Sunday, February 27, 2011

Reminder--edMatch at Patxi's First Wednesday Every Month--Reminder

It's edMatch Day again at Patxi's Pizza this Wed, March 2.  Remember at least 10% of your purchase at Patxi's on Wed, March 2 goes to support every public school in San Francisco!

Here are a few ideas to make your Patxi's experience superb: 

1.  Order before you arrive at the restaurant.  
Call the Patxi's location you are dining at 20 minutes prior to your arrival and order your pizza.  When you arrive, your pizza will almost be ready to be served!

2.  Order takeout.
Patxi's delivers!  Who wants to cook on a Wednesday night anyway?

3.  Order a half-baked pizza in advance.
Throw a Patxi's Pizza in the freezer or refrigerator and finish cooking it at home at your convenience.  You can order your half baked pizza on Tues for pickup on Wed and edMatch receives it's percentage of purchase

4.  Buy a gift card on Wed, March 2. 
edMatch will receive at least 10% of all purchases on Wed, March 2, including gift cards.  So buy a gift card on Wed and eat at Patxi's at your convenience!

5.  Eat Patxi's Pizza for lunch
Eat lunch with your friends and co-workers on Wed, March 2.  Once again, you can eat in or have Patxi's deliver to your home or workplace.  Shame the boss into buying the office lunch by convincing her she should support the public schools!



PATXI'S THREE SAN FRANCISCO LOCATIONS ARE:

FILLMORE ST (THE MARINA)     HAYES ST (HAYES VALLEY)      24TH ST (NOE VALLEY)            
415 345-3995                               415 558-9991                               415 285-2000


Check out edMatch's new website at www.edmatchsf.org

Friday, February 25, 2011

SFGate: Should the mayor have kids in public schools?

This from SFGate:
For the first time in recent history, every serious declared candidate for mayor of San Francisco is a parent. Four of the seven have school-age children, and two are currently going through the nail-biting process of applying for kindergarten.

It has parents of children in the city's public schools buzzing, with sightings of former Supervisor Bevan Dufty or Assessor Phil Ting touring schools reported like hot gossip.

It also has many parents of children in public schools debating whether they would vote for a candidate who sent his or her children to a private school, as several have. While the mayor has no direct control over the public schools other than filling vacant seats on the school board, the symbolism of choosing one for his or her own family matters to some parents.

"If they have some skin in the game, so to speak, I think it gives them more weight when they talk about education issues," said Deborah Kwan, a public relations consultant who lives in the Excelsior and has two children at Alice Fong Yu Elementary.

"I want to know that they aren't just talking about public education, that they aren't mouthing platitudes," said Kwan, the president of the school's Parent Teacher Association.
Read the full story

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

SFGate: On Giving Parents a Voice in their Children's Education

This from SFGate:

California has a rare opportunity to pioneer an important and meaningful education reform for our most vulnerable students.

The state Board of Education had better not mess this up.

At issue is California's brand-new "parent trigger" law, which squeaked through the State Legislature in 2010.

The law gives parents of students in chronically failing schools the ability to organize and demand major changes, including charter conversion. It's a small law - only 75 of California's absolutely worst schools are eligible, out of a total of 9,000 - and it's already being used as a model for similar bills in Georgia and Missouri.

No sooner was the ink dry on the law than a majority of parents at McKinley Elementary School in Compton scrambled to use it. Now those parents are in court - thanks to a breathtakingly hostile school district - and the state Board of Education, along with new state Superintendent Tom Torlakson, is trying to stop other parents from using the law.

Read the full story

URGENT ACTION NEEDED: "LET US VOTE" TO SAVE PUBLIC EDUCATION FUNDING!

