Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Fall 2011: It's guinea pig time!

As I type this, the San Francisco Board of Education is probably voting to approve the new kindergarten assignment system. With this vote, all of us thinking about a public kindergarten for 2011 are officially christened guinea pigs, the first batch of families to live through the new way the lottery wheel will spin.

The fun has barely begun, but already on the playground, over coffee, and on this blog, I've heard us GP's summed up in all kinds of ways. Too negative, or too naive. I'd say that some of us are indeed burnt out before the party has even started, while others are incredibly hopeful. And there's another good chunk of us who aren't quite sure what to think yet. After Kate posted a link to the SF Chron's story on the upcoming board vote, the responses have quickly gone all over the map.

In reading those comments tonight, I thought back to the GGMG kindergarten night that I posted about last week. When the PPS-SF representative at the meeting was making her pitch for public schools, she asked all those considering public to raise their hands. Most of the 200 or so parents in attendance reached for the sky. Then, she asked, how many of you expect to be in a public school next year? About half the hands hesitantly went down.

The PPS-SF rep used that moment to chide those of us who dropped their hands, saying we were signing up to pay gobs of money in private school tuition while turning our backs on schools we'd already paid for with tax dollars. I, to be honest, found that admonition to be clueless at best, and edging into rude. Most of us who lowered our hands (and yes, I was one of them) didn't do so because we think our kids only deserve a local version of Eton, dahling, and we are yearning to find thousands of dollars to hand over each year. People are simply apprehensive, especially CTIP2 families living in the assignment boundaries of lower-performing schools. Most of us have seen friends struggle with the public assignment system in the past. Now, it's our turn, and on top of it all, we are guinea pigs. How will it all turn out?

For my crew of four, everything is on the table -- public, parochial, private, and yes, even the possibility of moving. Why? Because the public part of the process will mean a lot of running on a wheel -- tours, choosing lottery picks, deciphering the new waitpool/Round II rules when they come out in November. I'm very much looking forward to touring different public schools, but will go through the process wearing my reality-colored glasses. This GP just isn't going to risk running on a wheel without getting anywhere.

65 comments:

  1. Seattle, I do not believe you ever identified what your attendance area school was, only that you lived in the northwestern part of the city (which is an area of high performing schools, not low performing schools). Could you give that detail? You will still be anonymous.

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  2. Thank you for your post. I feel the same way. I would really like to put my son in public school, but I am already frustrated with the lack of information available about the process. Has anyone tried to call SFUSD to get answers to questions about the new process? I have tried, and my husband has tried, but they have not been able to answer very basic questions. I hope this will work out, but I already have my doubts.

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  3. What were the eventual outcomes for your friends who've struggled with the assignment process, Seattle?

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  4. 9:46 -- The BoE is voting tomorrow night on the new system, and the district says they will have information and forms available for the new process in November--most likely kicked off by the Enrollment Fair. Deadline for turning in applications is now pushed back to mid-February, so you'll have three months, not counting the Winter Break of course.

    I know it is very hard to wait, but I think there will be information soon, and in time to think it through, especially with the later deadline this year (for all but Lowell and SOTA, for those of us with incoming high schoolers).

    I remember the anxiety of seeking a kindergarten (with actually much less info about what was then a relatively new diversity index lottery than is available now to all you guinea pigs this year....). It gets easier as the years go by. Not sure if that is because it gets easier or if we parents get more relaxed. That is my mileage anyway.

    Best of luck to all of you GPs, and indeed to all of us with kids in transitional years.

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  5. This will be an interesting (is that the right word?) year. Really, though, I don't see much changing in terms of enrollment numbers in public schools.

    Private schools have a limited enrollment number, and they are pretty much full, so it's not like suddenly there will be room for thousands of additional families to "flock" to private schools. Parochial schools are certainly an option, as many of them are under subscribed, although I'd bet that many of those are not going to be attractive options for the parents that put their hands down during the meeting. Moving? Is that really an option? Sure, some people will move, but most of us have lived here for years, work here, have friends and family here, a community... it's easy to threaten to leave (I do it all the time!) but it's another thing to actually move.

    So that leaves most of the folks with a spot at a public school, albeit not the school of their choosing. I'll bet that for lack of better options, come September they will begrudgingly give these schools a trial run, with the caveat that if things don't work out they can move or do parochial. And within the first six months or so they will find others in the school they like, teachers they like, and they will figure out it's not as dismal as it appears right at this moment.

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  6. 12:36 AM:

    You're dreaming.

    1. People move out of San Francisco all the time. Many people who live here only recently moved here. So they know what other cities have to offer (warm summer weather, good public schools, responsible government) and certainly are not glued here. Burlingame really isn't that far.

