Sunday, September 12, 2010

Fall 2011: Herding those elephants

On Monday night (yes, as in within hours), the decision makers at SFUSD will hold a key discussion as part of implementing the new school assignment system. District officials will recommend going ahead with the new, more neighborhood-based kindergarten plan, but holding off on a new middle school plan for another year.

So it seems like a good time to herd together some of those “Elephants in the Room” – big, uncomfortable questions about the proposed system that I’ve asked myself, discussed with friends also gearing up for the kindergarten search, or read in snatches elsewhere on SF K Files. There are probably enough EiRs to fill a novel, but I’ll stick to five for now:

  • EiR1: End racial isolation? Really? The new neighborhood-focused kindergarten system will definitely boost predictability and convenience for lots of families. But one of the stated goals of the new program is to end patterns of racial isolation at certain schools. Given the neighborhood focus, that one seems kind of head-scratcher. Yes, CTIP1 households have a golden pass to just about any school, but will substantial numbers of families from areas such as Bayview or the Tenderloin want to send their five-year-olds clear across town to Clarendon or Peabody? Will this plan really make schools such as Alamo or Malcolm X look all that different in five years? What am I missing here?
  • EiR2: Where do you really live? There’s always address fraud in any public school system. But between the new neighborhood weightings and the CTIP1 golden key, the new plan seems primed for lots of funky residential claims, whether it’s using a grandparent’s address or worse. What will the district do about that? Is the current system of checking address fraud enough?
  • EiR3: Just ‘cuz you live there doesn’t mean you’ll go there. Living in a school’s assignment area gives you added weight in the lottery. But that doesn’t mean living near Grattan means going to Grattan. Between siblings and CTIP1, there may not be enough space left for the whole neighborhood. If you don’t get into, say, Grattan, you’ll be assigned a school relatively nearby…like, say, John Muir. Which brings me to…
  • EiR4: Will the plan fill the “empties”? The district has centrally-located, under-enrolled schools it wants to revive and fill, including Muir and Cobb. Will the new neighborhood assignees take a look this time and show up? I’m particularly curious about Muir, which has a new principal who had a good track record of turning around Starr King. What will he bring to Muir to increase its appeal? Language immersion? A science and environment program, in keeping with the school’s namesake? It may not happen in this next year, but something interesting will come to Muir (or should, if they want more families to consider it).
  • EiR5: Why do Tourpalooza? Last year, on the radio, I heard a board member sum up the new system succinctly – “more predictability, less choice.” Yo, other kindergarten questers, is it really worth following the habits of past years and touring like crazy? My family lives kinda northwesternish (hence I’m blogging for SFK Files under the name Seattle), but I’m seriously rethinking plans to visit all of the schools in our area when we probably won’t get in. Maybe a few for points of comparison with our assigned school (not saying what it is for now, on the advice of others who've blogged for this site before), and some city-wide programs, but maybe that’s enough? What are others going to do? Stay on -- or get off -- the tour bus?

Folks, thoughts? Any big elephants I missed?


  1. Seattle,

    Perhaps you can explain to me how the elementary plan is more predictable than before? If you live next to a low demand school there was never any problem getting into it. But at high demand schools you make the case that living near Grattan, for example, does not guarantee a spot in Grattan. I agree. And it doesn't even come close to guaranteeing a spot with siblings, CDC students and many close by CTIP1 residents in line before the neighbor across the street. So what in the world of San Francisco are you talking about?

  2. EiR1B-if the district plans to only provide transportation from CTIP1 areas in the SE of the city to select K-8 school and immersion schools, it seems like kids in these CTIP1 tracts will have little or no ability to access the higher-performing K-5 GE programs in the Western and Northern portions of the city. This, in turn, will undoubtedly increase the segregation of the neighborhood K-5 schools.

  3. The district and will be in quite a bind trying to figure out whether to invest in public outreach to African American community. Should they encourage them to use the preference and leave or not use the preference and attend a SIG beneficiary school? They may have a reason to do both so that they don't fill schools with underperforming students that would create a more difficult turnaround. I can just imagine them advising one to go and the next to stay.

    With millions being poured into schools like Muir, if students in the CTIP1 Western Addition choose to go there and if they are predominately people of color, will you being accusing the district of segregation? (Let's not forget that segregation is not merely isolation of a particular race. It is forced isolation.)

    Conversely if white and Asian kids who live in the Western Addition take advantage of the SIG status and the AA kids use the CTIP1 to go to Grattan, for example, what will you say then?