Hello from the Educate Our State Team: We need your help today: The "Let Us Vote Campaign" campaign to save public education funding needs your voice, now! Please join us and send an email letter to your legislators telling them that we, the citizens of California, want the right to vote in a special election to extend current taxes that would avoid devastating budget cuts to education. Currently, several legislators are blocking this election from taking place! Take action today! Our kids and our schools cannot sustain losing an additional $5 billion in budget cuts! Click here to send an email! Let Us Vote Campaign

The Legislature needs to hear from us by February 28th, prior to the critical vote on March 1st. It takes only two minutes and a few clicks to send our prewritten email letter – it's easy, we promise!

Background Information: K-12 Public Education has NOT been "spared" in the 2011 budget. In short, the Governor's preliminary budget is contingent on revenue derived from the extension of current temporary taxes which would otherwise expire on July 1, 2011. Without these tax extensions, our schools could lose an additional $5 billion in funding or $900/student. As of today, the legislature has not agreed to allow the people of California the right to vote on the tax extensions that are set to expire July 1st. A two-thirds vote of the legislature is required to bring the vote to the people and we are 5 votes short! We are asking that you join us and send an email letter to your legislators today. Without your support, we may not get the chance to preserve even the minimal funding our schools have today. Send our prewritten letter.

Thank you for joining the "Let Us Vote!" campaign and letting your voice be heard!

For more information about Educate Our State, a list of our partner organizations and our efforts to unite the voices of Californians in support of K-12 public education and demand real change visit the Educate Our State website at www.educateourstate.org

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

COMMUNITY FORUMS: Implementing K-8 Feeder Patterns

Give your feedback to help shape these plans. Join the conversation & share your thoughts. Click here to view flyer.

Schedule for Community Forums

Tuesday, March 1, 5:30 pm: Denman MS

Monday, March 8, 6:30 pm: Aptos MS

Wednesday, March 9, 6:00 pm: Roosevelt MS

Thursday, March 10, 5:30 pm: Everett MS

Wednesday, March 16, 6:00 pm: James Lick MS

Thursday, March 17, 6:00 pm: Marina MS

Monday, March 21, 6:00 pm: Hoover MS

Tuesday, March 22, 6:30 pm: Presidio MS

Wednesday, March 23, 5:30 pm: ML King MS

Wednesday, April 6, 6:00 pm: Francisco MS

International Studies Academy: TBD

Visitacion Valley MS: TBD

Refreshments & interpretation in Spanish & Cantonese. Free childwatch for kids over age 3. For more information visit: www.sfusd.edu. You can also email your thoughts to qualitymiddleschools@sfusd.edu.

- Donna

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Helga's List -- Hedging Bets

It’s been 6 months since the attendance boundaries were first revealed at the August 18, 2010 Board of Education meeting. Since then and throughout tour season, we have adjusted what we are looking for in elementary schools for Hugo.

Our Must Haves still include:

Mission – A curriculum that includes Critical Thinking (analytical, conceptual and creative thinking) and problem solving. Project based or science. The "why" and "how" are as important as the "what, when and where."
Principal – How does he/she support teachers and teacher development? Set and communicate expectations for teachers, parents & students? Relate to the parent community? Create & maintain a safe & orderly environment for students?
Parent Community & Involvement – Especially in light of looming budget cuts (join EducateOurState.org’s email campaign here), what enrichment programs or additional staff does the PTA fundraise for? Are these programs consistent with what we feel are important? Can I see myself volunteering with the parent community?

Additional factors considered include:

•Based on Hugo’s Pre-K teacher’s feedback during our parent-teacher conference -- and much to my surprise, we can now envision orderly academic schools (in addition to hands-on, experiential ones) as environments where Hugo would love learning.
•Early start schools and schools with before school programs fit into our schedules. With the phasing out of busing and the ensuing traffic issues, the early start becomes even more desirable for us.
• The busing cuts also impacted the importance of onsite after school programs for middle class families.
•We initially looked in the Richmond area, because both Godric and I could drop off and pick up Hugo, but expanded south (e.g., Sunset schools) along Godric’s commute path. We also made exceptions for distance if the school had the mission we were looking for.