    2. Private schools are increasing their capacity. Several new private schools have come on line in the last several years. And yes, some parochial schools have capacity. Families are increasingly considering parochial school.

    3. Community? As there are few professional jobs in the city, many work and have friends in Marin, the East Bay and the Peninsula. Moving is a no brainer.

    In the last five years, I've had friends move from SF to Massachusetts, Burlingame, Marin, and Philadelphia. They're not pining away for the bad schools, crummy summer weather and extreme politics of San Francisco.

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  7. Someone said:

    "Really, though, I don't see much changing in terms of enrollment numbers in public schools."

    Current numbers have SFUSD down by approximately 500 students this year despite upticks the previous 2 years. Many people will opt out if they lack confidence in getting an assignment that they can live with. And being assigned guinea pig status does little to quell that lack of confidence.

    Someone else said:

    "Private schools have a limited enrollment number, and they are pretty much full, so it's not like suddenly there will be room for thousands of additional families to "flock" to private schools."

    While it is true that private school enrollment has dropped in recent years schools remain full because they draw down capacity. That is the way businesses work. If demand grows private schools will ramp up capacity.

    People are leaving the city because (1) their earnings have dropped but cost of living has not (high rent) and (2) the schools are a crap shoot. Hence private school and public school enrollment is down and flight is up. The end result - less diversity and more adversity.

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  8. From today's Chronicle:

    Those who want more diversity also will be disappointed by the new system, which probably will do little in the short term to address de-facto segregation in district K-12 schools. Desegregating schools was a goal of the school district's current system - one that was never met.

    So while SFUSD could play with boundaries, CTIP zones, weighting and so on to heavily impact school demographics, it appears they won't do so this year. This leads me to believe that Kindergarten enrollment will be mostly the same process as last year.

    I think that there is a tendency to assume that every prospective SFUSD family matches one's own demographic, and that leads to suspicious claims about the impact of mostly white, mostly wealthy families opting out of SFUSD. Certainly some are. There are other reasons for SFUSD's (slightly) lower enrollment this year, though - and ancedata aren't data.

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  9. Guinea Pigs? More like LEMMINGS:)

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  10. 12:36 here.

    1) Yes, people do leave in droves. But the ones who will leave are going to be the ones that were planning on leaving in the first place. If you are stubborn and dedicated enough to make it work here (it's not like the lottery was fantastic) you'll make it work with the new system too.

    2) So there is one new private school (the Marin Prep spinoff) and Marin Prep from last year. That's 40 new kindergarten spots. I hope families consider parochial, because they are some great ones out there that have been overlooked for years. The ones that everyone wants though... NDV, St. Brendan's, SVDP... full, full, full. Star of the Sea looks like an increasingly popular option, as does St. Brigid and a few others in the Sunset.

    3) I still don't think moving is a no brainer. Yes, crappy school situation, lots of fog... but SF is a hard place to leave. Again, see point #1.

    I had plenty of friends move too. And plenty that stayed. Full disclosure -- we are done with the process and my child is in a private school. But aside from the usual exodus to the suburbs, many of my friends decided to participate in the public/private/parochial school application process. Many of those that went public had a nightmare of a time dealing with the lottery and 0/14 and were certain they would have to leave, but ended up finding something that works for them. All but one, actually, who moved to Mountain View in mid September.

    And not that those numbers are good -- obviously SF looses many many families in the exodus to the suburbs, but I really don't think that many more will leave the public school system than last year.

    Don -- 500 kids down in the current kindergarten class? (If so, that has nothing to do with the redesigned process) Or an anticipated 500 kids down during this upcoming round?

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  11. Grattan, Sherman, Mira Loma, and others were begging for kindergarten students 6-7 years ago.

    But some parents made committments to these unpopular schools and turned them around.

    Now, the sheep have followed, and these schools are wildly popular.

    If you and your friends get together and rally around a particular school, you can turn it around, too, and make it the next success story.

    Or you can be babbling sheep...or a guinea piglet.

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  12. "But the ones who will leave are going to be the ones that were planning on leaving in the first place."

    There are piles of people in the city who went to public school and start out with the idea that they will send their kids to SF public schools. But once they investigate, they start to think about other options. Those 0/X rejections are reminders of what they'll be subjecting themselves to in future.

    "So there is one new private school (the Marin Prep spinoff) and Marin Prep from last year. That's 40 new kindergarten spots."

    There's also Stratford School, that has plenty of room to expand capacity with demand. Other established private schools have expanded capacity.

