Thursday, July 8, 2010

Open house: Alta Vista School

Open House - Saturday, July 17th, 10 am - 12 pm
Welcome to Alta Vista School
Please join the founding families and faculty of Alta Vista to learn more about us, this exciting new school, and what we have planned for the coming school year. Children and families invited.

Alta Vista School
245 Valencia Street (at 14th Street)
RSVP or more info:
Tel: 415/407-2967
Email: info@altavistaschoolsf.org
www.altavistaschoolsf.org

32 comments:

  1. Is this going to be a $20K+ per year school or in the $7-$10K range? Anybody know?

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  2. $18-20K with financial aid offered

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  3. Will dissenting teachers and families be splitting off from this school after a year too, the way this school split off from that Marin Prep school? You never know where your kid will be going to school from one year to the next! And all that for $18-$20K. Only for people who like to make stupid and risky choices with their money.

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  4. I highly doubt families will be splitting off from Alta Vista en masse. This truly is a non-profit, independent school with parents having representation on a board.
    If problems arise, and I'm sure problems will arise, there is a governing body in place to find solutions.

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  5. 6:56, that's silly. Nobody was forced to leave Marin Prep to attend Alta Vista. Each parent chose where their child would go to school "from year to year."

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  6. If you look at the bios of the Alta Vista board on their website, these people don't look stupid

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  7. Alta Vista at $18-20K is one of the cheaper independent non-religious school offerings. Some others are close to 30% higher. I know nothing about the school other than what I have read here and on the website and it looks like a dedicated group of families committed to educating their kids. If you are still looking for a spot and would prefer private school, it would be worth at least looking at. I would if I were in your shoes.

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  8. $18-20K a year for kindergarten is cheap?

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  9. 3:45 p.m. - unfortunately, for non-religous private school $18-20K is a cheaper option than most.

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  10. 3:45 p.m. - unfortunately, for non-religous private school $18-20K is a cheaper option than most.

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  11. I don't know anybody at Marin Prep or Alta Vista, but it seems like there's somebody who's really mad at the people starting Alta Vista school and wants them to fail. People should see for themselves and make their own decisions. If you like the plan for the school and think the people involved are capable of bringing it off, why is it stupid to give it a try? Believe it or not, a lot of people in this town can handle $20,000 per year for tuition without batting an eye. If I had that kind of money, I'd be out shopping instead of settling for the demoralizing, depressing public school we're assigned to.

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  12. I have zero connection (as far as I know) to anyone related to Alta Vista or to Marin Prep.

    That said, I am a parent whose children will be starting school before long, and I am actively interested in all educational options in SF. I'm also an active reader of the K Files (great site!).

    A few thoughts for Alta Vista, and a few for their seeming detractors.

    For the Alta Vista folks:

    * Starting any new venture is difficult, so kudos to you.
    * Your new website begins to help establish your school. Especially your board, which appears to contain a lot of parents, with a helpful array of experiences and credibility.
    * It'd be helpful to understand exactly why you chose to start AV.
    * Your text stating, "cultivating
    a view of the world and of learning in students that is high, deep and expansive" doesn't really say much. It's too vague, faintly political...
    * Why do you exist, what niche do you fill, what type of student and family will thrive in your school?
    * Help us understand you, and understand if we should invest the time/energy in learning more about you.

    To the seeming detractors of AV:
    * On various threads there seem to be some fairly serious allegations leveled against the motives and character of people associated with AV.
    * As educators, and/or people involved in forming young minds and future citizens, you have a moral obligation to share what you may know.
    * If you say something true, it ain't unfair, nor is it defamation. The truth shall set you free.
    * Please do the right thing. Either come-forward with your genuine concerns, or swallow your pride and move-on.

    Again, great site K Files. And for those involved with AV, more information would be helpful all around.

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  13. Response to Anonymous @ 6:54 AM:

    "If you look at the bios of the Alta Vista board on their website, these people don't look stupid"


    IS THIS THE SAME GUY ON THE BOD?

    http://www.nytimes.com/2006/08/21/technology/21cnd-aol.htm

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  14. I don't know, but he does have a great bod.

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  15. BOD = board of directors
    Check the link that 7:33 posts.

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  16. @3:00

    GET A SENSE OF HUMOR!!!

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  17. I went to the open house. It's a clean and bright facility, with a very nice parent group. It has a library/game room, wired classrooms with smartboards to come, an art/science room, and a room for free/dramatic play, as well as classrooms. I heard and saw evidence of an interesting curriculum that cross-hatches the arts and math/science/tech. The outdoor space is less than ideal, but no worse than some publics I've seen. I would consider the school as a good alternative to public or parochial, definitely, especially if I had a bad or no public assignment. And they're doing open enrollment right now.

