Monday, September 27, 2010

SFGate: Board to give final OK for assigning students

This from SFGate:
You can't please everyone.

With that in mind, the San Francisco school board is expected to put a final stamp of approval Tuesday on new rules governing which schools students will be assigned.

How students are assigned to schools is historically the most controversial issue related to the city's public schools, and this new plan is no exception.

Parents for years have called for a replacement for the current system, one that would be easier to understand and give them a fighting chance to get in the school down the block or to one attended by an older brother or sister. The new plan was a compromise that will to do just that.

It also will provide a greater opportunity for children living in census tracts where test scores are lowest to attend a high-performing school. At the same time, district officials hope that eventually it will increase diversity in schools in a city with stark residential segregation.

The current assignment process, in place since court-ordered desegregation ended in 2001, gives parents a choice of schools, but it's been the luck of the draw for the most sought-after sites. Children who didn't get into high-demand schools sometimes were placed in schools miles away from home.


  1. LIke the family in this article, we too, are assigned a failing school but not in a failing census tract. Why can't they give priority to everyone who is assigned a failing school? It seems seriously unfair and may drive us out of the city. Thoughts? Ideas?

  2. and i know plenty PLENTY of families with 150k+ family incomes who own homes in CTIP1 zones.

  3. 9:29
    Opt out of the Program Improvement school for a nonPI school of the district's choosing. Not sure if this is a viable course of action until more parents try it.

    What change would you want, in light of the observation that expensive homes and poverty level housing share the same census tract in SF?

  4. Seriously folks, being assigned to a failing school is nothing new. Why do you think so many people were upset about getting assigned to John Muir thru the lottery. The difference is that you know ahead of time that you are going to a failed school instead of hoping you will get one of the schools that you toured.

  5. I'm not wasting any energy on SFUSD this year. Going private, parochial, or to the burbs.

  6. Had I known sending my kids to an SFUSD preschool would increasae my chances of getting into a good elementary school of my choice I would have too lied on an application and say I'm making under $10,000. Shame on those families!!!!
    Now here I am with a moderate single income for 4 of us, a CTIP2 zone, CRAP attendance area school and no light at the end of the tunnel. Maybe I should too rent a place in the projects and lie about my income to secure a better education for my child.

  7. I'm going to give the new system a try because I have to. But I think this year, everyone on the SE side and anyone whose attendance area school is in high demand needs a realistic plan B, i.e., a plan beyond SFUSD. Shame.

  8. i am only vaguely familiar with the new assignment process so apologize. however, from last week's GGMG presentation by the school board it seems clear that:
    1) SFUSD has no evidence that the new system will change anything and no evidence that it will result in more neighborhood assignments. IT HAS NOT BEEN TESTED!
    2) priority will be given first to kids that went to SFUSD preshoools and next to low scoring kids. neighborhood was at least 3rd on the priority list.

  9. The school district thought it was getting out of the impossible task of verifying income when it went to addresses only in the new SAS, but the result of the preschool preference policy is that we have only relocated the problem to preK. If there is too much fraud taking place, over addresses, over income, the new SAS will not work.

    We may have to give up the preK preference as not workable. If income verification were workable, we would have incorporated that in CTIP, after all.

  10. Here's the link for the list of San Francisco Public preschools:

  11. 9:49am:

    "The school district thought it was getting out of the impossible task of verifying income when it went to addresses only in the new SAS, but the result of the preschool preference policy is that we have only relocated the problem to preK."

    Don't be daft. The "school district" knows very well what they were doing when they dreamed up the special criteria for preschool. Just as with the San Francisco residency requirement, they know many people are cheating.

    It's fine with them as it serves to punish and push moderates out of the city.

  12. Most of the trophies don't even have preschools so I don't see what big deal is?

  13. Even if there is no preschool onsite, is there one anywhere in the assignment area? That preschool qualifies, and would feed into the elementary school of that assignment area.