    "Many of those that went public had a nightmare of a time dealing with the lottery and 0/14 and were certain they would have to leave, but ended up finding something that works for them."

    Have a look at Rachel Norton's new post on the struggles of parents at Moscone and Monroe. The lottery is only the beginning of the battle.

    The Kindergarten year is only the beginning of the long trickle of families out of the city. It's true that many families will make the best of their less than thrilling K assignments. But over the years, as new opportinities arise, families leave. It's that chance to buy the cheaper and bigger house in Burlingame, the walk to work possibility in Alameda and the better, more secure job in Massachusetts, coupled with the school situation and overpriced housing, that drives the silent exodus.

    The city has long been suffering from poor governance not only with respect to schools, but on all levels. It's only now with the poor economy that long simmering problems are laid bare.

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  13. E Rat,

    Are you now taking your cues from the Chronicle? What makes you think the new SAS will be -

    "giving children a better shot at getting a seat at the school down the street"?

    Because Jill Tucker says so?

    SFUSD built in the preferences to counter the possibility of giving neighborhood residents much priority. While its bias is clear we have to wait too see how the assignment process plays out. But by reading the article I have to assume that Jill Tucker thinks she is clairvoyant.

    Why base your otherwise informed views on information from the Chronicle and Jill Tucker's personal take? Did she include any evidence whatsoever to support her claim that the new elementary SAS will increase segregation? She is fueling the fires of east/west strife and doing so without a shred of proof. This stuff in the Chronicle might just as well be written and released by SFUSD's media outlet.

    SFUSD didn't fail to become diversified by race and socioeconomics in every school due to a failure of policy. Over 28 years since consent decree they tried just about everything. The reason they failed is due to an unwillingness of most families to march off in the name of diversification band leave familiar neighborhoods in favor of others. This is the same reason why the great majority of students do not opt out under Program Improvement school choice or any other option afforded them.

    The Grand Scheme was a scam and just about everyone from the courts to the federal government to the states to the great majority of districts have figured it out. It is only San Francisco, clinging to the myth of its superiority, that fails to keep up with the times.

    It isn't about diversity. It is about achievement. If only SFUSD spent a fraction of the time working on that instead of devoting our resources to their grand political schemes.

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  14. People move.

    Some people move out of the city. Some people move in. Some kids change from public to private schools. Some change from private to public.

    Everything everyone say about SFUSD assignment system is true. However, don't expect the work is any easier for private schools. Actually, the work is even harder when you apply for private.

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  15. SFUSD is the problem not the answer. It is time too replace the Board and get a new administration, one that is focused on children and not on careers and politics.

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  16. I don't really understand what it means to "turn around" a school, when test scores supposedly don't mean much (API = Affluent Parent Index and all that). So, when people talk about a school turning around, isn't that just code for changing the demographics? How different is the quality of instruction from school to school? It's all the same curriculum, right?

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  17. I too find the PPS-SF line that parents are stupid or wrong to pay for private school when they're already paying for public with their tax dollars condescending and obnoxious.

    If that's the case, why are private schools full of educated professional parents? Did these parents get to a position where they can afford to pay full or partial tuition by being stupid and making bad decisions?

    I don't disagree that there are an increasing number of decent to quite good public schools in SF.

    However, there are also many rational reasons to choose private, if you can afford it or get financial aid.

    1. Students are screened for learning and behavior problems so the teachers can work with all the students, not just independent learners and students who need lots of help.

    2. Because of student screening, even Catholic school classes with 30 kids are manageable. Most private schools have 15-25 kids per class.

    3. Adequate and reliable funding for school, for extras, for teacher development reduces anxiety for everyone. We all know how cheerful it is in the public schools right after the annual spring layoff announcements.

    4. Private parents are pretty uniformly engaged, having bothered to apply, attend evaluations, and either pay tuition or complete exhausting financial aid applications.

    5. The school doesn't have to deal with bloated district bureaucracy.

    6. Faculty can collaborate to choose texts and other curricular materials that they feel work best to teach state content standards, rather than being told by the state or district what materials they must use.

    7. Private schools can offer things families might want that public schools either the lack the resources to offer or are prohibited from offering, such as religious instruction or languages other than Spanish, Chinese and Korean.

    8. It's easier for private schools to remove deadwood teachers. Private schools have their less-than-stellar teachers too, but having been both places, I can say confidently that the ratio of strong teachers is higher in private schools.

    9. Private schools can set their own start times and dismissal times, and I've yet to find one that did not offer on-site childcare.

    10. Private schools have waiting lists too, but there's some certainty. By March or so, you know whether you got in or not, and you can make a rational decision. If you're lucky in Round 1 of the public lottery you get that certainty too, but lots of people are not lucky. For various personal and professional reasons, some people need that certainty.

