Monday, October 4, 2010

Why I'm Not Touring 100 Schools

Now that we have official and final results from the SFUSD about the new boundaries, and everyone should be set on which is their neighborhood school, why would you continue to tour a million places? It seems like a lot of friends of mine THINK they need to, but the only instances I can think of to do so are:

1. If your neighborhood school is likely to be impacted. Alvarado, I'm looking at you (and many others).
2. If you live in a CTIP1 area.
3. You have your heart set on, or at least want to investigate further, immersion or K-8 schools

Of course, if you are applying to a ton of privates, that's another story. Of course you're still going to tour.

Luckily (?), we live in an area where our local school is not impacted. We will tour there, as well as the two local Spanish immersion schools, and the one neighborhood K-8. Maybe one more K-8 that's a touch further than I want to go, but would be do-able. Still, that is only five tours- six if we do one private, just to see. What about you? Do you still plan to tour everywhere, or does that seem so 2009? Also, if you are a two-parent family, do both parents go on all tours? We are planning that, but the logistics are often difficult, and I'm wondering if other families try different arrangements.

48 comments:

  1. I am sooo jealous of fortunate West-side families like yours, who are the major beneficiaries of the new SAS.

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  2. Read the post again. She said she'd tour the two local Spanish Immersion schools and 1 neighborhood k-8. I don't think that sounds like she's on the west side of the city.

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  3. I do wonder how much this is going to shift schools that historically haven't been huge 'pulls.' For example, we're a block from Glen Park Elementary. There's been a steady stream of more high-powered parents going there in the past three years and next year it promises to be a flood, given all the 4-year-olds I know who live in Glen Park. If that happens, it will automatically change the composition of the Kindergartens in Glen Park, making them look a lot more like places like Miraloma and Clarendon. If you know ten other families who are going to your local school for Kindergarten, it would seem to me you're fine. I say this as one of the leading-edge Mandarin families at Starr King, where we have seen this play out over the past five years. It's the kids who will be in your child's classroom that matter, and who will go on to fill the school. If you're fine with them, you'll be fine with the school. If you're not, you should look elsewhere. Do expect a certain shifting period for that first year, if there's a really major socioeconomic shift happening at a school due to the new enrollment area.

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  4. If I remember right, in her first post, Becca said she lived in SE SF.

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  5. Curious about this as well- we've got Jefferson, which isn't a trophy but seems like a good school and diverse in terms is SES (42% free lunch) but not for ethnicity. It's really hard to predict how this will all play out but I've got a couple of years to go until my kid is ready for school. My husband is latino and speaks Spanish only to my daughter, so Spanish immersion would be ideal, causing us to tour the spanish immersion schools. Likewise, my daughter goes to a daycare with mandarin-speaking providers (because we could afford it, not bc we are trying to create a confused kid) so it would be interesting to your a mandarin one as well. From the data, however, no chance
    in heck of securing a spot in an immersion school, as I don't think we will be defined as a dense population area.

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  6. Beth Weise,

    What do you mean "I say this as one of the leading-edge Mandarin families at Starr King, where we have seen this play out over the past five years.?

    In what way are you a "leading-edge" family?

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  7. Just that we are in the first year of the MI program, so we've seen this shift happen first hand.

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  8. We only plan to tour our neighborhood school for public choice and then tour our local parochial plus two independents just to get a flavor of what is out there. I cannot see what one achieves by touring 20-30 schools (which I understand used to be the case) given the new assignment system.

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  9. Beth,
    that hasn't been the case for all the immersion programs. Some have not had success in the upper grades and had tons of families flee the school. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. What matters most is not the kids your child is going to school with (though that does matter a lot) but the teachers and principal and what their idea of education and who they got into teaching to teach. Some teachers truly got into teaching to help minority, urban kids and that's ok and good. They may or may not be as excited to teach middle class kids.

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  10. 2:21
    Excellent points.

