Hi everyone, Emily here. I’m going to start by explaining why I’m planning on touring four neighborhood schools, as that question has come up since my last post. I’m not sure how I would go about posting throughout this process without sharing my neighborhood school, so I’m going to take a leap of faith and do that here. Our neighborhood school is Miraloma Elementary. Now I’m new to the city, but I don’t live under a rock, so I’m well aware this is a very popular, oversubscribed school. And though our particular street seems to have an absence of any person, other than us, under the age of 80, there seem to be a lot of kids in the Miraloma district in general. So I will not be surprised if we are bumped out of our neighborhood school by siblings, those in the CTIP 1 that choose to come there and other kids in the neighborhood. Therefore, I’ve done some (completely unscientific) research and have concluded Sunnyside, Sloat and Lakeshore are nearby schools that seem to have good reputations and may have space for a bumped neighborhood kid. We’re also pretty close to West Portal and Clarendon, but I’m not touring either of those places as I’m assuming there will be no spots open to children not in one of the priority cohorts. So that answers THAT question.
Now, on to what we want in a school for our son. My husband and I both attended public schools in California from K-12th grade. We also both attended a state college (the same one, me for my BA and MA and he for his BA) and he now attends UCSF. You can see the pattern here. I’m perfectly comfortable with my child being educated via the public education system. However, regardless of what school he goes to, there are a few things we need from his elementary education. Here is a short version of our list:
-We need to feel like our son is completely SAFE at his school.
-We need other parents at the school to be INVOLVED. And by involved I don’t mean sending in $10,000 donations every other month (though wouldn’t that be great!) and I don’t mean volunteering in the classroom every Tuesday (which would also be great!). I mean we need a lot of the parents at the school doing homework with their kids, being willing to work in the garden at school a few times a year, offering to do classroom laundry for the teacher once in awhile, and sure, if possible, buying school supplies on sale when they see them, participating in school fundraisers and coming in once a month to facilitate an art project or something. I get it, this is a luxury here. But it’s still important to us.
- We need to feel like the teachers at his school are SUPPORTED by the administration, students and parent community. I don’t have the belief that most public school teachers are mean trolls who hate their jobs and know they can’t get fired. Sure, there are some out there that should be canned, but I really believe most teachers do what they do because they love teaching. Goodness knows they don’t do it for the money. And I know from my mom’s experience (she was a teacher for over 30 years) that a little support from their school community goes a long way. If they can’t make $100,000 a year and have 12 kids in each class, at least they should be supported in their efforts to educate our children.
And finally (for now),
-We need a school that has a lot of opportunity for PHYSICAL LEARNING. Our son (like pretty much every other 5-year-old boy I’ve ever met) is very, very energetic. A lot of bum-in-desk time is what we’re trying to avoid. I recognize this has a lot to do with the specific teacher, but I know recess and PE time varies from school to school and I will be looking at specific schedules on each school I tour. I’ll also be looking at the culture of the school—does the school seem to value traditional academics, or does the school seem to value a more project-based learning style? Both styles certainly have pros and cons, but I believe our son will do better in a project-based learning environment.
So the question is—Can SFUSD provide all of this for our son? I believe at lots of schools the answer is YES and I believe at some schools the answer is NO. Can we find a school where the answer is yes AND get a spot before, eh, July 1st ish? That’s the biggest question.
PS- If you have a child at any of the schools I previously mentioned I would be touring and can speak to any of my identified needs, PLEASE feel free to write a comment about it. I would love any “inside” information.