Monday, January 24, 2011

A Curve Ball on Middle School Assignment

[Rachel Norton published the following update on her website (http://www.rachelnorton.com/) on January 19, 2011.]

At tonight’s Committee of the Whole meeting, Board members were thrown a little bit of a curve ball as part of a progress report on the work to rethink and redesign elementary to middle school feeder patterns.

Regular readers of the blog might recall a major kerfuffle last fall when parents of children enrolled in dual-language immersion programs and parents in southeastern neighborhoods reacted strongly to the district’s first pass at elementary t0 middle school feeder patterns. As so often happens when redesigning complex systems, what initially seemed a straightforward change took on many unanticipated and unintended consequences. So staff, with the Board’s agreement, decided to go back to the drawing board and re-think the implementation of the middle school portion of the new student assignment policy. A working group made up of middle school principals and key central office staff, with input from PPS and the Parent Advisory Council, has been delving into the problems identified last spring, and tonight was the first public peek at where they are going.

Some of the new directions are surprising, and the budget and program implications are complex. The presentation shown to the Board tonight began with a striking overview of capacity and demand data — specifically, that we are expecting a 39 percent increase in middle school enrollment in the next three to five years based on current elementary school enrollment trends; also that almost 50 percent of SFUSD middle school students are enrolled in just four of our 15 middle schools: Aptos, Presidio, Giannini, and Hoover. Finally, five schools are operating at less than 50 percent of capacity (Willie Brown, Everett, ISA, Horace Mann, and Visitacion Valley).

The project working group has begun with the mission to ensure quality programs at all middle schools, “extending language pathways, and other academic program options, from elementary to middle school allows for effective implementation of a new ‘virtual K-8′ student assignment policy that meets the academic and social needs of all middle school students.”

There are many benefits to the “virtual K-8″ policy (which doesn’t mean virtual in the sense of online but rather school assignment patterns that ensure that cohorts of students will remain together in the same schools from Kindergarten through 8th grade). For one thing, the current system that unpredictably reshuffles students between 5th and 6th grades hampers planning for middle school administration teams. Assistant Supt. Jeannie Pon, the administrator in charge of all SFUSD middle schools, pointed out that Hoover MS alone receives students from 45 different elementary schools, making planning for and coordination of curriculum and program needs very difficult. A system of feeder patterns does make student populations far more stable and predictable from year to year, which is helpful in budgeting and other planning.

For another thing, the sense of community fostered by a stable cohort of students and families staying together from elementary school through the turbulent middle school years is desirable and probably helpful in supporting positive student outcomes.

But all that predictability and stability comes at a price that might ultimately be quite large. Ensuring that students in elementary school language pathways are afforded appropriate (and in some cases, legally-required) language paths in middle school means that the district must dramatically expand language programs to make sure they are available when and where they are needed. A chart shown to Board members this evening predicted that the district would need to go from three different language programs currently offered in middle schools (Cantonese, Japanese and Spanish) to at least six language programs by 2016-17 (Cantonese, Japanese, Spanish, Mandarin, Russian, Tagalog). (I forgot to mention Korean, which fits in there somewhere too). Currently 15 percent of all 6th grade students are enrolled in some kind of language program/pathway; by 2016-17, it’s anticipated that 34 percent of all 6th grade students will be enrolled in a language program/pathway. Additionally, district staff are characterizing language pathways as “dual-language,” which comprises two-way immersion programs as well as bilingual programs created to support students who are English learners. In my mind, this is somewhat unusual, since students enrolled in bilingual pathways tend to have different needs and goals than students enrolled in two-way immersion programs.

Anyway, it’s not as if this coming expansion hasn’t been anticipated, but what has emerged in conversations with middle school principals is the trade-off necessary if students are enrolled in a language program as part of a six-period day: most would have to sacrifice other electives such as art or band in order to continue with their bilingual study. Instead, principals said, it would be much better to extend the day to seven periods in order to preserve students’ ability (and the Board’s oft-stated goal) to be bilingual as well as exposed to electives such as art or music. The problem is, adding another period to every middle schooler’s day is fantastically expensive — at least $9 million based on Commissioner Wynn’s memory of the cost of a similar proposal a decade ago (the cost could easily be millions of dollars more than that now). Whatever the cost of adding a seventh period, that cost could well be money we just don’t have at the moment.

Finally, staff floated some trial balloons for how a new middle school assignment system could work — none of which sounded particularly simple to navigate or easy to understand (originally a major goal of the new assignment plan). I’ll quote directly from the Powerpoint we saw tonight :

§ Option 1: Build feeder pattern based on proximity and capacity with language pathways as a “city wide choice option.”


§ Option 2: Assign elementary schools with language programs based on proximity, capacity, and school readiness, and then assign the remaining 27 elementary schools based on proximity and capacity, with mitigation for specific equity challenges. (Editorial comment: what?)


§ Option 3: Build language pathways over the next five years and allow feeder patterns to emerge as enrollment grows in middle schools. (Editorial comment: what?)


So how did Board members respond to all of this? Most of us voiced some concerns about the idea of merging immersion and bilingual strands into generic “dual language” strands; we also felt the options presented by staff represented “outside the box” thinking but needed more time and reflection. Personally, though it’s not my first choice, I am wondering whether our stated goal of supporting dual-language proficiency for all students is at odds with the idea of middle school feeder patterns. I asked staff to come back with some thinking on whether supporting language pathways and creating feeder patterns are mutually exclusive goals.

I appreciate that we are taking a more thoughtful and inclusive approach to the second pass at this policy — I have no idea where we will end up, but clearly we are trying to do our due diligence. The current plan is for a full proposal to be unveiled at the Feb. 1Committee of the Whole meeting, and then to embark on an extensive community engagement effort in February and March. The Board is scheduled to vote on a final middle school enrollment proposal for 2012-13 and beyond sometime in May.

- Donna

165 comments:

  1. All three options have a large proximity component.

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  2. Our parochial school, which has space in most grades, is full to capacity for 6th grade. At least a third of the kids came from public elementary schools. Their families were not satisfied with their public middle school options--and our middle school is a hole in the wall compared to the facilities and elective options you find in comprehensive public middle schools. This in spite of a lousy economy that has driven a lot of families that otherwise would have gone private or moved to the 'burbs to "make do" with public school for now.

    Anxiety about lack of funding for public middle school (the fact that you can't add a 7th period so kids are not forced to choose between foreign language and music is appalling) combined with any degree of economic recovery could throw SFUSD's projections way off. I would rather see the public middle schools focus on efficiency and showing their ability to absorb and serve the kids coming in from immersion programs. All those schools running at half-capacity--surely those facilities can be combined and leased out for now until the anticipated boom hits, can't they?

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  3. Those half-capacity schools will have more students when the feeder plan is appoved and parents get assigned to those schools that they woulld not have voluntarily gone to.

    The feeder plan is like getting drafted into the army. Soldiers are needed. If not enough volunteer, then people can be drafted. Do you want to give the school district to draft you into a middle school that you do not necessarily want? If you are not directly affected, do you want to let the school district have this power of the draft?

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  4. 5:07, are you drunk or on drugs or something? You are making no sense at all.

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  5. I thought it was 4:01 not making any sense.

    If you go to the school you want you are enlisting. If you are forced into a school you are getting drafted.

    It isn't a matter of your letting them have the power of the draft. Your elected representatives will decide. You can vote them out if you don't like their decision. This fear of being voted out is the reason they are revisiting the issue in the first place.

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  6. pissed-off EastsiderJanuary 24, 2011 at 8:06 PM

    "You can vote them out if you don't like their decision. This fear of being voted out is the reason they are revisiting the issue in the first place."

    As well they should.

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  7. Maybe if they hear from enough people that we don't like the feeder option they will decide to leave well enough alone. I still am not convinced the pros outweigh the many cons of feeder patterns.

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  8. Anyone else just so exhausted thinking about this? My kid is in SIP at a southeast turn around school. We devote most of our free time and $$ to helping this school. Now the thought of doing it all over again at a middle school that has to hire a ton of new staff and deal with a huge population increase just makes me want to run away. Does this ever get any easier?

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  9. "Does this ever get any easier?"

    Apparently not. :(

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  10. Stop the draft. Dump the feeder pattern.

    The district wants to draft parents to go to half empty middle school with feeder patterns. Those middle schools are half empty for a reason. That is where the low test scores are. So improve the academic performance there, or consolidate those schools.

