Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Hot topic: Getting into immersion this year

This from a reader:
We really want immersion--either Chinese or Spanish--for our child. It's proving really hard to get into a program and we're without a school for this year at this point. Where should we wait pool? Where can we actually get in? Or maybe this shouldn't be discussed on the blog because then everyone will switch to that school? Although I find that many parents have their hearts set on one school and they're not willing to consider others. We're pretty open-minded. We just want immersion, any immersion. Also, I wonder why the district doesn't just add another immersion class? It seems so popular.

40 comments:

  1. We didn't get in either but McKinley has an after care language program that I heard is great. We are going to try to get into there and into the after care language program. We also heard they have available after school care too since the language program is only until 4:00 and on Monday-Thursday.

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  2. I bet a few spots will open up after the school year starts.

    If you don't get in this year, you can still try to get in as a 1st grader, but after 1st grade they don't allow transfer students who are new to the language.

    In the meantime, many schools have before- or after-school language enrichment programs. Your kid can have an hour a day of the language. Here's the list of such programs from last year (you might need to be a member of the SF_AME yahoo group to view it):

    http://f1.grp.yahoofs.com/v1/IOViTPeL4SGLf8nXImHJYxIFjOQPoa13PTBJRRzAJ9kavzun0sD_fCDIPBRmEJb94mkSpSn4RshZXgELB5Gw99EXwl45O5NBtk0/Extracurricular%20Language%20Programs%202009.doc

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  3. I don't know why the district does not create more immersion classes. I know that it is not easy to open a new class but looking at the waiting list, there looks like enough people on the 0/7 and "late" sections alone to fill two immersion classrooms.

    Are there any district insiders on this list that can comment as to whether demand (for a public school) for K actually exceeds supply? This was an issue two years ago when the district created a new K classroom at Clarendon and last year when the district opened the Chinese Immersion School

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  4. I heard that the McKinley is 2 hours a day for 4 days. I like that type of consistency. I am hoping we get in and thanks for the link!

    I also heard that McKinley's other aftercare is for all and not just for lower income students which seems to be a problem in many of the schools we looked at.

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  5. Starr King Mandarin has a small waitpool for English speakers. What is your priority cohort? If you are a 0/7 family you may have a shot. Except....aren't the waitpools locked in at this point? Still....I'd keep bugging EPC about Starr King when and if they let you change. Marshall's pool is also fairly small.

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  6. I've heard some not so great things about Starr King. I heard that the PTA is weak and few of the non immersion families are involved or volunteer. Not trying to bash Starr king, but that is the information give to us by a family that has 2 kids there that live in our neighborhood. They do love the immersion program though.

    We are really looking for a community to join and some schools seem to advertise that better than others. Have others different opinions? I'm very willing to hear other parent's opinion of Starr King.

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  7. Starr King has an active and engaged community of parents who do a lot of volunteering at the school (in their children's classes, in other classrooms, at lunch, at recess, in the office, help for teachers with tasks like sharpening pencils and cutting stencils, etc.) as well as for community events (we have many including reading events, science fair, car wash, international dinner, silent auction, music, welcome BBQ, etc.) and miscellaneous other purposes (e.g. coaching school soccer teams, helping at the school food bank, chaperoning field trips). Our PTA is just 4 years old but is strong and active. It is definitely NOT a school where the same 5-10 families are doing everything. We have found it to be a community that welcomes everyone whether you can give a lot or a little, and are thrilled to be there.

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  8. You can change your waitpool until this Friday, 8/13. After that you can't change it anymore.

    Also, check out that Edison Charter. They have a 50/50 Spanish program. This is separate from the waitpool process so you could stay in your waitpool while securing a spot at the Charter school.

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  9. The overall waitpool numbers were smaller for West Portal Cantonese or Starr King Mandarin than the Spanish Immersion programs. [Yes, West Portal's waitpool for english speakers into its immersion program was smaller than Daniel Websters' immersion, which would have required recreational pharmaceuticals to imagine just two years ago.]

    Don't know about the 0/7 cohort though.

    " Marshall's pool is also fairly small."

