Monday, September 20, 2010

Is Middle School Enrollment Going to be a Breeze?

My family is about to embark on middle school tours, and we invite you to come along for the ride.  Historically, many families get their first choice in the middle school lottery, the majority gets one of their choices, and some will get an assignment that does not work for their family.  What’s in store for us in 2011?  Is middle school enrollment going to be a breeze?

About us?  My dear husband (DH) and I (Donna) have been married for 15 years.  We both went to public schools from K through graduate school, ending with advanced degrees in Arts and Letters.  We have 2 children, ages 9 and 10.  We live on the West side of town.  When we purchased our home 15 years ago, sans children, we were not thinking about test scores or school lotteries—we simply bought a cheap, mildewy home in the fog (of course now, 15 years and 2 kids later, our location has more appeal). 

What do we want in a middle school?  Our middle school selection strategy will follow our elementary school strategy: we want to find a place to put down roots, to contribute to the school community (financially and otherwise), to fulfill the vastly different educational needs of our children in a supportive, caring environment, to make new friends, and to go to some good cocktail parties (this is San Francisco after all).  Start time, distance from home, and reasonable public transportation are important considerations.  We didn’t consider test scores when we chose our 600+ API school for kindergarten, and test scores will not weigh heavily in our middle school decision.  Truthfully, though, API scores have a smaller spread at the middle school level; therefore, scores add less distinction to a school.  Also, the middle schools near our home are mostly in the 800+ range, again adding very little distinction.  [As I mentioned earlier, where we live is by quite by accident—I do not want to start an Eastside-Westside debate or to get flamed for something beyond our control.] 

Where will our children thrive?  Our soon-to-be sixth grader (“No. 1”) is gregarious, advanced in academics, ambitious, and involved in many extracurricular activities.  Our fourth grader (“No. 2”) has an IEP for inclusion with daily requirements for support and accommodations.  No. 2 is equally gregarious, charming, and bright, but scores at the basic level in standardized testing.  Next year, if it becomes obvious that No. 2 will benefit from a different middle school, then we will pursue at such time.  In the meantime, we’d like to find a reasonably good fit for both children and to get sibling priority in 2012, so that we don’t have to up-end our lives all over again with lottery drama.  That being said, SFUSD is expected to announce new Special Ed initiatives shortly, which might change everything for us, but, then again, maybe not.  We should have the Special Ed. information before the Feb. 2011 enrollment deadline.  Hoping for the brass ring, but that has yet to be seen!

What are our plans for touring?  The greatest difference between the K lottery and the middle school lottery is the absence of input from our children in the former and the over abundance of input from our children in the latter.  The decision is no longer ours to make alone: if we err in our choice, then we err as a family.  Our fifth grader is excited about the prospects of going to a big middle school and wants (perhaps “expects” is a better term) to go on tours.  Schedule permitting, we will welcome the company.  To add to the excitement, No. 1 has been reading a book in the school library about SF middle schools and already fell in love with a school.  When I asked why this particular school, No. 1 replied, “Because it has lockers, a beanery, and a court yard for eating lunch.”  Maybe I am setting my standards too high.  In any event, I am preparing myself for some very interesting post-tour discussions.  Quelle surpise!  They all have lockers!  Also, I know that once the tours begin, the list of “must haves” and “want to haves” will change constantly, right up until the moment that we put pen to paper on the enrollment form.  Flexibility is the key.

What schools will we tour?  Luckily, the list of 65 elementary schools is now narrowed down to 14 public middle schools (not including seven K-8s).  The middle schools on the West side of town will be considered first (in alphabetical order): Aptos, Giannini, Hoover, Lick, Presidio, and Roosevelt.  Some of these schools are close or have good public transportation options; some have the prerequisite electives or clubs; some have highly regarded Special Ed programs; and at least one has “lockers, a beanery, and a court yard.”  We realize that our list might be overly ambitious and that we might not be able to tour all of these schools.  We certainly don’t want No. 1 to become a truant with repeated absences for school tours.  We do not have plans to tour Catholic or charter schools.  We may tour a K-8 and an independent (mostly for comparative purposes).

What do we think about the format of the middle school lottery this year?  I capital L-O-V-E it!   I guess that I never fully bought into the idea of feeder schools, given the diversity of middle school programs and electives across the district.  Also, I hadn’t heard many complaints about the previous lottery, so I cannot grasp the concept of “fixing” it.  Our friends who went through the middle school lottery in the past few years seem satisfied with their placement.  They chose middle schools for very personal reasons, rarely “because everyone from our elementary school was going there” or “because it was our neighborhood school.”  Now, it often turns out to be the case that a large proportion of the children from one elementary school end up going to the same middle school, because driving distance and MUNI routes often come into play, especially if you still have an elementary school drop off for a younger sibling as part of the morning driving circuit.  While these factors generally lead to a natural migration to a relatively close middle school, which looks like a “feeder” pattern, I still prefer a 100% choice-driven lottery with the whole City in one big bucket.  Furthermore, I am extremely happy to be participating in a lottery in which the priorities are so crystal clear: 1. siblings, 2. CTIP1 census tract, and 3. all others (this is our cohort).  The phony-baloney has been stripped out of the computer algorithm.  Now, it feels like a real honest-to-goodness lottery, with the exception of possible address fraud for CTIP1 priority, which I assume will be small and which I hope will be caught.  In the spirit of full disclosure, I must report that DH loves the concept of middle school feeder patterns (not the plan that was proposed in August 2010, but the “concept”).  So there you have, a house divided!

Why am I blogging?  As we started to prepare for the upcoming middle school tours, we came across an old manila folder from our K search, with our copious tour notes and yellowed newspaper articles from 2003 and 2004.  The articles extolled the virtues of hidden gems.  Holy cow!  I had saved several articles by someone who is well known on this blog--Caroline Grannan.  In retrospect, her articles gave us the insights and courage to look beyond test scores (much to the chagrin of our playground friends).  Thank you Caroline!  I decided to contact Kate last week with my interest in sharing our middle school touring experience.  I hope that this sharing proves helpful for someone in the K Files community.

Donna

159 comments:

  1. As long as you don't fall in love with Presidio and feel you must list it 1st, you really don't have to sweat the MS lottery. Visit the places on your list, get a sense of which one(s) might work for your family, turn in your list at your ES office, and move on. Chances are you'll get your 1st choice in March.

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  2. Welcome!

    Regarding the beaneries, they've all had 'em (much like the lockers, and daily PE, but the buildings and courtyards are indeed an area of distinction). But this year there is a new food system, blogged about here on SF K Files.

    My kid likes it, despite having been a beanery fan for two years. It combines the old "free" lunch line with the "pay for" beanery: this is good because it removes the stigma of the old lunch line and provides all kids with the same choices. My kid is at Aptos--I don't know if every school has these items. But several beanery items remain from last year, including whole wheat pizza, homemade soup (such as minestrone, chicken noodle), and bagels--now with sun butter instead of cream cheese. The regular wrapped lunches remain, but there are also daily specials such as deli sandwiches (for example, barbeque chicken, basil & tomato & mozzarella, turkey & cheese) or chicken teriyaki rice bowl. The lunch comes with salad bar and of course milk.

    Lunch costs $3.00 for paying customers. It's all paid for via an electronic system--the kids enter their PIN# and it is either free lunch or paid electronically by the parents. Again, no stigma. Works for us most days. Some days I pack a lunch for variety's sake, but usually my kids like not having something else in the already heavy backpack.

    Lots more to say, but that's the food situation :)

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  3. I'll bite - what's a beanery?
    On the feeder plan, I have heard some district officials use the phrase "virtual K-8" and wondered if that was why they were so in favor of the idea. They're getting the word that K-8 schools work,and this would be a quick and dirty way to 'create' them.

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  4. Hi Donna,

    Have you considered how your child will feel if separated from his friends who may (or may not) be hoping to attend the same school?

    I was also wondering about your view of the previous lottery. I was under the impression, in fact I'm quite convinced, there was a whole lot of negative sentiment towards it, especially on the west side of the city.

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  5. 6:52

    Can you expand on what you mean by virtual K-8. I don't understand.

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  6. 12:58 - When I did MS tours last fall the principals of AP, Roosevelt and Presidio said they get approx 3X the number of 1st choice applicants as there are spots. ( I can't remember about Hoover.) I have never checked to see if these statistics are true, but if they are, that would run counter to your assertion that most people get their first choice. If they are not true then the principals are promoting an erroneous message to prospective applicants.

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  7. "I was under the impression, in fact I'm quite convinced, there was a whole lot of negative sentiment towards it, especially on the west side of the city."

    Of course the old and current lottery system is disliked on the west side of the city. It forces the west side, at least a little bit, to deal with the ugly reality of the city's sanctuary policy.

    How dreadful that you should have to deal with kids coming to school in MS who still can't read or speak English.

    THOSE kids are supposed to go to Everett and Mann and stay out of your glorified west side hair.

    One way or another, this city is going to have to face up to the devastating effect that sanctuary has on city schools.

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  8. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought that the old lottery/diversity index only kicked in when the school had more 1st choice applicants than seats. If that was so and it is true that most MS applicants got their 1st choice, why then was the lottery in effect for most of the schools?

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  9. "Of course the old and current lottery system is disliked on the west side of the city. It forces the west side, at least a little bit, to deal with the ugly reality of the city's sanctuary policy."

    The whole city has to deal with sanctuary and illegal immigration as it figures into school assignment, not only the west side.

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  10. You know, it wasn't exactly clear to me when I heard the term 'virtual K-8' used. My guess at the time was the idea that if a whole elementary school moved to middle school together, it would help create that sense of community that people like about actual K-8 schools. I don't know how that might work in reality, but it seemed to be a positive outcome they were thinking about with the feeder schools.

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  11. 80% of kids entering 6th grade got their first choice.

    See http://portal.sfusd.edu/data/epc/09-10%20round%201%20results/Power%20Point%20Round%201_March%2013%202009.pdf, page 19.

    The most popular middle schools got 3-4 applicants/slot. Compare that with 20-23 for the most popular elementaries.

    http://portal.sfusd.edu/data/epc/09-10%20round%201%20results/Power%20Point%20Round%201_March%2013%202009.pdf

    In short, the lottery works well at middle school level (where's there's more slack capacity).

    Demand highlights are here:

    http://portal.sfusd.edu/data/epc/09-10%20round%201%20results/Highlights%202009-10SY.pdf

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  12. For those of us over in Bernal/Noe/Glen Park, it seems as if we're probably not getting in to the Hoover/Aptos/Giannini et al group.
    Given that, what should we be looking for in a school? As far as I can tell from what people are saying on these boards, only West side schools have honors classes. Some parents have made it sounds as if the Mission schools don't believe in honors classes. Should we be fighting to get into west side schools?

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  13. About 90% applicants get ONE OF their choices, not necessarily the 1st choice.

    And let's example Don's numbers. Presidio, AP and Roosevelt together take a about 1000 students each grade. If 3X as many kids applied for them as the first choice, that's 3000 kids.

    I guess according to Don, Presidio, Roosevelt and AP are the only acceptable MS's.

    Look at the numbers and see if that makes sense.