The List
For each school on my list, I’ve noted from the SFUSD 2010-11 Demand Data the # times the school was requested in any of the 7 choices under the old system and # times the school was requested as the 1st choice.

This demand data is why I chose to list 21 schools under the new application form. Ranking the schools was really difficult, so I broke the list into 4 tranches and then ranked within each tranche.

1st Tranche: Schools active in science and/or project based curriculum with strong academic programs and strong PTAs, despite commute
1. Lawton K8 9:30am (before school 7am) 66 GE [Total requests: 839, 1st choice: 170]2. Feinstein 7:50am (before school n/a) 88 GE [Total requests: 522, 1st choice: 89]
3. Clarendon 9:25am (before school 7am) 44 GE [Total requests: 1050, 1st choice: 177]
4. Clarendon 9:25am (before school 7am) 44 JBBP [Total requests: 489, 1st choice: 116]
Lawton and Feinstein both have principals (who were previously science teachers) that encourage professional development in science for teaching staff and active participation in UCSF SEP programs.
Lawton’s principal was a high school science teacher for 24 years and strongly believes in incorporating critical thinking in the curriculum. Lawton ranked highest for us, because it is a K-8, has well developed GATE program and the before & after school care KEEP program gives preference to families that sign up for both.
Feinstein’s principal was a 5th grade science teacher and hired all of the teachers. Feinstein has a dedicated science lab, PTA funded science support and GLO (with Mandarin) afterschool program.
Clarendon GE and JBBP programs are included because they are project based, are active in UCSF SEP programs and have Tree Frog Treks after school. We did not rank Clarendon higher, because it is not along Godric’s commute path.

2nd Tranche: Schools with strong academic programs and strong PTAs near our home and my work5. Lilienthal K8 7:45am 66 GE (88 total incl 22 KN) [Total requests: 786, 1st choice: 195]
6. Alamo 8:40am 88 GE [Total requests: 549, 1st choice: 110]7. Sherman 7:50am 66 GE [Total requests: 439, 1st choice: 124]8. Sunset 8:40am 66 GE [Total requests: 508, 1st choice: 89]9. Peabody 8:40am 44 GE [Total requests: 447, 1st choice: 63]10. Argonne 8:40am 76 GE [Total requests: 514, 1st choice: 109]Lilienthal ranked highest in this tranche because it is a K-8 and has a separate K-2 campus. It also has weekly team teaching and focus on math (Stanford Math Assessment).
Alamo was highest K-5 ranked in this tranche, because it has PTA-supported science materials manager/FOSS kit maintenance, PTA funded class size reduction, professional development focus on math, and has an onsite Mandarin afterschool program and onsite RDASC afterschool program. Also, Aamo will likely feed into Presidio MS.
Sherman has professional development of teachers in the literacy program, GLO afterschool program, science classroom and PTA funded class size reduction.
Sunset is grouped here (despite distance) because of its resourceful principal, PTA funding for project based learning, integrated technology curriculum, facility with access to Sunset playground (for kickball tourney in upper grades), and Mandarin and Tree Frog Treks after school programs.
Peabody’s principal hired 9 teachers. Peabody has PTA funded literacy support, 5th grade teacher active in UCSF SEP, and Tree Frog Treks afterschool program, but they are up for ADA construction and have some facility limitations.
Argonne has PTA funded literacy support, its extended year allows for projects and they have the Richmond YMCA onsite after school program, but Argonne is extended year and has mixed grade classes.