    These are generalizations, of course. There are private schools I would not touch with a 10-foot pole and there are public schools to which I would gladly send my child. But PPS-SF is also guilty of generalization and condescension when they say everyone should send their kids to public school. Sure I want good public schools and vote for taxes to pay for them every time, but that doesn't mean they meet my needs or desires or that I "owe" it to the public schools to send my kid there. I pay taxes for all kinds of things I don't want or use.

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  18. I thought the old system was nuts, and though I do like the idea of neighborhood schools, I am not sure the new system is much of an improvement. Maybe slightly, but it's still screwy and totally unpredictable.

    But the reality is that SFUSD isn't going to keep my family (or others like it) either way. Chalk me up to one of those who is going private, parochial (notwithstanding my atheism), or leaving. I have no interest in trying to turnaround a crappy school, and zero confidence in SFUSD. I can't even fathom being at its mercy for 6+ years. Yes, moving outside the city would totally suck since I work here and have a lot of friends who are still here, but I would absolutely do it. And I am not alone.

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  19. Don,

    You're really on your game this morning:

    "This stuff in the Chronicle might just as well be written and released by SFUSD's media outlet."

    Funny! Only the blog comments of the Chronicle articles ever touch upon the true level of uncontained rage amongst San Francisco parents.

    "The Grand Scheme was a scam and just about everyone from the courts to the federal government to the states to the great majority of districts have figured it out. It is only San Francisco, clinging to the myth of its superiority, that fails to keep up with the times."

    Yeah. Clinging to the myth like a sinking ship.

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  20. 10:03 -- I wholeheartedly agree with everything you say. Nice post.

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  21. From the blog comments on Jill Tucker's article:

    "Now if they could only get this together for the Child Development Centers. I could not get into Pre-schools close to my house (1 on Belcher betwn 14th & Duboce & on 1 20th & Church because they were required to take so many subsidised kids that there were only a few spots for the tuition kids....BTW - I'm a renter with 10k of debt from 2 kids in pre-school for the last 5 years. Had to drive all over hell to get them to their schools."

    Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article/comments/view?f=/c/a/2010/09/28/MNNI1FL2V7.DTL&plckOnPage=2&plckItemsPerPage=10&plckSort=TimeStampDescending#ixzz10wPsrbtK

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  22. To 9:55 AM, when parents here talk about "turning around a school," it's all about changing the student body demographics. This is why the "turnarounds" at Miraloma, Grattan, Alvarado and Sherman were so successful: the schools are in nice neighborhoods. Once the school in a nice neighborhood shows some progress, the rest of the neighborhood wants to go. It's also why a "turnaround" at John Muir is very unlikely. Malcolm X's increased scores this year was great, but no one on this blog will put it on their list (and that is partially about geography, but mostly about poverty and race).

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  23. 9:55, I think you are right. To a large degree I think the instruction is the same across the board. What is different is the demographics of each school. I visited a wide range of schools and that is what I noticed.

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  24. Now we have Rachel Norton commending the administration for the fine job it did with the SAS when in fact it had to delay its long-in-coming MS policy due to monumental oversights, despite the giant cost overruns and previous delays. I guess having to do the same job twice is considered par for the course at SFUSD. Anywhere else the perpetrators would be sent packing. Here they are commended and given raises.


    On the other hand I have to commend Rachel for her vote and this comment from her latest blog post:

    "...five members of the Board voted for a $250,000 professional development contract ($125,000 of which will be paid out of precious unrestricted funds). I’ve written about NUA before and I am not going to belabor the point, but I do think it shows questionable priorities to continue to fund a pricey program with mixed reviews that was originally parceled out to schools in a very haphazard and non-strategic way, when at the same time you have successful schools coming to Board meetings begging to just keep the status quo."

    This largess is obscene when many of the same schools funded for NUA just received windfall SIG funds that defy imagination.


    Questionable priorities indeed!

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  25. 10:40

    No question that the demographics is a big factor. The question is the direction of change. If there is a positive flow of middle school parents (who otherwise would have moved or gone to private), that will improve the schools, and then attract more middle class parents to stay.

    However, do you think the district's demographics overall is significantly different from 10 years ago? If you contribute all the positive changes to demographics, then I would say if parents are willing to stay when the district has only 6 or 7 good schools, they will continue to stay.

    When you look at individual schools, some schools with similar demographics as John Muir, have seen some significant changes. For example, Tenderloin is next door and have now has an API of 760. Of course I wouldn't call is a good school yet, but it shows that demographics is not everything.