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  14. Missed data in above post. SFUSD has total 9600 MS students, average 3200 per grade.

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  15. Thanks for the acknowledgment, Donna! I'm glad the projects were helpful.

    6:52, the "beaneries" were a la carte food sales that happened in a separate spot from the "lunch line" or "main line" school meals. They used to be junk food havens till SFUSD cleaned that up, and still are in many districts (Calif. now has standards, so it's other states where they're really bad). Used to be that low-income students could only patronize the main line because those meals qualified for the government subsidy, while kids with money could patronize either line, to explain the comment about removing the stigma.

    I don't know what the reference to "virtual K-8" is about. The comment that "K-8 schools work" (implying "better than middle schools") isn't borne out by reality. There are benefits to both.

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  16. "Should we be fighting to get into west side schools?"

    We, the SE, should be fighting to have the city fund their sanctuary policy and implement AP classes up to the point where test scores on the east side of the city look like test scores on the west side of the city.

    If this can't be done, then the city should be held accountable, financially, for the sanctuary policy, which fills SE schools with kids who can't read or speak English. I'm not against sanctuary per se, I just think that the city has to fund it.

    The AP classes should be as good on the east side as the west.

    My property taxes are a bit lower, but really not that much lower, than on the west side. I don't see why I should have to spend an hour (each way) driving my child across town for a school with AP classes.

    Someone mentioned a few weeks ago, that the school system in San Francisco is like icing on a shitcake. For families on the east side, I'm not even sure there is any icing. But Caroline and her gang sure try hard, because what's at stake is a an outmoded progressive ideology that no longer matches reality.

    The real cost of making that ideology a reality is astronomical and certainly out of reach in this economy.

    So let's pretend then and prop up west side schools and the sanctuary policy, and cheat out the east side.

    Good for you Caroline!

    By the way, most kids in the city can't digest milk. They're Asian or Latino. Have you fixed that yet, or are you still insisting they they drink milk for lunch everyday so that they have a stomach ache all afternoon?

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  17. Don is looking at TOTAL requests; I'm talking about FIRST CHOICE requests. I repeat, all MSs (except Presidio) had fewer or ~the same first choice requests as slots. So unless you have your heart set on Presidio, don't worry as you'll probably be fine.

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  18. Will the order in which you list the choices matter this year?

    What is right or wrong about this strategy?:

    Eventhough, you do fall in love with Presidio and feel it is the best place for your child, you choose NOT to list it at all. With so many people listing Presidio as #1, there is just too much danger that you will go 0/7.

    The prudent thing to do is to list your second favorite as #1. Say goodbye to Presidio and all the risk that goes with listing Presidio as #1.

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  19. 9:23
    Repeal feeder patterns. That is what needs to be done.

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  20. I was not referring to total requests. Maybe 80% get their first choice citywide, but certainly not on west side MS schools. That would stand to reason since so many want those schools regardless of where they live.

    As far my own choices, which too have been attacked as usual, I live far out in the avenues. Schools other than the ones I mentioned are far away from my house and make it difficult to impossible to get my special ed son to elementary school on time.

    Give it a rest.

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  21. 10:19 that's what I did last year. Although I liked Presidio best, I listed my 2nd choice (Aptos) 1st, and got it. And we've been very pleased with Aptos. We had no private or parochial back-up, so I chose not to risk going through 0/7 hell. I'm assuming ranked choice is still a tie-breaker, so you may want to consider a similar strategy if you're as risk-aversive as I am.

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  22. On the concept of "virtual K-8s," I heard Orla O'Keefe explain that the District has a lot of attrition from late elementary school (4th and 5th grade), except at the K-8 schools. So it seems that part of the idea is that by doing a feeder pattern, more families will feel confident in their middle school, and so stick around. At least that's the idea.

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  23. To 8:57am

    Great generalization of an entire neighborhood. I don't live over there but we went to Presidio. I see why folks over that way would want their children to go to their neighborhood middle school. And given the demographics of the school, I'd venture a guess that many of these families are recent immigrants. Can we keep the discussion on point without flaming entire neighborhoods?

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  24. It's going to be different this year as there is no diversity index in play (free/reduced lunch, language diversity, etc.) After siblings and CTIP 1 it is a straight lottery with rank order being the tie-breaker. It seems then that if you want Presdio and do not list it #1 then you will have little chance of getting it. However if you rank it #1 and something else #2 then you may or may not get your #2 depending on how many others put it #1 - is this right? For example, the previous poster, had they put Presidio #1 and Aptos #2, if they did not get Presidio and enough people put Aptos #1 then they would be unlikely to get either and would get something further down their list.

    You can see the five year demand for middle schools on the enrollment website which may be good to look at how many pick each school first and total.

    In middle school many (80-87%) get one of their choices but maybe not their first choice. Most people seem happy with what they get (most!) as oppossed to many not being happy with what they get for elementary.

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  25. We were 0-5 for middle schools last enrollment period and there were at least 2 other students in my child's 5th grade class (that we knew of) that didn't get one of their choices. They were both assigned to Horace Mann. We all entered the waitlist and fortunately (and unfortunately) my child was the only one that got into our school of choice. I believe the one of the other students went parochial and the other sat on the Roosevelt waitlist throughout the summer, not sure if they ever got a spot...

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  26. 11:23
    What did you list as #1 and #2? Was it Presidio and Giannini? Or Presidio and Roosevelt? How often do those combinations end up 0/5?

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  27. By the way, most kids in the city can't By the way, most kids in the city can't digest milk. They're Asian or Latino. Have you fixed that yet ....

    Who is the "you" in this rant? Caroline? Some unnamed person "out there?" The district?

    Surely you know that serving milk is not a decision made at the school or student nutrition commmittee or district level. It is MANDATED by the federal government for participation in and reimubursement by the federal student lunch program. The district would be in big trouble if it didn't give every kid who goes through the line the container of milk. Seriously.

    Of course not all kids can drink milk. We know this in our diverse city. We still have to play by the federal rules (which are set in part through intensive lobbying by Big Ag including Big Dairy). There are other drink options offered at the middle school level, which you do have to pay for however: juice drinks (that have to meet a standard for 100% juice content and no added sugar, although some of them also contain carbonated water), and water. My kid's middle school also encourages kids to bring water bottles from home, so that is the cheap alternative.

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  28. Would that I could set the federal National School Lunch Program policies! The requirement that every lunch include fluid milk to be reimbursable by the NSLP is set by the USDA, on a national level, obviously. Thank you for the implication that I wield such limitless power, I think...

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  29. Love the idea of adding a middle school blogger! This blog is becoming so much more than just a kindergarten site (although you're doing a great job with that too.)

    I'm getting ready to put #3 in middle school next year. It's possible all 3 will end up going to different schools. #1 went to a private school for kids with mild/moderate learning disabilities (Sterne), #2 is going to James Lick. But #3 really wants band, band, band so as much as we love James Lick, we'll have to look at other schools too. Both my older kids got their first choice school in the lottery so I am not too worried -- this year's system doesn't seems to be just a slightly modified version of the previous system.

    Good luck to all!

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  30. 12:42 here.

    Should have said this year's system seems to be just a slightly modified version of the previous system.

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  31. 12:42--if your #3 is really, really into band, try Aptos, because the Jazz Band rocks. This is an extracurricular (in addition to the daily band classes) that meets several mornings a week before school, so you have to be up for that. But it is great prep for SOTA. The regular band program is cool too. What instrument does he/she play?

    Hoover also has a great music program, and A.P. I don't know so much about Roosevelt or Presidio or Marina. I know Presidio's drama program is considered good.

    I know (and surely you know) that James Lick has a nice arts rotation for kids who don't want the big band, including studio art, dance in its own studio, musical theater, and rock band. But if your kid wants band, look west.

    Love the Aptos studio art teacher too--Mr. Pascual. Lots of kids from Aptos are aiming for SOTA in one discipline or another.

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  32. "Great generalization of an entire neighborhood. I don't live over there but we went to Presidio. I see why folks over that way would want their children to go to their neighborhood middle school. And given the demographics of the school, I'd venture a guess that many of these families are recent immigrants. Can we keep the discussion on point without flaming entire neighborhoods?"

    Stats for schools:

    EAST SIDE

    Everett
    58% Latino (state average 49%)
    19% AA (state average 7%)
    51% English language learners

    Horace Mann
    58% Latino
    15% AA
    43% English language learners


    WEST SIDE

    Presidio
    58% Asian
    17% White
    7% Latino
    5% AA
    8% ELL

    Aptos
    37% Asian
    26% Latino
    12% White
    19% ELL

    As you can see from the above statistics, east side schools are encumbered with 2 to 4 times the number of English language learners as west side schools. That is a direct result of the sanctuary policy that places no requirement on English proficiency to attend our schools.

    West side schools have far fewer illegal immigrants than east side schools. A central criteria of *legal* immigration is that one speak English. Therefore, if west side schools have some immigrants, they clearly speak English, as you can see from the above statistics.

    We're talking middle school here folks. Not primary school. Fully half the kids at Mann and Everett cannot understand what the teacher is saying. They're supposed to be learning Algebra, not how to speak English. That was supposed to happen in grade one and two. And Rachel, I voted for you because you were pro science curriculum. Kinda ironic that you're all rah-rah on a streaming pattern for middle schools that would put my kid in a school with no AP classes. No vote for you next time.

    If the school board can't provide put a middle school within two miles of my house, with a good AP program and good test scores, I'd like a voucher. Consider it part of the cost of the city's sanctuary policy. It's strange to come to this point, but no amount of shifting around all those ELL kids is going to put AP classes in east side middle schools.

    VOUCHERS! It's time.

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  33. 12:42 here. She plays trumpet of all things (she does have a super loud voice amplifying it even more is a plus!) Aptos, Hoover, and A.P. are definitely on our radar. Presidio and Marina are just too far away to consider. Roosevelt might be a possibility. Not sure if there are any other schools with bands I should be looking at.

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  34. From School Lunchdes: Weapons of Mass Destruction?

    "The food currently provided through the National School Lunch Program has not kept pace with what we know today to be truly healthy and nutritious food. Rather, the foods provided in the program under the guise of good nutrition—chili cheese dogs, pepperoni pizza, cheeseburgers, and pork chops—are there to prop up farm incomes and are part of the problem that has created a generation of overweight children," Jennifer Keller, registered dietician with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), told The Final Call.

    According to PCRM, federal policy—heavily influenced by the meat and dairy lobbies—literally forces the Secretary of Agriculture to favor beef, pork and other high- protein foods over healthier items when purchasing surplus commodities for federal feeding programs.

    As a result, in 2001 the USDA spent $350 million on surplus beef and cheese—more than double the amount spent on fruits and vegetables. Federal policy also prohibits schools from serving soymilk or other nondairy beverages as part of a subsidized lunch unless a child brings a doctor’s note saying he or she has a medical reason not to drink cow’s milk.

    PCRM believes this policy is discriminatory because so many Blacks, Hispanics and Native and Asian Americans are lactose intolerant.


    http://www.finalcall.com/artman/publish/National_News_2/School_lunches_weapons_of_mass_destruction_608.shtml

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  35. http://www.finalcall.com/artman/publish/
    National_News_2/
    School_lunches_weapons_of_mass_destruction_608.shtml

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  36. I hear Gateway is opening a middle school in the next year or so.