3rd Tranche: Best of the rest of my tour list
11. Spring Valley 8:40am 22 GE (66 total incl 22 CB & 22 SB) [Total requests: 154, 1st choice: 21]12. Lafayette 7:50am 88 GE [Total requests: 289, 1st choice: 67]13. West Portal 8:40am 66 GE (99 total incl 33 CB) [Total requests: 807, 1st choice: 66]14. Sloat 8:40am 66 GE [Total requests: 321, 1st choice: 52]15. Sutro 8:40am 22 GE (44 total incl 22 CB) [Total requests: 204, 1st choice: 11]16. Rosa Parks 7:50am 44 JBBP (88 total incl 44 GE) [Total requests: 48, 1st choice: 14]Spring Valley Science Magnet would’ve been in a higher tranche because of its science focus and its new principal. However, the newly formed PTA has just started fundraising and its budget impact is unknown. I am also unsure how the Chinatown Youth Center compares to GLO or YMCA afterschool programs.
Lafayette has a strong PTA, onsite Richmond YMCA afterschool program and Tree Frog Treks afterschool program.
West Portal has GLO before and after school programs, emphasis on critical thinking and team teaching. (This was originally in the 4th tranche of non-toured schools, but based on the school’s strengths from its website and enrollment fair handouts, I moved it to this tranche.)
Sloat offers the 1-2 week Lawrence Hall of Science Marine Sciences Unit (MARE) for K-5th grade, 5th grade UCSF SEP & MedTeach and Tree Frog Treks. (This was originally in the 4th tranche of non-toured schools, but based on the school’s strengths from its website and enrollment fair handouts, I moved it to this tranche.)
Sutro is my attendance boundary school. The onsite Sutro Child Development Center has before & after school care but there are only 28 spots.
Rosa Parks JBBP has strong PTA, the benefit of small class sizes from the QEIA, ample resources, UCSF Science Discovery Program (unique to Rosa Parks) for 3-5th graders and UCSF SEP program. However, Rosa Parks is out of my and Godric’s commute path and does not offer any onsite options for middle class families.

• Note: I did not include John Yehall Chin on my application form, because it is too far out of our commute paths.

4th Tranche: Additional Schools along Godric’s Commute
17. Ulloa 9:30am (before school 6:30am) 66 GE (88 total incl 22 CB) [Total requests: 501, 1st choice: 57]
18. Stevenson 8:10am 66 GE [Total requests: 451, 1st choice: 65]
19. Key 7:50am 88 GE [Total requests: 205, 1st choice: 42]20. Jefferson 8:40am 88 GE [Total requests: 438, 1st choice: 55]21. Lakeshore 9:30am (before school 8:15am) 88 GE [Total requests: 367, 1st choice: 54]I added these schools because they are along Godric’s commute path, but I didn’t tour any. I reviewed the schools' websites and enrollment fair handouts. Ulloa participates in UCSF SEP, City Science & WISE, so I ranked it highest within this tranche.

Hedging Bets
I realize 21 is a bit much, but I thought I could be the first “0/21.” As I mentioned in my last blog, I further hedged bets by applying outside the SFUSD lottery (a public school charter and a private school with a junior kindergarten option).

Getting a quality public school education shouldn’t be such a gamble... We could really use some Felix Felicis (liquid luck).

Unfortunately, we're just Muggles... so all we can do now is wait.



Friday, February 18, 2011

Special Ed Middle School Search -- Oh, What a Trip Its Been!

To recap, we've been searching for a good public middle school -- district or charter -- that has (1) small grade size and (2) a caring and committed special ed staff. We started in September with Ben in Inclusion at a new elementary school, having left our previous elementary because it simply wasn't working for him. In October, the District opened up every middle school to Inclusion students, but in touring some of those newly-Inclusion schools, we got, ahem, less than an open welcome. Panicking and with our annual IEP deadline fast approaching, we made the decision to switch Ben out of Inclusion and into RSP, while maintaining all the same support he had in his old IEP. That was December. By January, we kind of realized that we'd made a mistake: (1) it does seem that all schools really are going to take Inclusion kids; (2) the Inclusion designation appears to give one a bit of a leg-up in the assignment process; and (3) the likelihood of getting into one of the smaller K-8s we so like was virtually nil. We then spent most of February arguing (1) whether to switch Ben back to Inclusion and (2) which really large middle schools to put down on our list. At the end, we decided to keep him RSP (which I know I'm going to regret) and we put all the large middle schools that my other half and I were fighting about at the end of our choice list. So the list we put in for SFUSD is: 1) Rooftop, 2) San Francisco Community; 3) Claire Lillienthal; 4) Aptos; 5) Hoover; 6) Giannini. Having said all this, our really first choice is not a district public school, but rather a charter: Gateway Middle School. It is new and all, but the high school just blew us away, and we are confident that Gateway will be great for Ben. We are in their lottery and crossing our fingers that we get in as we will most definitely go there, especially, if, as we imagine, the best we can get from SFUSD is one of the larger middle schools on our list.