    It does need at least 70% of dedicated middle class parents. This is why it is so important to improve all schools - when there are more acceptable schools, the disadvantaged families can be spread out, and then poor performing schools can implement special programs to attract middle class families. (exactly what happened with many many immersion programs)

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  26. Um, Don. Rachel Norton commends the district on the elementary school boundaries, which haven't been condemned. There were some minor adjustments made due to feedback from the public. I think the major issue that they didn't address is the Chavez and Muir boundaries that have very few CTIP2 tracts in them. The people in these small areas are the losers of the elementary school areas, for sure. But it's surprising that there are so few problems with this.

    Now the middle school feeder plan was botched, but Rachel doesn't commend them for that. She's a little mild in her reproach, but not positive about the work done there.

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  27. Seattle here...replying to some of the questions, one at a time below.

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  28. Re 9/28 @ 9:28, on what's our assignment boundary school.

    Because we'll be touring some private and parochial schools, I'm taking the advice of others who've written for the SF K Files before and holding off on saying what our school is for now.

    But I can say a couple of things:

    * I define "northwest" as follows: Webster Street on the vertical access and Noriega on the horizontal access. I know that's broader than some would define it, but that's how I think about it.

    * Yes, most of the schools in that quadrant are higher-performing. But many of them are often over-subscribed. I can say that our assignment boundary school is usually over-subscribed, but not wildly so.

    * In my immediate neighborhood, families who went 0/7 in the past were either assigned Cobb or Muir. But the balance has shifted from year to year. Two years ago, most of the families I knew who went 0/7 got Muir. This past year, most got Cobb.

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  29. Re 9/28 @ 10:30: What were the outcomes for our friends?

    This is tough to answer simply. It's been all over the map.

    I can't answer this question without including the ten or families we know who chose to move before even trying. Before anyone yells "Escapist yuppies!" at them, let me say that the majority were not exactly driving a Lexus, if you know what I mean. Many were renters caught in the double-whammy of wanting to buy a place and grappling with an unpredictable school system. I miss them, and am sorry they are gone.

    Of the three dozen or so families I've seen go through the public process over the last few years (none of whom had a sibling's coattails to ride):

    * About 30 to 40 percent got one of their seven choices in Round I. All but one got their first choice. Balloons, confetti, and champagne all around -- who wouldn't want to be them?

    * Of the remainder who went 0/7, about half opted for private or parochial after Round I or moved.

    * The remaining 0/7s went in all different directions. A couple got something in Round II. A few stuck out the waitpool process with eventual success, although some had to wait for weeks after the start of school. A few eventually bailed on the waitpool process and did a last-minute scramble for private or parochial. One is home-schooling and hoping to transfer in later this year or next year.

    So it's a real mixed bag. I'm in no way saying the above range is true for everyone. But it's what we've seen.

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  30. Re. 9/29 @ 9:27: Don't expect the private school process to be any easier.

    Yes, agreed and understood. I neglected to include that in my initial post. Basically, I'm going to be running on a couple of wheels at the same time!

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  31. "Um, Don. Rachel Norton commends the district on the elementary school boundaries, which haven't been condemned."

    The entire MS process has been delayed because by SFUSD's own admission, vis-a-vis the postponement, the MS assignment policy fails to meet the needs of so many children, whether that is due to boundaries that don't work for so many students in the above groups as well as for others, or due to the fact that middle schools need to be equalized in terms of offerings and services.

    The point being that this policy hardly deserves commendation of any kind. It is a complete screw up. SFUSD will not be able to implement the broad spectrum of services that are required to start the process as envisioned next year. Nor can they accomplish equity via boundaries. Therefore, they will scrap the plan, or rather I should say, they will keep the plan for appearances sake, but put in preferences to accommodate each group. Either way, it will be nothing like what was initially voted for.

    Why does no one ask what it will cost? Rachel voted against the PD for fiscally sound reasons. Why can't we fund out what this delay is going to cost the district and how it is to be paid for?

    In the meantime, Dina Zacharin is flying out to conventions in Chicago on the subject of community engagement. Has anyone even heard of the Community Engagement and Partnership Plan? How much did that cost? The Board passed the resolution over a year ago and the administration came back with a proposal they didn't like even though they did not tell the administration what they wanted? That job had to be done twice, too.

    Now the administration is redrafting the BSC to bring it in line with the Single Plan. The job has to be done twice.

    Three strikes and you're out.

    Where are our watchdogs on the Board? The only good thing I can say about them is that at least they don't get paid to foul up. It is their great honor to do so.