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  37. The Final Call? Minister Farrakhan's newspaper? Okay....

    Anyway, I think you would find broad agreement among public school advocates here that the National School Lunch Program needs updating--specifically, reimubursements need to be brought up so that local and healthy food can be purchased more; and yes, it needs to be seen as a program to provide good food to children, not as a subsidy to Big Ag.

    Despite the huge obstacles created by federal regs, our district has been doing a good job within its limitations. No more corn dogs and other carnival food. No soda sales. Etc.

    Re the lactose issue, there are several non-dairy items regularly on the menu at my kid's middle school. I'm speaking of the fresh "super choice" menu now, not the shrink-wrapped and reheated regular lunches. For example, there is a chicken lo mein offering and a chicken teriyaki rice bowl. These address the Asian "market" of SFUSD obviously, but my non-Asian kids like them. There is chicken noodle and minestrone soup. Bagels with sun butter. Some deli sandwiches do have cheese, but not all of them. There is even a fresh salad bar, with fruit and veggies such as cucumber slices, cherry tomatoes, lettuce, jicama, and more.

    And yeah, while milk has to be offered, per the federal regs, There are other options.

    Regarding funding for this, the more paying customers there are, the more money there is in the system, and economies of scale. That's why I celebrate that POS system that creates a single line. And also the new menu items that are way more attractice frankly than the shrink-wrapped meals (ymmv of course).

    I would LOVE to reform the NSLP at the federal level. But since this is a middle school thread--parents, be aware that the food actually improves at this level. And that your kids may want more choice. One nice thing about the MealPay system is you get to see what they are choosing....

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  38. I have seen nothing on whether the CTIP 1 cohort will be larger than the free lunch/public housing/foreign language-speaking preferences cohort of old. But since CTIP 1 is a geographically-based preference and that geographical area is closer to desirable middles like Lick, Hoover, Aptos, and Roosevelt, I'd think that old saws like "don't-put-down- Presidio-number-one-or-you may-get-into-trouble" may not hold true this year. In fact, I'm wondering whether the folks who may get problems will be the ones putting down first middles like Roosevelt, Hoover and Aptos. Just a thought, but I think it makes sense. Oh, and please, can we stop talking about milk at lunch?

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  39. Hey 1:34 pm

    AP classes - do you mean Advanced Placement. There is no such thing in any middle school. Such classes are relegated to High School.

    Where did you get your data about Presidio? The latest API scores tell a vastly different story: 31% students taking the State exams were ELL, and literally half were identified as socioeconomically disadvantaged. And Presidio saw success across all subcatergories in terms of meeting/exceeding goals. So sounds to me like Presidio is a school that can educate all children quite well.

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  40. "AP classes - do you mean Advanced Placement. There is no such thing in any middle school. Such classes are relegated to High School."

    You need to get upgrade your information sources if you believe that.

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  41. 11:43a
    Our first choice was Aptos, second was Giannini.
    Another child in my kid's class had the reverse, Giannini first choice, Aptos second and received Aptos.

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  42. "Where did you get your data about Presidio? The latest API scores tell a vastly different story: 31% students taking the State exams were ELL"

    I got my stats from the California Department of Education for the 2008-2009 school year.

    Unless there has been a drastic decline in ELL status at Presidio in the last year, only 8% of students are English Language learners, compared to 51% at Everett Middle school.

    Seems a little unfair to east side families to stack the deck against them like that? Don't you think?

    Where did you get your stats?

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  43. 4:16 - I got my stats from CDE too - from the latest API scores. Also, my child does happen to go to Preisio, so I feel I can talk about the school.

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  44. Here are some representative stats from Great Schools: the first percentage is the percentage of free/reduced lunch kids; the second is the percentage of ELLs:

    Giannini 49% 11%
    Aptos 54% 19%
    Lilienthal 20% 12%
    Edison 96% 36%
    Everett 64% 51%
    Hoover 45% 13%
    Mann 70% 43%
    Lick 58% 41%
    Presidio 46% 8%
    Rooftop 30% 18%

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  45. 3:33
    You pick 1=Aptos and 2=Giannini and go 0/5. Another 5th grader picks 1=Giannini and 2=Aptos and gets Aptos. That other student had diversity considerations that helped him or her into Aptos. This year's lottery will have CTIP, but not diversity considerations (which no one could understand or explain anyway).

    2:45
    You are on to something. It is a whole new ballgame. I don't know what is a safe strategy.

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  46. It's obvious that all the schools with large numbers of ELL students are at the bottom:

    Edison, Everett, Mann, Denman . . .

    Most of the students who still can't speak English by middle school are illegal immigrants or the children of illegal immigrants.

    So again, I'd like a voucher, to compensate my family for the cost of the city's sanctuary policy, which dramatically drives down the quality of a large number of middle schools, especially those on the east side.

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  47. Maybe the person who thinks middle school has no advance placement is unaware that "honors" classes are to middle school as AP is to high school. My daughter is in honors classes at Roosevelt.

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  48. The district website has Predisio at 9% ELL for 08-09. The is approximately the same as now. Students who have gone through elementary school in English don't usually qualify as ELL by secondary with some caveats. In the case of newcomers that is not true and where students are lower SES the movement from ELL to fluency slows down considerably.

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  49. Thanks for blogging on middle school!

    We are going through the process and are also constrained to looking a schools that accept inclusion students. Hoover is one of these. I've heard there is almost zero aftercare on-site, what do working parents do for aftercare at Hoover?

    I'm curious about Gateway's new middle school too. I've heard good things about Gateway's high school but it's all 3rd hand. I'm not sure where the middle school will be located but it might be a good backup if we get assigned somewhere scary. Most inclusion students have limited private school options so it would be nice to have an alternate public backup.

    I'm glad they deferred the feeder system but some of the plans, ideas, rumors are a concern. Will James Lick no longer have an inclusion program, will it become an all-immersion school, will Hoover's Spanish immersion program get moved, ...etc.

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  50. Um, "Advanced Placement" or AP is a brand of tests owned by The College Board used to give college credits to high schoolers who pass the tests. They are definitely not available to middle schoolers!

    It seems that there are "honors" tracks and classes at some middle schools, while others do "differentiated instruction" to honors kids in regular classes. Calling those "advanced placement" (no caps) is confusing. Say "honors."

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  51. 1:34 and 4:46: Vouchers? Please. You'd get a voucher for $5000 and the schools would all raise their prices by $5000, because the other students would get the vouchers too! And they're already able to pay $25,000 a year more than you. Oh, wait. You wanted a voucher just for you and your precious little snowflake. Right.

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  52. 6:03 PM:

    I'm sorry you are so threatened by the idea of vouchers. And hopefully, we all think of our children as precious little snowflakes.

    In fact, I don't think that *everyone* should get a voucher, just those that live in areas that are streamed into middle schools without honors classes and low test scores.

    I'm sure that many families could make use of the vouchers, which should be for the full cost of the education the family does not and cannot receive for each child. $8,000?

    That would ease the geographic unfairness of access to schools somewhat.

    It would also act as an incentive for the city and the Teacher's Union to implement policies that are fiscally sound, sustainable, and attentive to providing a good education for every child.

    Parents could then vote in our out of the system as necessary and not be forced to participate in failing schools. In the long run, the city would benefit, because more middle class families would stay in the city and contribute to the fiscal health of the city.

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  53. If you want vouchers, put it on the ballot.

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  54. 6:59, where would the money come from for the vouchers, and what are the policies "that are fiscally sound, sustainable, and attentive to providing a good education for every child"?

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  55. 5:37 -- have you heard good things about hoover's inclusion prog or are you otherwise relying on hoover's gene Ed reputation?

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  56. "where would the money come from for the vouchers?"

    I'd ask you the same question Caroline? Where do you think the money comes from when parents are forced to send their kids to private or parochial school? Where do you think the money comes from when families are forced to move and sell their homes at a depressed price because they can't get access to a good school? What is the cost to society of kids attending a 1/10 school and never learning the language of the country in which they live? Or the most basic skills they will need in order to function?

    Caroline, as someone who proclaims themselves to be an expert on public education, I would hope you would know what fiscally sound education policies are. Or did the fiscally sound part get left out of your education expertise?

    I will say that spending upwards of $9000 a year per child, apparently on middle school California curriculum subjects, only to end up with kids that don't have the slightest idea what the teacher is talking about is NOT fiscally sound.

    That is what is going on at some middle schools.

    Furthermore, forcing families whose kids qualify for honors subjects into schools with no honors curriculum is akin to punishing excellence and future prosperity.

    You've made much on this blog of your son who now attends Oberlin College. He obviously had some musically talent and was able to access a middle school music program. What if a child has mathematical talent? Are you going to send them to a middle school that has no honors math program? That's what the recently rescinded MS tracking program was going to do.

    So Caroline, what would you have done if your son was tracked into a MS that did not have a music program?

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  57. I don't proclaim myself to be an education expert, 7:37. I'm an advocate, but that doesn't make me an expert.

    You didn't answer my questions about your proposal.

    As you are surely aware, when my son started at Aptos, the name evoked the same reaction in many parents that Everett and Horace Mann evoke now.

    That said, I agree that inequities in existing resources are a serious issue with middle schools and with the concept of near-mandated feeder schools to different middle schools.

    What I was questioning are the notions that vouchers are a feasible solution and that the city (or the school district; the city doesn't run the schools) and the teachers' union can be bludgeoned with the threat of vouchers into suddenly coming up with the magical solution that has escaped them and everyone else previously.

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  58. If you don't like the tracking of elementary schools into middle schools, put that on the ballot.

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  59. I know Francisco Middle School is isolated in the NE corner of the City, but there hasn't been even one mention! Here are my top 10 reasons for choosing this school:

    1. Great (award winning) principal (Judy Giampaoli)
    2. Excellent Assistant Principal (Ken Lee)
    3. Small
    4. Close
    5. Extra resources for low income students, including new Beacon Center.
    6. Free After School Program
    7. Orchestra
    8. Honors classes
    9. Increased API scores by 42 points and met AYP.
    10. Approximately 1/3 of the student population in separate special newcomer English language programs which makes actual school seem even smaller.

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  60. 7:37 (the first one) - i don't know anything about hoover's sped program other than they have an inclusion program - there are only a few schools that do, so it certainly narrows things down - in some ways it makes the search easier - i know there are advocates that want to be able to go to any school, but at this point in time, i think i'd prefer to go to a school that is set up to support the full range of special ed students.

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  61. Regarding putting vouchers or a measure against streaming on the ballot, I'm in wait and see.

    But I think the board is going to have it's hands tied as it tries to find a working solution for the demographic mix on the east side.

    They've got highly educated families with big expectations who are going to push for schools with an honors track in Noe, Bernal, the Castro and the Potrero. They'll also expect special ed to be covered.

    Then there's a huge cohort of kids in immersion programs. What happens to them.

    And then there's the kids that have traditionally gone to Everett and Mann, who are ELLs.