  14. 10:47 AM:

    Apart from Miraloma and Clarendon, there are no "trophies" on the east side of the city.

    So, of course, if you live on the west side, you think the new assignment system is wonderful. Until the CTIP1 kids start encroaching on your precious little universe, that is.

    Yes, the new assignment system is a victory for the West Side and for schools such as Sherman. It's amazing that Sherman is one of the only schools that has managed to enforce the residency requirement.

    Good for you that you've got paid your nanny under the table all these years. She of course lives on the east side or East Bay and won't be clogging up your precious schools with her children.

  15. 11:08 -10:47 You made a lot of assumptions about me with my comment. I looked at the list of preschools and most seemed associated with schools that NO ONE on this blog would consider for their child. I didn't realize other had to do with zone as well. BTW my kid goes to a school most people cringe at when I tell them because of the kids that are "bussed in".

  16. 11:08, FYI much of Treasure Island (with many formerly-homeless families) will feed into Sherman (bus provided) in the new SAS.

  17. Sorry, 11:19 AM.

    But, as you can tell, I'm pissed.

    Every person I know who still has kids in the public school system has an angle.

    Either they live on the West Side, or they got their kids into an immersion program that their happy with, or they are one of the few with kids in a trophy.

    There are a few middle class parents that are battling away with kids in Title 1, Class A schools, but not many. They're struggling and worried. Many have finally waved the white flag by moving.

    Nothing is going to improve until we start to act together, geographically, and otherwise, to put the pressure on all facets of city government to serve the economic middle as well as the top and the bottom.

  18. I'd suggest sticking with the school 9:29 pm. My neighborhood school was considered failing not all that long ago. Lots of parents have been quite involved and now it is a "trophy school". We were constantly told by friends with kids at the public and private trophy schools to get our kid out. He got a great education. Now this school gets excoriated by folks on this blog. Now that it is a better school folks from the neighborhood are now beating down the door to get in.

  19. 11:56 AM:

    I find your remarks unrealistic. Not every school is going to instantly become a trophy.

    I would consider a school if it had a good principal, good teachers and was in an affluent neighborhood. Junipero Serra is a school that I think might be worth trying.

    However, saying that every school will improve and become a trophy is unrealistic and even foolish. Many "hidden gem" schools have in fact worsened, not improved, in the last several years.

  20. Yes, a lot of schools will instantly (or soon) become trophy.

    The issue here is not assignment. It is there aren't enough spots in the good performing schools for all kids in the district. You can change the assignment system 100 ways and you will still get the same % people upset. The fundamental solution is to improve schools.

    With the new system, quite a few poor performing schools in middle class neighborhood will get the improvement quickly. It only takes a certain critical mass of parents to improve the schools (we have seen it in many schools). When parents know that people from the same neighborhood will attend the same school, it is more likely that they will stick to it. I am going to predict that Noe Valley, Bernal Heights, Glen Park schools will see some huge improvement over the next few years.

    Now, if your kids are entering K in 2011, this may not sound very assuring. However, if your kids are entering in 3 or 4 years, I am quite sure the picture will be quite different then (and positively so).

    The worst case....prepare for private schools, not much different from the old system. Actually, with the new system, you can plan ahead instead of having the great unknown.

  21. Um 11:08 AM, isn't Clarendon on the West side? OK, central if you want, but it's west of Rooftop, the quintessential trophy.

  22. 12:27 PM:

    Obviously, "trophy" doesn't have a precise meaning or universal understanding.

    Sure, add Rooftop to the list. While we're at it, add E R Taylor.
    Even "up Clayton" Grattan.

    Both Clarendon and Miraloma are somewhat central, but they are schools that Noe, Bernal and Glen Park parents have traditionally attempted to access as their "neighborhood" schools.

    In any case, most middle class East Side parents haven't been able to access these schools for years. The new assignment system will make it official.