    You are assuming that where transportation was previously provided without it there will be no alternatives. It remains to be seen what impact the transportation issue will have. People may be more resourceful than you think or they may choose not to play the Board game.

    It is true in general that the further the school is from home the less likely people are to attend it and not just for CTIP1 residents. Many leave the system altogether and lower diversity for this reason, though that is less true for low SES students and the reason why we have such a preponderance of low SES kids in such a rich city.

    But in the example you used, Grattan is close to a CTIP1 area and students and families may be more motivated than you give them credit for. Even if they are not, that may simply show a desire to attend the local school rather than use the preference.

    Hypotheticals aside, it seems likely that AA will be more likely to go to Muir than Grattan under the circumstances and not because they can't get there.

  4. Yes, one big elephant you missed is what happens to Special Education students. All other students at the schools feed into certain schools, but those schools don't always have the same special education programs.
    So are all those students supposed to NOT follow their friends, to the same feeder school? Once again, SFUSD sends the message that children in special education programs do not matter and are not worth considering.

  5. Another concern is whether they will equalize the very uneven music, art, and GATE programs across MSs. Some kids who will feed into i.e. Lick or Everett would do better in a school such as Aptos with a designated honors track, whereas other kids set to feed into i.e. Presidio would thrive in the smaller school environment of say, Roosevelt. It doesn't seem right to send a child who loves band to i.e. Francisco (which lacks a band) when Giannini (which has a stellar band) would be a much better fit. There needs to be a way to preserve parental choice at the MS level. Perhaps the MS into which the ES feeds could be treated like the neighborhood school in the ES plan rather than as the default school, as it is in the current plan.

  6. The big uncomfortable question for me, is, What are the solutions?

    If there is too much address fraud, then a solution that assigns schools based on residence is unworkable. The neighborhood school system would be a broken system, and we should go back to citywide choice at the kindergarten level. Feeder patterns for middle school do not rely on address information and could work there.

    It could be that verifying addresses for CTIP 1 is all the district could reasonable handle. We do not know until we try.

    If we look at ending racial isolation from the viewpoint of the population of African American and Hispanic students, not the racial isolation of the particular school, the new assignment plan does address ending racial isolation. The students are give a golden key to go elsewhere.

    Now the troubling news. The students who were not African American and Hispanic, who were living in the southeast part of town but were using citywide choice to go elsewhere, cannot go elsewhere (within SFUSD). They are being forced to stay and turnaround the "schools in transition."

    Some schools in transition will improve in test scores and parental satisfaction. Others will not and will remain racially isolated. We do not know which will be which. That's the solution? Dump it on the parents?
    I guess so. I don't have anything better.

  7. Anonymous @ 8:19 You said "Feeder patterns for middle school do not rely on address information and could work there."

    But the elementary placement is based upon address and so by extension is the middle school placement.

  8. I'm pretty sure that Francisco does have a band (I heard it rehearsing when I was there one school day last spring), so unless it has suddenly been canceled...

    But the concern about uneven programs at middle schools has always been valid and should be a big issue in the question of feeder assignments.

  9. Caroline, I toured Francisco MS last fall and was told that they had an orchestra but no band, and the only instruments available were violin, cello and viola. My flute-playing daughter (whose ES would feed into Francisco MS if the new SAS were adopted) was very disappointed. Francisco also currently lacks any organized art program (another problem for my artsy daughter).

  10. Great post.

    Other EIR:
    1. Mixing kids at middle school level is an optical fix, it's already too late. The mixing needs to occur at elementary level, but system could be going in the opposite direction - won't test scores actually diverge more, unless SFUSD does outreach and transportation from CTIP1 areas to CTIP2 areas? If SFUSD doesn't have an elementary school transportation plan, then they are going to exacerbate disparities.

    2. Who are the "losers" in this system, and how can we make their options as palatable as possible so they don't flee the system?

    Category a: Someone who is CTIP2 and has a poor school. Category b: someone at a good school who gets pushed out by CTIP1.

    A potential answer for both elephants is to make sure there are enough category b parents coming into the category a school to make it palatable for both. In the past, "turning around" a school worked because it reached a tipping point where it was attracting people across the city. Now, the feeder demographic of a poorly performing school
    is dictated by SFUSD,
    so they better have thought this through and made sure that they are setting the school up for success. The SFUSD better understand the responsibility that has now shifted into their

    Which leads to EIR3: has SFUSD actually done a simulation to see how this plays out? Or are they just guessing from historical data which may not be good predictors of the future? If they have targets for diversity for each elementary school and simulations for how they expect this to play out, then can we see them? Transparency is crucial to get everyone on board. If they don't have targets and simulations, then they are flying blind, this experiment will only make things
    worse. I fear it's the latter...