    It sounds like a highly divergent mix. I'm all for waiting to see what the board comes up with. Still, I find the tacit approval and then rescision of last month's MS tracking proposal rather extraordinary. It's as if, for the first time, they're realizing that they must provide special ed and honors classes to students that qualify.

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  62. 8:28 -- thanks. I have an inclusion student too, and am also in the dark. All I have are (not good) third-hand anecdotes of inclusion kids struggling to stay afloat at Hoover. I do know one person whose kid is at Hoover's special day class who is happy. But that's obviously very different. In previous threads, people have said that giannini has a good inclusion pro, but we are leery of it because it is so heavily academic. Between you and me, we toured lick last year and liked that the best, but, when we spoke to the principal one-on-one she said the inclusion prog had only one kid in it and that the district might take the pro away there soon. Obviously that makes lick a big question mark.

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  63. Only the Board of Education can make changes in tracking, neighborhood schools or any other education policy change. The voters have no authority over these issues. They can vote for a parcel tax or rescind one. But they cannot pass policy. This are entirely in the hands of the Board.

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  64. "Still, I find the tacit approval and then rescision of last month's MS tracking proposal rather extraordinary. It's as if, for the first time, they're realizing that they must provide special ed and honors classes to students that qualify."

    I agree entirely. I believe the extraordinary oversights illustrate the extraordinary incompetence of the Board. The reason this happened is this - the Board focused all its attention on creating diversity and ignored creating appropriate pathways for ELL, language programs, honors and sped.

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  65. September 21, 2010 1:34 PM
    --

    One thing flawed in your analysis is that you are using percentages instead of numbers. Aptos actually has more ELL, more socioeconomically disadvantaged AND more Latinos in actual numbers than Horace Mann and several of the other schools.

    Also, not sure of your data source, but the presentation at the Aptos PTA meeting by the AP shows 2010 spring test scores as: 30% Latino, 27% Asian 10.5% While and 7% African American. Aptos has had a large increase Latino and Spanish-speaking families. Many of whom are using their choices to opt out of Mann and Everett.

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  66. While unscientific, my experience from elementary with our now 8th and 6th grader was that virtually everyone got one of their choices, and families and kids chose a variety of schools, but tended towards the Aptos, Lick, Hoover and Roosevelts and Giannini type schools.

    I'm happy to say that pretty universally, for both my kids' friends, they feel that they are at the best middle school for them - even though they are all at different schools.

    I still have mixed feelings about the feeder plan and am glad it's been postponed. As someone else noted, it's as if SFUSD is surprised that families want art, music, band, afterschool, special ed and honors at all schools. I hope some of the large infusion of $$ to Everett, Mann, Vis Valley, etc. goes to making those things happen.

    I think the principal of Vis Valley is new this year - which is good. Last year's principal told me he was glad there would be a neighborhood system for middle school so that the families in his neighborhood (he was referring to the largely Asian immigrant community) couldn't leave his school and would "have to go to Vis Valley". He seemed gleeful that there would be no choice, but not focusing on why families were choosing not to go there. (Hint: they want art, music, honors, band, afterschool.... and this particular principal didn't talk about those things!) As I said, there's a new principal there, so I'm sure there is a new focus.

    I worry that SFUSD looks at assignment as "push" instead of "pull" - just look around and see which schools have had enrollment turnarounds in the district. It wasn't because someone rubbed their hands together and said "you HAVE to do this!" - instead, someone welcomed families, sold them on the virtues and embraced them as partners, community members and solutions providers!

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  67. Vis Valley is not a SIG recipient.

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  68. Why do people on this blog refuse to acknowledge that SFUSD blundered in a manner that raises serious questions about their ability to lead or to effectively solve the MS problem. They are clearly attempting to spin the retraction of the MS policy as a postponement instead of a redo.

    To provide pathways for ELL, IM, Sped and honors will require major changes to almost every middle school in the district. Where is the money going to come from to pay for this? It isn't as if a large institution like SFUSD can make all these kinds of wholesale changes in programmatic offerings and do it without cost.

    SFUSD cannot afford to offer Alamo ES a half time counselor. How much will it cost to develop the programs pathways citywide? How many teachers will be required to move from one school to another against their will? Low seniority teachers will end up at the newest programs where their lack of expertise will be a hindrance to getting quality programs up and running in short order.

    This is going to be a big mess and the postponement is going to be much longer than one year. So, no, I don't think middle school enrollment is going to be a breeze.

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  69. Regarding Gateway Middle School- I spoke with the principal last week and she said Gateway Middle School does not yet have a location but that she requested a building from the SFUSD close the the area where the high school is (around Scott and Geary).

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  70. I remain completely confused -- why not just leave middle schools as choice? Nobody actively wanted the feeder system, did they? Seems like west siders were getting the schools they wanted, and middle-class east siders were opting out of local middle schools if they could, while those with fewer resources don't benefit any from the feeder system either.

    In any case, if they force the feeder system, they've lost this east side family to private or leaving the city when middle school time comes around. Since we are highly educated, involved in K-16 public education, and invested in our community, you'd think SFUSD would figure out a way to keep people like us in the system.

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  71. We voted on JROTC. Even if it was nonbinding, it raised an issue for people to organized around. Same for school assignment. Or vouchers.

    Isn't there some neighborhood school issue on the ballot this November?

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  72. 11:27 talked about "push" and "pull." Middle school is only 3 years, while elementary school is 6 years. "Pull" does not work very well for the short term investment of 3 years in middle school. They pushed.

    Push back by leaving, or rescinding the feeder patterns.

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  73. "Since we are highly educated, involved in K-16 public education, and invested in our community, you'd think SFUSD would figure out a way to keep people like us in the system."

    You may be highly educated but you are a little slow on the uptake.

    The middle class has been bailing out of SFUSD for decades - people more and less educated than yourselves. The phenomenon waxes and wanes with the economy, but SF remains the city with the highest percentage of private school children in the nation.

    SFUSD is not particularly interested in highly educated people like yourself. They have an agenda and it is all about stealing from high performing schools giving to low performing schools. They get away with it because people like you leave the system and subsequently fail to be a voice for the interests of middle class. And then the progressives get away with making false assertions, for example, about how much more resources schools like Alamo have. The truth is that "under-served" schools are anything but under-served. Under-performing yes, under-served no. We spend far more per underserved student than we do for highly achieving students.

    Don't get me wrong, though. I think we should spend more - with limits. But the way things are going with state funding and with fundraising, SFUSD will succeed in decreasing the achievement gap - not by substantially raising achievement at the bottom but by lowering it at the top.

    But a picture is worth a thousand words. Last year the district rerouted millions of dollars away from high performing schools to help the so-called "underserved" schools under the State's new categorical flexibility. It didn't matter that these schools already benefit from millions in compensatory education funding. According to the progressive groupthink mind of SFUSD it is money, or lack of it, that is preventing these students from accelerating. That is false on its face.

    Then along comes the monumental windfall SIG grant. But is SFUSD talking about giving back to the money they robbed Peter to pay Paul? Of course not. Why? Because no one asking or pressuring them to do so. I have tried, but I'm one person.

    The great irony of this situation is that the very diversity SFUSD is trying to foster with its policies has been the single largest recruiting tool for private schools. And diversity itself is the victim.

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  74. "To provide pathways for ELL, IM, Sped and honors will require major changes to almost every middle school in the district. Where is the money going to come from to pay for this? It isn't as if a large institution like SFUSD can make all these kinds of wholesale changes in programmatic offerings and do it without cost."

    Great point, Don. You should run for Board Commissioner. The small SIG grant for Mann and Everett isn't going to do much more than rid the building of rats and buy some new desks. Maybe there will be a little left over for improved programming, but not much.

    To the person that said that Aptos has a similar demographic to Everett: My point is not about ethnicity, it's about language speaking ability. Aptos has 20% ELL students, Everett has 51%. Big difference. However, the flight of second generation and bilingual Latino families away from Everett and Mann, among others, to some of our better middle schools, points to the where things are headed.

    To the last comment, which asks why the Board didn't leave MS assignments the way they were? Good point. It may be because many families pull out of public school in grade 4 and 5, either to move or to go private. Perhaps the Board wants to retain some of these families. Someone suggested that they pull out because of the uncertainty of their middle school assignment. The "new" MS assignment system was supposed to quell that fear and also permit kids to stay with their K-5 classmates.

    One observation I've made is that with the increased class sizes in grades 4 and 5, as well as with the realization that many of their children's classmates are falling behind and cannot speak English, they see what's coming in middle school. That's when parents seek an alternative to SF public schools.

    No assignment system, not even the current one, can fix the overwhelming demographic effect and cost of a huge population that cannot and will not speak the language of the country in which they live.

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  75. That is because the United States stole norther Mexico.

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  76. This is probably a stupid question but do the kids that are classified as ELL in middle school really not speak English or understand a teacher speaking English?

    Or are they classified ELL because years ago when they entered K they did not speak English and were placed into a bilingual program.

    I could understand if they just immigrated, but don't kids that grow up here pick up English after a few years? And if they are in a bilingual program through elementary, aren't they able to understand and speak English by the time they are in middle school?

    I can understand if they don't test as well as native English speakers. But people keep saying that this huge population of kids in middle school is not understanding what the teacher is saying. Is that accurate?

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  77. "That is because the United States stole norther Mexico."

    Another "La Raza" fairytale.

    Spain's hold on California, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona was tenuous and consisted of anililating the indigenous peoples. Many of the actual inhabitants of these areas were not Spanish. From 1830 onward, the majority of the original builders of San Francisco were of English, French, Chinese or American extraction.

    But good fairytale and nice attempt at invading our country, now that you've destroyed your own. We'll see how it goes.

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  78. It might be more accurate that one person, or only a few persons, are saying over and over again that English language learners are not understanding the teachers.

    They can think what they want. And they will blame who they want to blame.

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  79. the presentation at the Aptos PTA meeting by the AP shows 2010 spring test scores as: 30% Latino, 27% Asian 10.5% While and 7% African American. Aptos has had a large increase Latino and Spanish-speaking families. Many of whom are using their choices to opt out of Mann and Everett.

    I was also at that meeting. I agree that it was said that there has been an increase of Latino students at Aptos--up to 30% now, and yes again, more in absolute numbers than in Everett and Mann combined (something the district doesn't acknowledge when they pull Title I money and direct it only at the underperforming schools--which is serving this population better? And now they want to take away the option to go to Aptos for this group, and make them go to SE schools?)

    The Latino students are largely replacing the African American students, whose % is decreasing (as it has in the district as a whole).

    However, I believe the Asian population has remained steady at 37%, not 27% as you state. It's the largest group at Aptos (and in the district). Of this group, most are Chinese. White kids have remained steady or increased a bit as a % of the whole (and both groups have grown in absolute numbers therefore, as the school has increased in size).

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  80. "It might be more accurate that one person, or only a few persons, are saying over and over again that English language learners are not understanding the teachers."

    51% of the kids at Everett are classified as ELL. Math test scores at Everett hover in the 10% proficiency range.

    So are you saying that the State of California's term "English Language Learner" is meaningless, and it is for some other reason that 90% of the Everett kids are flunking math.

    Please enlighten me!