    I'm not in this race, have no affiliation with the school, and have nothing pro or con to say about the great Ed Walters debate (he seemed nice enough to me). Just thought I'd pass it along to parents who might find it useful. I believe there is another open house in August.

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  18. Thank you 1:57 for an informative post.

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  19. A handful of parents from Pacific Primary preschool, whose children were not admitted to a trophy independent school with their classmates and who also "lost" the SFUSD K lottery (ie, didn't get a trophy school), felt it was better to attend Marin Prep for K and then start another over-priced independent school than to put their collective energies, money, and talent (of which they have a lot; see "Board" on website) into a non-trophy public school. If they had gone public, then they would have been well on their way to creating a much sought after public school --a gem -- that would have benefitted 100s of SF children, not just their own.

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  20. 5:51 p.m., I don't know who these people are at Alta Vista or Marin Prep, but if your view is that all families should send their kids to public school then about 30% of the SF population with kids disagrees with you. If they can afford it and they don't like their public option than IMHO who cares if they send their kids to private school. Frankly, its 20 spots or so available at public schools that those still on waitlists can hope for.

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  21. There are certain people who think parents with money and resources are morally wrong and are actively harming public schools by putting their resources into a private school rather than a public school. They're entitled to their opinion, but I don't agree. Although there are excellent individual public schools in San Francisco, public schools are subject to systemic limits not everyone wants.

    For example, public school teachers don't have free rein to choose the textbooks and curricula they think are most effective for teaching content. If the district says "You're using Everyday Math," the teachers must use Everyday Math. Individual public school teachers can and do get creative with the hands they're dealt, but in a private school, the teachers can collaborate to choose what they think works best.

    Public schools have to take all comers, no matter how severely learning disabled, behaviorally disruptive, or unsupported at home. Private schools can select children whose personalities, learning ability and family support structure are suited to the mission of the school.

    Public schools are subject to NCLB and extensive standardized testing. Private schools have a great deal more flexibility about standardized testing but must be responsive to parent community demands.

    Public schools are limited by union contracts as to how long the school day will be and how many instructional days there will be. Private schools work this out on an individual basis, and the private schools I've looked at all have an academic day that's a half hour to two hours longer than a public school day, leaving more time for academics and unstructured lunch and recess time.

    Public schools are subject to horrific funding limits and lack of support from the broader public they are supposed to serve. California is rock-bottom nationally in per-pupil spending in public schools, even though we also have one of the highest costs of living nationally, especially in our urban districts. Individual public schools do a great job with parent fund-raising, but that creates a "private-public"/"public-public" dichotomy between the well-funded publics and the under-funded publics. And the well-funded publics tend to attract the same ethnic groups, whites and Asians, that populate the private schools.

    Private non-Catholic schools generally have smaller classes and a better consistent ratio of adults to children in the classroom. Because children are screened for behavior, even in the big Catholic school classrooms, teachers have an easier time managing their classes and more time to devote to learning.

    Children who are not confident, independent learners often do better with the smaller classes, more homogeneous classmates (and I am talking about learning ability and behavior, not socioeconomic background) and more intensive teacher support they get in private schools.

    You can't just bring a group of motivated parents into a bad public school and assume it will suddenly become a "gem." The parents need the support of the district, the principal and the teachers, and how can the parent group predict whether that will be forthcoming?

    If private parents don't support public schools with their votes and their taxes, then yes, I agree, they're harming the public system. But it is not "bad" to avoid schools that don't meet your needs.

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  22. Some people think parents with money and resources are morally wrong and are actively harming public schools by putting their resources into a private school rather than a public school. Although there are excellent individual public schools in San Francisco, public schools are subject to systemic limits not everyone wants.

    Public school teachers don't have free rein to choose the textbooks and curricula they think are most effective for teaching content. If the district says "You're using Everyday Math," the teachers must use Everyday Math. Individual public school teachers can and do get creative with the hands they're dealt, but in a private school, the teachers can collaborate to choose what they think works best.

    Public schools must take all comers. Private schools can select children whose personalities, learning ability and family support structure are suited to the mission of the school. This enables teachers to focus on teaching the whole class rather than behavior management and helping children who have a very difficult time learning the material.

    Public schools are subject to NCLB and extensive standardized testing. Private schools have a great deal more flexibility about standardized testing, subject to demands of the parent community.

    Union contracts limit the length of the public school day and number of instructional days. Private schools work this out on an individual basis. The private schools I've looked at all have an academic day that's a half hour to two hours longer than a public school day, leaving more time for academics and unstructured lunch and recess time.