    4. What is the endstate for poorly performing CTIP1 schools? Do we just shut them down? Who will turn them around and how?

  11. This discussion about kindergarten seems to be about two years too late (this process started two years ago.) At this point let's move on and see how it works in practice.

    The middle school feeder plan was a relatively new addition (spring), and clearly needs a little more vetting to equalize program offerings and clarify immersion pathways. But if these concerns are addressed could be workable and lend more predictability to families (which is what they say they want.)

  12. Re 9/12 11:57, I think it's pretty clear what she is talking about. Newsflash...not everyone wants Grattan. A lot of families don't care about a trophy. They just want a decent K near their house. This past year, we had five friends put down schools near their house as their first choice -- 2 for Lafayette, 2 for Jefferson, 1 for Commodore Sloat. What'd they all get in the first assignment? Cobb! *Hopefully* (ha ha) that won't happen so much for families wanting non-trophy schools under the new system.

  13. I took the liberty of posting one of Don's comments here from another thread.....

    The reason SFUSD took so long (and is still not done) putting together the SAS is because this student assignment process is what they are all about - placement, not instruction. If they spent half as much time talking about achievement we might not have to spent twice as long and ten times as much figuring out whether to cut the baby in half side to side or head to toe.

    The diversity versus neighborhood argument goes round and round ad infinitum here on SF Kfiles. What is more unfair, going to a school you don't like near home or going to a school you don't like far from home? Apparently some people actually cogitate over this conundrum. All things being equal, greens should be firmly against commuting to school.

    But in all seriousness, while parents bicker over who gets to go to the good schools, they take their eye off the ball and let SFUSD off the hook for the real work they are supposed to be doing. The real issue isn't who gets to go where. The real story is why did it take the federal government to give SFUSD a kick in the pants to take school turnaround seriously. Caroline will probably come on here and say "no urban school district has ever replicated successful reform models district-wide". Ya, so just give up and play musical chairs with the students instead. That is exactly why people bail out of public or create charters, which she is also against.

    Even if they are not successful let's see some pedagogical innovation and union reform. But SFUSD needs the unions to fight its election battles so it colludes with them against the better interests of students. And this what passes for a school district.

    SFUSD is still trying to implement its failed policies of the consent decree era, just in disguise. They need to get off their ideological bandwagon. Even Castro recently admitted that communism is a failed model.

    If they cannot figure out that an elementary Sped student might need continued sped instruction once at middle school, how much do you think they care that a gate student doesn't get AP instruction?

    One other thing - only the term "feeder schools" was new. It is code. The idea of is very old. It is called neighborhood schools, a term that that our school district doesn't like to use. Contrary to most districts that employee feeder schools(neighborhood schools), SFUSD doesn't guarantee placement into the local school, therefore, with the MS policy, they by the same token do not guarantee placement of neighbors into the middle school either.

  14. The biggest elephant is what the delay in middle schools is going to do for fifth grade families RIGHT NOW. The way I see it the Sup is proposing absolutely no neighborhood preference, unless one were to not get any middle school choice, in which case you'd get sent to "the closest middle school." This is going to be as pure choice as we've ever had! Only CTIP 1 gets first crack at the middle schools. (Also siblings, but they are not such a big number for middle.) So the question is -- how big is the CTIP 1cohort in fifth grade? I don't see any answers on here about these questions.

  15. Grattan was the example that was used by Seattle. Don was using the example she chose. But i think many schools would fit that scenario.Responding to the point he made in his next post about district outreach in the era of the school improvement grants, what will SFUSD do now that there is good cause for children not to abandon the SIG identified low performing schools? He makes a good point that such schools might lack diversity. Will that be deemed unacceptable? These grants kind of turn the diversity theme on its head.

  16. This is a very interesting scenario Don has raised. The SIG school requests may rise for at-risk children who lived in the assignment zone. This would produce greater segregation. How will the school district respond to this? Will they attempt to encourage flight from the SIG schools as they have in the past before they received the money?

  17. Don - for a person who tends to overstate your case and grandstand, you have understated this one. What a predicament this is for the District. Does this mean if schools get more money then diversity is no longer a problem?

  18. What about start times? Are all the ESs going to start at 8:40 now that we won't need to worry so much about busing costs since there will be very little busing? Will there be affordable before- and after-school care at all ESs? Forcing a couple who work 9-5 to send their child to a school that starts at 9:30 with no before-school care doesn't seem very reasonable.