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  81. "To provide pathways for ELL, IM, Sped and honors will require major changes to almost every middle school in the district. Where is the money going to come from to pay for this? It isn't as if a large institution like SFUSD can make all these kinds of wholesale changes in programmatic offerings and do it without cost."

    But isn't having the goal to do this a step in the right direction? Shouldn't we be striving for this? Offer more equal programs in all the schools. What's so wrong with that? Wouldn't this be worth the cost? If things can be made more equal all over the map then maybe in the future a more pure neighborhood system wouldn't seem so unfair and distasteful to so many people.

    I agree that the way they proposed the feeder plan was very lame and not thought through. But I kind of like the concept behind it. If they could only implement it more fairly I'd be okay with it. And I'm on the SE side.

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  82. I can understand if they don't test as well as native English speakers. But people keep saying that this huge population of kids in middle school is not understanding what the teacher is saying. Is that accurate?

    No, it is not accurate. It's a huge generalization, and not an accurate one. Newcomer kids often don't speak English. Almost all kids who have been here a few years do speak English. They may not test as well though, for a number of reasons--or read and write as well, for that matter.

    I hope this valuable conversation about middle schools doesn't get hijacked into an immigration debate. There is at least one person who posts on this blog who wants to turn every conversation into that debate.

    There is a debate to be had, but let's not let it obscure the issues around middle school placement--which may relate to it but not entirely--and most immigration policy issues are not exactly in the hands of district officials or parents.

    Also, the immigration issues are way more complex (in terms of root causes, impacts, and solutions) than is being said here. Why do people migrate? Our country contributed mightily to some of the reasons. And the kids, the majority of whom are citizens, are basically here to stay. We would do ourselves no favors not to educate them. And for those kids who are not citizens, who were brought here as children, but who will also stay--11 million people are not going home, nor would it be good for our economy if they did--I hope the Senate passes the DREAM Act to give them a pathway to citizenship if they graduate from college or join the military.

    But anyway, can we please focus on middle schools here and leave the immigration policy debate to another forum. I agree it is important to know that low-income, ELL kids are in our schools. It helps to understand why some schools have lower test scores, for one thing. It helps to understand our communities. But we are not going to solve that issue here. And parents want information about middle schools that they can use.

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  83. California have plowed billions into educating the downtrodden. It has has no effect. Rather than reevaluate what works and what doesn't, we continue to follow the same failed policies of old.

    This has everything to do with the assignment system discussion. What many failed to see is the money trail. Assignment policies are about money. How to use it for management's benefit and which voting constituencies will be the recipients of it.

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  84. Isn't part of this whole neighborhood school change about phasing out busing? That hasn't come up here but I thought it was a major initiative/reality because of dollars spent on it.

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  85. SFUSD spends about 20 million on busing. Three-quarters of that is for special education and with the exception of finding ways to reduce expenses, that money is untouchable. The 4 plus million that is currently used for what was known as consent decree busing derives mostly from state categorical funding that was flexed, meaning that the money can be used "for any educational purpose," as it says in the law SB X 3_4

    It isn't that SFUSD can't afford busing any more than it can't afford a lot of things. It is that the money was made flexible and can be used for other purposes given the change in the law and that the court supervision ended. This whole assignment system is not being redesigned for 4 million dollars. That was just Garcia's cover story.

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  86. It's partly about busing, but Rachel Norton had posted about busing, but the much larger cost is with Special Ed, rather than regular programs. There'll be some savings, but it should be for parents being able to stay close to home, at least for elementary school.

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  87. 4:45p
    The student in my child's class who got Aptos after putting it down as second choice did not have any diversity considerations, except for maybe that he was a boy and my daughter is a girl. He is white middle class and we are Hispanic working class, but the application process would not be able to distinguish those details.

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  88. Cover story? People have been complaining mightily about the K assignment system for many years. The consent decree was finally lifted in 2002 (or so), so the District has only recently been able to make this kind of change.

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  89. "Also, the immigration issues are way more complex (in terms of root causes, impacts, and solutions) than is being said here. Why do people migrate? Our country contributed mightily to some of the reasons."

    The United States has absolutely nothing to do with the policies of the Catholic Church and high birth rate in Mexico and Central America, countries who in combination, account for 80% of the illegal immigrants who come to the US.

    As is readily apparent from the ELL statistics posted above, it is immigrants from these countries who willfully do not speak English and who fail to succeed in school.

    While US foreign policy in these countries has at times been intrusive and destabilizing, it is not responsible for the high birth rate, which is the driving force behind overpopulation and poverty in these countries.

    And it also needs to be said that at the center of the tumultuous history of Central America is the effect of the Spanish Conquistadores anihilating the male indigenous population, an unpleasant fact has never been reconciled.

    It was not I who misappropriated the converstation with a false statement about the US "stealing" Northern Mexico. Such statements left unchecked only act as excuses for Newcomers, as you call them, to not adopt the language, customs and work ethic of the country in which they have chosen (illegally) to live.

    So, no, I will not "shut up" about illegal immigration. It is this fact, and this fact alone, that accounts for the poor condition of our middle and high schools.

    There are hardly any African Americans left in the city and had we been able to fully invest our diversity resources here, I'm sure equality for blacks would be much further along.

    The Board and Supervisors can dance around the issue, spend more millions on assignment systems, for eternity. The "issue" won't go away until there is a smaller percentage of "Newcomers" in our schools.

    San Francisco should win a prize for coining euphemistic terms like "Newcomer" and "undocmented immigrant."

    Rather than trying to table more ineffective ballot measures, I highly recommend to anyone interested in improving our schools, to check out the website www.capsweb.org, Californians for Population Stabilization.

    Here's their latest article:

    "No Home for Amnesty in a Sustainable America"

    http://www.capsweb.org/content.php?id=931&menu_id=8

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  90. About flight to privates in middle school.

    In my many years as an elementary school parent I've seen only a handful of parents go private for middle school. And usually there is a reason (i.e., student no longer lives in SF, need for a program that addresses learning disabilities, etc.) Many incoming K parents say they will go private in middle school, but when their child is in 5th grade, they usually stick with public.

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  91. I thought that when the Consent Decree ended, that also ended the free money from Sacramento for school districts desegregating under a court order. Transportation costs, then, are a real burden for SFUSD.

    Second, the problem with choice instead of neighborhood schools, was that some parents ended up terribly mismatched in terms of where they lived and the school they were assigned. The 0/7 HELL, although very much in the minority, was intolerable. We might not be able to solve many of our problems, but could were at least try to solve the worst case scenario? To do that, we had to move from citywide choice to local school preference.

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  92. "The United States has absolutely nothing to do with the policies of the Catholic Church and high birth rate in Mexico and Central America,"

    Maybe not. But the U.S. has had a lot to do with the civil wars in Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Guatemala (plus creating a staging ground for war in Honduras), the effects of which are still destabilizing those countries today and which certainly created the wave of migration here in the 1980's and 1990's from those countries.

    The U.S. has had a lot to do with designing trade policies such as NAFTA and CAFTA that have had the effect of driving farmers off their land as subsidized American corn and rice has flooded Mexico and Central America.

    The U.S. has had a lot to do with drug policies in this country that created a huge underground and gangster economy in Mexico.

    The U.S. has also had a lot to do with supporting despotic regimes throughout Latin America, and more recently high-finance governments that are trade-friendly, at the expense of more popularly elected governments that wanted to work on development and jobs that would support the population.

    Look at CIA-supported coups in Guatemala in the 1950s (a precursor of the terrible civil war after the popular government of Jacobo Arbenz was overthrown), and Chile in the 1970's (overthrowing Allende). Look at the Dominican Republic and Haiti and Brazil and El Salvador for tacit or open U.S. support for despotic and military regimes in those countries in the name of opposing communism.

    In El Salvador, the U.S. allowed outright election fraud in the 70's--the military stole the election from a moderate leftist party--and backed the death squad regime there throughout the 1980's; at one point El Salvador was the largest recipient of U.S. aid in the world after Israel and Pakistan. Result was 70,000 people killed and a lot of refugees, many of whom live here today, but "out of status" aka undocumented because El Salvador, unlike Cuba or Nicaragua, wasn't officially labeled as despotic and therefore the people couldn't be refugees. Even though the regime was murdering students, workers, teachers, priests, nuns, and even an archbishop for speaking up for the poor.

    The U.S. has a lot to do with agricultural policies here at home that cater to Big Agriculture's demand for cheap labor. That's not even talking about Big Business's desire for cheap janitors. Or how many people rely on immigrants for domestic labor, which has propped up the middle class as women went into the workforce.

    There are a LOT more issues driving migration around the world than the irresponsible pronouncements of the pope and the corrupt governments of Mexico et al. These countries are very bound up with our own nation's policies. The idea that everything that happens south of the border has nothing to do with our own actions as a country is a huge lie.

    Anyway, the point is that mass migration has happened. It is a reality. We need comprehensive immigration reform in this country that recognizes that fact and also recognizes that the immigrants we have are in many ways invigorating our country--we got the motivated ones, after all--and helps them reach their potential. Especially the kids.

    Eleven million people are not going back. It would destabilize their home countries if they did (bad effect on us) and it would destabilize our economy. We need reform that regularizes those who are here and takes measures to slow migration in the future. I'd start with better foreign and trade policies myself, but anyway.

    In the meantime, SFUSD really does have to educate these kids. It's the law and it's good policy.

    ReplyDelete
  93. 11:29 No one understood how the diversity index worked. Whether your child was a boy or girl was not suppose to matter. The diversity index is over and done with. Don't try to figure it out.

    ReplyDelete
  94. Someone posted this on the Community Forum ... I thought it was valuable info, so I pasted it on to this entry (hope that is oik ANON)

    @Anonymous:
    Can't comment on Marina, but all of these schools have great academics, all middle schools have free aftercare though how hard to get in is different as is what they do, all have cored classes in 6th - means one teacher LA/SS and one teacher Science/Math. All have one counselor per grade who follows the kids all 3 years. All have lockers, PE daily, beanery food (other options besides the regular menu). All offer the following sports - softball, baseball, soccer, basketball, track, volleyball. They differ in their elective offerings, the physical plant and clubs and activities offered, and size.

    Roosevelt - smaller school, band, orchestra, unified arts, dance, home ec, computer lab, for pe they do swimming at nearby rossi pool, amazing building that's very clean, teachers seem very engaged, new principal who is respected by the teachers (from a teacher), kids doing cool math projects, not as ethnically diverse as some schools, offer mathcounts, geography bee, spelling bee, turkey trot run (some type of race), great afterschool offered by richmond beacon with hip hop, other classes

    Giannini - large school with outdoor areas - access to softball field and soccer field next door, 60's style building, public library right next door, start honors in 7th grade after assessing kids in 6th, many gardens, great science labs (6th do science in the classroom), great teachers in science, visual art, drama, band, orchestra, choir, offer AVID which is a leadership program, received funding from BofA for history extension projects, I think offer a trip to Washington DC every other year

    Hoover - amazing band, orchestra and choral - the best music by far, home ec, visual art, dance, Mac lab, yearbook elective, science has labs and is getting dissection kits and microscopes, there is a teen center kids can hang out in during lunch, there are 30 clubs offered in huge variety of interests, outdoor area is mainly blacktop but they are making trails on the nearby hill, all 6th graders participate in Math Olympiad, 70's style building

    Presidio - band, orchestra, unified arts, home ec, great drama program, dance, computer, Japanese, Spanish, yearbook electives. put on a musical every year open to all students. have before school choir and before school sports for anyone - badmitton, volleyball, etc. have outdoor ed program with a trip to Yosemite, Olympic National Park and 8th graders can go to Washington DC. outdoor space is blacktop. great science labs located in a science "wing". beautiful older building that is clean. offers lots of math clubs, geography bee, spelling bee. afterschool is same as Roosevelt.

