Friday, January 21, 2011

Jefferson Elementary

I toured Jefferson Elementary recently. It’s not particularly close to me, but is on a good commute path for my husband and is a large school with no immersion (meaning there could potentially be spots open to people outside the neighborhood). My tour notes are here but a few points of interest:

- The principal said she guesses there will be approximately ten siblings next year, give or take a few.

- I know there was a debate awhile back about whether or not parking should be an issue when searching for schools. I’m of the camp that parking is, indeed, something to consider. And parking at Jefferson is certainly a negative to that nice school. I was unable to find free parking the day I went (well, I guess I could have searched for another 15 minutes…) but I was able to find metered parking with no problem. So at least there are options. The good news is that once the kids are in first grade (principal said the kinders are generally walked in and picked up before and after school) they do a pick up and drop off system in the front of the school so that parents don’t have to get out of their cars. So parking wouldn’t be an everyday burden after kindergarten.

- In a casual conversation the principal said, though she hasn’t heard anything official, she wouldn’t be surprised at all if start and end times change once bussing is cut, starting as early as the upcoming fall. Nothing official, but to me this means pay a lot less attention to start times and a lot more attention to the school itself (the start and end time of our neighborhood school has been a pretty big concern to me).

I think Jefferson is a nice school and it will be on our list.

Incidentally, my list is now done. I’m headed to 555 Franklin on Monday to try and beat some of the lines (maybe I’m dreaming about the line part). How are your lists coming along?


  1. Howdy everyone,

    Don here with parking advice. Assuming you're willing to walk a block and a half you can park in GG park near the corner of 19th and MLK. It's a busy intersection at Lincoln so be careful crossing with your child.

  2. Is there truly someone who has nothing better to do than read this blog, waiting to see posts by Don, so he/she can call him a troll and tell him to shut up? I'm generally a lurker here, but it seems as though these annoying posts are increasing in frequency to the point that it's ending conversations / driving people away. Is this blog not moderated at all? Say what you will about Don and his views (yes, maybe a little redundant and certainly emphatic and occasionally rude), but at least they are generally substantive remarks on germane topics vs. stuff like "ignore the troll" or "Shut up."
    I know the best bet is to just ignore this annoying person, but the relentlessness is slowly wearing down my ability to read through these threads to pick out the substance. Sigh.

  3. My kids went to summer camp at Jefferson. Parking is definitely an issue. No way around it. I'm surprised they don't let k parents drop off at the loading zone given the parking situation. The killer for me with Jefferson is the lack of diversity. If I were you, I would focus more on the westside schools with some diversity -- Sunset, Feinstein, commodore sloat and lakeshore. You will be glad you did over the years!

  4. Maybe diversity is not a concern for her. Maybe she's Chinese. Your comment could be construed as racist.

  5. Also, the demographics of a lot of the west side schools will change over the next few years. For ex. West Portal is going to be getting a lot more white and a lot less asian. Jefferson will probably stay predominately asian, but more white kids will get in b/c of the neighborhood is mostly white and asian. You won't find many black or latino students in these schools.

  6. Sunnyside is a good school for racial diversity. It is about 20% Asian, 20% white, 20% black and 20% Latino.

  7. Thanks for the comments. I realize Jefferson isn't particularly diverse, but very few schools in this city are (yes, yes, I know there are a few, but the MAJORITY are not). I feel like, despite the lack of diversity, it would be an okay fit for us (and no, we're not Chinese).

    Also, I don't think it's that they don't allow the K kids to do the drop off and pick up, the principal just said usually they are walked in and out. I did get to thinking though that maybe around this time of year everyone is more comfortable and more K people start utilizing the drop off/pick up system. Any Jefferson parents have info on this?

    PS- I timed the walk to my "neighborhood" school today, just for the fun of it, and it takes us 8 minutes to walk there. Wouldn't it be great if I could avoid any drop off/pick up system with cars...

  8. Emily-- yes, a lot of schools are not diverse, but some are, and I counsel you and other parents to think long and hard about the importance of diversity. When I was in your shoes I pooh-pooed diversity -- thought it was the stuff of crunchy-granola parents who were valuing their ideology over their kid's learning. I was wrong. Diversity does matter and I believe now that diversity is more important than test scores. Success in work these days is about team work -- and kids who have learned how to socialize with all kinds of kids will be the successful ones. Kids also socialize better in diverse groups. We moved from a school that was 85% one group to a diverse one and I
    have seen my kids blossom socially. Think long and hard about this -- it does matter.