  19. I think the SIG money has huge implications on equity. 2 out of the 3 elementary schools set to feed into Everett wouldn't qualify for that kind of money and the kids that need the extra services that kind of money can buy are being fed elsewhere.

  20. Re: 10:13 AM

    The transportation issue is one that is key to implementation and now is the right time to address it. It does not change the rules of the overall system, only whether it is implemented effectively. It is the measure by which the school board will be held accountable for their performance.

  21. I just posted this on Rachel Gordon's blog. Given that fifth grade parents are now losing their guaranteed slot at a middle scool, I believe it is only fair to give some preference to those of us who are in a K through 5 SFUSD program right now (as opposed to those who are outside the system or at a K through 8 SFUSD) for middle school placement. The preference would come after the sibling and CTIP 1 preferences. In other words, those who do not have a guaranteed sixth grade slot and who have demonstrated a commitment to SFUSD (their kid is enrolled in a fifth grade SFUSD K through 5) should get some kind of preference in the lottery system that is about to happen. Doesn't this make sense?

  22. Why the constant negative personal comments? Overstate, understate - I just said what I thought - that the SIG money will change the diversity/equity landscape. The old integration mores will not apply because you want all the at-risk kids together at the SIG schools so they get the resources of this grant. Stick to the issues and stop the attacks on me. It like a bunch of bullies. It's like one person kicks dirt in your face and then everybody wants to. Remember almost all of you are anonymous. I don't have any problem saying who I am or what I believe. Rejoice!

  23. Dear 2:29 PM. THANK YOU for reiterating the transportation issue. I hope that PPS and BOE challenge the transportation framework and timelines.

    EiR#7 – The transportation policy is currently in Public comment period, but not receiving much attention. I copied the timelines and framework in the next post (due to space constraints), and I inserted my personal comments in brackets [].

    Biggest flaw in the new transportation policy is the finalization of bus routes in January 2011 BEFORE the district knows where children have been assigned/enrolled; therefore, bus routes will dictate where CTIP1families can enroll their children, not vice versa. The entire framework is full of jargon and loop holes: “use of choice,” “integrated learning environments,” “reasonable” MUNI routes, “when the Superintendent determines it is necessary,” and so on. There are not enough details to actually comprehand the policy, let alone comment or vote either yeah or nay.

    The BOE should NOT approve this framework until specific details are available, and the District should NOT design bus routes until after Round 2 of the lottery, when many of the disadvantaged families typically apply for schools. I believe that parents are not commenting, because 1) the rhetoric means nothing (there is no meat on the bones), and 2) the families who are most impacted don’t even know it is happening.

    (to be continued)

  24. In other words, those who do not have a guaranteed sixth grade slot and who have demonstrated a commitment to SFUSD (their kid is enrolled in a fifth grade SFUSD K through 5) should get some kind of preference in the lottery system that is about to happen. Doesn't this make sense?

    On some large-scale definition of fairness, maybe. But it will never happen. Look at Lowell--families whose kids have gone K through 8 public miss the cut-off by a fraction of a point while "under-represented" private schools send kids under Band 3 whose test scores don't measure up to first kids' .... life is unfair in all kinds of ways.

    I wish luck to all 5th grade parents. I also want to say that I think it will mostly be okay, as siblings are not a huge factor, and CTIP1 will function much as the old diversity index did; and close to 90% of families got one of their spots in recent years at the MS level. NOT saying everyone is happy, but most are. And this is a huge, huge relief for those families who were deeply unhappy with their proposed feeder school. Now there will be some lottery uncertainty, but at least we start on fairer ground.

  25. What do you mean siblings is not a big factor? Some classes have large percentages of siblings in transitional years.

  26. I think 3:07 meant that siblings aren't nearly as big a factor for MS (3 years) as they are for ES (6 years).

  27. Wow -- 3:07 pm -- It "will never happen" that fifth graders in k through 5's get some preference above the rest of the world? SFUSD was about to give K through 5 families a GUARANTEED SLOT at a PARTICULAR MIDDLE SCHOOL. All this preference would do is give SFUSD K through 5 kids priority over SFUSD K through 8 parents and people outside the system. And I know we are going to hear folks talk about how easier it is to get in for middle schools. Eventually, yes. But I know many families in the past were not willing to sweat through the wait pools over the summer. In fact, I know some really dedicated public school families who, when they got a bad Round I assignment for middle school, panicked and put down deposits for private schools. And I know too many private school parents who go into Round 1 "just to see what we're going to get." Then they bail over the summer. This preference would at least give those of us in SFUSD K through 5 schools some preference over those who have guarantees elsewhere (a K through 8 or a private option).