    Marshall may not be an ideal option because of afterschool care issues: I don't think there's much options at Marshall if you're not low-income.

    "I've heard some not so great things about Starr King. I heard that the PTA is weak and few of the non immersion families are involved or volunteer."

    That's true of many of the schools where you have immersion and GE programs side-by-side. And many of the immersion schools have historically had weak PTAs and parental involvement - *that's why the district put an immersion program there*.

    "Also, check out that Edison Charter. They have a 50/50 Spanish program. This is separate from the waitpool process so you could stay in your waitpool while securing a spot at the Charter school."

    Barf. Too many issues with Edison for that to be a good option.

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  10. 1:58,

    When is the welcome BBQ and who is invited? How much has the PTA raised as of last school year? How many families are enrolled in the PTA or what percentage? Curious.

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  11. I haven't heard about Edison but we would like Mandarin immersion or a good after care program. I hear Miraloma is good too but the wait pool is insane. WP is out too because it is Cantonese I believe.

    Also what is the middle school does Starr King feeds into? That is important. SE schools are not very desirable and we don't want to get stuck in a bad middle school.

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  12. "Also what is the middle school does Starr King feeds into?"

    No one knows what any school feeds into at this point. That being said, there is an excellent summary on the Mandarin Immersion Parents Council website about the process of finding a middle school for Mandarin immersion students. See the link below.

    http://miparentscouncil.org/2010/07/27/sf-new-developments/

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  13. I think that there are a lot of factors that go into adding new immersion programs within the District. One of the more difficult issues is finding Bilingual teachers. Even though there are a lot of "B-Clad" (Bilingual credential) teachers in the system, immersion requires a fluency that is really well above a B-Clad.

    All that being said, the District has persistently been adding more and more immersion programs, or classes within other programs. It's just not something that can be done overnight. You end up with a situation where English-only teachers remain in the older grades while Bilingual teachers are in the younger grades, causing a disruption and a lot of turn over.

    What I would love to see is the District open new, additional, all immersion schools. Since there is such a high demand for them, you would think they could afford this. Also, the middle school immersion programs in SFUSD are woefully inadequate considering all of the bilingual kids that feed into them.

    I hope you can find an immersion program for your child. Do remember that you can re-try for immersion in the 1st grade.

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  14. 2:57, the welcome BBQ is the Saturday before school starts. It has traditionally been for incoming kindergarten families but this year is for the whole school. If you're someone who is genuinely interested in Starr King, I am sure you would be welcome. I would recommend calling the school.

    I don't know the details of the PTA numbers (I'm not an officer, just go to some meetings and participate in projects/events) but I know we have more than 100 families as members and this year for the first time we were into the six figures in fundraising.

    The emphasis of the PTA has been mainly on community events and community building, as opposed to fundraising. Even with our fundraising drives, the emphasis has been on getting a high percentage of participation from each classroom - at whatever amounts people can afford - rather than on pressure to make huge donations. But this year there was a big emergency fund drive because of the budget cuts - which, as it turned out, because of the deal reached with UESF turned out to be not as bad as we expected.

    I hope that answers your questions.

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  15. We are holding strong for a Spanish Immersion spot. I figure we have waited this long we are gonna wait til we get what we really want. It has been a very frustrating experience though and we don't have a back up private right now. I keep hearing that folks don't give up immersion spots as much but I hope that isn't the case this year.

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  16. "Also what is the middle school does Starr King feeds into? That is important. SE schools are not very desirable and we don't want to get stuck in a bad middle school."

    Frankly, I'd cross that bridge when you come to it: you have six years to strategize, and the situation in the middle schools will have changed by then. Overall, in the current system, there's more slack at the middle school level than at elementary or high school level so more kids get into their first choice. So I'd say you'd still have a reasonable chance of getting into a good MS even if the default school was a crappy option. Potentially, there'll be a middle school MI option. Or you could try switching to a private or parochial in 5th or 6th grade - according to its admission director, Live Oak is easier to get in at the 6th grade level than the kinder level.