    If you think that you cannot improve scores there without locking in certain parents to that half empty middle school, either by feeder plan or by assignment area, then be honest and say that that is why you want the feeder plan.

    Name two and only two main objectives of the new student assignment system. I would list: 1. Improve test scores of underachieving African American, Hispanic, and Samoan students.
    2. Work within the budget.

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  11. If there are so many half empty middle schools, why can't the district just consolidate some middle schools instead of trying to fill them up by drafting parents in this feeder pattern?

    The answer is that closing schools will always create political heat. They think the path of least resistance is to draft parents through a feeder plan. You have to prove them wrong.

    The other answer they might give is that merely consolidating low performing schools does nothing about improving the academic achievment of the low performing students. They want to try mixing in some higher performing students in the hope that will have an effect on the low achievers. They want to do that with your child, (not theirs). Tell them, no, stop the draft, dump the feeder plan.

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  12. I enjoy looking at the manner in which people use language to express themselves.

    Like this one:

    “...what initially seemed a straightforward change [the redesign] took on many unanticipated and unintended consequences...”

    What is Rachel Norton saying here?

    Let’s go back to the SAS development stage prior to March of last year. How many times did Rachel and others remark on the complexities of the redesign? Those complexities are the main reason it was delayed over and over, why so many thousands of hours were spent in seeking thoughtful solutions. They were difficult problems. I don’t think the redesign was ever viewed by anyone involved at the time as straightforward.

    Then, when SFUSD had a “Houston, we have a problem” moment, having totally failed to recognize the language pathway issue despite a R and D process measured in years, an excuse for the oversight was required. Hence we have the new notion that it was a “straightforward process” lacking in implications. Who could have foreseen the problems? Certainly not the Board of Education, not with the advice they get from staff.

    In private enterprise heads would roll for far lessor screw-ups. No such reaction from SFUSD staff, but commissioners may be less sanguine about their prospects with the electorate. At least Garcia is finally getting rid of Francesca Sanchez. I wonder? But this review of language is only a curiosity. Continued below...

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  13. The real curveball thrown is the propagation of the idea that many in lower performing areas do not like flow of the feeder patterns. That is really more of a spitball – an attempt to portray the problem as one that is tweakable with the proper respect to flow charts and statistical analysis.

    Those that are complaining don’t like the feeders, period, because feeders are, by definition, a kind of proximity-based assignment regimen. They want to do away with the feeders and get their lottery system back.

    But I support Rachel’s contention that feeders have many positive attributes. I‘m just not sure whether she believes there are enough of them to warrant the “collateral damage” she speaks of.

    Is she pro-feeder, pro- school choice or a little of both? I appreciate her thinking out loud. I think this: More preferences for some means the less choice for others. The commissioners have a history of wanting it both ways, but there is no magical divisor that will yield a united city. Fortunately for the commissioners, the voting electorate with children is not that significant in San Francisco. No surprise there.

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  14. Don
    I agree it is not a matter of adjusting the feeders properly.I'm not sure about the first part of your analysis. Wasn't she referring only to implementation? Putting the plan in place?

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  15. There was one thing in the report that shocked me. It was the capacity and demand data. And for 2 reasons. The first is on the substance. SFUSD is due for major growth if the data is correct. So why wasn't this information released earlier and incorporated in the thinking that went into the redesign?

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  16. The way I read Rachel Norton's summary of what staff presented is:

    Feeders, Option 1. The language pathways would operate citywide, separate from the rest of school assignments from elementary school to middle school. Both immersion programs and bilingual education for English learners would not be subject to the regular feeder patterns. We cannot provide services everywhere, so let's not try. Let those language pathway students roam citywide.

    Feeders. Option 2. Mitigation for equity challenges means we might be sued if we do not let English learners at the middle school level find what they need, where there need it. The feeder system absolutely needs to bend for bilingual education, even at the middle school level. The implication is that there will be less bending for immersion programs.

    Feeders. Option 3. Build pathways mean expand language programs at all middle schools, for example with the extra period, which means $$$.

    Is this what staff is trying to say if it used plain English?

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  17. My kid goes to sixth grade next year, so I don't have a bone about this. But I will say this: if SFUSD goes to a feeder pattern, it won't have to worry about this increase in kids into middle schools, because a huge chunk of middle class parents on the east side will leave the system! Ditch the feeder system; keep the process as it is this year (mostly a lottery with two preferences)!

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  18. I like Option 1. The language pathways would operate citywide, separate from the rest of school assignments. Let those language pathway students roam citywide.

    As parent of a regular old GE kid, I don't think the system should be designed around the 30% of kids in language programs. What about the 70% in GE? These are the kids who go to school close to home and would like to stick with their friends and go to a middle school nearby. I don't think that is too much to ask? The less vocal majority is very happy with feeders and the district will start to hear from them if they go to far from the feeder plan they have already announced.

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  19. I regret to say I agree with Don on this one. With the exception of bilingual ed and/or immersion, we have only feeder options. They're keeping the feeders.

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  20. "They want to try mixing in some higher performing students in the hope that will have an effect on the low achievers."

    Meh. Not gonna get that with the feeder patterns.

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  21. "Anyone else just so exhausted thinking about this? My kid is in SIP at a southeast turn around school. We devote most of our free time and $$ to helping this school."

    Please post your comment on Rachel's blog. She needs to understand this.

    I posted a comment on Rachel's blog saying something similar to you. It is unrealistic to expect parents to commit to six years of turning around Webster or Flynn or Marshall or Serra if they're also getting 3 years of ISA or Mann lumped into the bargain.

    If they go with this feeder pattern, I'd expect a surge in enrollment in the SE parochial schools in response.

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  22. "Those half-capacity schools will have more students when the feeder plan is appoved and parents get assigned to those schools that they woulld not have voluntarily gone to."

    5:07,

    Many schools are at half capacity because they are required to have their class sizes down around 10-11 because of the assistance from QEIA. There is little the district can do about that.

    SFUSD is going to have a $300 ADA shortfall per pupil if the tax increase doesn't get on the ballot and pass. This will be a cataclysm for school budgets.

    It is time for SFUSD to be more forthcoming on how they spent all their Tier III flexible funding and what they did with the third third money for counselors at 17 schools. More than likely this all went into the superintendent's zone and the salaries of all the new staff. The central office is going to lose the support of its school administrators if it continues to hide and refuse to answer questions about the way it spends money.

    Do we really need to hire teachers at SIG schools whose only purpose is to make sure that the regular teachers are following the curriculum?

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  23. The comment above was posted by me.

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  24. Reminding himself, no doubt:)

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  25. No, because unlike yourself I usually sign in, but just forgot.

    In any case, what is very difficult to understand from this article is how the district could have completely overlooked the problem of language pathways, especially with all the resources at play. There is no accountability or responsibility taken for this massive oversight.

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  26. This 9:53 from Jan 25. Those were only my interpretations of what I thought were the options. If they do not match up to what staff has in mind, I sure would like a more understandable explanation of what is being proposed for the feeder plans. And if they do not match up to what staff is talking about, the options, as I have laid them out, are still worth asking:

    1. Can we exempt all language pathway students, both immersion and bilingual English learners, from the feeder system?

    2. How about exempting only bilingual ed (legally required? and how many middle school bilingual ed students are we talking about?).

    3. If immersion students are included in the feeder pattern, do we expand language programs or not? (Can we afford it?)

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  27. How about exempting all students who would feed into API <2 schools? Oops--I forgot this was a major point of the feeder idea: to raise the API scores of such schools by filling half the seats with higher-performing middle-class students.

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  28. Getting better students is the easier way to improve test scores at low perfoming schools. Charter schools do that all the time.

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  29. Many of the low performing schools have small class sizes required by QEIA. They can't just fill up the classrooms and still get the funding.

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  30. Since you say small class sizes are required at the low performing schools required by QEIA, it cannot be one of our goals to consolidate the half empty middle schools. Do the numbers say that there is room for an increase in enrollment at these half empty low performing middle schools covered by QEIA? If there is room, that is where the feeder pattern will try to force in higher performing students by drafting them.

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  31. If you click on the underlined text "PowerPoint we saw tonight" in Rachel's meeting summary, then it will take you directly to the SFUSD presentation.

    There are individual slides for each 6-8 MS, showing where the student population lives: one dot per pupil. Very interesting summary.