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  11. "Some [immersion programs] have not had success in the upper grades and had tons of families flee the school."

    Really? Which schools?

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  12. 3:16, one of the schools is working hard and I think will be ok, so would rather not publicly name it as that wouldn't be fair. It won't affect any kids just coming into the school next year.

    I just meant that it isn't always the kids alone, as the kids at that particular school came from supported families but there were big issues. The teachers and the principal played a bigger role than the classmates.

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  13. "Some teachers truly got into teaching to help minority, urban kids and that's ok and good. They may or may not be as excited to teach middle class kids."

    Well when you say "some" I take that to mean a few because if that were generally the case the tough schools would not be classified as "hard to staff".

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  14. I'm not touring 100, 10 or even 1. If I cannot get into the school down the block I'm taking my child to the closest parochial school.

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  15. I'm not touring any public schools either. My neighborhood school is not a good option for us, so if we can't get into a K-8 (and maybe even if we do) we are headed to private, parochial, or the burbs.

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  16. Yes, we are in the south-eastish part of the City. It's not that my neighborhood school appears *SO* desirable to many, I'm sure. It's just that we're not going to get into somebody else's neighborhood school, either, so I see no reason to spend time touring them.

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  17. Eastsider (CTIP2 12:50

    Given that west-side families have been screwed for more than a decade by not getting seats at their neighborhood schools because many east-side families got Diversity Index priority; you won't see us shedding any tears to see some fairness creep back in.

    You had yours...for too long.

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  18. Gee, 10:48-

    Mean-spirited much?

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  19. Guess what, nasty poster of 10:48? CTIP1 families still have almost first crack at "your" schools: after siblings and SFUSD PreK kids, but before attendance area residents. I'm sorry you are so pissed off at having been "displaced" by the only poor people in the city who can get transportation together to cross the city. But at least those people were genuinely poor, unless they were lying. With CTIP1, you're going to lose even more seats, to middle-class people who happen to live in CTIP1 areas, for whom transportation issues are often more manageable. But no worries: you get not only "your" neighborhood schools, but higher priority than SE families in CTIP 2 at "our" immersion schools, because if your zone overflows, you get priority for citywide schools. You, my unpleasant friend, are sitting pretty. But the fact that you'd gloat over it, and begrudge low SES families the opportunity to escape the lowest performing schools during the past decade, is despicable.

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  20. While everyone keeps telling me you won't get in, you have no chance etc I have decided to tour 10 schools that's relatively close to my house. We will be in the " other" category for tie-breakers with an attendance area school I won't even consider.
    So yeah cances are slim but if the lottery Gods smile on me I do want to at least take a look at potential schools. Logistically it is a nightmare and hubby will have to rely on my common sense and instincts while he watches the kids and takes time off work as I tour. If we don't get in to a desirable K this year we may consider moving...We can't afford private...

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  21. I find this whole subject so depressing. Our neighborhood school is not acceptable yet we'll have no priority elsewhere, and I don't have the fortitude to stick it out through the fall to land at a decent public, so that points to private. But I know competition is fierce there, too. Are our chances there any better? We can afford it w/o financial aid, but I know that ain't enough .... Should we just pack up and move now?

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  22. We could afford private easily, and didn't get any of them. We were not interested in parochial or single sex, which makes it ultra-competitive. We are at a good public, but don't think private is a "back-up" for public unless you are interested in parochial! It is more competitive if anything, and when you don't get in you have PERSONALLY been rejected, as opposed to been unlucky in a lottery.

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  23. 7:01, you are nasty too. Immersion is not an SE thing there are people from all over the city that built those programs up for the many years long before you had a child to want to attend them. People, this west-east side of town thing needs to stop or we will never be able to work together to build up all our schools. Ok, kumbaya moment over, but seriously think about how you are acting - it's all ugly.