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  32. Ms. Norton voted along with the rest of the Board to unanimously pass the resolution of student assignment. If she was not happy with it why did she vote for it? Enlighten me.

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  33. It seems that she wasn't happy with how the middle school stuff was supposed to happen (the initial feeder plan). The plan was modified to delay implementation for a year, and that's what was voted on. Not that the delay is great, but it's better than the proposal.

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  34. You say the plan was modified. Did you misspeak? As far as I have heard there is no fix yet. How do you figure they are going to fix it? And if they already did why do they need to delay it since the tour season hasn't yet got under way.

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  35. Hey 10:03,

    Your comment

    PPS-SF is also guilty of generalization and condescension when they say everyone should send their kids to public school

    is well taken. Promoting public schools is the purpose of PPS. But they should do so as smart parent and student advocates. That means they should dispense information that is respectful of the community and assists parents in understanding the system - not necessarily promoting it just for the sake of promotion.

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  36. "when parents here talk about "turning around a school," it's all about changing the student body demographics. This is why the "turnarounds" at Miraloma, Grattan, Alvarado and Sherman were so successful: the schools are in nice neighborhoods."

    NOT TRUE

    Sherman had absolutely NO neighborhood kids 10 years ago. Everybody was from Chinatown or the Tenderloin.

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  37. ...the Pacific Heights kids scrambled off to PrivateSchool with all the other WhiteFolks.

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  38. To 2:13 PM, 10:40 AM again. I didn't say that there were neighborhood kids there. I said the school was in a nice neighborhood. So once the first couple of families tried the school, found it to be decent and super convenient, the demographics of the school changed and the school has "turned around." Same thing could be said about Miraloma and Alvarado.

    This is the main problem that will keep John Muir from being successful. The school is next to some (nice looking) housing projects. Now, I don't doubt that John Muir could improve it's test scores a la Malcolm X, but it won't be considered desirable by the K Files demographic for a generation.

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  39. The middle school plan was modified. Last year had the diversity index. The plan was to go to feeder patterns for 2011 intake. It was modified to use (essentially) the high school city wide model for one year. A new middle school feeder plan will be proposed later this school year.

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  40. Hey, 2:14, watch out. Your bitterness is showing.

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  41. Imagine how many millions SFUSD has spent over the years on salaries, consultants, and travel to concoct all the various schemes designed to make the district more diversified. And what have they accomplished?

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  42. 2:33, all it would take to attract middle-class parents to Muir would be an immersion program. This worked well for Flynn and Starr King, both across from housing projects. Maybe the baccalaureate will be enough, we'll have to wait and see.

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  43. Consider also Junipero Serra, which is across the street from the projects yet has an incoming group of middle class parents, with more I am sure to follow. And it's not immersion.

    I don't think neighborhood is everything. Nor test scores, nor race. "Turnaround" means a PTA that can raise enough $$ to cover the gaping holes left by SFUSD.

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  44. Seattle, your description of the outcomes for your friends mirrors what I've seen here on the east side in the last two years, except that I know only one family who didn't go 0/7 in Round I. Their child tested as fully Spanish bilingual and they got Alvarado in Round I.

    For the rest, I know one family who, in October, ended up in Korean Immersion at Lilienthal. One family who got Rooftop in Round II. Many families who opted for Monroe, Moscone, Flynn SI and Junipero Serra in Round II and the waitpools.

    The happiest families opted for private school or found their way to St. John's school in Glen Park. I'm always amazed at how happy those St. John's school families are whenever I run into them. It's like a faint glimmer of what the best of San Francisco must have looked like fifty years ago.

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  45. Speaking of Junipero Serra, many Bernal families who might consider it could just as easily walk to St. John's school.

    Until a viable middle school path is established for JS, I'd opt for St. John's school instead. Denman is not a viable middle school for Bernal parents.

    Due to prevailing traffic patterns (The 280, the high speed Alemany corridor, always jammed Mission Street) Denman is not a walkable option for Bernal Middle schoolers. It may look good on a map, but in reality, it's completely unworkable.

    Again, until the JS middle school situation is straightened out, St. John's is a much better alternative. Check it out.

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  46. Well, except that St. John's charges tuition and Junipero Serra is free. That's hardly a small thing to overlook. And what about Glen Park, across the street from St. John's? Also free and not hard to get into.

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  47. Look, 6:55 PM, in a perfect world, school should be "free".

    I would love it if JS improved. In addition to drastically improving the education outcomes for families who can't afford Glen Park, it would also improve my home value.

    Bernal rallied around JS in the last few months. What then does the District come up with? They track JS into Denman Middle school. Clearly, they're not interested in making JS a more attractive school for Bernal homeowners.