    ReplyDelete
  95. Someone posted this on the Community Forum ... I thought it was valuable info, so I pasted it on to this entry (hope that is oik ANON)

    @Anonymous:
    Can't comment on Marina, but all of these schools have great academics, all middle schools have free aftercare though how hard to get in is different as is what they do, all have cored classes in 6th - means one teacher LA/SS and one teacher Science/Math. All have one counselor per grade who follows the kids all 3 years. All have lockers, PE daily, beanery food (other options besides the regular menu). All offer the following sports - softball, baseball, soccer, basketball, track, volleyball. They differ in their elective offerings, the physical plant and clubs and activities offered, and size.

    Roosevelt - smaller school, band, orchestra, unified arts, dance, home ec, computer lab, for pe they do swimming at nearby rossi pool, amazing building that's very clean, teachers seem very engaged, new principal who is respected by the teachers (from a teacher), kids doing cool math projects, not as ethnically diverse as some schools, offer mathcounts, geography bee, spelling bee, turkey trot run (some type of race), great afterschool offered by richmond beacon with hip hop, other classes

    Giannini - large school with outdoor areas - access to softball field and soccer field next door, 60's style building, public library right next door, start honors in 7th grade after assessing kids in 6th, many gardens, great science labs (6th do science in the classroom), great teachers in science, visual art, drama, band, orchestra, choir, offer AVID which is a leadership program, received funding from BofA for history extension projects, I think offer a trip to Washington DC every other year

    Hoover - amazing band, orchestra and choral - the best music by far, home ec, visual art, dance, Mac lab, yearbook elective, science has labs and is getting dissection kits and microscopes, there is a teen center kids can hang out in during lunch, there are 30 clubs offered in huge variety of interests, outdoor area is mainly blacktop but they are making trails on the nearby hill, all 6th graders participate in Math Olympiad, 70's style building

    Presidio - band, orchestra, unified arts, home ec, great drama program, dance, computer, Japanese, Spanish, yearbook electives. put on a musical every year open to all students. have before school choir and before school sports for anyone - badmitton, volleyball, etc. have outdoor ed program with a trip to Yosemite, Olympic National Park and 8th graders can go to Washington DC. outdoor space is blacktop. great science labs located in a science "wing". beautiful older building that is clean. offers lots of math clubs, geography bee, spelling bee. afterschool is same as Roosevelt.

    ReplyDelete
  96. oops..so good I posted it twice (by accident)

    ReplyDelete
  97. Guatemala, Mexico, Honduras, and El Salvador are not blank slates. Their governments have had as much to do with their failed policy as any US intervention.

    Yes, the CIA is all over central and parts of South America. The assassination of Allende is a particularly egregious example. But do you see Chileans packing in here in droves? No! Why? Because they do not have an unsustainable birthrate.

    We've already gone through amnesty after amnnesty with the "undocumented" from El Salvadore and Guatemala and more than paid for our misteps there.

    NAFTA has been just as destabilizing for Canada as it has for Mexico. Do we have Canadians coming here in droves and reminding us about how Washington State, most of the Prairies, Vermont, Upstate New York and Maine should be theirs? And insisting that we establish French immersion programs so that their kids can stumble along in French?

    The whole thing is ridiculous, we can't afford it, and no, we don't have to continue to give blanket Amnesty to every Joe who decides to violate our borders. And that is why the DREAM act just failed to pass in the Senate.

    The majority of the American public know that we can't afford to continue with blanket amnesty. It's ruining our schools and our children's future.

    And I think even a lot of second generation Latinos quietly realize this, as it is their schools and their wages that are most affected by continued, unchecked illegal immigration.

    "In the meantime, SFUSD really does have to educate these kids. It's the law and it's good policy."

    Actually, what we're doing is not educating this kids. Instead, we're quietly putting them in holding tanks like Everett and Mann, throwing them a token SIG grant, and hoping the problem with go away.

    Which it will not.

    1:19 PM, I've heard it all before, the CIA, NAFTA, the drug war and "You didn't cross the border, the border crosse us."

    Sure, fifteen years ago, I would have bought your argument. But we've already given amnesty for many of those transgressions. And the "undocumented" just keep pouring in. They're more self entitled than ever.

    I'd say it's time to adopt a different tact, such as *not* giving Amnestry, encouraging Mexico to confront its problems, and not letting them use the US as an escape hatch for their unworkable policies.

    As to California, we're broke. We have the lowest high school graduation rate in the country. And if we continue in same direction, expect to see a lot more schools go the way of Mann and Everett.

    I'm sure you'll have more to say. Go ahead, scour more funds from the struggling middle class for your single minded devotion to the city's sanctuary policy. Surely the children of Central America are far more deserving than American children, who actually need an education to survive and do not have a country to "return" to.

    ReplyDelete
  98. Consent Decree ended in early 2006.

    Let's get some facts straight-

    Here is part of a Chron article:

    SF - New challenges await school assignment plan
    Heather Knight, Chronicle Staff Writer - Thursday, November 10, 2005
    One day after a federal judge announced the end of the court order overseeing the desegregation system in San Francisco's public schools, it was clear the debate over the way children are assigned to schools is far from over -- and could wind up back in court.
    U.S. District Judge William Alsup turned down a lawyers' request Tuesday to extend the 22-year-old "consent degree'' for 18 months past its planned sunset date of Dec. 31, meaning the school district will be out from under court supervision in seven weeks.
    In his decision, Alsup wrote that the current system, which uses socioeconomic factors but not race in assigning students to schools, "imposes a burden on families" and "has not and will not produce the benefit of diversity or racial integration."


    I repeat ""imposes a burden on families" and "has not and will not produce the benefit of diversity or racial integration."


    Garcia's initial plan was much more neighborhood friendly. He understood that to bring up tests scores SFUSD must stop encouraging families to leave with it assignment policies. Transportation costs were cited for the need for change. But it was really an excuse to get a more neighborhood friendly policy through the Board. Then the progressives on the Board changed the preferences around. And shortly thereafter the horrendous shortcomings of the MS SAS were uncovered.

    No one will take responsibility for the mess they created.But I give Garcia credit for trying to listen to the judge, the CGJ, and the overwhelming evidence of the failure of the diversity index. The fact that he needs an excuse like transportation costs to do the right thing shows you just how out of touch the Board is with the will most families who want quality neighborhood schools.

    ReplyDelete
  99. "We've already gone through amnesty after amnnesty with the "undocumented" from El Salvadore and Guatemala and more than paid for our misteps there."

    What amnesties can you point to in the last 24 years for Salvadorans and Guatemalans? Serious question.

    Some Salvadorans (and also Haitians) have temporary protected status due to earthquakes, but that is very, very limiting; families, including parents and children, are separated forever because it forbids travel out of the U.S. It is is not a stand-in for citizenship by any means.

    Some people have received asylum after many grueling years of documenting actual threats and being denied over and over. You have to remember how dangerous it was to be a human rights activist, religious worker, labor organizer and so forth in El Salvador and Guatemala. The American Baptist Church case and others helped to win the possibility of amnesty for some of these folks despite various administrations opposing amnesty for political reasons--the official line was that people weren't being threatened and death squads weren't that big a deal. Yeah, right. Paid for by U.S. dollars, they were a big deal.

    Anyway, a general amnesty? I'm not aware of it, not since the bill signed by Reagan back in the mid-1980s.

    Does the pittance of processes that has been offered make up for the "missteps" of overthrowing elected governments and funding civil wars to the tune of millions of dollars every day? El Salvador is a country of some 7 million or so people, the size of Massachusetts, and the death squad government received 1.5 million dollars a day from the U.S.--much of it stolen by the elites and much of it used to fund the civil war. People were murdered, tortured and imprisoned. Paid for by your tax dollars and mine. Yet most of these folks were not considered "refugees" when they came here, even when they fled targeted threats or came here direct from being tortured in prison. I have heard these stories directly from many people.

    No, I do not think these "missteps" have actually been addressed.

    I agree with you that we need to take steps to limit immigration. I'm not an open borders advocate. But this idea of yours that there has been "amnesty"--multiple times? That our nation's crimes in the region have been addressed? That root causes, to which we have contributed and continue to contribute--e.g., pushing subsidized corn from Iowa on subsistence corn farmers--have been mitigated? Your ideas are not based in fact. They may be based in emotion, but they are not factual.

    Immigration is a mixed bag in terms of its roots and its effects. In many ways it is an invigorating influence. The Mexicans and Central Americans I know work very, very very hard for their families doing tasks Americans don't want to do. They want their kids to do better. I agree there are also negative effects, especially on local municipalities, which is why I don't support totally open borders. I would also love to see more federal dollars to our schools and towns to deal with service needs that are essentially generated by federal policies.

    The facts and the solutions regarding immigration are not to be found in the simplistic view you are spewing, a la Lou Dobbs. Demagoguing will not solve this complex issue. Comprehensive immigration reform would help a lot. More federal dollars for schools and local services would help. Talking to people directly and hearing their stories would help. Making it possible for ambitious kids to get an education (the DREAM Act, people) would help a lot.

    Okay, enough said. I can only ask you to stop using this blog to vent your obsession on this issue, which does not address the real questions middle school seekers want answered, and about which you don't know very much in terms of actual facts.

    ReplyDelete
  100. "We've already gone through amnesty after amnnesty with the "undocumented" from El Salvadore and Guatemala and more than paid for our misteps there."

    What amnesties can you point to in the last 24 years for Salvadorans and Guatemalans? Serious question.

    Some Salvadorans (and also Haitians) have temporary protected status due to earthquakes, but that is very, very limiting; families, including parents and children, are separated forever because it forbids travel out of the U.S. It is is not a stand-in for citizenship by any means.

    Some people have received asylum after many grueling years of documenting actual threats and being denied over and over. You have to remember how dangerous it was to be a human rights activist, religious worker, labor organizer and so forth in El Salvador and Guatemala. The American Baptist Church case and others helped to win the possibility of amnesty for some of these folks despite various administrations opposing amnesty for political reasons--the official line was that people weren't being threatened and death squads weren't that big a deal. Yeah, right. Paid for by U.S. dollars, they were a big deal.

    Anyway, a general amnesty? I'm not aware of it, not since the bill signed by Reagan back in the mid-1980s.

    Does the pittance of processes that has been offered make up for the "missteps" of overthrowing elected governments and funding civil wars to the tune of millions of dollars every day? El Salvador is a country of some 7 million or so people, the size of Massachusetts, and the death squad government received 1.5 million dollars a day from the U.S.--much of it stolen by the elites and much of it used to fund the civil war. People were murdered, tortured and imprisoned. Paid for by your tax dollars and mine. Yet most of these folks were not considered "refugees" when they came here, even when they fled targeted threats or came here direct from being tortured in prison. I have heard these stories directly from many people.