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  24. 7:01, you are nasty too. Immersion is not an SE thing there are people from all over the city that built those programs up for the many years long before you had a child to want to attend them. People, this west-east side of town thing needs to stop or we will never be able to work together to build up all our schools. Ok, kumbaya moment over, but seriously think about how you are acting - it's all ugly.

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  25. I wouldn't pack up without at least visiting your neighborhood school. Please don't dismiss it based just on popularity or test scores. After visiting you may be surprised at the amount of dedication and energy from teachers and staff and parents at even not so well-known schools. The instruction really isn't that different between trophy schools and less popular schools.

    Consider finding other families in your neighborhood who you think might work with you to make the school better if it needs it.

    If you still don't find it acceptable, there are up and coming attendance area schools and citywide schools that you could probably get into.

    I guess it depends on how much you like living in the city. If you were thinking of moving for other reasons, then go ahead. But I think it's jumping the gun to move just because of the schools.

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  26. Responding to 3:16, I just met someone who pulled a kid out of Flynn Spanish Immersion starting this fall (3rd grade). They were not happy with the way the school was run, the level of supervision on the playground, or the general ed population.

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  27. October 5, 2010 7:01: I'm aware that siblings and CTIP1 get first crack. That's why I said "some" fairness.

    I'm a little sick of the constant suggestion that west-side public school kids are rich. The rich, upper-middle class, and much of the middle class kids on the west side DON'T GO TO PUBLIC SCHOOLS. They go to parochial and private schools.

    There are plenty of west side T1 schools and even more that are federally T1 eligible. While east side families may be, on average, poorer than west side public school families...that does not make west side families rich.

    It's nor fair to send the child of a struggling west side family across town (with no transportation provided) just so a poorer kid or at least a kid whose family claims is poorer can take his place.

    The better performing schools on the west side aren't that way because of money (most get far less funding than poor performing schools). They are that way because of parent involvement in their child's education along with a culture that values education over hanging out and socializing.

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  28. Thankfully I'm out off this particular exercise wheel, but here's what I'd do as a CTIP 2 resident:
    1. Look at my assignment area school if it's logistically feasible. Even if it seems like a real stinker, the right combination of positive-attitude staff and a group of organized incoming parents could make it the next Grattan or Miraloma.
    2. Look at logistically feasible K-8s (city wide). For me that would be Lawton. All the other K-8s start too early, are immersion, or are too far out of my commute path.
    3. Look at logistically feasible charters.
    4. If I were open to immersion or JBBP (which I don't happen to be), look at logistically feasible immersion programs (also city wide).
    5. If I were open to them and comfortable financially (and I happen to be), I would look at nearby parochial schools.
    6. If I could afford them (I can't), I would look at logistically feasible privates.

    I would NOT waste time on high-demand schools outside my own assignment area unless they are K-8 or immersion, because they will fill up with locals.

    I would NOT worry over-much about CTIP 1 people taking up all the spots in high-demand schools. If a high-demand school is in a CTIP 2 neighborhood, it will probably fill up with neighbors. Low-income people had advantages under the old lottery system at the most in-demand schools and took that advantage in quite low numbers. I doubt low-income, under-resourced folks can be expected to take a lot more advantage under the new system. The only bit of a wild card is whether higher-income, better-informed people who happen to live in CTIP1s will use their advantage to request spots in city-wise schools and popular schools outside their own neighborhods.

    I would not waste time on schools whose locations, start times, or child-care situations would clearly not work for me.

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  29. I'd think very carefully before choosing a K-8. The district is likely moving towards a feeder ES->MS SAS, and as a 5th grader at a K-8, your child will be at a significant disadvantage finding a spot at a decent comprehensive MS (with sports, art and music options not available at a K-8) if this is what your child decides s/he wants at that point. (Unlike kids at K-5 ESs, yours will not receive a preliminary assignment at a MS into which your school feeds.)