    - Donna

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  32. I couldn't tell you the specifics on how much room there is at given school, taking into consideration QEIA. That is for someone with more in-depth knowledge in this area. I just wanted to let you know it isn't a simple matter of filling up classrooms. I don't doubt that there is still plenty of opportunity for some schools to grow in size.

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  33. What amazes me about the whole middle school assignment system debacle is the lack of any real demand by the public for accountability on behalf of our elected officials for the mess that they made as a result of their lack of proper oversight. We saw it as well with the Student Services embezzlement scandal. Where is the outrage for these drains on our limited resources? What are San Franciscans so sanguine about letting the representatives fail our students?

    How could SFUSD fail to hold a lawful public hearing as required on the use of some $20M in flexible Tier III dollars? That is a lot of money for which to change the use without a word from the parents of those children that are affected by those changes.

    The answers to all these questions is a combination of SFUSD's insular culture, one party rule, and to some extent an apathetic and disenfranchised public that is used to government incompetence as a rule.

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  34. It's mostly to do with a Board of education stacked with liberal no-questions-asked adherents of the do-no-wrong Garcia administration. Garcia's facade is starting to crack with one mistake after another.

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  35. I disagree with the feeder plan, but I like that, finally, the student assignment system has been overhauled. I will give the current superintendent and Board credit for that.

    The old system was broken.

    The problem with the new system, if it is a feeder pattern, is that it is unfair to parents who do not want to go there, just to make the overall scores of the school look better.

    Just give me a chance equal to everyone else, no more, no less, to go somewhere of my choosing. Not a guaranteed choice, only an equal chance. I am not asking for more, but I will not accept less.

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  36. You don't make policy. The Board does. You can attend community feedback meeting, expresses your preferences here and elsewhere and vote accordingly. Or you can vote with your feet and move to another district or go private.

    If the commissioners or the cabinet were wary of pushback the'd be more careful. This refers to the other comment about lack of adequate debate and too much single-minded thinking.

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  37. What a minute. I thought the old system for middle school was not broken. That that is why we don't need feeders?

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  38. Don, this thread is no about who to blame.

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  39. The old system for middle school that I was talking about used a diversity index. That was a broken system.

    Citywide choice for middle school has its problems too. Too, too many people put Presidio as #1 and ended up in the southeast. It is a risky thing to put Presidio #1. Many threw the dice and lost. The feeder plan, as well as assignment areas for middle school, would say, stop this gamble, everyone go to this and that middle school.

    I get it. But then I have to say that they took the gamble and they should pay for the consequences. I did not take the gamble. I went for a decent alternative to Presidio as my #1 choice. And others who want a chance to get out of their assignmed middle school do not want to pay the price for the recklessness of those suffering from an obsession with Presidio. This feeder business is like the tail wagging the dog. The whole middle school assignment is being upset because too,too many people want Presidio.

    Besides the Presidio problem, there is the problem of struggling middle schools in the southeast part of town. Using the example of the turnaround of some elemenary schools by parents who made a personal investment in those schools, there are now quite a few success stories at the elementary school level. Can we duplicate that at the middle school level with feeders? Maybe. Begin with one middle school as a trial. Do not make everyone go through the experimemt. Do not let the tail wag the dog. Leave most of middle schools citywide while you experiment with one feeder in the southeast.

    We do not know how it will all work. So start small.

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  40. 9:18,

    I hear you. You make excellent points. The thing is this -while public policy ought to be fair, it is adopted by elected officials who are not necessarily motivated by fairness. And of course, not only is "what is fair" debatable, what is realistic is almost always not entirely fair.

    SFUSD is required not to supplant State and Federal laws when making policy. Other than that and short of any court orders they can do as they wish or what they consider legally and politically advisable. Your ideas about what is fair seems almost quaint in contrast of the immense power the Board has to change your life with their decisions.

    They are under no requirement to give everyone a fair shot at every school. Lawful school choice does not preempt the district from assigning on the basis of proximity, for instance. You can choose as long as there are are spots available. Federal school choice under NCLB, Program Improvment, requires that the district place student how opt out of PI. But the district doesn't like to promote that because they are stuck with the underfunded mandate of home-to-school transportation. They also hate to promote private supplemental education services which means they have to pay out for contractors. They are legally required to offer it, but who's looking out at the efforts they make in this regard?

    That is to say, many thing are a matter of how much public oversight there is. If they feel the public is hot on their tails, they may be more responsive.

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  41. If SFUSD adopts the feeders there will be many angry folks. if they don't adopt the feeders there will also be many agree folks.

    They cannot win for losing.

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  42. "Using the example of the turnaround of some elemenary schools by parents who made a personal investment in those schools, there are now quite a few success stories at the elementary school level. Can we duplicate that at the middle school level with feeders? Maybe."

    That's the ticket!

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  43. I have a question. I put in my application for middle school last week and am now having second thoughts. Does anyone know if you can go in and do a revised application?

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  44. Don,
    Isn't the job of the Board of Education to do the people's bidding? Why have to make our voices heard loud and clear. The squeaky wheel gets the grease.

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  45. Does anybody have the numbers on middle school demand in the past - particularly Presidio? That too too too many people wanting Presidio comment made me wonder what the actual numbers really were.

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  46. If the feeder pattern for middle school is approved, many of us now assigned to an elementary school half-way across town will be pushed into a middle school half-way across town with no bus transportation.

    I love the elementary school that my children attend and we are lucky enough to have bus transport for now, but I had no intention of sending them to Hoover(current school that my kids would be assigned to if the plan goes forward) when I live within a few blocks of Presidio. Unfortunately, not many people will turn down an assignment to Presidio, so I don't think that we would stand much chance to get Presidio.

    If neighborhood is to be more of a factor for elementary school assignment, then it should also be a bigger factor for middle school. Since the middle schools all seem to have different program strengths, I'm fine with them staying pure lottery. The feeder idea doesn't seem fair to people assigned to elementary schools based on the old system.

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  47. 3:14, Excellent point. Kids in elementary school now should be grandfathered into a citywide choice system for middle school. That means the earliest the feeder pattern could take effect would be in six years.

    You say you cannot wait six years to fix the middle schools in the southeast? How about enforcing feeder patterns for just one middle school in the southeast, right now, as a starter?

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  48. I have one child at Alamo and another at Presidio. If you told every incoming K parent at Alamo that the decision to attend that school would mean the child would automatically go to Presidio and then to Wash, they would be screaming they want high school choice, because many of these vocal parents want their kids to go to Lowell. But what if there were no Lowell? All of a sudden there would be a lot more AP classes in HS and a school like Wash which is middling might become more desirable school for many parents.

    If the commissioners were serious about equity they would turn Lowell into a regular HS and spread out the wealth. Likelihood? Almost zero. If school closings are unpopular, closing Lowell would be the grand daddy of them all. Do the right thing. Close Lowell for the benefit of all.

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  49. 2:27 pm -- I'm a bit skeptical about the comment that the "only" people screwed in past assignment drawings were those who put Presidio first. Partly it is because I know someone last year who put down "Lick, Aptos, Hoover, and Giannini" down and got Denman. (They went to a private school instead.) So I don't think it is true that the Presidio #1 folks were the only ones burned. Now that was in the old system. This year, no one is quite sure. There's a school of thought that good middles like Presidio (and maybe Giannini) are going to be EASIER to get into this year than last because the only folks with a preference now -- CTIP 1 folks -- are very far geographically-speaking away from those two middles. It may be the folks who put down Aptos # 1 or Hoover #1 or Lick #1 who are going to get screwed. On top of this, I quizzed the folks at SFUSD HQ and they swear up and down that what you put down first, second, etc. choice does NOT affect your likelihood of getting that choice. If you put down ABC school #1, DEF school #2, GHI school #3, and Presidio #4, if, when your application comes up on the computer, there is a slot available at Presidio, you get it. That's what they claim is the way the system works.

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  50. If you can have a Lowell high school why not a Lowell-like middle school?

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  51. 4:59, there are a lot of bouncing balls. The rank did count two years ago, and earlier. That is what strategy was all about.

    This year, the one year of delay before we get feeder patterns or something, is a temporary 1 year only set of rules. It is good to hear that you are to list your choices in the order that you really want the schools without worrying about strategy.

    About Lick, Aptos--Not getting your #1 outside of Presidio also took place. No one can explain why. No one really understood how the diversity index worked. The diversity index, however, was always a factor. Not this year, however, and that is an improvement.