If I could offer some lessons from our experience, it would be the following:

1) SFUSD must do a better job of providing information to special ed parents about the process. If two reasonably educated parents can still screw things up this bad, then something's wrong with both the transparency of the process and the actual process itself.

2) Parental choice really matters in special ed. I know the District wants to move to assignment processes that take away parental choice, but special ed kids are so different that parents must have some ability to pick their school. And while I think it is laudable that the District wants to offer all special ed services everywhere, here's a third thing we learned:

3) Not every school does special ed well. There are schools where principals are committed to special education, and there are schools where they are not. At some schools, the special ed professionals are fully involved; at other schools teachers barely tolerate them. Special ed families need to look for schools where special ed kids are going to be valued and supported. And it is tough to find out that information -- I'm hoping that one of the lasting values of this blog and other sites is to offer an open forum for special ed families to comment about the pros and cons of different schools' special ed services.


Congratulations to those who turned in applications today!

Today, SFUSD applications are due. Congratulations to those who completed this major step of the process. Enjoy your weekend!

Monday, February 14, 2011

SFUSD applications due February 18

Applications for the 2011-12 school year are due February 18. Download forms on the SFUSD website here: http://sfusd.ggnet.net/resources/forms.php. Feel free to share anecdotes about dropping off your forms at the EPC in the comments.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Just under the wire! The completion of our middle school tours.

Too many options, too little time.

We toured six middle schools since October 2010. You can read about Giannini, Hoover, and Lick by clicking here. In this post, I will share our tour notes from Aptos, Presidio, and Roosevelt.

Well, the WOW! factor continues to apply. These three middle schools were as impressive as the first three. It was a coincidence that these three schools were toured together, and WOW! we hit the architectural gem jackpot! These schools were built in the late 1920's, early 1930's. The architectural details and physical spaces were amazing. The schools had outstanding visual and performing arts emphasis, allowing full use of the massive auditoriums (with balconys!). Another big surprise was discovering that Home Arts (cooking and sewing) are still being offered as electives in San Francisco. Both Presidio and Roosevelt offer cooking classes, which are taught in fully stocked students kitchens, just like my Junior High School days, complete with stoves, sinks, refrigerators, and dining areas. Alice Waters watch out!

As always, listening to the middle school bands and orchestras has become the highlight of every tour. We were not disappointed at these schools—the music was excellent—always followed by a rousing applause from the touring families. All three schools offer the full complement of sports (boys’ baseball, girls’ softball, boys’ basketball, girls’ basketball, co-ed soccer, co-ed track & field, and girls’ volleyball). All of the schools have grade-level counselors who migrate through the grades along with the students, and they get to know them very well.

Some observations

Aptos (~1030 students) is a beautiful school, surrounded by an open green campus. It was built in 1931 for the families West of Twin Peaks. Carol Channing was secretary of the 7th grade class in 1932. Click here for more history. An extensive restoration was completed this year, and the result is inspirational. Indoors and out, the building and campus shine. It truly carries its 80 years well! Aptos offers general ed and GATE/honors pathways starting in 6th grade. The students are separated by grade level: 7th graders on the 1st floor, 8th graders on the 2nd floor, and 6th graders on the 3rd floor. They do not intermingle in the hallways between classes. They have three security guards. We admired the beautiful murals in the library, and we toured the newly renovated girls’ locker room (the only school to offer this tour option). In addition to outstanding instrument music electives (band and orchestra), Aptos offers a number of excellent unified arts electives (visual art, dramatic art, vocal music, computer skills, and journalism). The Aptos Teen Center is a FREE afterschool program on campus in conjunction with the Stonestown YMCA. It is open until 6:30 PM on Mondays-Thursdays and until 6:00 PM on Fridays. The tour concluded with Mr. Addiego, a teacher at Aptos for 34 years. He provided the history of the school and answered questions. His enthusiasm for the school was infectious. At the end of the Q&A, he brought us into the recently refurbished auditorium, which has state-of-the-art lighting and sound. I swear, I thought that I could hear Carol Channing singing.