    And the fact is, many Bernal parents can afford to pay for the better quality of education and additional programming they would receive at St. John's versus Glen Park School or Junipero Serra.

    Junipero Serra doesn't even have an accessible aftercare program at the moment. St. John's does. So JS isn't "free" even in pure financial terms as it forces families to struggle to put together and pay for an aftercare program.

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  48. Did I miss something? I thought the proposed middle school feeder patterns were on hold, might change, and may or may not even happen? Besides, if there are feeder patterns, some middle schools could potentially benefit from an influx from a different demographic with increased parent involvement.

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  49. Dear Minister @ 4:10 for the Propagation of East Side Myths,

    Your comment as follows:

    "Turnaround" means a PTA that can raise enough $$ to cover the gaping holes left by SFUSD."

    is a pack of LIES! LIES! LIES!

    About one-third of SFUSD's operating budget is categorical funding and the great majority of that does not go to the higher performing schools. In fact this year more of what little categorical funding higher performing schools formerly got was transferred to low performing schools.

    Another 10% of the budget is federal and that is almost entirely devoted to T1,2 and 3.

    The amounts raised by your average west side PTA pales in comparison to all the compensatory education funding that east side schools get. And that does not include all the funding that comes in via grants and gifts for low performing schools.

    The fact that most of these schools piss it away on worthless consultants and ineffective programs is not the fault of west side schools.

    Then along came the $45 million SIG windfall. Most of that will be wasted,too.

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  50. It's weird how people post about things they don't know about.
    Anyway, J Serra has a free afterschool program from the end of school day (at 2:30) until 5:30. Everyone I know that wanted to get into it has gotten in. The principal, who is awesome by the way, was aware that many of us in K class wanted Spanish immersion and didn't get it, so she has started to integrate Spanish into the afterschool prog on Tuesdays and Thursdays. There is also a nice extra option that some parents put together before they knew about the other Spanish in afterschool prog: a paid one-hour class of 10 kids at a time with a Lango Spanish teacher. A bunch of people are doing that too since it's not expensive and reinforces the other Spanish they're learning.

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  51. 7:39 PM:

    Hey, that's great! I didn't know JS got aftercare. Is it really available for anyone who wants it?

    So what about the middle school assignment. I wasn't thrilled about Denman and I'm glad that for now, the MS feeder program has been cancelled. What do JS parents think? Are they planning to ask for a middle school that in closer to Bernal? Lick?

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  52. The amounts raised by your average west side PTA pales in comparison to all the compensatory education funding that east side schools get. And that does not include all the funding that comes in via grants and gifts for low performing schools.

    You are wrong.

    First: Title I funding and similar state funding is extremely proscribed. SFUSD's STAR program, for instance, provides extra money only for very specific positions - some of which are clearly more critical at a high-needs school (a half-time counselor, for instance).

    Next: SIG money will only be going to SIG schools. SFUSD has many other high-poverty schools. They get nothing from SIG.

    And also: Some PTAs in this district raise in excess of 400K annually. This is about 40% of the budget at a high-needs elementary. Are you suggesting that those schools receive 40% more funding?

    The critical point that you miss, however, is that high-needs schools are just that - high needs - because their students and communities need more. Schools in high-needs neighborhoods function as clearinghouses for mental and physical health services. Students at these schools are far more likely to qualify for migrant education programs, to have experienced trauma, to be second language learners...and all of these factors have a major and expensive impact on learning.

    This is the education version of the welfare queen myth. It's equally false and equally dangerous - not to mention troubling in its assumptions.

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  53. J Serra has free afterschool for anyone? How do I sign up? Which other schools have FREE aftercare? YMCA charges $400+/month (Flynn and New Traditions). THis is a factor for working parents.

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  54. Harvey Milk and Glen Park have free aftercare programs (and Milk has free before school care too - which is nice given it's 9:30 start time).

    We are at Glen Park - and I looked at St. John's and well, a Catholic education isn't for every family. That's about the most "bashing" that I will do in a public forum. The people are nice though.

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  55. OK E Rat,

    Please explain why Malcolm X with 118 students got about $1.3M for 09-10 and Sherman with more than 3 times got less than double? Or why Muir with 243 students received $2.16M while Alamo with more then double the students at 549 received about only 10% more? Why did Roosevelt with 723 students get just over $4m when Everett at 427 was only 10% less well funded? And the lists goes on and on and on.