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  52. I don't know for sure, but I recollect the Presidio VP saying there were 3 to 4 times 1st choices versus seats.

    I also called EPC and talked with Archie, one of the managers there. His explanation was in line with what the previous poster said. It doesn't matter what order you write your preferences, your chance of getting the school in that school's lottery is the same. The preferences come into play to sort out which school you'll get when you get a seat at more than one. At least that was the way I understood it.

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  53. One thing I forgot to mention - last year many Alamo parents did not get Presidio until after school started. Those that stuck with the process and were in the waiting pool got in eventually, almost to the last one. Or at least that seemed to be my perception.

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  54. I like the idea of putting Lowell in the spotlight. Just imagine the effect of removing the top 10 per cent of student from the population and isolating them at one school. It isn't good for the remainders. If every school had a healthy contingent of honors students, we would strengthen all the high schools equally. That would make the prospect of proximity based schools less daunting for families.

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  55. Are you trying to get your son into Lowell, don?

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  56. If you can have a Lowell high school why not a Lowell-like middle school?

    Are we going to turn elementary school into a horserace, too? I shudder to imagine 5th graders competing to get into Presidio based upon test scores. Banish the thought.

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  57. No. He's only in 6th grade. Ultimately it is his decision to apply should he be eligible. As I have said, I am not keen on Lowell. Not only does it put tremendous pressure on kids, it doesn't have the best college placement record due to changing enrollment criteria.

    I know that closing Lowell as an honors school is not realistic. But stranger things have happened and I am of the opinion that it would be a net plus for the district were the Board to have the political gumption to go through with it. That's why I don't think it will happen. They don't.

    Surely those who view HS enrollment through the prism of equity must have a hard time accepting a school which, for the most part, sorts out the the higher performers from the rest of the pack, thereby depriving the student population of the very academic diversity the district leaders supposedly aspire to.

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  58. "Surely those who view HS enrollment through the prism of equity must have a hard time accepting a school which, for the most part, sorts out the the higher performers from the rest of the pack, thereby depriving the student population of the very academic diversity the district leaders supposedly aspire to."

    Lowell is anti- academic diversity. It is one of the structural roadblocks to viable honors pathways citywide. I have to agree with you on this one.

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  59. It is the kettle calling the pot black to criticize Lowell for being an essentially all honors school while advocating for honors programs at non-merit high schools. If it is good enough to have an honors program at any given high school, it is good enough to have an entire high school that is admission by merit.

    A separate issue is how to help low scoring students. Many say we need to avoid an overconcentration of African American, Hispanic, or Samoan students in a given school. What is the tipping point? How do we get under the tipping point? Is the idea of a tipping point even valid?

    And then, bringing the discussion back to SF middle schools, will the feeder plan be good for improving the achievment of African American, Hispanic, and Samoan students? Are we closing the achievment gap?

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  60. SFUSD does not consider helping low scoring kids to be a separate issue. Academic diversity has always been a top priority of the district. Lowell dramatically reduces that diversity at the HS level, essentially removing the top 10% from the pool. (BTW, there is some generally accepting tipping point of 40-42% low SES)

    If having an honors program is a good reason to have an all-honors school, why isn't having Chinese or Spanish immersion a good reason to have all-immersion schools? Why not have separate schools for every specialized instructional program? Money.

    I don't mean to get away from the subject of middle school assignment, but you cannot revamp the map without collective consideration of all these issues. They want to have the pathways for language programs and it will not stop at middle school. What will happen at the HS level?

    One of the problems with the community input in the fall of 2009 was that SFUSD put out the 6 options as a whole rather than looking at each of the 3 levels and discussing the options for each. As it turned out each level got a different SAS. The failure to approach each individually created a lot of confusion.

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  61. I am totally opposed to changing Lowell. SF is so so lucky to have a public HS like Lowell. Lots of families and high-performing middle school kids want a HS environment where everyone in school is on the fast track to college with no distractions and no concerns about falling in with the wrong crowd (and believe me I've seen very caring, involved families lose their previously high-performing kids to the wrong crowd at big comprehensive public high schools). If you turn Lowell into a comprehensive HS or force those kids into other schools, you'll lose a lot of families . . . not that I've heard the private college prep HSs charging $30K per year (other than possibly Stuart Hall) are suffering from a surfeit of seats. I know kids go off the rails at private school too--that's the nature of teenagers--but if they become too disruptive, they are asked to leave so the school experience is not threatened for the remaining students. Leave Lowell alone. Leave SOTA alone.

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  62. Don - One of the few times I agree with you. Close Lowell and get more AP classes in the other schools.

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  63. Many people don't know that Presidio, viewed on this thread as the Lowell of middle schools, has one of the lowest representations at Lowell, relative to the number of kids in the honors program. Teacher at Presidio are notoriously hard graders and this makes it difficult the get the necessary points. I have heard many anecdotal stories of teachers counseling parents and students not to even try.

    And to say Lowell is a merit school is not entirely true. Many students are denied entry who have higher scores as SFUSD lowers the bar for some other students so as to diversify the student body.

    I do agree that closing Lowell as an honors school would drive out a lot of parents as an immediate result. But it doesn't take much imagination to envision more interest in public high schools if there were high quality Ap/honors programs at all of them. Who's to say it would not be a net gain over time?

    My main point was that Lowell stands in stark contrast to the equity and diversity agenda of the Board of Education.

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  64. Now's the time to reconsider Lowell.

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  65. Yeah, now that we know he won't be a parent there.

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  66. Please, let's not start with the personal attacks again. Don made his points. You made yours. Why get ugly?

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  67. Closing Lowell is something long overdue.

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  68. Put it on the ballot. Let the people vote on it.

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  69. The voters don't make school policy. Only the Board can decide. That's the way it works. You can apply political pressure through the ballot box to influence the Board with a non-binding measure. That's what SF Students First is trying to do with neighborhood schools. Or in some cases you can have a charter amendment which requires far more petition signatures. But that would not apply to school closure, etc. It would be something like changing the composition of the Board like they did with district election of the BOS.

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  70. The Board will never close down Lowell.

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  71. Not as long as it's springboard to a paid supervisor job.

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  72. How did we go from middle school assignment to discussing Lowell? t's a good subject, but I want to find out if we will have feeders next year or not. I'm not sure, though there doesn't seem to be any indication they will go back to the all choice system from last year. What do people think will be the eventual outcome?

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  73. Your guess is as good as mine. Make known now what you want.

    People in immersion might want to get exempted out of the feeder pattern.

    People with an undesirable middle school assignment might want to oppose the feeders entirely.

    People who like their assigned middle school might support the plan.

    Organize and go public. Democracy in action.

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  74. Lat time around the final plan was an amalgamation of the options presented. They'll probably follow the same path this time. I think there will be feeders with preferences for language. In any case there is no way they can get these pathways up and running everywhere by fall 2012. They're having a hard time keeping the core curriculum going with the financial pressures continuing to mount.

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  75. I am not versed in the issues facing immersion and bilingual pathways. So can someone please explain to me if I am off base here with this question: why it is everyone is concerned about middle school pathways, but there is no discussion of the same for high school?

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  76. I find Rachel's comment that no one at the Board saw this coming to be disingenuous.

    Even a casual glance at the demographic mix at SF schools, as well as school tours, would tell you that the demographic mix was leaning heavily toward kids that were in "immersion". At least half of these kids do not speak English at home and likely would want to continue in their "immersion" programs into middle and high school.

    But of course, they want everything that is being offered at Lowell to be offerened at Balboa (in Spanish, of course!!)

    We've been told time and again that immersion doesn't cost extra.

    Now, surprise, surprise, we are being told that immersion requires extra classes and costs more.

    Same old, same old.

    Suggestion: cut all immersion programs and focus on teaching in English. The city can charge for immersion. It's an extra, costs more and should not be shouldered by the taxpayer.

    But of course that won't happen.

    It will come down to a clear race between extravagant extras like immersion programs, school gardens and teacher pensions.

    It's sad to see it like this, but I really don't buy it that the middle school feeder pattern problem wasn't forseeable.

    Everyone has seen it coming and no one has done anything about it. It's always placate the voter and take not action. Then play dumb and deny that you knew there was a problem.

    The whole thing is really very tiresome

    Yawn, Rachel, Yawn Carlos, yawn, yawn, yawn.

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  77. High school assignment has been citywide for a very long time now, and still is unchanged. Middle school is being changed over from citywide to feeders.