    No, I do not think these "missteps" have actually been addressed.

    I agree with you that we need to take steps to limit immigration. I'm not an open borders advocate. But this idea of yours that there has been "amnesty"--multiple times? That our nation's crimes in the region have been addressed? That root causes, to which we have contributed and continue to contribute--e.g., pushing subsidized corn from Iowa on subsistence corn farmers--have been mitigated? Your ideas are not based in fact. They may be based in emotion, but they are not factual.

    Immigration is a mixed bag in terms of its roots and its effects. In many ways it is an invigorating influence. The Mexicans and Central Americans I know work very, very very hard for their families doing tasks Americans don't want to do. They want their kids to do better. I agree there are also negative effects, especially on local municipalities, which is why I don't support totally open borders. I would also love to see more federal dollars to our schools and towns to deal with service needs that are essentially generated by federal policies.

    The facts and the solutions regarding immigration are not to be found in the simplistic view you are spewing. Demagoguing will not solve this complex issue. Comprehensive immigration reform would help a lot. More federal dollars for schools and local services would help. Talking to people directly and hearing their stories would help. Making it possible for ambitious kids to get an education (the DREAM Act, people) would help a lot.

    ReplyDelete
  101. 1. Immigration and Reform Control Act (IRCA) of 1986, an amnesty for illegal aliens.

    Since IRCA, Congress has enacted an additional six amnesties, providing some 5.7 million people with the gift of U.S. citizenship:

    2. Immigration and Reform Control Act (IRCA), 1986
    Blanket amnesty for some 2.7 million illegal aliens.

    3. Section 245(i) Amnesty, 1994
    Temporary rolling amnesty for 578,000 illegal aliens.

    4. Section 245(i) Extension Amnesty, 1997
    Extension of the rolling amnesty created in 1994.
    Note: The numbers for section 245(i) are not broken out for 1994 and 1997.

    5. Nicaraguan Adjustment and Central American Relief Act (NACARA) Amnesty, 1997
    Amnesty for close to 1 million illegal aliens from Central America.

    6. Haitian Refugee Immigration Fairness Act Amnesty (HRIFA), 1998
    Amnesty for 125,000 illegal aliens from Haiti.

    7. Late Amnesty, 2000
    Amnesty for some illegal aliens who claim they should have received amnesty under the 1986 IRCA amnesty, an estimated 400,000 illegal aliens.

    8. LIFE Act Amnesty, 2000
    Reinstatement of the rolling Section 245(i) amnesty, an estimated 900,000 illegal aliens.

    Reference:

    No Home for Amnesty in a Sustainable America, Maria Fotopoulos:

    http://www.capsweb.org/content.php?id=931&menu_id=8

    ReplyDelete
  102. ^
    Please.

    Several of these law cited dealt with administrative extensions of the IRCA 1986 law (the one signed by President Reagan). The one already mentioned above. The 1986 law doesn't pertain to those who arrived after 1986, which is most. Including many Salvadorans and Guatemalans who arrived at the height of the civil wars in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

    HRIFA had no bearing on Salvadorans or Guatemalans. That's obvious, yes?

    NACARA comes the closest, as it did address the status of some tens of thousands of Salvadorans and Guatemalans, although it treated them very differently than Nicaraguans and Cubans, as discussed in the posts above.

    NACARA mainly resolved a part of the huge backlog of political asylum claims by changing the standard and procedure by which they were handled. It also didn't confer citizenship, as you claim, but resident alien status. It was not a general amnesty by any means. In response to political pressure by those who were shocked at the treatment of political refugees, Congress relented and provided a pathway to a relatively small number of political asylees (refugees). It took some steam off a pressure cooker in a very politicized situation. It was more of a commentary on U.S. foreign policies than a solution or redress for, you know, sponsoring devastating civil wars in these folks' homeland. Read a bit more here:

    http://www.policyarchive.org/
    handle/10207/bitstreams/569.pdf

    Section 245(i) was not an amnesty. It changed procedures for people who already qualified for visas to avoid a return home--basically, instead of people paying the airlines to go their home country to deal with the paperwork, the U.S. Treasury picked up a bigger fee.

    Throwing out a list of random laws related to very specific situations doesn't mean that Salvadorans or Guatemalans or Mexicans for that matter have benefited from multiple amnesties since the mid-1980s. Certainly not in large numbers. This during a period when U.S. trade and foreign and labor policy has in effect promoted mass migration. Yet we demonize these folks who had the gumption to make the move to feed their families.

    There is a better and more moderate way. DREAM Act and immigration reform. Not demogoguery and tea bagger rhetoric.

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  103. Previous nativist/anti-immigrant movements proclaimed that [Irish, Italian, German, Greek, Polish, Lithuanian, Chinese, East European Jewish, French Canadian etc] immigrants were un-assimilable and uneducable and that they were bringing crime and bad morals to America. Those movements turned out to be wrong.

    It's a great way to distract from the more potent attacks on the working and middle classes though--such as the defunding of public schools. Especially in time of recession.

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  104. Back on the middles. You will see above the immigration debate a synopsis of middle schools' offerings. If I could just add my own two-cents impressionistic views of the schools -- When I toured them last year, I felt that, overall, Hoover seemed to be the most anarchic and chaotic of all, but gave a feeling of being very inclusive. Roosevelt seemed a bit crammed into its physical plant, and I thought the principal seemed overly focused on STAR test results. Giannini seemed terribly academic to me, and I thought I detected more than a bit of elitism in the place. Lick was the biggest surprise --I was impressed at how under control it felt and how energized the teachers and principal were. I did not see Presidio or Aptos, so can't comment on those.

    ReplyDelete
  105. The Board of Ed is replacing citywide schools at the middle school level with feeder patterns. If you disagree with them, take it to the ballot.

    If you want to change specifics about the feeder patterns, discuss those changes.

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  106. Students First, the organization that I among others helped to get off the ground and for which I wrote the great majority of the text of ballot measure, IS taking it to the voters. But what you have to understand is this - the voters have absolutely no say over student assignment.This measure, Quality Neighborhood Schools For All, is a nonbinding effort to put political pressure on those that do decide - the commissioners.

    As I have pointed out before, I dropped out of this group because they became too ideological and conservative for me. We started as a grassroots group of people of different colors and political persuasions from all over the city. As time passed they started making statements to the press that I could not agree with and I quit in frustration.

    I believe that Students First will file their petitions with the Department of Elections within the next few weeks in order to meet the 6 month deadline. They already had the necessary signatures when I left, somewhere around 11,000 not figuring in any invalid ones. They only needed a little over 7,200 valid signatures to qualify for the ballot for Nov. 2011.

    The point is that a municipal ballot measures cannot make school assignment policy and only serves to create political pressure and/or to promote the affiliated organizations.

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  107. How does the board intend to put honors programs, inclusion, music, etc. at each middle school?

    Because most of the "satisfied" middle school customers in this city, including Caroline, have been able to opt for schools with programming their family wants.

    Once that's gone, how does the Board intend to provide these programs?

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  108. 5:14

    Doesn't make sense

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  109. Likewise, how do they intend to put the citywide classes in the elementary schools? If you are in the neighborhood of a poorly performing CTIP-2 elementary school, you have lowest priority for the citywide programs such as language immersion. Your priority is after CTIP-1 AND the neighborhoods with the most popular schools. How is that fair?

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  110. Don,

    In a nutshell what does this ballot measure ask of the voters?

    ReplyDelete
  111. it's all about cutting busingSeptember 22, 2010 at 6:47 PM

    It sounds to me that the whole idea of the MS feeder pattern (not to mention the neighborhood ESs) stems from a desire to cut busing costs now that the consent degree expired and we no longer get the funds from outside the district. Couldn't they just have a choice system with limited (targeted?) busing? It's pretty ironic that Garcia et al are talking so much about equity and excellence for all while actually limiting the choices of the most needy students (not to mention their neighbors).

    ReplyDelete
  112. They still get the funds. They just don't have to use it for busing. Of course all categorical funding was reduced about 20%. It isn't about costs. $4 million is a drop in the bucket for a district with a half billion dollar budget.

    Regarding the measure, it basically says that proximity should be the primary factor in determining student assignment with alternative schools excepted.

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  113. They still get the state funds. They just don't have to use it for busing. Of course all categorical funding was reduced about 20%. It isn't about costs. $4 million is a drop in the bucket for a district with a half billion dollar budget.

    Regarding the measure, it basically says that proximity should be the primary factor in determining student assignment with alternative schools excepted.

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  114. Conspiracy theory #1:

    To balance the budget, we need the unions to voluntarily give up pay. To convince the unions that we are on the edge of bankruptcy, which is in no one's interest, we have to show that we are financially bleeding to death. The reduction of transportation services is that pound of flesh that we must sacrifice to show how serious our financial situation is.

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  115. My recollection is that any school district under court ordered desegregation got extra money from Sacramento. I expect those funds to no longer be available after the court order expires, but I do not know for sure--it would seem to make sense that that is how it would work.

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  116. Here's a question. It pertains to elementary school assignment, so sorry for the diversion. If Argonne is your neighborhood school and you are assigned to it next year, what do you do if you don't want an extended year school? Can you opt out of the extra days, or will that get you a truancy visit? Are they going to make it a normal calendar year school like all the other neighborhood schools?

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  117. 8:10,

    Just go ahead and make stuff up. The transportation funding is still there even after the court order expiration. Sacramento does not run on what you or anyone else would perceive to make sense. Never assume otherwise or try to employ common sense to make assumptions about the budget. Instead, look it up at the CDE website. But don't come on the blog talking shit.

    Anyway, most of the discretionary transportation money comes from TIIBG, Targeted Instructional Improvement Block Grant. That money is still there in large part.It can be used for just about anything at this time.

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  118. How would you fare if you do not list the school in your attendance area? You are not going to Agronne because you choose not to go there. It was not a matter of Agronne being oversubscribed. You do not seem to get any preferences. A man without a country.

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  119. To address the idea that underperforming students need more options, I don't think so. They need less options. Do students that test below proficient in language arts, math, science need more music, pe or immersion? What they need is more remedial instruction in schools that provide specialized instruction.

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  120. I like proximity as the primary factor for elementary schools, but I like citywide choice for middle schools.

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  121. 9:07 AM

    It seems obvious that given the diverse education needs of SF middle school children, and budget constraints, that neighborhood K-5's and citywide choice for middle school is the way to go.

    It's unfair to provide choice for one group of families (immersion) and not for another (music, honors, etc.).

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  122. Citywide choice for middle schools is going to be my up or down issue for any candidate for School Board.