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  17. We decided to go with Edison for K after not getting into ANY immersion programs. I am excited about it now. In addition to the 50/50% Spanish/English class - the dance instructor was trained at the 92nd St Y in NYC, they have a new ceramics kiln, the lunches are organic and there is an afterschool program with space available to parents who don't qualify for the free programs. Of course I have some hesitation because it is a new Principal and new program not linked with Edison Inc. anymore - but I figured with all of the good things going on it is worth a try.

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  18. 9:45

    Sounds fun - Please let us know how it is going as you begin your journey. I am rooting for Edison. It's a great building in a great location, walkable and accessible for many on this side of town.

    Best to you!

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  19. re opening new immersion schools, there is a demographic constraint to how many additional ones can be successfully opened in SF. Immersion schools score higher but they don't improve the scores of the children that attend. In other words, all an immersion school does is to shift/cluster demographics in the context of a zero-sum game. That said, it is still a great idea for parents who are fortunate enough to care and enroll their child in one. But what that child is leaving behind is now a school environment with one fewer involved/committed to education family. I am in favor of IS with my own son attending one, but let's not confuse the individual gain with the non-existent social uplifting that immersion is purported to create. I am not passing a judgment here, just stating a fact that often goes unnoticed

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  20. For the person who'd heard less than stellar things about Starr King's PTA, here's a note from one of our PTA board members:

    Hello poster of the e-mail regarding the Starr King PTA. First let me thank you for the opportunity to talk about the PTA here for your benefit, and hopefully others, who are considering our school.

    I am a founding member of the PTA, have served as both Vice President of Fund Raising, chaired the annual campaign for three years, and participated in developing many other PTA assets at our school, so I am quite knowledgeable about our activities. I can say with confidence that our PTA is characterized by wide-ranging membership (that doubled every year for three years), transparency of process in determining activities and budget activities, active parent participation, incredible fund raising gains, and most of all, fun and community togetherness that makes it a joy to be at Starr King. Here are a few of our accomplishments.

    We doubled membership each year since 2006. We currently have 50% of all parents enrolled as members.
    We raised $125,000 last year between two campaigns, an auction, a car wash, and a Giants game.
    We regularly fund critical programs for our kids including, music, drama/literacy (StageWrite), music and PE.
    We regularly log over 5,000 volunteers hours every year, (at least those that we can actually document).
    We have an Executive Committee of 9 officers who have all been trained by PTA SFUSD and operate with complete transparency and accountability to the PTA members, school staff and our donors (I have a 20-year career in non profit executive management, I can say it is among the best I have seen).
    We have an extensive system of assessing the needs, concerns and ideas of our members through regular meetings, annual surveys and community meetings that gets rolled up meticulously into an annual plan approved by the membership.
    We sponsor many community events each year, including the Chinese New Year Parade, Martin Luther King Day, Math night, Science Night, .....
    Parents are active in helping in their classrooms and directly with students.
    We have a great time and love our school community - every darn bit of it. We like the fact that we are one of the few schools left in the district that is truly diverse and reflective of San Francisco.

    I won't go on. But I can with confidence advise you to ignore the anomalous input you received. I am happy to discuss this further with you or anyone. And of course, come and see us once touring season ramps up.

    Marie Ciepiela
    (Two sons, 2nd and 4th grade, at Starr King Elementary School, Mandarin Immersion)

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  21. For the poster who'd heard less than stellar things about Starr King's PTA< here's a note from one of our PTA board members:

    Hello poster of the e-mail regarding the Starr King PTA. First let me thank you for the opportunity to talk about the PTA here for your benefit, and hopefully others, who are considering our school.

    I am a founding member of the PTA, have served as both Vice President of Fund Raising, chaired the annual campaign for three years, and participated in developing many other PTA assets at our school, so I am quite knowledgeable about our activities. I can say with confidence that our PTA is characterized by wide-ranging membership (that doubled every year for three years), transparency of process in determining activities and budget activities, active parent participation, incredible fund raising gains, and most of all, fun and community togetherness that makes it a joy to be at Starr King. Here are a few of our accomplishments.