  28. SFUSD will always give non-public school families preference in order to get the additional ADA funding. It is like the cable company offering increased incentives to new customers over old customers.

  29. "EiR4: Will the plan fill the “empties”? The district has centrally-located, under-enrolled schools it wants to revive and fill, including Muir and Cobb."

    Cobb's API scores are in the middle of SFUSD's distribution, so I'd expect the neighborhood assignment system to work in Cobb's favor.

    Given Muir was to feed into ISA with Flynn, I'd expect Muir to adopt the International Baccalaurate curriculum and for immersion to get thrown into the works. Otherwise it's hard to see Muir turning around.

    However, we'll still have the Traditional Annual Freak Out from Noe and Bernal families getting assigned to Bryant and Cesar Chavez. That won't change.

    "EiR5: Why do Tourpalooza?"

    There's no point in doing Tourpalooza except for the citywide programs. One exception would be if you suspect that your local school is going to be oversubscribed locally, and so you check out other schools (for which you'd be in a higher priority).

  30. Tour if you are interested or intrigued by immersion. Tour Lilienthal or Rooftop or Lawton to get an idea of the 'superstar' K-8 schools. Tour Montessori? Tour your local school. Maximum tours? 5, or probably 4. Drive by other nearby schools.

    Then list what you want, in the order you want. Do all the nearby schools.

    Then tour the one you were assigned to see if it's really acceptable or not. Don't kill yourself on this. Touring a school doesn't give you a leg up on getting in.

    Then Round II.

  31. 9:07
    I am talking about lack of cheating with feeder patterns. The district knows where you went to school. It doesn't know where you live.

  32. This discussion of which school should go where is too theoretical for me. Don't you know that these decisions are made in backrooms on Franklin St?

    You may think you know what should go where, but that is neither here not there.

  33. OK, I just spent the last couple hours watching the ad hoc committee web broadcast, much to the chagrin of my two children who are not allowed to watch TV during school days. I came away with one question:

    How can I in good faith entrust the education of my children to these bums?

    Not one person was willing to acknowledge the giant f*** up (no other word really does it justice) that is represented by this delay. Yes, there were a couple of mentions of inconvenience to the community and such.. all just calculated windowdressing.

    Unless I missed it during the few minutes that I was unable to watch or unless it took place after I couldn't stomach it anymore, it seems that this administration and board has absolutely no compunction about their culpability in this screw up.

    This isn't a matter of few minor oversights. If this took place in Japan those responsible would resign in shame. But here in America they react by failing to even acknowledge that THEY are the cause of the problem - that THEY are entrusted and paid to do the job properly and failed. These are the same people that sign fraudulent documents claiming that they have done their legal duties when in fact they have obscured and ignored them.

    What a disgrace. Fire Garcia and his band of merry pranksters and throw the bums on the Board out of office! Recall!

  34. Don, they made a mistake in rolling out the feeder/middle school idea without adequate feedback. However, your comment is a classic example of your tendency to overstate your case. Recall? Throw the bums out? Look, they heard what was being said and they held up the process. That's actually responsive in this case.

  35. Why is Don still in this conversation? I am confused. I understand his kids go to a high performing elementary that way set to feed into a high performing middle school. I understand that he's frustrated things have been delayed. But I do not understand his lack of empathy for people in situations different from his own. I just don't get it. The board responded to an uproar over a middle school plan that many felt was sprung upon them (not Don). They listened. They haven't said they'll do away with the feeder plan, just that they'll delay it and think some more. What could be wrong with that?

  36. So what happened at tonight's meeting?!

  37. I agree with the delay. I agree that the feeder is a mess. I agree that the needs of Sped, ELL, foreign language and AP students are not being properly addressed in the feeder plan.

    What I don't agree with is a government that refuses to be accountable for its actions. How much time was spent on this plan? How much money? millions. And SFUSD were so far off the mark with this feeder proposal that it now hasve to go back to the drawing Board to figure out what to do to fix it. And what is wrong with it? Just a minor oversight -it does not meet the instructional needs of thousands of students across the city.

    Pardon me for being naive, but I thought that is what a school district is suppose to do first and foremost - meet the needs of it students with the resources that it has available.

    Many of you don't care what the district does as long as you get the prerogative to bump kids out of their neighborhood schools so you can pay lower taxes and rents in the SE. You have ten schools showered with money on a level that is obscene in the face of cuts elsewhere. Alamo doesn't even has a counselor with over five hundred students. One principal, a secretary and a janitor. A .4 resource teacher and no ELD. We are starving and you have the gall to tell us that we are privileged. Screw you!