Presidio (~1200 students) is housed in a beautiful 1929 Mayan Art Deco building in the outer Richmond. It offers general ed and GATE/honors pathways starting in 6th grade. Some students can take advanced math courses at nearby George Washington High School. The students are not separated by grade level, and they intermingle in the hallways between classes. (I forgot to ask the number of security guards.) A particularly noteworthy program at Presidio is their Outdoor Education Program. This year, students will spend 5 days in Yosemite National Park or 6 days in Olympic National Park (near Port Angeles, WA). Also, the social studies department will take qualified 8th grade students to Washington, DC. The drama, chorus, dance, and music departments are very active, and they stage many performance in their beautifully restored Art Deco theater space. The Mighty Panthers Afterschool Program is FREE (open until 6:30 PM). The program accommodates ~300 children and is very popular. Families are advised to register as soon as they get their school acceptance letter in the spring, as it fills up quickly. After meeting Miss Mitchell (algebra teacher by day and afterschool coordinator by night), I can understand why. She is a dynamo with the motto, “You name it, and we’ll do it!”

Roosevelt (~750 students) is housed in a beautiful 1930’s Egyptian Art Deco building in the inner Richmond. It was designed by Timothy Pflueger, an architect who designed several SFUSD schools and many notable buildings, including the San Francisco Stock Exchange and movie palaces, such as the Castro and Alhambra Theaters in San Francisco and the Paramount Theater in Oakland. Roosevelt offers general ed and GATE/honors pathways starting in 6th grade. The students are not separated by grade level, and they intermingle in the hallways between classes. They have two security guards. As I already mentioned, Roosevelt still offers Home Arts as an elective, and the students appeared to be very engaged when we walked into their kitchen classroom. The stunning Art Deco auditorium is large and has enough seats to accommodate the entire school. Also, the cafeteria is large and has enough tables for the kids to eat indoors during inclement weather. There are two lunch seatings (6th grade and one-half of 7th, then the other half of 7th and 8th). The band and orchestra electives are highly regarded and are led by the award-winning city-wide conductor for the District. The student body is active and has many dances, spirit days, contests, and fundraisers. They have camping and outdoor exploration trips. The PE program has a swimming component at nearby Rossi Park Pool. The Beacon afterschool program is FREE and offers a wide variety of clubs, activities, courses, and tutoring from 3:30 PM to 6:00 PM. For many years, I drove past this stately quiet building at the corner of Arguello and Geary, and I never gave it much thought. It was so nice to get a peek inside. While typing up my notes for this school, I came upon this closing note that I wrote at the end of my tour, “Another immaculate, orderly school with an engaged student body and inspiring teachers.”

So where do we stand?

After much deliberation and thought, No. 1 filled out the middle school enrollment form this week. We turned it in yesterday. Now, just like you, we sit back and wait.

Good luck to everyone!

- Donna

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Donna's Middle School List

We toured six Middle Schools, and we turned in our Middle School enrollment form today. Our child, "No. 1," insisted on filling out the form and accompanying me through the registration process. Since No. 1 participated in all the school tours, it only seemed fitting to take this journey together.

Enrollment was a breeze today!
9:13 AM arrive at EPC, 555 Franklin. No one in waiting room (Room 100). Five people in registration line. Another 3 filling out forms on a side counter. One counselor working counter, another person working the line...getting forms, moving families into language testing area, getting pens, answering questions. A father and his 3 children are moved from line directly into language testing, now only 4 people in front of us.
9:18 AM we are next in line! Nine people behind us.
9:20 AM finished! Line growing.
9:45 AM at home already and posting this note!