    We doubled membership each year since 2006. We currently have 50% of all parents enrolled as members.
    We raised $125,000 last year between two campaigns, an auction, a car wash, and a Giants game.
    We regularly fund critical programs for our kids including, music, drama/literacy (StageWrite), music and PE.
    We regularly log over 5,000 volunteers hours every year, (at least those that we can actually document).
    We have an Executive Committee of 9 officers who have all been trained by PTA SFUSD and operate with complete transparency and accountability to the PTA members, school staff and our donors (I have a 20-year career in non profit executive management, I can say it is among the best I have seen).
    We have an extensive system of assessing the needs, concerns and ideas of our members through regular meetings, annual surveys and community meetings that gets rolled up meticulously into an annual plan approved by the membership.
    We sponsor many community events each year, including the Chinese New Year Parade, Martin Luther King Day, Math night, Science Night, .....
    Parents are active in helping in their classrooms and directly with students.
    We have a great time and love our school community - every darn bit of it. We like the fact that we are one of the few schools left in the district that is truly diverse and reflective of San Francisco.

    I won't go on. But I can with confidence advise you to ignore the anomalous input you received. I am happy to discuss this further with you or anyone. And of course, come and see us once touring season ramps up.

    Marie Ciepiela
    (Two sons, 2nd and 4th grade, at Starr King Elementary School, Mandarin Immersion)

    ReplyDelete
  22. For the poster who'd heard less than stellar things about Starr King's PTA< here's a note from one of our PTA board members:

    Hello poster of the e-mail regarding the Starr King PTA. First let me thank you for the opportunity to talk about the PTA here for your benefit, and hopefully others, who are considering our school.

    I am a founding member of the PTA, have served as both Vice President of Fund Raising, chaired the annual campaign for three years, and participated in developing many other PTA assets at our school, so I am quite knowledgeable about our activities. I can say with confidence that our PTA is characterized by wide-ranging membership (that doubled every year for three years), transparency of process in determining activities and budget activities, active parent participation, incredible fund raising gains, and most of all, fun and community togetherness that makes it a joy to be at Starr King. Here are a few of our accomplishments.

    We doubled membership each year since 2006. We currently have 50% of all parents enrolled as members.
    We raised $125,000 last year between two campaigns, an auction, a car wash, and a Giants game.
    We regularly fund critical programs for our kids including, music, drama/literacy (StageWrite), music and PE.
    We regularly log over 5,000 volunteers hours every year, (at least those that we can actually document).
    We have an Executive Committee of 9 officers who have all been trained by PTA SFUSD and operate with complete transparency and accountability to the PTA members, school staff and our donors
    We have an extensive system of assessing the needs, concerns and ideas of our members through regular meetings, annual surveys and community meetings that gets rolled up meticulously into an annual plan approved by the membership.
    We sponsor many community events each year, including the Chinese New Year Parade, Martin Luther King Day, Math night, Science Night, .....

    I can with confidence advise you to ignore the anomalous input you received. I am happy to discuss this further with you or anyone. And of course, come and see us once touring season ramps up.

    Marie Ciepiela
    (Two sons, 2nd and 4th grade, at Starr King Elementary School

    ReplyDelete
  23. For the poster who'd heard less than stellar things about Starr King's PTA< here's a note from one of our PTA board members:

    I am a founding member of the PTA, have served as both Vice President of Fund Raising, chaired the annual campaign for three years. I can say with confidence that our PTA is characterized by wide-ranging membership (that doubled every year for three years), transparency of process in determining activities and budget activities, active parent participation, incredible fund raising gains, and most of all, fun and community togetherness that makes it a joy to be at Starr King. Here are a few of our accomplishments.

    We doubled membership each year since 2006. We currently have 50% of all parents enrolled as members.
    We raised $125,000 last year between two campaigns, an auction, a car wash, and a Giants game.
    We regularly fund critical programs for our kids including, music, drama/literacy (StageWrite), music and PE.
    We regularly log over 5,000 volunteers hours every year.
    We have an Executive Committee of 9 officers who have all been trained by PTA SFUSD and operate with complete transparency and accountability.
    We have an extensive system of assessing the needs, concerns and ideas of our members through regular meetings, annual surveys and community meetings that gets rolled up meticulously into an annual plan approved by the membership.
    We sponsor many community events each year, including the Chinese New Year Parade, Martin Luther King Day, Math night, Science Night, .....