    Someone on this blog suggested that the SE take over the Board - a revolt no less, but not a word of discretion was advised. I tell you what - the SE can secede and form their own school district and I'm sure the rest of the city will gladly vote in favor of it. Then you can do as you wish.

    Go ahead, no need to declare war on the North.

  38. Heard Sandra Fewer comment tonight that the district had hired investigators to crack down on address fraud and had caught and expelled "many" of those students from district schools. I hope that's true. However, when asked if the district had documented any of these expulsions, she was actually hostile to the idea that the district should actually provide data supporting her claims.

  39. Give me a fu** break. You cannot expel students from district schools for address fraud. Such illegal actions of the parents do not forfeit the basic right of children under the CA constitution to a public education. You can move them to another school. So I don't know what Fewer was talking about, but it is just another example of the kind of idiocy and incompetence that is prevalent on the looney Board nowadays.

    Wynns should go on a permanent vacation to a country with no public education. What a bag of hot air. Maufas is what SF deserves, but not our kids. Mendoza is the fake paid expert. Yee is still looking for his notes. Norton is the "people's commissioner" that cautions, capitulates and cries, Kim can't wait to actually get a real job on the BOS. Then you have Carlos, Mr. Social Justice, who forgot to provide appropriate instructional programming to his flock. God help us.

  40. "Bump kids out of their neighborhood schools"...That is the biggest elephant. Don, your neighborhood is the entirety of San Francisco.
    If you don't accept that fact then you should move to Marin where you can live in a homogeneous happy society where every school has API 900, and where there aren't any of these pesky ethnics...The goal here is to create balanced schools where there is enough neighborhood mix to retain the affluent and enough disadvantaged kids that they can move out of poverty.

    And yes, Alamo is priviledged. Those kids have a socioeconomic advantage that the SE will never overcome in their lifetime. You are right though that the school district can be pretty incompetent in their spending and their priorities. Hopefully we can guide them to a solution which is not driven purely by a desire to create a gated community and elevate your housing prices, which are already hopelessly out of reach of most of the rest of the city.

  41. Don - you are cracking me up. I don't know what to say.

  42. 11:45 That is one of the most blatantly bigoted statements I have read on the blog in a while.

    By "those kids" with the supposed socio-economic advantage, do you mean the one third immigrant ELL population that is free and reduced lunch? What an ignorant and insensitive position to take.

    Your logic escapes me. If SF is my community, my village, than how is it that the Alamo's kids are privileged? People come from all over the city to attend here.

    My child is not a member of the dominate ethnicity at the school. I love that aspect of it. But being a special education student is tough for a child that scores poorly in reading at a high API school.

    I'm sure the number crunching data driven bureaucrats at 555 think just like you do; Why would a school with a 913 API need more resources like a counselor for instance? After all, "those kids" surely don't have childhood issues. They don't have divorce or death or fights or bullying. NO, not with a 913.

    Take the counselors away from the successful schools, (16 to be precise) and hire more highly paid executive directors for the Superintendent Zones.

    By the way, I live in a rent controlled unit and would not buy in this city whether I could afford to or not. If I wanted a gated community I'd already be there.

    Thanks for the criticism.

  43. Don, if you accuse me of moving to the SE so I can pay lower rent and property taxes (as if it were a choice) one more time, I'm going to scream. The SE is the part of the city I can afford, period. Otherwise I would not be here, and would not be considering SFUSD at all.

    And YOU benefit from rent control while getting all j'accuse about people living where we can afford to live? I couldn't move to your part of the city and benefit from rent control, dude. Nor can I buy over there -- you DO live in a gated community, in a way. Cut the crap about where people live. The point is whether or not there is equity in access for the middle class in both sides of the city. Right now there is not.

    You're right about the middle school disaster, though, except for "throw the bums out," which is always the easy answer.

  44. Wow, Seattle. You know how to get the community to comment with passion.

    As far as the tours, I don't plan on doing more than a handful including our attendance boundary school. (I can't take off that much time from work to do them.)

    I'm starting to worry that Hugo's small school size needs (~ smaller # K classes) are going to constrain our chances of getting assigned.

    I was going to look at the small attendance boundary schools near ours, but now think perhaps we should just consider city-wide schools/programs as the alternatives and/or the larger attendance boundary schools.

  45. Go ahead and scream. It would be good to clear your mind.

    You chose to buy and if you can afford to buy you certainly could rent just about anywhere. You act like you have no choices - a victim.

    When I moved here my son was assigned to the local school - Cabrillo, which was not so great. I didn't move into this location for the schools.

