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.
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.
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.