    I can with confidence advise you to ignore the anomalous input you received. I am happy to discuss this further with you or anyone. And of course, come and see us once touring season ramps up.

    Marie Ciepiela
    Two sons, 2nd and 4th grade, at Starr King Elementary School

    ReplyDelete
  24. I'll add one other thing about Starr King - we've got a new principal, Mr. Greg John, and wow, I'm totally impressed. I liked Mr. Rosenberg a lot and miss him but we hit the jackpot with Mr. John. He's smart, engaged and totally gets that we've got a lot of different groups at the school and that they all deserve the best education possible. He's ramping up our GATE program and I have a feeling really taking the whole school to the next level.
    Beth Weise, mom to two daughters at Starr King

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  25. apparently Junipero Serra is going to create an after school language program (Spanish) and Miraloma has the mandarin after school program as well.

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  26. we go to starr king and we love it too. great families and great teachers. we feel very lucky.

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  27. For those of you who wanted immersion for their child and couldn't get in, I would like to point out the MEEP (Miraloma Educational Enrichment Program)is starting Spanish immersion classes K-5 on 23Aug10. There was still room for a few more kids last night. The price is $12 kid/per class for non-MEEP kids and there are 4 classes per week Monday-Thursday. The teacher is a native speaker. If you are interested go to http://www.meepinc.com/ and klick on Forms. There are also Mandarin classes, but I don't know if they have room as I signed my kids up for Spanish.

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  28. Can people start telling us about the no-shows they've noticed in their immersion programs for grades K and 1?

    It's killing all of us having to wait till Friday or later.

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  29. Yes, please let us know. I'm getting tired of people telling me that it will all work out.

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  30. I am just feeling so depressed today after 2 days of hearing friends tell of their great experience at their choice school especially the immersion ones. I am happy for them but so sad that we didn't get to start with them and don't for sure if we will ever get in. I went from being positive and hopeful to completely dejected and hopeless. I hate this process

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  31. 3:27 - Please hang in there. This part REALLY SUX and we feel for you.

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  32. If I knew you I would give you a hug. Sending a cyber hug your way.

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  33. Thanks 4:38. Think I will head to the gym now and try not to think about schools for at least an hour! Good luck to all

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  34. Forget about the gym. I am opening a bottle of wine.

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  35. To the original poster: Call EPC tomorrow (weds) and tell them you want any language immersion that you can get and they'll give you one.

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  36. Oh please, that is such crap. You can't just call EPC and get an immersion spot. Every immersion program has a waitpool. You think that just making a call is going to put this person ahead of all the others waiting. That's not going to make this person feel better either, thinking that someone else might call EPC and jump ahead of her in the waitpool!

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  37. Dear Beth Weise and PTA Boardmember,

    First off, let me say that I am a parent of a child hoping to make it into an immersion program, and that I have another one in a non-immersion but with a strong PTA (no sibling priority).

    With that said, Starr King and Chinese Immersion at de Avila were my top two choices, but CIS has the edge because they have strong PTA. Please don't take this the wrong way, but I did hear the same things that 1020am said as well. Cases in point: You say you've been PTA trained, but I've never met anyone from Starr King at the District PTA meetings/training sessions, nor have seen anyone from Starr King at the Founder's Day event. I may be wrong, and I'm not trying to be confrontational, but I just need to understand why I'm getting two different stories about the same school. Also, I do commend you and the rest of the parents out there for doing so much.

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  38. The PTA at Starr King was weak for the last few years because the former principal, Chris Rosenberg, did not foster a collegial environment, nor wanted a strong PTA. In fact, he wanted nothing to do with the PTA until the fiscal crisis hit. Now that he has finally left the school to pursue his personal interests at Muir Elementary, the PTA has a chance to evolve further.

    The Mandarin Immersion program is a great program as well, but, with limited resources and wide-ranging student skills, many are forced to supplement outside of school in order to maintain proficiency levels.

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  39. Thank you 2:55 for clearing that up. That makes sense. Glad to hear that you guys are on the right track now. Good luck!

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