middle class Latinos, Indians, Vietnamese, Koreans, Iranians, Afghanis, Asians, Filipinos, to name a few, have well established communities.

    It's pathetic to suggest that people can't find a diverse community that also provides their families with fair access to a good public school education.

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  43. I can see why someone would consider moving to the suburbs to avoid all the problems of the city, including the titanic unfairness of the public school assignment system. Having lived in other parts of the U.S. and the world, there's no part of California that isn't lovely in my view. Go for it! As a family that enjoys the urban lifestyle and is concerned about climate change, we are determined to stick it out in the city and contribute to needed change. Every mile you drive your gasoline-burning vehicle contributes to the carbon dioxide that is warming our planet.

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  44. 6:30 PM, shut UP. Self-righteousness is a completely useless response to other people's pain about not being able to get their kid a decent public education (i.e., PE, Art, extracurriculars and field trips, viable before- and after-care, a stable cadre of teachers, decent-sized classes, classroom days dedicated to something besides behavior management and No Child Left Behind drills,and so on, all of which seem to me to be basic entitlements for all public school students).

    And 10:43 AM, how smug you are. What do you have to say, then, about the many parents forced to drive their kids across the city to school, when they'd happily go to their neighborhood school? That's what staying in the city means for many, whereas in the 'burbs you can often walk or bike to school.

    Sheesh.

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  45. 2:25 PM:

    Thanks for saying this.

    Also, as someone who moved here fifteen years ago and used to be able to work downtown:

    The supervisors in the city have actively pushed biotech and technology design jobs out of the city. It's not part of the "arts" focused agenda of Aaron Peskin and his cadre of followers.

    So now most of these jobs that used to be in the city are at points south, if they still exist anywhere in the Bay Area.

    So much for a live/work centered city.

    Oh yeah. Green tech. Those jobs are in Fremont, that suburban hell hole.

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  46. Ooooh people in San Francisco are so green compared to those hellish suburbanites in Berkeley, Albany, Alameda, Burlingame, Mill Valley etc. In fact, several SF families I know drive their kids across town to school; continue driving down to Silicon Valley for work; repeat every day; and on weekends shuttle kids around (and out of) the city by car. I have friends in Alameda and Albany who drive much less than that...SF is not a European city, not even New York. Here, I don't know a single family without a car.

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  47. would it be better to leave my kid at a family daycare if I don't get a kindergarten that will work for my family (has AM and PM daycare with openings and is not clear across the city) and wait to see if something reasonable opens up? Or should I try to get into a catholic school now (we never even considered it)? What are the chances of something opening up in the first couple months of school? How will I know? Can you still only wait list at one school or do they keep a list of families looking for lots of different schools to try to find anything reasonable for the year?

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