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  30. 1:32, yes low income people had advantage under the old system but you had to be getting free lunch or live in public housing or in CalWorks. Now if you live in certain areas you get it and there are plenty of people who are not low income who live in those areas that will get the preference and can provide their own transportation. This is what people are upset about - not about letting low income people have a shot, but about letting middle income families have the same advantage and giving it to them over other middle income families. I don't think anyone begrudges low income families this benefit. This is also why it may be very different this year and what people are afraid of when they say CTIP 1 families getting spots.

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  31. 2:28, I am 1:32 and I agree completely. I really don't understand why the new system goes by census tract rather than personal financial circumstances. I'm fine with low-income kids getting a leg up into the high performing public schools. I'm not fine with affluent CTIP 1 people (and I know at least 1 family who fits this category) who can easily afford private getting a leg up in the high performing public schools. I wish they'd continued with personal financial circumstances rather than census tract, and don't understand why that approach was taken.

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  32. "Given that west-side families have been screwed for more than a decade by not getting seats at their neighborhood schools because many east-side families got Diversity Index priority; you won't see us shedding any tears to see some fairness creep back in."

    Typical West-side innumerate self-pitying bollocks.

    Poor families in BV/HP or the Mission don't schelp from there to the Richmond: they go to Glen Park or Portola or Mission or Excelsior or Bernal.

    Exactly 30 K-5 kids from BV/HP go to schools in the Richmond.(http://portal.sfusd.edu/data/epc/Focus%20on%20Bayview%20and%20Surrounding%20Planning%20Neighborhoods.pdf) That's five per year.

    Compare that to the 400 kids that go to the Excelsior, which doesn't have enough slots for its own kids.

    West-side parents get bumped from Alamo to Peabody or Sutro or McCoppin: East-siders get bumped from Fairmount or Glen Park or SF Community to Cesar Chavez or Hillcrest. See the difference?

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  33. "Now if you live in certain areas you get it and there are plenty of people who are not low income who live in those areas that will get the preference and can provide their own transportation."

    If you move to a strongly geographically-based assignment system you have to mitigate the effect on those whose attendance areas would assign them to weaker schools. The CTIP1 plan is to offset the effects of neighborhood-based system on those living near Bryant or Cesar Chavez or Hillcrest or Bret Harte etc. The SES of the individual family doesn't matter, as the attendance area system is *geographically based, not SES-based*.

    Would it be OK to only give attendance-area preference for neighborhood schools to low-SES families? If you don't think so, then why does the same geography-only logic not hold for CTIP1 as well?

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  34. "I'd think very carefully before choosing a K-8. The district is likely moving towards a feeder ES->MS SAS, and as a 5th grader at a K-8, your child will be at a significant disadvantage finding a spot at a decent comprehensive MS (with sports, art and music options not available at a K-8) if this is what your child decides s/he wants at that point."

    1. We don't know whether the district will actually implement the feeder system.

    2. You don't know what the feeder patterns will be.

    3. You don't know what the MS assignment system will be like 6 years from now.

    4. There's more slack capacity at the MS level than ES or HS level (which is why more families get their 1st choice or 1 of their 7 choices at MS level than at ES or HS level). So even if there is a feeder system, there's still a decent chance of getting something at 6th grade.

    5. You'll still have option of remaining at the K-8.

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  35. "I'm not fine with affluent CTIP 1 people (and I know at least 1 family who fits this category) who can easily afford private getting a leg up in the high performing public schools. I wish they'd continued with personal financial circumstances rather than census tract, and don't understand why that approach was taken."

    Because it's a geographically-driven system to offset the impact of being located next to a crappy school. Why should SES not matter for getting neighborhood preference, but suddenly start mattering for CTIP1 preference?

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  36. 4:05 and 4:13, the issue is there are poor performing schools that do not give the CTIP 1 advantage to the people living near them. There are also kids who come from low-income families that aren't in CTIP 1 and aren't slated to go to a high performing school and they get no preference, yet a middle class kid in CTIP 1 does.