    Repeat: no more citywide choice at the middle school level--that is the problem.

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  78. I believe the reason why there's a focus on language pathways in the middle schools and not the high schools is that there is no established "pathway" for articulating full capcity of immersion programs through middle school. At high school there are AP courses: no problem. Same for FLES programs -- they exist at elementary school. And the goal is to get to AP in high school and they're waiting there at Wash, Lincoln, Lowell. But there's a big black hole in middle school and the language gets lost.

    I was shocked by the suggestion of an added 7th elective (which i understand would deploy through ge programs as well: in other words not only for language programs) given the sobering lack of education funds. Seems like fantasy land right now, but maybe studies are designed to ignore economics and focus on the initiative only. As I understand it, immersion kids currently do not have the option of an elective because their immersion program uses that time up. I don't quite understand this because if immersion is being delivered through a core subject, then why would a student lose the elective time? I do think that the cost of having an extra elective so that immersion students don't "lose out" is kind of like having your cake and eating it too. Afterall, those who are lucky enough to get into an immersion program already benefit from a gift that so many other kids do not have access to past the first grade.

    My two cents.

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  79. I believe 11:49 is attacking bilingual education for English learners. Immersion is a different animal. Immersion is about picking up an extra language, extra to English. Immersion is not about biligual education. Often, immersion is about a magnet language program in a school that is trying to draw in students. That is why immersion programs in elementary school are citywide.

    Now, why continue immersion into the middle schools, if the only reason for immersion was to attract students to certain elementary schools? You do not need the immersion students anymore once they are old enough for middle school. From a narrow elementary school enrollment point of view, that is right.

    But,if immersion was valuable for the child, then it is still valuable in middle school. With citywide choice, that student can choose to continue dual language programs is he or she wants to. Feeder patterns narrow the choices of schools and too often creates a mismatch with those who want to continue an immersion strategy. The feeder pattern does real harm to immersion. Can't the feeder plan find some way to exempt the immersion programs?

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  80. Um, AP classes are offered at several high schools besides Lowell and SOTA - Lincoln, Washington, Galileo, even Balboa and Wallenberg.

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  81. Why exactly does immersion cost more?

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  82. 11:49,

    I am no longer the only one who finds this article disingenuous. The cavalier attitude that Rachel and the rest of Board have about accountability for MS SAS implosion is disturbing. This is not some minor oversight that would be to be expected in any large overhaul. This was a fundamentally flawed proposal. Whoever was the lead behind this, whether it was O'Keffe or someone else, - s/he should step down.
    Instead the Board gives her and the administration a pass and dismisses the issue of accountability. It is as if holding officials accountable is no longer socially acceptable because it just a blame game - as if rooting out incompetence and failure is no longer sanctioned. No one considers how much this little screw up cost the district and its community.

    I just filed a uniform complaint yesterday with the district for another accountability issue. They changed the use of over $14 million in Tier III funding and they failed to hold a proper hearing as required by law. That is a lot of money that ended up in the general fund pot to be used without any public scrutiny. Programs have been cut and even the principals are asking what happened to the money? It is all a big secret downtown. More than likely this money is being used to pay for all the new staff that was hired for the superintendent zones. Hiring more staff when pink slips have to go out is not good for PR. This is why the Board is avoiding public hearings. Few people in the community follow the legal requirements for how they spend our money. I have to wonder if even members of the Board could tell me what happened to that $14M.They certainly didn't tell anyone else.

    The Board of Education is Carlos Garcia's play thing. He does what he wishes and, as the MS debacle demonstrates, he and his administration are beyond criticism. Even the embezzlement scandal got a pass in the media. Only the Bay Citizen, which broke the story, covered it to any real extent.

    His own media department edits a privately funded privately held public school blog on the public dime.

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  83. It wasn't just one person. They are all to blame.

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  84. 4:42, I'm not sure that immersion currently does cost more than GE. However, if they add a 7th period in MS to accomodate language studies for immersion students, there would be a significant cost (supposedly ~the same as the cost of busing they plan to eliminate). OTOH, a 7th MS period would allow non-immersion MS students to take both an art and music elective rather than one or the other, which is currently the case at SFUSD MSs (except for Lick, I believe).

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  85. The PowerPoint presentation has pin maps showing where the students live who attend each middle school (one dot per pupil). The complete set for all elementary, middle, and K-8 schools is on the SFUSD website.

    After reviewing these maps, I am beginning to wonder why there is such a brew-ha-ha over "neighborhood" elementary schools and the middle school "feeder" proposal. These maps suggest the former elementary school lottery was, by and large, a neighborhood system. Citywide (alternative) schools like Clarendon, Rooftop, CL, etc. appeared to draw students uniformly from across the City, while the rest of the elementary schools were, by and large, neighborhood schools.

    The pin maps are even more telling at the middle school level, where even the much touted Presidio is largely a "neighborhood" school, as are Giannini, Aptos, Denman, and all the rest. Yes, Presidio might have students from 45 elementary schools, but these pupils do not represent a majority. It is apparent from the pin maps that the majority of students at each middle school are coming from the contiguous elementary schools.

    The district should scrap the feeder proposal and stop wasting everyone's time. All the man-hours (and salaries!) that are being wasted trying to solve a problem that doesn't exist is disgraceful. Too much money is being wasted on payroll for 2 months of community forums and countless slide decks. Perhaps a few people in the SFUSD central office could be laid-off, and the money from their salaries could be used to hire teachers.

    The district should focus on providing proper support for immersion and Special Ed students and leave the Citywide middle school lottery intact.

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  86. 10:01 wrote:

    "11:49, I am no longer the only one who finds this article disingenuous. "

    Considering you ARE 11:49, that's funny. This whole blog is now nothing more than multiple conversations you are having with yourself.

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  87. Yes, the underlying illiteracy is unmistakable.
    "Brew-ha-ha" ?
    Dude, it's: brouhaha.

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  88. "Dog-dew" was another one.

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  89. There are other people who find the process disturbing, not just Don. Stop trying to turn every last one into a fake Don sockpuppet.

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  90. Maybe it's all the "brews" causing all the postings?

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  91. If immersion doesn't cost any more than a regular GE program all is well and good. But when we have to add on $10-15 million to support a 7th period for the sole purpose of providing electives to immersion student, we have a problem.

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  92. Adding a 7th period at all middle schools is not affordable, so the only way to allow immersion to continue into middle school is to exempt immersion students from the feeder patterns. If you do not exempt the immersion students, the feeder pattern straitjacket kills immersion opportunities at the middle school level.

    Some middle schools have the language programs now. Let the immersion students, no matter where they went to elementary school, go there. It is not necessary, nor affordable, to build up multiple language programs at all middle schools.

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  93. 10:38,

    That sounds reasonable to me. Therefore, everyone will be against it.

    And, no, I did not write those other anonymous comments that derided the SAS process. The very people who don't like the plans seem unwilling to hold the district responsible for having created such a faulty plan. It makes no sense. No sense at all. They just want everyone to be friends and stop the finger pointing. Unless of course you agree with the feeders in which case, screw you.

    In response to 9:35, it isn't that the former system was a neighborhood system. It clearly was not one. There was no neighborhood preference in the final 2 years of the Diversity Index.. The fact is that many people prefer to attend school close to home and they find a way to do it.

    Cheers,

    Don

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  94. I thought the reason they are building more middle school immersion programs (as opposed to keeping it as it is) is because there is NOT ENOUGH IMMERSION CAPACITY to accommodate the growth in immersion programs and all the immersion families were hollerin' about it. Can someone from SFAME or immersion program confirm? I thought this is why they are expanding the immersion language pathways. And, again, I'm not sure (so speak up out there) I thought one of the reasons they are deploying immersion at different schools instead of consolidating the programs at a select few, like at Hoover, is because the growth would end up displacing GE students. If they placed all the mandarin immersion students at presidio, would all GE students who cannot get into Presidio because of the reduced capacity be happy about that?

    For FLES, there is nothing in the middle schools, so they are building something to bridge between elementary and high school. There are grants to build the curriculum.

    And don't forget, multilingualism is a district initiative (to have each student in SFUSD have access to at least one other language)and the BOE passed the resolution in support of it. I think its a good goal given our world today, albeit a challenging one in this economic situation.

    I always thought that dual immersion and early/late bilingual programs were subsidized by federal grants based on the Lau legislation requiring school districts to provide ELL support and other federal grants related to heritage language retention etc. It would be interesting to know how those budgets break down.