    I have to say that I'm a little blase about the whole thing. I'm glad the "you went 0/7 or 0/14 or 0/28 because you only put trophy schools on your list" thing has stopped on this blog.

    Fact is, it's been hard to get a kid into Flynn and Paul Revere, never mind any of these "trophies". As I've said, the new assignment system only makes official what SE parents have known for a number of years:

    SE schools are full, bursting even. The lack of funding and poor performance at these schools has nothing to do with the decisions of middle class parents.

    So let's stop the blaming and get on with pressuring the SFUSD and supervisors to set sustainable policies.

  23. 12:27 here. I wasn't commenting on anything but the geography. Clarendon is an obvious "west side" school that people on this blog want to get their kids into, partly because it is accessible from Noe Valley, etc. But when saying that "there are enough good west side schools and not enough good east side schools," I agree, but lump Grattan and Clarendon in with those west side schools. "Trophy school" is hard enough to define; the geography of San Francisco I'd hoped was easier.

    It does seem that, aside from the immersion programs, the good "east side" schools tend to be closer to the center: Alvarado and Miraloma. We'll see if the new system encourages the Bernal families to support Serra.

  24. Southeast CTIP 2 parents need more options.

    1. Fine tune the preferences. Everyone should get TWO assignment area school preferences, one for where they live, and another completely free for you to choose. Many parents are more concerned with work location than residence. Many southeast parents just need a good school anywhere.

    2. Limit CTIP 1 preferences to apply to westside schools. CTIP 1 is geographically in the eastside. CTIP 1 would be a golden ticket to the westside only, which needs the racial diversity.

  25. Yeah, I really hope something good happens at Serra. Getting accessible aftercare for all will help.

    I also hope that Serra gets tracked into a more workable middle school. The now cancelled new assignment system had Serra tracking into Denman.

    Bernal parents are not going to leap at Denman as a middle school. It's an easy 1.2 mile drive over to Lick, even a nice walk, and a hectic 1.8 mile slog over to Denman on Ocean Avenue.

    JS should be tracked into Lick. Sadly, I suspect that Lick is oversubscribed.

    We'll see.

  26. 10:15 - you wrote: "Opt out of the Program Improvement school for a nonPI school of the district's choosing. Not sure if this is a viable course of action until more parents try it."

    Could you (or someone else) explain what this means? I am in the same boat - CTIP 2 parent assigned to John Muir. Thanks.

  27. 3:01pm,

    The idea about using the opt out provision under Title 1, Class A is discussed in the thread in the "Fall 2011: Notes from a Hot Ticket" thread, September 23.

    There is quite a lot of information on the thread.

    It would be helpful if someone who is currently in a PI school, maybe you, Muir parent, would go down to 555 Franklin and attempt use the opt provision and then report back to this blog.

    One word of warning: The board doesn't have to give you Clarendon, for Heaven's sake. They may give you something on the other side of town.

    I don't know why there isn't a provision that allows parents to ask that an assignment be made within 2 miles from a child's residence or parents place of work.

    Anyway, it would be nice to know what kind of response to the Title 1, Class A provision Franklin Streets coughs up.

  28. Thanks! Just to clarify, we have been "assigned" to the Muir neighborhood under the new SAS map. Our oldest will start K next fall. Although odds are very high that we will be assigned Muir I can't imagine we'd ever send our children there. We are very interested in attending an SFUSD school if only for financial reasons. Obviously, for our family the old system was better. I hope all you neighborhood advocates actually choose your neighborhood schools now, so that I (theoretically) have a better chance in the lottery at the (fewer) city-wide schools that remain.

  29. 4:09 PM, have you thought of contacting other parents in your area who might not be thrilled by the Muir assignment?

    It would probably be a lot more effective if a group of parents organized around Title 1, Class A, rather than each individually going down to ask for a better assignment.

    The district will of course say that this is all we have, take it or leave it. A collective group asserting their Title 1, Class A rights will be a lot more effective in either getting to a better school, or getting funds and leverage to improve their PI school.