    Now that the worst SE schools have $45m, can Alamo have at least one half-time counselor with some of the money they took away to give to your schools?

  46. Grattan is a trophy??? I like the school fine and my kid goes to school there. I suppose it's all relative, but if that is some of the best SFUSD has to all our kids are getting screwed on education. Take a tour of some private schools and/or some of the publics in the nearby suburbs and you'll realize how pathetic the SFUSD curriculum education really is now. Like it is some grand accomplishment that ONLY 20% of a schools enrollment is not at grade level. Seriously, a 20% failure rate qualifies as an excellent school???

  47. Hi Helga! First off, I've been meaning to thank you for your first post. I'd also been thinking about what's the right fit for my daughter, and looking for some informational resources. Your list of books was great, and will help me have more coherent thoughts on that aspect later.

    and yes, the comments are mostly not what I expected, and kind of a trip. As a newbie, I feel a little like I just walked into a circle of people, toting a bouquet of flowers and sheepishly beaming "Hi!", only to discover that the rest of the circle speaks a language I only half-understand -- and is aiming a paintball gun at everyone else.

    But at the same time, that's how it's going to be, and needs to be, I figure. The debate about SF schools has been raging a long time (decades, in my family's case) and it's a necessary discussion. I'm doing my best to catch up.

    I think I will suggest to Kate, though, that she have a couple of middle school families blog for the site this year. Normally, the new bloggers are the K crowd. But the middle school crew is understandably upset for a lot of different reasons, and they need dedicated, ongoing space to hash it out.

    And yes, 11:28, we will definitely tour some privates and some schools outside the city. I'll post on those as well.

  48. "Seriously, a 20% failure rate qualifies as an excellent school???"

    You may be confusing school quality with demographics. Urban schools face a much more challenging scenario than many of their suburban neighbors. Not all of our kids are likely to score proficient due to all kinds of family background reasons including poverty and related issues such a hunger, dysfunction (incl drug use), lack of English skills, parental illiteracy and more. Put those exact children from Grattan in a suburban school and the scores would likely be the same. Take the affluent suburban children and put them in Grattan and Grattan would be scoring above 900 API. It is very, very hard to overcome parental background.

    In that vein, the most interesting test score results are the ones that beat the demographics in either direction. George Moscone Elementary in SF, for example. What are they doing right?

    But you can't, you just can't, judge school quality on the basis of test scores alone. You must consider demographics and also qualitative aspects. Look at CST scores by sub-group. Look at the programming on site. This is the fuller picture.

  49. Seattle,

    I would suggest to you that you not only walked into the middle of a debate, but that you are not up to speed in your understand of the SAS history and the issues.

    The first response to your post was mine in which I asked you a simple question. In that you started the thread I think you owe the readers answers their question.

  50. "You chose to buy and if you can afford to buy you certainly could rent just about anywhere. You act like you have no choices - a victim."

    Don, you doofus, we bought in the early 1990s. We can neither rent nor buy "just about anywhere." Our mortgage is lower than most rents, and our property taxes would skyrocket beyond what our household income could support. If we move, it will be out of the city. Is that what you want -- the middle class on the SE side to just bail on the city altogether? Because I think many will.

    I don't feel like a victim. I feel like the southeast side of the city got a shitty deal out of this.

  51. The CTIP2 southeast parents got the southeast schools in their area. The district hopes those parents will stay in SFUSD and transform the schools, instead of choosing schools beyond the southeast quadrant of SF.

    What do you need to get that done? For one thing, MONEY. Put a bond on the ballot and get more school funding, especially get votes from the westside, who did get the better part of the deal in this new student assignment system.

  52. 6:33 Sell. Take your equity and by yourself a place in the country.

  53. Seattle, most of us list moderates would agree you don't "owe" Don answers to his "questions," especially since he has his answers already.

  54. Of course she owes don an answer. She started a thread on this blog for the purpose of feedback. If she isn't willing to defend her position why did she submit the post in the first place? I noticed in the newest thread from Emily that she said,

    "So I will not be surprised if we are bumped out of our neighborhood school by siblings, those in the CTIP 1 that choose to come there and other kids in the neighborhood."

    Why would Seattle be afraid to make a case for herself?

  55. I am not Seattle. The new elementary plan is more predictable than before. The citywide system had no local school preference.

    Don says that local school preference is not worth the paper it is written on because of all the other preferences that trump local school preference. Neighborhood kids within the attendance area will be denied admission into many high demand schools. The new SAS is not true neighborhood schools.

    Don's position could be a reasonable view of the situation. It might also be totally off base. No one knows and no one can even model how it might go. We will know soon.