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  95. Hi! I am 9:35 PM (Mr. Brew-ha-ha!). Mea culpa. Our friends in Noe Valley brew beer at home every year between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Then, in January, they throw a big post-holiday bash at their house to taste their latest brew. Their wonderful annual event, which they have come to call their "Brew-Ha-Ha," was last week, and so I typed brouhaha incorrectly without even thinking about it (probably still a little hung over)!

    My dearest apologies.

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  96. I've looked through the blue book. This is not a subject that I am familiar with, but immersion costs do not seem to be specified in school budgets. I can send a copy of the district budget if anyone wants it. E-mail me at donoshin@gmail.com

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  97. Expanded immersion capacity all all middle schools? Didn't the school staff just say that might require an extra period at all the middle schools? Money we do not have. Lots of money we do not have. So expanded immersion capacity is just smoke and mirrors.

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  98. Perhaps. They could be putting it out as a possibility knowing that there's no money for it. That way it looks like they tried but were beaten back by the economy.

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  99. To Don at 11:00 AM who wrote, “…it isn't that the former system was a neighborhood system. It clearly was not one. There was no neighborhood preference in the final 2 years of the Diversity Index.”

    This statement is incorrect. The previous elementary school SAS (including the final 2 years of the Diversity Index) gave attendance area (i.e., neighborhood) preference in the assignment process.

    On page 23 of the 2010-2011 Enrollment Guide, which is still available on the SFUSD website, the process is described as follows:

    How the Student Assignment System Works

    1. After placement of younger siblings and students with program needs, the System looks at all grades/programs where there are more requests than seats available and counts how many seats are available.

    2. The System averages the "profiles" of all the pre-assigned students to create a "base profile" for the program/grade.

    3. The System divides the students who have requested the program/grade into two groups: students who live in the school’s attendance area and students who live outside the schools’ attendance area.

    4. The System selects students living in the attendance area and assigns the student whose profile is the most different from the base profile in the grade/program.

    5. The base profile is recalculated, to include the profile of the student just assigned.

    6. The System recalculates how many seats remain for assignment, and the process is repeated until students from the attendance area no longer contribute diversity to the base profile or no more seats remain for additional placements.

    7. When students from the attendance area no longer contribute to the diversity of the base profile, all students who requested the grade/program are considered for assignment.

    8. The System recalculates the base profile by including the profile of the last student assigned and assigns a student whose profile is the most different from the base profile.

    9. This process continues until there are no more seats available.

    Clearly, the pin maps on the SFUSD website demonstrate that attendance area (neighborhood) students outnumber non-attendance area students at all non-alternative schools; whereas, the citywide alternative schools are enrolling students evenly from across the City (to view the maps use Google key word search: “SFUSD Designing K-8 Pathways”. Then click on “Elementary school pin maps” in the right column of topics.)

    We would not see these differences in enrollment patterns if the old lottery didn't favor neighborhood preference for non-alternative schools.

    Parents seem to forget that SFUSD favored neighborhood assignment for elementary school children in the previous SAS and the pin maps prove it.

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  100. 3:12, I congratulate you on your grasp of the old SAS. It feels like Alice in Wonderland with all the "contributing to the diversity of the base profile and recalculate the base profile." Good riddance to the Diversity Index. That's all water under the bridge now.

    Do I have it right that you would scrap the feeder plan and leave the citywide middle school lottery intact? But how does not doing anything about middle school assignment fix the problem of struggling SE middle schools? At least the feeder proposal is trying something about it.

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  101. Feeding struggling schools into struggling schools. Sounds like a reasonable turn-around plan to me!

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  102. 12:05, more sockpuppeting lies.

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  103. 4:06, I guess you are pointing out that the feeder pattern just feeds struggling elementary schools in the SE into struggling middle schools in the SE. And that does not solve anything. That is operating on wishful thinking that heroic elementary school parents can pull off another turnaround at the middle school level.

    Only if struggling SE elementary schools proceeded completely out of the area would the feeder pattern start to look like it was really making a change. (The two in the Bayview that do leave the area are not enough.)

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  104. Immigration Gumballs:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n7WJeqxuOfQ

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  105. I personally asked Orla O'Keefe at a community meeting about the changes to the DI because I was seeking a middle school for my son. She told me that neighborhood preference was dropped. Maybe even she didn't understand the system. It wouldn't surprise me given that she more than anyone was responsible for the new middle school plan. But clearly my statement was incorrect. Thank you for that. It explains why my son got in since we live in the neighborhood.

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  106. Yes, I oppose the feeder proposal. In the spirit of full disclosure, my K-5 fed into Aptos in the draft plan. I love Aptos. It will likely be our first choice.

    The pin maps suggest that both the elementary and the middle schools are (were) serving their neighborhoodd very well, and you realize that the feeder proposal is a red herring. The SE is being penalized, at the expense of all others.

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  107. Dear 4:13 PM, I am 12:05 and 6:35. I commented because I think that Don has been inaccurate about the diversity index and the lottery. I provided clarification. I am not Don or his sock puppets. I do not agree with Don about the feeder proposal or Students First, because I think that the whole thing is a red herring. We have neighborhood schools. (We don't have neighborhood capacity everywhere, which redults in some very vocal disappointments.) I want the district to leave the middle school system alone, even if it means losing Aptos...because it is the right thing to do.

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  108. 3:12,

    I'm used to some good criticism, and plenty of unfounded criticism like yours.

    But first let me say I have no sockpuppets except the ones that are being made up by the Wrath of the Wicked Wedgie Woman. I find it amusing that people who don't have the self-confidence to write under their own name have the gumption to claim that others are doing something wrong by supposedly doing the same thing. I'm not writing in as a sockpuppet.


    If you reread the text of the SAS you copied you will see that you were reading it wrongly. It is a neighborhood preference ONLY for people who don't fit the school's base profile. And in some neighborhoods that is a very small group of people.

    Since the DI selects only people from an assignment area that don't fit the school's profile, very few people in a neighborhood like the Sunset or the Richmond will get assigned unless demand is low, which isn't the case. If the profile is primarily going to turn out to be middle class Chinese, like it is in those districts, the chance of getting in is not good. And that is exactly how it played out last year. Most of my son's Chinese friends didn't get in, but the white ones did. (Many did get in on the waiting list after schools started.)

    So while a cursory reading may initially indicate a neighborhood preference, that is not how it really worked. You have to pay attention to the SFUSD's tricky wording.

    To the extent that a zone is diverse, selecting those of the opposite profile would include more members from an assignment zone and the neighborhood preference would be more profound. So in that sense you are right. But the whole assignment system problem is based upon how to assign in neighborhoods where demand is highest and that is mostly the center and the west side.

    Anyway, this is just water under the bridge. There is going to be feeders so get used to it. Start planning now.

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  109. First, race was not a criterion in the diversity index, so the computer algorithm could not distinguish between middle class students of Chinese ancestry, European ancestry, African ancestry, etc. When economic diversity was identical, it became a pure lottery.

    Second, the pin maps tell a different story than your explanation. The student population at Presidio comes primarily from the contiguous attendance areas. Presidio is very much a "neighborhood" middle school. Your sons friends probably didn't get in because of capacity.

    The feeder proposal is a red herring.

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  110. "First, race was not a criterion in the diversity index, so the computer algorithm could not distinguish between middle class students of Chinese ancestry, European ancestry, African ancestry, etc. When economic diversity was identical, it became a pure lottery."

    True, race was not a criterion. But "Free lunch" and "language" were. There were probably too many non-native English speaking kids at Don's school. (But maybe not so many free lunch (and other diversity index "poor" criteria)).

    Hence, the program ended up with too many non-English speakers, who were assigned from Don's school.

    Thanks Don. Your right. The program was **not** a neighborhood assignment system.

    Not that it really matters. The central problem with all our schools is that they are being swamped with the kids of illegals. Sure, the pain is being felt most prominently in the SE. But don't fool yourself that you are immune living over their on the west side. They're coming.

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  111. 7:46 is a troll, (or probably "the" resident troll, again)
    but I must respond:
    Calling people "illegals" is really offensive. Shame on you.

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  112. This blog is becoming a "hate site".

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  113. "Your" instead of "you're".

    "Their" instead of "there".

    It's him again, of course.
    Ignore his racist crap.

    "They're coming." ???