    There is a huge inequity in the amount of funding available to children. The issue of spending more where more is needed is another matter. But don't distort the facts. They are very clear for anyone to see in the SFUSD budget. And last year the disparities grew even larger as SFUSD transfused the sick patients with the blood of the healthier ones when they robbed west side schools of categorical funding and shifted it to the needier. My younger child with learning disabilities and an IEP deserves no less than anyone else.

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  56. I have to observe that if you read those budget documents fully, you can easily track each funding source, since the Weighted Student Formula, various funding streams and so on are broken down. So citing budget figures - while ignoring the broader point that high-needs education needs more money - is not as impressive a point as you might think.

    However, I have no intention of explaining how budgeting works or engaging in a pointless battle on the merits of the school welfare queen myth. Southeast side high-needs schools are not pulling off a Robin Hood on the west side, and to consistently claim otherwise is "reverse racism" writ large.

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  57. "However, I have no intention of explaining how budgeting works or engaging in a pointless battle on the merits of the school welfare queen myth."

    Yes, E Rat, I understand completely. Your ideological pedigree needs no explanation and any criticism is nothing more than reverse racism.

    Don't trouble yourself with hard numbers in budgets.

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  58. E RAT,

    You deserved that response with your elitist comment and flagrant misuse of the race card. Shame on you.

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  59. I would demand to have my child removed from your class.

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  60. Hey 11:20pm:

    "We are at Glen Park - and I looked at St. John's and well, a Catholic education isn't for every family. That's about the most "bashing" that I will do in a public forum. The people are nice though."

    Glad to see that there won't be "bashing" of people who are comfortable with a liberal Catholic education.

    Again, as a Bernal parent, I'm not trying to bash, but point out the shortfalls of why many SE parents aren't ready to make the leap to Southeast (SE) public schools.

    I'm glad to hear that aftercare is somewhat available to middle class parents.

    What about the middle school issue? Most SE middle schools are in need of dramatic improvement. I believe it is for this reason that SE parents have taken the private or parochial root. They want a community that they can connect with through middle school.

    It's not just me who recognizes this problem. When I toured E R Taylor last year, the principal mentioned that they try to encourage their kids to consider middle schools like not in the SE Aptos.

    I'd like to see the Board seriously address the lack of good middle schools in the SE.

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  61. You deserved that response with your elitist comment and flagrant misuse of the race card. Shame on you.

    Huge overreaction to a legitimate debate point by E.Rat. The question of whether and how much to weight funds according to disadvantage is a big one, and most agree that disadvantaged kids need more. It's a mainstream position (even if you disagree with it).

    E.Rat happens to be wonderful and thoughtful teacher, and devoted to the kids in her classroom who are pretty much universally poor.

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  62. The problem with E Rat's position is that she maintains that SE schools need more but don't get more. I maintain that they need more and they do get more. When I presented her with the budgets facts she didn't dispute their veracity, but instead attacked me personally and in effect called me a racist for even questioning the levels of compensatory education at the schools. I suspect that there would be no amount of extra money that would be sufficient in her opinion.

    She cites some anonymous schools that bring in a lot of PTA funds. I know at Alamo, a very high performing school, we don't come close to the money she is citing. My own child is suffering from a dearth of basic services because they were cut and sent across town. That Robin Hood scenario is not the fiction she says it is.

    But if she is right about the lack of adequate funding at underserved schools, where did the $150M plus in comp ed monies go? That's a lot of waste and abuse.

    As for the anonymous over reaction comment - calling someone a racist is overreacting. If you do it you better be ready for what you get in return.

    She may be a good teacher - I don't know.

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  63. Oh, Don,

    It sounded like you were arguing that the poor performing schools DOESN'T need more and gets more.

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  64. As a parent who sends my child to a southeast school that wouldn't have been considered by anyone on this blog just a few years ago, I urge Don and anyone else who thinks southeast sector schools are rolling in money to come and take a look. You cannot possibly imagine the services a school needs when 20% of its students are homeless and/or in transition. You could pour 4x as much money into a school and it still wouldn't be nearly enough to provide the mental and behavioral services many of these students need. It is hard to fathom what these students deal with unless you have lived it. E. Rat is right on the money - thank you!

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  65. Anonymous @ 11:01,

    I will take a look if you would be willing to meet me and show me around your school. I will also ask that you allow me to show you around Alamo.

    I don't doubt that many schools need more services, but you must understand that education is not a full social service agency. At this juncture, the budgets of some schools are so lean that when you ask for more you are asking to take it out of the mouths of others.

    Alamo has been stripped down to the bone. It is common knowledge among principals that some schools are getting the shaft financially. They are all on the west side. This doesn't mean SE schools get all the services they need in a perfect world. I understand that. But education funding cannot meet all the needs you ask of it.

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