  56. This comment has been removed by the author.

  57. Woah. Yeesh.

    Seattle here, first to say that there's no intention to hide, ignore, be afraid, or any of the other motives that have come up. Apologies if anyone thinks that is the case.

    If the accustation is busy and distracted, however, than I am guilty as charged. I'm new to this blogging thing, and in my first two posts, have found that I've had time to check comments maybe once a day. Two little kids, a full-job, a house to run -- nothing new, or nothing more than most of us are juggling, but it's hectic and doesn't leave a lot of extra time.

    The last time I checked comments (yesterday), I responded to the most recent two, and then had to run. Had no idea some folks would take offense.

    In regards to the question about how the new system is hopefully more predictable, it's like a couple of other commenters have said. At least last year, based on what I saw friends go through, requesting a low-demand school could still be problematic. Here's what I mean.

    Several of my friends only wanted a decent school close to home. That was their first priority. Two in the outer Richmond put down Lafayette as high requests in Round 1. One, in the middle Richmond, put down McCoppin. Two in the outer Sunset put down Francis Scott Key. Based on the Round I request data the district released last May, none of these schools were filled by first choice requests.

    But the Lafayette and McCoppin requesters all went 0/7, and got Cobb. The FSK requesters went 0/7, and got Jose Ortega. My friends were totally baffled. It all worked out in the end, but the process was very confusing and unpredictable.

    *Hopefully* that won't happen under the new system. We will see. We newbies to the K process this year are the guinea pigs.

    And yes, I do need to get up to speed on the assignment system, as I am, well, new to the system. Working on it! ;)

  58. I do not maintain that preferences will trump non CDC neighborhood applicants everywhere. I believe it will be an issue for neighbors of high demand schools and particularly those schools that have transportation and/or are more centrally located.

  59. Seatttle - I believe that the individual that is insisting that you give a response is someone that does not have a regular job and has more time than most to ramble on. Do you best not to take it to heart. I love your posts.

  60. There's been a lot of talk about CDC kids taking neighborhood spots. There really aren't that many CDCs. There are about 40 total but only about half of those are affiliated with an elementary school where kids would get preference. Some are stand alone centers. Also, only a handful are at schools I've heard mentioned on this blog. Most are at lower performing schools. So I wouldn't worry to much about this.

      MUIR, JOHN Pre-K 
      TAYLOR, E.R. CDC 

  61. If the stand alone child development center is within the elementary school's assignment area although not on site with that school, does the preference for local CDC still apply?

  62. The SAS does not say CDCs. It says PreKs which includes CDC and State and Title One preKs. There are about 60 I believe. They only have to be in the same zone to get priority for the zone school for zone residents. They do not need to be attached to the school. It is not a small factor. It is a huge factor maybe bigger than siblings CTIP1.

  63. There are about 5 or 6 thousand children in Pre school with probably about a half in preK. There are about 5 thousand children in K. These are rough figures. How many live in the zone I don't know.

  64. I'm all confused about how pre-k feeds into K.

  65. this is the policy:

    1. Siblings - younger siblings of students who are enrolled in and will be attending the school during
    the year for which the younger sibling requests attendance.
    2. SFUSD PreK - students who live in the attendance area of the school and are also attending an
    SFUSD PreK program in the same attendance area.
    3. CTIP1-students who reside in CTIP1 census tracts.
    4. Attendance Area - students who live in the attendance area of the school.
    5. 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.
    6. All other students.

    It does not say CDC. Any preK program in the same attendance area. Go onto the SFUSD website and look at all the various city state and federal PreKs.

  66. Seattle,

    You have stepped into the twilight zone. This is the place were anonymous bloggers hurl insults, insinuations and all sorts of nasties without any responsibility attached to it.

  67. Don,

    Legitimate request for help/clarification here: could you post a link to the list of SFUSD pre-Ks that are *not* CDCs? From what I can find on the SFUSD website, the only pre-K programs that are officially part of SFUSD (and thus a factor in the new SAS) are the CDCs.


  69. Sorry first link was cut short.

    This one works:

  70. Cut short again

    Just go to SFUSD to departments to child development to directory and it lists all the cdc state and T1 pre k schools

    or finish the word directory at the end of the link

  71. Be brave Seattle and keep posting! It is true that there is a lot of hate and misinformation on this blog (this is my third year of reading it, and I noticed that last year a couple of bloggers quit midstream, presumably because they got fed up), but there is also a lot of support, encouragement and good information as well. You'll quickly learn how to skip the bad and focus on the good. Best of luck on your search.