    They are already here, asshole.

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  114. What would you like to call people who have violated internationally accepted standards and treaties of citizenship and residency, freeload on the California taxpayer, what would you like to call them?

    Undocumented?

    More then half the K-12 student population in California are the children or the children's children of the "undocumented."

    And there's more coming. For every one child of the legal California taxpayer, there's two children of the "undocumented."

    Who's parents, by they way, pay very little tax.

    So, regardless of what assignment system we have, and regardless of whether or not we raise taxes, we won't be able to fix our schools.

    Most kids in California, legal and illegal, will struggle in schools that are underfunded and at the bottom of the nation in terms of quality.

    It's "La Raza" (translation "The Race") that segregates themselves by race.

    Rachel's comment about a "curveball" on Middle School assignments and immersion is a joke.

    We can't afford it. Sadly, we can't afford many other more necessary programs as well.

    And the reason we can't afford it is because we have a huge population of people who pay little tax and have large families (who also, by and large, are the children of the undocumented).

    Plain and simple.

    No need for diversity coordinators or elaborate school assignment bureacracies on this one.

    Tax increase or no tax increase, we're headed over the cliff. Plan accordingly.

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  115. Shut up Don. Seriously. Shut up.

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  116. Wicked Wedgie Woman is up to her dirty tricks again. She's trying to use the online equivalent of bearing false witness. I, Don, am not the author of 7:46's comment.

    I do not condone that comment "they're coming", though I agree with most of what s/he said. That was wrong. I don't know if 7:46 is racist or not, but I highly advise against using that kind of comment. On the other hand I find nothing racist about referring to people who are in the country illegally as "illegals" any more than it would be wrong in referring to people who are not in the country illegally as legals. What a ridiculous attempt to broker language.

    We know the DI did not use race because of the Ho decision, but the other DI factors are simply a proxy for race or ethnicity. This is because of what Mr. Garcia refers to in the strategic plan as the predictive power of demographics. Is he a racist, too, for saying that if you are of a particular demographic your chance of failure is highly predictable?

    Wicked Wedgie Woman is trying to move the Overton Window to the left by trying to make the word 'illegal' off limits. She is providing a vocabulary list of politically incorrect words that are part of common and everyday standard English, the end result being that we have to run an obstacle course just to speak. Oh, I guess I shouldn't be using the word English, either, or even speaking in that language. Desculpe-me. Eu vai ficar mais sensativo no futuro. What an charade.

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  117. The immigration issue can be discussed in its own strand. I invite you to send in your own original post. Argue it back and forth there. The immigration issue obviously means a lot to you.

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  118. The post at 9:15 was not Don's either. You can tell by the style as much as the content. Say what ever you want about him, he's no racist and he knows his shit.

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  119. It is him, check out sf schools message#34736, where he tries to pass along the same hate and bunch of lies under the heading "Why we're Broke"

    All the supposed "facts" in that email he sends out are refuted here:

    http://www.snopes.com/politics/immigration/taxes.asp

    So tell me again that the trolling and hate speech is not him.

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  120. 10:43

    Ever check out SF Gate? There are legions of anti-immigration folk out there. Are they all Don sockpuppets? I've read this blog for awhile. I can tell when it's Don and when it is not Don. Don't swing at every pitch. You're the pot calling the kettle black.

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  121. Out of curiosity I checked out the post 34736 on sfschools forum. He copied and pasted statistics from the LA TIMES, a solidly left-wing newspaper. I hardly think that qualifies as hate speech. I know for a fact that Don is married to an Asian woman. His children go to Alamo, a Chinese dominated school. I doubt he is anti-Asian. I clearly see you as on a mission to defame him. You are the problem. You should be banned.

    I still remember from the days when I used to read sfschools on occasions (before I realized that about 10 people comprise 90% of the commentary), you were the laughing stock of that blog.

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  122. This thread is not about race. Can we move on?

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  123. Where vice is vengeance follows.

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  124. FYI:

    I'm the person who is raising the concern about our schools, demographics and illegal immigration.

    It belongs on this thread because if we didn't have an illegal immigration problem, we wouldn't be struggling with the middle school streaming problem.

    It's painfully obvious that no one wants to be in a middle school with a lot of first generation immigrant Latino kids. No one, not even first generation Latino kids, not second generation Latino kids and not anyone else.

    Here check this out:
    (http://newamericamedia.org/2010/09/sf-parents-in-a-tizzy-over-new-way-of-assigning-students-to-schools.php)
    “I graduated from this school,” said Lanuza, who is Latina and African American. “I know nothing has changed in this school. I would like to see my kids going to better schools, such as Hoover or A.P. Giannini.”

    Yeah, she want's her kids to Giannini (70% asian/white) or Hoover (60% asian/white).

    The only problems is that the fully 49% of the students in California middle schools are Hispanic/Latino. So just who is being racist here?

    By "They're coming" I mean that the demographic impact of the children of Latino undocumented workers is currently being felt primarily in middle schools like Everett. However, this poor, expanding population will soon impact resources across the city.

    Do the numbers.

    The birth rate of US citizens and legal US residents is approximately two children per woman, while the rate among illegals is almost four children per woman. Yes, that rate does drop by the second generation, but not to the level other US citizens.

    So, yes, *they* , as in the children of high birth, rate low income families, are coming to every school in this city, even those schools that have so far managed to shield themselves on the west side of the city.

    And even before *they* get *there (San Francisco west side)*, they are going to suck our public school system and our children dry, while Rachel and Carlos obsequiously put the rubber stamp on the whole thing.

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  125. Is that you, Don? I like it.

    Try this one.

    "Revenge is always the weak pleasure of a little and narrow mind."

    Fits her to perfection.

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  126. Down with the Wicked Wedgie Woman and the Incredibly Naughty Cafeteria Ladies From Outer Space. Police the borders not the lunch rooms.

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  127. Latinas are good looking.

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  128. Well, since you bring it up, Latinas and Latinos are no less or more good looking that other people.

    They do, however, struggle with their weight, which poses an additional burden on our already overburdened health care system.

    http://articles.cnn.com/2009-10-21/health/childhood.obesity_1_childhood-obesity-obese-children-diabetes-and-obesity?_s=PM:HEALTH

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  129. 11:23
    "laughing stock" would describe the sockpuppeter who invented a bunch of people just so somebody would agree with him and compliment him. Much like what is going on here.

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  130. You people are sick.

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  131. Don is something else. He's spawning sockpuppet zombies to do his bidding. Hey, Don, how about wicked wedgie woman versus sockpuppet zombies of the k files.

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  132. 12:51 : Is it OK with you should I agree with Don? You're out to smear him. That kind of thing is lowest of the low.

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  133. Back to the subject - anyone who followed the SAS at all over the years knows the DI was not a neighborhood system. That many end up at local schools speaks to their preferences and determination, not the district's former policies. There should be little flags on the map for all those that left SFUSD. That would paint another picture of who got their preferred school, especially if viewed over a generation.

    If the Diversity Index was a neighborhood system, why has SFUSD attempted to bill this new design as a neighborhood system. I don't think they went through all this just to move from one neighborhood based system to another. So can we put that misconception to rest?

    There isn't enough money to convert to seven periods. Immersion will have to get a preference. This will kill off what's left of any neighborhood preference at certain middle schools as it moves from 4th to 5th place.

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  134. This is what happens when he takes over blogs without moderation. Sickening.

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  135. "There isn't enough money to convert to seven periods. Immersion will have to get a preference. This will kill off what's left of any neighborhood preference at certain middle schools as it moves from 4th to 5th place."

    Don, can you expand on what you mean by this.

    -Not Don

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  136. There he goes again. Asking himself questions.

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  137. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  138. 3:38.

    I want to respond to your question.

    Right now the neighborhood preference is 4th. If they add another preference, as has been suggested per the article by Rachel, then that would place neighborhood preference back one to 5th. Given the cost of providing immersion with electives (adding a 7th period) at all middle schools it doesn't seem likely they'll do that short of some economic windfall. So what's left?

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  139. Don,

    Let me get this right:

    For the school assignment process, Rachel is proposing to insert language immersion preference (yes or no) into 4th place and move local neighborhood preference to 5th.

    Is that correct?

    Also, could you tell me if that is for the kindergarten or middle school application, or both?

    Thanks.

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  140. This is conjecture. I'm not on the Board. I'm just giving you my take for what it's worth based on what I read. The thing is this: They voted in a plan last year. Now there changing it this year. They can change it again next year. So don't be too impress by their idea of a final plan.