    Public schools are subject to horrific funding limits and lack of support from the broader public they are supposed to serve. California is rock-bottom nationally in per-pupil spending in public schools, even though we also have one of the highest costs of living nationally, especially in our urban districts. If public schools were as well-resourced as private schools, they would be more popular, but trends for public school funding are getting worse rather than better.

    Private non-Catholic schools generally have smaller classes and a better consistent ratio of adults to children in the classroom. Children who are not confident, independent learners often do better with the smaller classes and more intensive teacher support.

    You can't just bring a group of motivated parents into a bad public school and assume it will suddenly become a "gem." The parents need the support of the district, the principal and the teachers, and how can the parent group predict whether that will be forthcoming?

    If private parents don't support public schools with their votes and their taxes, then yes, I agree, they're harming the public system. But it is not "bad" to avoid schools that don't meet your needs, and it's not good for the commons to put your children in a school that will fail to educate them.

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  23. Thanks 10:32 AM.

    To the list of why parents are stirring away from improving public schools:

    - lack of access to their local schools. Why bother investing a school that is half way across town that, in any case, is a stop gap until something better can be found?

    - crumbling school facilities. Many of the remaining schools that parents could "improve" require infrastructure investment which adds tremendously to the laundry list of "improvements" that would be required.

    - lack of afterschool care

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  24. 10:46 a.m., you can add lack of before school care. It is completly unrealistic to have a start time of 9:30 a.m. and no before school on site care available.

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  25. A lot of people start out thinking they are going public, then look at the results of the funding cuts, and run the other way. That's California's fault, not the fault of parents who just want a decent school for their kids.

    And it seems like a huge amount of work to start a new school after not winning the public/private lottery -- is that really the story?!

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  26. I attended the open house and was impressed (and I've seen a lot of schools!). Seems like a great option with a group of energetic parents and educators who appear to work well together.

    As someone who works in public education, I understand completely that we can both support public education *and* strive to find the best available options for our children. Not everyone has needs that are easily met by the public education system. I really don't think this is a dichotomy -- and don't see a reason to vilify parents who send their children to private schools in SF.

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  27. Not everyone has needs that are easily met by the public education system. I really don't think this is a dichotomy -- and don't see a reason to vilify parents who send their children to private schools in SF.

    There is no reason to vilify parents, but we need to be honest about the impact of the wealthiest, most school-ready children not being part of the public education system.

    Let's be clear. The "needs" to which you refer could mean student with special needs. There are certainly some children whose needs are absolutely not being met in the public system; students who qualify for special education are among them.

    African American children, especially poor African American children, are not being served well in our schools. There is an unmistakable opportunity gap. Yet these students are not entering a private system; in San Francisco the students entering a private system are those the public system serves quite well (white, wealthy students).

    There is a real impact to one's decisions. Being honest about that - and its implications for those kids in the public school system - is not vilifying.

    I do really dislike the idea that it's "California's" fault that our schools are so badly funded. We ARE California. I hope private school parents and students who strongly feel that California is underfunding its public schools to the extent that they could not enter them are using their power and voice to advocate for better school funding. I hope that they pay state taxes with pride, vote for property taxes that support schools and demand that their legislators fund schools before cutting corporate taxes.

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  28. "I hope that they pay state taxes with pride, vote for property taxes that support schools and demand that their legislators fund schools before cutting corporate taxes."

    I do, I do, and I do. But I still might go private. And it *is* California's fault... some stupid folks voted in a 2/3 majority rule before I ever got here. Not to mention electing Arnold, twice. Both of which actions have starved the schools. I'm happy to fight it all, but I'm not making my kid pay for the California electorate's mistakes. If we get a public I think is good (and that doesn't necessarily mean one of the "notorious 11"), great. If not, it's off to private or out of the city.

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  29. Telling children that the schools are supposed to be "serving" them is not going to help them.

    Free education is a privilege - one that many children in the world would give their right arm for.

    Sit in your seat, behave, listen to the teacher, and do your homework. Be respectful and work hard. Earn it.

    Don't sit around waiting to be "served" an education.

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  30. @6:52am: Then I hope you are involved in the ballot initiative coming in November to overturn that 2/3 majority.

    Blaming the voters who came before you doesn't solve the problem: you can work for change now.

    As to the idea of "service", given the appalling record of the education system in strengthening institutional racism, children who DON'T sit down and shut up are arguably protecting themselves against a system that really has been out to get them. Your logic assumes that everyone is assured a fair shake if they just adhere to a certain code of behavior. That's a nice ideal. It fails in reality.

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  31. 10:32 (and 10:39) on July 22nd has made a great argument for sending your kid to private school, but I don't they she/he meant to.

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  32. On the contrary, I think that's exactly what 10:32 (and 10:39) on July 22nd meant.

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