  9. Emily,

    There's certainly nothing wrong with being advised to think long and hard about diversity. But don't feel ashamed to pick a school that fits YOUR needs as a family. The former commenter did not take into account that your child, as a minority student at the school, will already be getting lessons in diversity at Jefferson.

    She's trying to proselytize you into believing that diversity is the most important part of schooling - make you feel guilty, ashamed as if you were a racist for not attending a more diverse school. I won't even try to refute the notion because it is great to attend a diverse school. But it is up to you to decide what you want from a school.

    But her idea that diversity is more important than academics is a good insight into the diversity police mentality - one of those confunding charms in Harry Potter. Diversity or desegregation was intended to lift up the low performers. But the police also want the higher performers to be willing to compromise with academics for "the greater good", especially now that their mistaken policies are under assault nationwide and here in SF. How many times have you heard that false trumpet call through history - for the greater good?

    Believe me, assuming your children grow up to be good citizens, few employers are going to consider their diversity skills more important than their ability to excel in the field of study for which they were hired.

    Don't be bamboozled.

    Best of luck on your lottery selection.


  10. Where I work, "diversity skills" per se don't matter as long as you communicate well in English (writing and speaking), you're not a jerk and get your work done. It's about having the analytical and technical skills to do the work and contribute to the team.

    My 2nd grader is in a parochial school where he is the only white kid in his class. There is one African-American kid and the rest of the kids in his class are Asian. His sister is biracial. At his old independent private school, which was much more diverse, he had friends of all races with his best friend a person of mixed race. Since we switched schools he has said more than once that he feels very isolated being the only white kid in his class. He's always had an easy time making friends before but has really struggled in the new environment. I expect it's partly that it's harder to break into established groups of friends by the older grades. Obviously just one anecdote, but perhaps food for thought.

  11. 11:02 am -- this is 10:18 pm again. Interesting experience for your son. My kids transferred from a non-diverse school to a diverse one in older grades too, but the difference in their social experiences could not have been more different than your kid. Even though they were coming into a school with kids who'd been together many years, we found that the greater diversity has tremendously improved their socializing in the new school. Its opened them up to new activities too -- my younger one who had previously stayed away from sports has suddenly gotten interested in sports. And they are happier too. I have no beef with Chinese students -- frankly, I applaud their dedication to academic excellence. But school is not just about studying and tests; it is also about socializing and learning to socialize. And there I'm afraid that the Chinese students in my kid's former school did not excel.

  12. "And there I'm afraid that the Chinese students in my kid's former school did not excel."

    So you are saying Chinese kids are not good socializers? That is ethnocentric thinking and it is wrong because it isn't true. My kids never has a bit of trouble socializing with Chinese kids. It is interesting to observe the diversity police engaging in the very thinking they claim to detest.

  13. I am a Jefferson parent of a 2nd grader. I think the school IS diverse. Check out the school at 8:40 when all the children line up in the playground for morning assembly, and you will see what I mean. Furthermore, my son has friends of ALL races at the school, and his soccer team is made up of diverse bunch of kids from Jefferson, including *GASP* Chinese boys. So please stop with genralized racist comments about how Asian kids only study and don't socialize.

  14. I don't have the time right now to do this, but I'd be really curious to find out how many schools near me (I live southwestish in the city) have no more than 50% of a single race that make up their student body. I'd guess it's really low. It's difficult to find true diversity at schools in this city and I can't imagine crossing off any school that wasn't diverse, in the truest sense of the word, just for that reason. And for the record, I would agree with the parent at Jefferson- it did seem to be fairly diverse, in that I saw students from every nationality at the school. Maybe not in each class, but in the school. That's more than I can say for many schools in the city.

  15. Don at 9:04,
    Point taken.

  16. There is a surprisingly large number of schools with less than 50% of one race BUT of those, many have a very high percentage of low-income kids.

    Sorry my geography is not very good so I'm throwing everything in here. I'm also not filtering for immersion programs, low test scores, or anything else that may be of concern to individual families. Data is from 2008-09 SARCs. Apologies for errors. No data published for Dianne Feinstein or Chinese Immersion at De Avila.

    Most of the usual middle class suspects are among those with no race over 50% and fewer than 60% of the students low-income Schools marked with an X have fewer first-choice requests than available places on the 09-10 Adams Spreadsheet (not counting siblings because I could not find that data).
    Lafayette X
    Claire Lilienthal
    McKinley X
    Harvey Milk X
    New Traditions X
    George Peabody X
    Commodore Sloat =
    Sunnyside X

    With the new geography-linked lottery, I'm not sure how much ranking will matter, just trying to give a vague sense of how in-demand these schools have been in the past.