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  123. It seems that the citywide choice as used for elementary schools really managed to improve many elementary schools, either by improving the school itself, or by improving its reputation. Schools like Miraloma and Alvarado have gone from unwanted to highly desirable. Now that there are more acceptable elementary schools, neighborhood assignment is more palatable. It seems that the same process needs to be done for the middle schools. Use some of the grant money to create some cool programs at certain middle schools, and parents would be attracted to those schools. You could see if a million dollars was given to Mann to create a really good Spanish language middle school program, it would attract parents looking for that, even if it was a third choice after Lick or Hoover. But it needs to be a "pull" process, as "pushing" families to bad schools is a recipe for disaster. But haven't we figured that out yet?

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  124. I have to admit that I bought into this scam that the busing issue was about money. It isn't.

    Tell me this. The Central Office hired two new assistant superintendents and seven more executive directors for the seven assistant supes. That cost 2 million. While SFUSD was stripping some schools down to the bone Garcia was on a hiring spree. Where is the money coming from? I thought the District was broke.

    Even before the SIG grants, schools in the two newly created Superintendent's zones had a principal, usually an assistant principal, an IRF, a parent liason, an elementary adviser, at least one full time resource teacher and at least one counselor in addition to the rest of the staff, not to mention the assistance from private organizations.

    Let me tell you about Alamo. We have a principal, no assistant principal, no IRF, no parent liaison, no counselor, a .4 resource person (cut from 1.0) and a .5 elementary adviser. Now they cut our lunch time supervision.

    In the meantime, the SIG schools get 45 million and are going to add significant resources far above and beyond what they currently have.

    All the while Alamo is screwed out of even the most basic services. We are school of 525. We can tolerate this kind of inequitable distribution of resources without suffering by the students and staff.

    But it is interesting to note that Alamo does well academically in spite of the losses. That is because academic achievement has little to do with money.

    Garcia imagines himself a modern day Robin Hood. But he is just a thief.

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  125. 10:04,

    More "off the top of your head" nonsense. YOU CANNOT USE THE SIG MONEY TO IMPLEMENT SPANISH LANGUAGE, ETC PROGRAMS!!!!!!!!!!!

    That is not what the money is for.

    Now can we come back to reality?

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  126. Don

    Quick note during the lunch hour

    To Don ***

    This is a blog frequented in the main by ordinary parents looking for information about the variety and types of schools. They don't have a background on school finance, education code and the like. I think you are speaking to the wrong audience.

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  127. And this topic is not about school financing.

    ReplyDelete
  128. Who are these people that decide what can and can't be posted?

    Don, you're fine. Keep posting about school financing, because apparently no one else thinks that we should ever, ever think or talk about the appropriate use of tax payer dollars.

    Don, maybe it's too late to get on the ballot for school commissioner, but in the next election, your name should be there.

    I don't want to pay for middle school immersion in public school. I'm fine if parents want to pay the difference themselves, but I'm not going to pay for Spanish immersion in middle school. We'll just have more kids getting all the way to 9th grade without having to function in English.

    Keep posting Don. I'll keep posting.

    I guess we're both tired of the charade of tax payer dollars being tossed out the window so that building contractor Joe can have his kids learn to speak the language of his sub-minimum wage construction workers.

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  129. The topic is not specifically about school financing, but financing is about everything. You cannot have an intelligent conversation about the SAS, for example, without discussing the financing of it.

    No one wants to consider what a mess the MS situation has created and how much it is going to cost the district. No one wants to talk about how many new highly paid central office executive directors and assistant supes have been hired with the money that could have gone directly to your child's education. No one wants to talk about the diversion of categorical dollars to fund the superintendent's zones at the expense of everyone else. Why not? Because it is not politically correct to criticize the progressive extremists on the Board and running the administration. It is not appropriate to hold public officials accountable if they are towing the party line.

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  130. http://grammartips.homestead.com/toetheline.html

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  131. There are one or two people on this blog, one of whom I believe is Beth Weise, who make a point of nitpicking at minor grammar mistakes.

    Beth, you'd better get back to work. Job security on the field of journalism doesn't look good these days, especially for those who don't have a full grasp on their subject matter (science?). With a liberal arts background, I'm sure you can spell. However, you're clearly out of your league when it comes to talking about science.

    Please focus on your limited skills as a journalist, and not on correcting typos and minor grammar errors on this blog.

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  132. @ 2:49
    Ouch!! How can you possibly even know who is posting? If it isn't Beth, this is very bad karma...

    Even if it IS Beth, your posting is pretty snarky.

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  133. That was nasty, 2:49. Please remove, Kate.

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  134. Thank you for the tip. I appreciate your taking the time to do so. Toe, not tow. I stand corrected. My humble apologies. This is a lesson I will never forget.

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  135. Hi, this is Beth Weise. I would *never* comment on someone's grammar. Or spelling. In my day job copy editors save my butt every day - I write, they make sure it looks good. I'd wouldn't dream of picking on someone, especially for the kinds of things I could all too easily do myself.

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  136. Someone put their tow in their mouth.

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  137. adjective required as in "grammatical mistakes or errors'

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  138. Jumping jehosaphats!

    Can we get back to the important discussion of beaneries?

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  139. Can beaneries suffice for a music program?

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  140. This is my first comment on this thread (I didn’t post the grammar tip). I personally wouldn’t comment on other people’s grammar/spelling/punctuation errors – this is the Internet, after all. But I must say – I don’t mind the grammar tips on this blog. Obviously it’s not cool to point to grammatical errors when disagreeing with a point (i.e., “Your point must be dumb – you don’t even know the difference between ‘they’re’ and ‘their’!”). But I see nothing objectionable about pointing out something in a neutral way. I mean, all 2:36 did was provide a link to a website. Personally, I had no idea that it was “toe” the line as opposed to “tow” the line. You learn something new every day! The same thing happened several weeks ago when a commenter pointed out the correct use of the word “matriculate.”

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  141. Too get back to the subject at hand, if you want choice make more alternative schools. Telling someone that you deserve to go to such and such neighborhood school more than they do is elitist!

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  142. The west side of the city should drop out of SFUSD. Let the radical extremist in the east and south do as they may. But we won''t have to waste our money on their crazy schemes.

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  143. I believe that young elementary school students do deserve to go to a school near them, if that is what they want.

    Now, if you do not want to go to your neighborhood school, you should have that chance to go to another school, but not necessarily at the expense of someone who does live close to that other school. At the middle school level, I would even give you that a citywide policy should outweigh the neighborhood school policy.

    This coming school year, we will have pretty much that breakdown: neighborhood policy at the elementary level and citywide policy at the middle school level. Let's make that permanent!

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  144. It's not what we have for elementary school. What happened is CTIP-1 and west side of the city have guaranteed access to the best schools, including city-wide and immersion, no matter where they are located. Middle of the city gets what is left anywhere in the city, and is locked out of city-wide and immersion programs.

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  145. 9:40,
    I assume your favor of neighborhood elementary schools wanes at middle school because you do not believe that middle schools have standardized programs that are available at every school. But what if they were?

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  146. A neighborhood school policy does not have to be absolute. We have CTIP for integration purposes. If preschool and CTIP leave only 100 seats for incoming students, why not share between locals and at large students, giving locals some advantage, for example, two lottery tickets for locals and only one for everyone else?

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  147. 10:02,

    That's fine. But don't call it a neighborhood school policy if large percentages of neighbors who request the neighborhood school don't get in.

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  148. Someone should look in to the legality of parents' rights to request a non_PI school. It's the law under NCLB. Therefore ALL families may be "entitled" to attend a westside non-PI school.

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  149. Will ranked choice continue to be a tie-breaker? Parents will need to know this to decide how to rank their various choices?

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  150. Ranked choice tie-breakers. How would this work?

    Both A and B live in the Jefferson assignment area. A picks 1=Jefferson, 2=Lawton, and 3=Rooftop. B picks 1=Lawton, 2=Rooftop, and 3=Jefferson. Lawton and Rooftop are K8 citywide schools. Would B have the same chance to get into Jefferson as A eventhough A put Jefferson as #1 while B put Jefferson as #3?

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  151. This time, ranked choice for middle school for this coming school year. No feeders, no assignment areas, all middle schools are citywide.

    C lists 1=Aptos and 2=Giannini. D lists 1=Giannini and 2=Aptos.

    After the preferences for siblings and CTIP1, would there be a lottery for those who ranked #1 at each school, followed by those who ranked #2 at each school, if there are available seats? If yes, then order of rank remains very important. Has the district given any guidance about this?

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  152. "Someone should look in to the legality of parents' rights to request a non_PI school. It's the law under NCLB. Therefore ALL families may be "entitled" to attend a westside non-PI school."

    Someone, but apparently not you. There is no entitlement to go to any particular school in the opt out portion of Title One, Part A. If you read the damn thing you would know that. It is very clear. The district only needs to provide an option to go to a non-PI school and that option would go to low SES before others.

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  153. The latest info is that order of rank will not matter. Every school is doing its own lottery, following the list of preferences. You make up a list, perhaps as long as you like, and in the order that you like.

    So, if you really love Presidio #1, and Aptos #2, and Giannini #3, go ahead and list them in that order.

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  154. Can someone please clarify/confirm what the School Board approved last night? It sounds as though the "attendance feeder system" from elementary to middle school was NOT approved?

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  155. This year, there is no feeder for middle school and the only priority would be sibling and CTip1 residents. Everyone else goes trough a random lottery system. School Board approved elementary school boundary and delaying middle school feeder pattern for 1 year last night.

    There shouldn't be too much of a difference if you compare the random lottery to the old diversity index system.

    As far as demand, I saw some useful information on the website: http://portal.sfusd.edu/template/default.cfm?page=policy.placement.assignment.so_far_maps_data

    They listed information on how many people listed what school for 1st choice and the percentage of people getting them. For Presidio, it's about a 60% chance and for AP it's about 68%. The actuals might be a little lower with siblings but it shouldn't be that different. So it seems like the odds are not as bad as what people might think.

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  156. I know this is an old thread, but I'm going to comment anyway--
    Just for some general feedback, I'm a student from one of the west side schools (Aptos) and I love it. It's diverse, it has wonderful teachers, a good environment, and it recently remodeled so it has a gorgeous building.
    I'm a GATE student. I have test scores that would easily qualify me for Lowell or a private high school. But honestly, I value the diversity offered in most San Francisco public education.
    I've noticed many people putting down the east side schools, or schools with bad test scores, etc., and I just want to set one thing straight, from a student's perspective:
    Kids thrive in a diverse environment. Unless the school is on a failed school list, chances are, the cosmopolitan school isn't as bad as it comes off to be. The test scores are not a reflection of how good of an education your child will get, nor are the ethnicity patterns, nor the bells and whistles. The difference is in the environment, and in the teachers. Good teachers will provide a good education for any kid. And racial and socioeconomic diversity WILL change a kid for the better.
    Now, don't get me wrong. If your kid feels unsafe, by all means, switch out, if you can. All I'm saying is, don't automatically go for the uber-popular, uber-asian/white, west side schools.
    I love Aptos because we have just the right balance. We're the most diverse school in the district, and yet we have a place for EACH and EVERY kid. No matter who you are or where you come from. This should be the ideal, yet reputations and test scores seem to put parents in a frenzy for getting the "right" or "wrong" school.
    Tours are coming up. Don't stress. For the most part, no matter what your kid gets, he or she is going to be happy. So please, please, don't judge a book by its cover when it comes to your kids' education.

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