Lessons learned:

1) If your child is currently enrolled in a SFUSD elementary school, then you only need your identification (such as Driver's License) when you drop off your Middle School application forms. Don't need bills, etc.

2) Fill out all forms in advance!

I will post notes from the second half of our middle school tours later this week. I will share No. 1's list of schools after Feb. 18 (don't want to unduly influence anyone).

- Donna

Update: No. 1 listed all six schools on the enrollment form in the following order: Aptos, Giannini, Roosevelt, Hoover, Presidio, Lick.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

SF Public Montessori

I got a surprising voice mail message recently to invite me to an open house for the SF Public Montessori school. At first I thought that children had to have Montessori experience in order to apply to K there, but it turns out not be the case. I posted my tour note and would love to hear from any parents out there who send their child/ren to this school.

I sincerely wanted to love this school and walked away disappointed. Granted, they are going through a big transition into the new building but it seems that their growing pains will continue well into the future.

I feel bad for the new principle as it seems she is in dire need of more help - she needs an assistant principle and more admin staff to lighten the load. I wonder how strong the PTA participation is there and also how well the Montessori program is married with state standards and testing.

I turned in my application today via one of the satellite locations. Other than the people showing up late, it went quickly and smoothly. Good luck everyone!

Edison School Denied Charter Renewal

Rachel Norton is reporting on her blog today that, last night, the SFUSD Board denied a charter renewal application to Edison School. There's a chance the K thru 8 may be able to appeal this successfully to the state authorities (which is what the charter had done before), but Rachel noted that doing so is no longer a "slam dunk" because of recent changes in the officials running the state authority. We had looked at it in our quest for a smaller K through 8 that takes special ed kids, and, while we ultimately decided against it, we always had it in the back of our minds as a "last ditch" alternative, should we be unhappy with what we got in the public school lottery and not get into the new Gateway Middle school. Now there's a tortured history to the school, since it had been part of the for-profit Edison school chain, but last year it had broken off from that and has been reconstituting itself as a community-based group. When we saw it this Fall, we got the feeling that things were turning around there, with new management and a fresh perspective. We thought it might be a great school to be starting out in K, particularly with its wonderful location in Noe Valley and its focus on arts. We also really think that San Francisco needs more public small K through 8's, so we liked it as a possible alternative. So, we thought we should report on this to the blog, and, without starting the whole charter debate again, are wondering what folks think of this development. -- Joseph

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Invitation Reminder: eat out with edMatch Feb 9th

Dear Friends:

Just a reminder that two local restaurants -- Patxi's Pizza and Squat & Gobble are supporting edMatch (www.edmatchsf.org) and our San Francisco public schools tomorrow, Feb. 9th.

Help us show these restaurants how much we appreciate their support by eating at any Patxi's Pizza or Squat & Gobble on Wednesday, February 9th. Again, a percentage of sales at all these restaurants will go straight to edMatch, of which 100% will go into every public school in San Francisco.
Slide1.jpg

We encourage you to share this email with your friends, family and colleagues. And please feel free to contact me with questions. Thank you for your support!


Todd David
edMatch Founder
todd@edmatchsf.org
www.edmatchsf.org
Make sure to check out the updates on edMatch's website! 