    Here are some others that might surprise you but may not be acceptable if you want not just socio- but -economic diversity, or if you are a white family hoping for more than a few other white faces at school.
    El Dorado (4% white, 70% low income)
    Glen Park (4%W, 78%LI)
    Guadalupe (1%W, 73%LI)
    Bret Harte (1%W, 89% LI)
    Hillcrest (3%W, 76% LI)
    Longfellow (2%W, 64% LI)
    Monroe (7%W, 66% LI)
    John Muir (5%W, 86%LI)
    Jose Ortega (10% W, 70% LI)
    Rosa Parks (9%W, 62% LI)
    Redding (12%W, 76% LI)
    SF Community (13%W, 70% LI)
    Sheridan (4%W, 76%LI)
    Spring Valley (4%@, 82% LI)
    Starr King (14%W, 67% LI)
    Tenderloin Community (10%W, 81% LI)
    Daniel Webster (4%W, 90% LI)

    The rest of the schools in the district are more than 50% one race.

  17. 1:18 pm again. Don, it is not ethnocentric thinking I was expressing -- just a fact. The mostly Chinese kids in my kid's previous school were not very good at socializing. Just a fact. And I'm not the "diversity police." (There you go again with your labelling, Don.) Believe it or not, there's lots of people on this blog with very different views. I'm someone that three years ago would have thought the same way as you about those pushing diversity. But for us, this experience has taught us an important (painful) lesson. Emily -- I do hear you that Jefferson may be more diverse than what I remember. My memory is from six years ago -- and all I recall is barely seeing two non-Chinese kids in a class. So maybe my point is not applicable to Jefferson. As for schools in your broader area that have numbers down to 50% Chinese or less, I think I mentioned Lakeshore, Sunset, C. Sloat. Three really good schools with a LOT of diversity. All three well worth putting down. By contrast, schools like Stevenson, Key, Ulloa are not diverse. I'd stay away from them.

  18. 10:18 pm -- I also forgot to mention Feinstein as a school on the westside with more diversity.

  19. Not everyone puts a lot of stock in going to a diverse school.

  20. When you say Chinese kids are not good socializers, that is your opinion. You are painting a whole race with a very broad brush. My children attend(ed) a school with 65% Chinese and it was never an issue at all for them. So you see it is a matter of perspective and experience.

    Why try to make Emily feel bad to go to a less diverse school? Maybe you are just trying to make yourself feel better about your own doubts? She may not have your same priorities. That's why I said 'diversity police'. You are trying to turn it into a morality decision which is is not.

  21. 3:03, thanks for coming through for me!!!

    Surprising (or not, I'm not sure) but 8 of those schools on the top list are on my list as well (the two that aren't on that list but are on my list are Jefferson and West Portal GE). Of the second list I don't think any of them are anywhere near us, except for maybe Glen Park.

    Anyway, I'd say diversity is semi-important to me, but it wasn't on my original "must have" list. Maybe I'd be more concerned if I thought my son would have a tough time breaking into groups, but he's a pretty social guy that has friends of many different races now so I don't really see that changing.

    On another note, I didn't go to 555 Franklin today because I got a tip from a friend (hi Tabitha!) that unless you can get there around 8 am, it's about a one hour wait these days. I couldn't get there at 8 today so I'm waiting a few days until I can.

  22. I have a Kindergartner at Jefferson and my son's class is far more diverse than I had expected it to be. About 55% of the 22 kids in his class are Asian (Chinese, Vietnamese, Indian, Indonesian), but there are students from a fairly wide variety of ethnic backgrounds in the group - including African, Middle Eastern, and European. And the 3 other K classes appear to be similarly mixed.

    I can also address the drop off situation for Kindergartners as I have assisted many mornings at curbside. Quite a few parents drop off their Kindergartners, but most of them have older siblings who walk with them. In the mornings, there is an adult who can take any Kindergartner to the K yard from the 18th Ave drop off lane, so it's definitely do-able.

    We've loved our first 5 months at Jefferson!

  23. With the feeder plan, forget about the existing student body. Look at the neighborhood diversity instead.

  24. One of PG&E's secret pipelines runs right under Jefferson.
    No way I am sending my kid there.