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  37. look at the CTIP 1 maps. The following schools all have attendance areas that include some blocks that are NOT CTIP 1. People are assuming that the entire attendance area for some of these schools is CTIP 1 and it is not. It isn't fair that a middle class family on one block gets a CTIP 1 preference to get out of a poor school but a few blocks over (still in the Mission) no one, low income or not, gets that option. When you look at the maps it does feel not right that it's by block and has no income qualifier.

    Cobb
    Webster
    Sanchez
    Flynn ge
    Vis valley
    Harte
    Drew
    Starr king
    Bryant
    Chavez

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  38. 5:12, I guess the CTIP2 kids are being punished for not completely blowing their STAR tests like their CTIP1 neighbors.

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  39. 5:12 - You forgot to list John Muir. I am CTIP 2 but in the Muir assignment area. The families I know in the neighborhood are mostly demographically middle class/white, but some are CTIP 1. And for the AA community - again some are stuck in CTIP 2 just like me. There is a Latino family right across the street with young kids, and they are also CTIP 2. The true losers in this system are the CTIP 2 families assigned to a terribly performing school like Muir.

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  40. Muir has a new principal. I believe he was responsible for getting Starr King on the middle-class radar, so there might be some hope.

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  41. sorry 11:38 it was a quick list. just to illustrate that it isn't a benefit to people who are being assigned to poorly performing schools to get out as others suggested. basically they used test data that is a few years old and applied it to census tracts (do those change, will it change with the 2010 census?) The result is some middle class families and low income families are assigned to poor performing schools and DO NOT get a CTIP 1 designation and it is very unlikley that anyone will bump them out of their attendance school.

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  42. We have Sherman as our attendance area school but I am concerned that the new system is going to have a number of families applying that also have it as its attendance area who plan on going to a private school but they apply anyway and we will be bumped as a result and as I understand it get no priority in the wait list. I am trying to figure out where to tour besides Claire Lilenthal. There are no other city-wide schools near us and every other decent city wide non-immersion is across town with the exception of Montessori, which we are not interested in. I am at complete loss.

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  43. 5:12, look at Rosa Parks JBBP. Also Spring Valley. And remember there are two programs at Lilienthal.

    I realize it is small comfort until you have a spot you like, but you do get neighborhood preference. And if those private school families apply in droves and then bail, there will second and third rounds in which (according to Rachel Norton), you will still get neighborhood preference, so you would have high priority for the vacated spots. I rate your chances as quite decent.

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  44. I completely hear you 11:38 and 1:54.

    I'm also CTIP2 and assigned to a low performing school (Sanchez). It's so distressing to know we have no chance at any of the decent neighborhood schools and chances at city-wide are slim at best. I actually considered moving to CTIP1 - but ironically cannot afford it! Sad to say we may be leaving SF.

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  45. I had no idea there was so much westside/eastside hostility.
    I'm new to the process. Is it worth even listing neighborhood schools outside your assignment school or is that a waste of time? And if it is a waste of time, then why is SFUSD giving us ten choices this year instead of seven? Most people would be hard pressed to find more than three city-wide schools they want.
    Seems like we should still be listing neighborhood schools outside our attendance zone that we like. No?

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  46. I'm curious- in what way do you think Alvarado will be impacted? That's our top choice, and we live just within the cutoff area so it is allegedly our local school.

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  47. Alvarado is one of the trophy schools of the southeast. The Noe Valley neighborhood demographics will continue to cause the school to improve.

    For someone in the SE who has an assigment preference but doesn't want to drive to Rooftop, Clarendon, or beyond, Alvarado will be a popular choice. I expect that some local Noe students will want to get in, but won't be able to.

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  48. CIPT1 here, attendance area school is starr king. not totally opposed to it, but since we may be lucky enough to get into some of the "better" schools, and are able to drive our kids there, we are definitely going to tour 7-8 east/south east schools.

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