  30. @2:20pm

    Alvarado and Miraloma are not east side schools.

  31. "Alvarado and Miraloma are not east side schools."


    They are east and south of Market. Miraloma only slightly so, but Alvarado is a hardcore east side school. It is a good school, but a large number of the kids are from the Mission. In fact, Alvarado is THE school of choice for the Latino community.

    Or do you, 7:51 PM, have some other definition of what east side means?

  32. Miraloma was a Title I school when it started to become popular - also the test scores were still in the mid-600s.

    The kindergarteners with middle class parents back then are now 8th and 9th graders -- virtually of those kids are now in Lowell, SOTA and in the middle school honors programs at the top of their classes.

    Fact is, if your kid started at Muir this year or next, your future 8th or 9th grader will be performing at the same level at that time.

  33. 11:39 PM, after our extensive discussion last week on the Hot Ticket thread about how the improvement at Miraloma does not apply to other schools, I would hope that you would be more clued in as to why Muir will not improve.

    Let's stop repeating the Miraloma meme.

    You can't "promise" this Muir parent a damn thing, so clam up.

  34. 12:25, I'm not 11:39. I'm not saying that you should put your kid in Muir or making comparisons to the situation of once-despised Miraloma to Muir today.

    But I do think one thing that is right about what 11:39 said is that your kid will most likely be fine, and performing at a high level in almost any environment (unless he/she has special needs, in which case there is a whole other ballgame).

    Which is, again, not to say Muir, but that there is a wide range of schools that will probably be just fine for your kid given what I'm sure are solid home supports for education. This fact raises a strategy point for me, and hence this post:

    It sounds like parents will be able to list a large number of schools. Since you really, really don't want your neighborhood school, I would suggest you list a very large number of acceptable ones. More than half of SFUSD elementaries are comparable to suburban schools in terms of test scores and functionality. List lots of them! Others who actually like their assigned schools can put fewer on their lists--say, you are in Sunnyside and that is fine, but you'd like to try for immersion, so you list a few of those, but you are not devastated if you don't get it. That's fine for the Sunnyside people. But you, since you don't like Muir at all, should give yourself every opportunity not to be defaulted back to Muir. You don't have to tour them all. Just remember that you prefer X number to Muir, and list them accordingly. Draw a circle on the map, check out reviews and programs online, and just list them. Again, your kid will do fine at most of these would be my bet.

    Btw, I'm sorry you got a lottery draw you hate. There are definitely those in the new system who liked the old system better. As someone said, there is no system that doesn't leave X% of parents unhappy because they are assigned to unpopular schools one way or another.

  35. Miraloma was not the only school which had a dramatic improvement.

    Roll back 10 years, and you will find 90% of today's "good schools" were crap, including most of the west side schools. Actually, the only good ones were the "alternative" schools.

    Schools may not improve the same way as Miraloma, but that doesn't mean only Miraloma-way is the right way.

    A lot of schools were improved by having a core group of involved parents. A lot of schools were improved by having special programs (immersion, for example).

    There were failed attempts too. However, I wouldn't bet against John Muir.

  36. "A lot of schools were improved by having a core group of involved parents."

    Yeah, like the parents at Moscone and Monroe who are getting screwed by the Board as we speak.

  37. "like the parents at Moscone and Monroe who are getting screwed by the Board as we speak."

    How so? If you are talking about the feeder program, it is delayed and the plan will essentially be re-done from scratch.

  38. No, i think the reference is to the loss of Title I money at Monroe and weighted student formula money at Moscone.

    Re the feeder schools idea, Moscone was originally slated to go to Lick with Alvarado and Fairmount. I don't think that was an issue for them. The Monroe folks weren't happy for a number of reasons, including that they didn't like their target middle school and also they had concerns about language program continuity.

    I hope they do a major revise of the feeder thing. I like the lottery much better.