Friday, February 4, 2011

Further Update on Special Ed Middle School Search

We are coming up to the final days before the February 18th deadline for public school applications and are having some problems. My other half and I seem to be better at figuring out which schools we don't want Ben to go to than which schools would be good for him. And we are, ahem, arguing a lot about that list. We both feel that the K-8's would be the best for him -- Rooftop, San Francisco Community Alternative, and Claire Lillienthal -- and are fine with putting those down. But the fact is that the odds of getting into any of them are zero -- particularly in this first round of assignments. Of all the big schools, Aptos seemed to be the one that we thought was going to work. However, the special ed folks at our school remain concerned that, since Aptos has not hitherto had Inclusion kids, it may not be set up to handle Ben's issues right away. We did switch Ben out of Inclusion and into RSP, and the labels shouldn't matter, but hearing our elementary special ed folks express concern is worrisome. And, to make things worse, Ben hasn't exactly had a good January at his school. His social skills, which were improving over the Fall, seem to have taken a turn for the worse. His focus level, which was really improving in the Fall, seems to have stalled. I think this is what may be motivating the concern from our school. They keep saying he'd be much better off in a smaller middle school, and goodness knows we agree, but saying that and getting that are two different things. My guess is that trying to hold out for a K-8 probably would entail a long wait through the spring and into the summer, and neither of us are really ready to handle the stress of that. (We are also nervous how that would play out with Ben, once he hears others at school talking about the middle schools they are going to.) The special ed folks at our school feel that, rather than Aptos, Giannini or Hoover would be better as schools we could actually get into in the first round. And here's where we are having an argument. My partner absolutely is opposed to Giannini. He worries that the more academic vibe at Giannini is just going to beat down Ben, much like his previous elementary did. I'm worried about Hoover. I know three families over the past four years who had special ed kids at Hoover, and had to pull them out. I know that someone else's experience does not necessarily translate into what might happen to our kid, but it is really hard to put down a school when you know people who had bad experiences at it. So, we are effectively canceling each other out. So that's where we are at.

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Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Public Elementary School Sibling Counts?

I just read below in a comments section that Miraloma has 29 incoming siblings for next year. That number seems incredibly high to me, considering there are only 3 kindergarten classes (and I now have even less hope of my son getting in there, but I digress...).

However, when I found that out it got me thinking that perhaps other people know the sibling counts at other schools. It could certainly make a difference for those who are still making lists. If half a school's spots are taken by siblings and you still have to factor in CTIP 1 applications... well, you get the idea. But, if a school has a small number of incoming siblings, that would be a good place to check out.

So, if you're in the know, post public school sibling counts here.

PS- Jefferson's principal told me she estimated 10 incoming siblings. Could that be right? So much lower than Miraloma and in a bigger school? Can anyone at Jefferson confirm this?

Proposed Middle School Feeder Patterns - Update from BOE Meeting

Here is the list that was provided last night at the BOE meeting:

Aptos: Carver, Feinstein, Starr King, Ortega, Sloat
Denman: Lakeshore, Longfellow, Miraloma, Sheridan, Sunnyside
Everett: Chavez, Fairmont, Marshall, McKinley, Milk, Sanchez
Francisco: CEC, Chin, Garfield, Parker, Tenderloin, Yick Wo
Giannini: Drew, Grattan, Jefferson, Key, Stevenson, Sunset
Hoover: Monroe, Moscone, Serra, Ulloa, West Portal
ISA: Bryant, Webster
King: Hillcrest, Malcolm X, Taylor
Lick: Alvarado, Flynn, Glen Park, Harte, MEC, Muir
Marina: Lau, Montessori, Redding, Sherman, Spring Valley
Presidio: Alamo, Argonne, Clarendon, Lafayette, Parks
Roosevelt: CIS/DeAvila, Cobb, McCoppin, New Traditions, Peabody, Sutro
Vis Valley: CEC, Cleveland, El Dorado, Gaudalupe, Longfellow, Vis Valley ES

- Donna

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

BOE Meeting Tonight! Middle school feeder patterns and transportation

Tonight's Board of Education Committee of the Whole meeting will have important information that will surely impact many of us. The two agenda items are as follows:

1. Transportation Redesign - reduction in school busses and change in routes
2. K-8 Pathways - new proposals on middle school feeder patterns

The meeting is from 6:00 - 8:00 PM. If you cannot attend, then you can tune in via TV or radio
http://portal.sfusd.edu/template/default.cfm?page=board

- Donna