    If they plan to give both immersion and bilingual a preference they have to place it high up on the list. Whether before sibling, pre-k or CTIP1 who knows? - but definitely before neighborhood preference, or else it is pointless to bother with the preference at all.

    We are only talking about middle school here.

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  141. 9:12:

    Thanks, Don.

    So basically, sibling, pre-K, CTIP, and immersion will knock neighborhood preference completely out of the running.

    Vouchers. If they're going to champion middle school immersion for seven different languages, it's time for vouchers.

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  142. 8:35,
    It is not Rachel Norton who is proposing any preference for immersion students. I believe it is school staff saying that, in Option One, both bilingual ed for English Learners and immersion students would not be constrained by the feeder pattern of assignment to middle school. It is Don in this blog who has said that this probably means a preference for immersion students for middle school assignment, under Option One.

    To recap, you could look at Option Two as bilingual ed being exempt from the feeder pattern, while immersion students would not get any special treatment.

    And Option Three says that immersion students would not get any special treatment for middle school assignment, but, if we had language programs galore at every middle school (a big if), they would not need any special treatment.

    I am saying that' if you have feeders, I think you have to go with Option One. No money for Option Three. We could not go forward with Option Two last year. The programs were not in place. They are still not in place.

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  143. Can someone remind me again why MS feeders are an improvement over the current SAS??

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  144. "Option One:

    Both bilingual ed for English Learners and immersion students would not be constrained by the feeder pattern of assignment to middle school."

    So doesn't that mean that bilingual and immersion students coming out of K-5's like Buena Vista, ER Taylor and Alvarado would be free to choose schools across the city.

    And what does that say about GE students coming out of schools like Junipero Serra. So far, the Board has Junipero Serra streamed into Denman (not exactly a stellar player.)

    So how's that fair? How is that not favoring immersion?

    Sorry, but that sounds like the shaft for SE taxpayers.

    The Board wants to support teaching of seven languages to eighth grade. Most countries can barely handle teaching two. And they don't bother trying to tell you that it doesn't increase costs. Everybody knows that it does.

    If the Board wants so many languages and options, then fine, lets do vouchers and cut out the middle man.

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  145. Yes, there are court imposed requirements for bilingual education, but that does not mandate a district to offer a means of compliance at every school. If SFUSD decides to do just that, which I think is unlikely due the economic circumstances, there will be a severe backlash against the Board - a backlash that will dwarf the protests against feeders. I say this because I believe the only way the district could pay for such a large revamping of middle school would be through staff reductions and the concomitant economy of class size increases.

    If the governor's tax increases don't pass, we may already be heading for class size increases anyway. More increases on top of that would have the district scrambling to find new ways to stack desks and parents breaking down the barricades.

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  146. "Yes, there are court imposed requirements for bilingual education, but that does not mandate a district to offer a means of compliance at every school."

    actually, don, i think it does. at our school, we have a morning "eld block" that groups kids by language proficiency for targeted english language learning. the kids who are english speakers use that time for additional/enhanced language arts.

    change of subject/back on task: ok, i'm really confused now. why would the immersion strands be exempt from the feeder pattern? i thought this was one of the drivers of having a feeding pattern: so there is clear articulation from one elem immersion to a middle immersion and the elem immersion community from a single school can remain a strong community (ie. stay together) at the immersion middle school? i must have missed something.

    another thing: i seem to remember clearly from the early outreach efforts on the sas front that remaining a single school cohort into middle school was something a lot of families wanted. now all of a sudden everyone is reconsidering?

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  147. Listen, don't pretend you know what you're talking about if you can't be bothered to read the district's Lau Plan.

    It states very clearly:

    "APPROPRIATE PLACEMENT OF ENGLISH LEARNERS
    1. Develop guidelines for appropriate placements for secondary students.
    2. Provide training to EPC staff to enable them to better counsel parents on program models.
    3. Post EL program information on the SFUSD website.
    4. Publish EL program information in the SFUSD enrollment guide.
    5. Provide EL program information to ELACS/DELAC.
    6. Train secondary school counselors on appropriate EL placement.
    7. Integrate strategies to support EL programs into development of a new student assignment
    system."

    Does that read as if every school has to provide the court mandated service? I don't just think so. I know so.

    Next you want to pretend to be informed at the very least try googling it.

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  148. The Lau plan is for ELL, ie, English language learners, which can be supported at every school. The district has no mandate to support immersion programs, ie, teaching a foreign language to proficient English speakers. Cantonese, Mandarin, Spanish, Korean, Japanese, Russian, etc are electives, and they are not mandatory subjects in the state of CA curriculum. Just English. Period. The District can drop the immersion strands if monies are not available. There will be a parent backlash, but there are no legal ramifications. We do not need to provide vouchers for electives.

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  149. Why would the school district need to find appropriate placements if every school had to offer the services? Secondary is different when delivering ELD.

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  150. Why feeders are better: the middle schools in the SE are struggling, and we are trying an experiment in doing something else. We do not really know if it will work. We just cannot do nothing.

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  151. California has no bilingual education mandate.

    We support ELD with Economic Impact Aid/LEP based upon number of identified students.

    If SFUSD decides to implement a district-wide 7th period to accommodate immersion/bilingual, that will come with reductions in other areas. If the district opts to go beyond the mandatory California state ELD requirements, it will do so off the back of the GE population in order to pay for it. If that happens we should start a recall campaign for any Board member that votes for it and demand the ouster of Garcia.

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  152. Is there a way to block certain people's posts?

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  153. Don, you are right on the money.

    Please run for Board of Education.

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  154. 9:34

    Are your parents siblings?

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  155. Well, here's another curve ball for parents applying for middle school. Horace Mann is no more as a standalone middle school -- it will now be a K through 8 Spanish immersion school with Buena Vista moving over. Wonder how this is going to impact the lottery this year for middle school. My guess: Lick is going to be A LOT harder to get into this year, and maybe Hoover too. Mann has lots of CTIP 1 kids, and they will now be trying to get into Lick and Hoover. Lots of kids from the Mission get to Hoover by way of the 48 bus. Anybody else have any thoughts on how this is going to change the lottery this year for middle school?

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  156. 9:49 is the troll, talking to himself, as usual.
    Yeah, good idea, run for BOE and get 30 votes. 8 of those will be all of your facebook friends.

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  157. 9:59
    You're probably the person I want to block, who insults everyone and is always angry and unbalanced.
    My friends told me to read sfkfiles for information about schools and about looking for schools, and all I find are offensive tirades about how Mexicans are ruining schools and a crazy Captain Underpants book fan person who posts incessantly about every single thing except what the subject of the thread is about.

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  158. 11:05, the single school cohort discussion was about preK kids going into kindergarten together. It was staff, not parents, who decided feeders were good for going to middle school from elementary school.

    Immersion parents then said, wait, not so fast, language programs are unavailable at many middle schools. Other parents said, wait, not so fast, you are feeding struggling elenentary schools into struggling middle schools. That seems a recipe for more struggles, not a turnaround.

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  159. "Immersion parents then said, wait, not so fast, language programs are unavailable at many middle schools."

    There is no requirement for immersion. The district can't afford to provide equity in immersion programming. Gate is being cut. Counselors are being cut. But we should have immersion just because some parents want their kids to speak a second language and feel that the school district should pay for it? I'm think immersion is great, but the district can't afford to buy it.

    If the new taxes don't pass, the Trans Notes that are necessary to run the district will get downgraded. The increased costs will put pressure the bond rating and the district will end up unable to cover salaries.

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  160. 10:48

    "It’d be a terrific innovation if`you could get your mind to stretch a little further than the next wisecrack.”

    Kathryn Hepburn

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  161. 11:26, you agree that the feeder pattern leaves many immersion students high and dry.

    I believe our only difference is that you would say, sorry, that's tough, but than is the end. While I would say, let immersion students get into the middle schools that have immersion programs now. I'm not asking for greatly expaned programs costing money we do not have.

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  162. I agree with that, 12:37. You just cannot expect the district to pay to make specialized programs universally available at your local school. You will have to travel to get it unless you are lucky and live nearby. But they should have a preference. It should sibling, language, neighborhood, prek, CTIP1. Like I said, immersion is a valuable asset to the community of SFUSD and I believe it is responsible for attracting many parents that might have left otherwise.

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