Sunday, March 20, 2011

All a-buzz

I feel in a nebulous state of mind. We applied to two private schools and were wait listed for both. Our SFUSD list was as follows:
  1. New Traditions
  2. Jefferson
  3. Sunset
  4. Fairmount
  5. Rooftop
  6. Feinstein
  7. Sunnyside
  8. Argonne
  9. West Portal
  10. Clarendon
I toured only 3 off this list and put the others down based on reputation and talks with my friends and neighbors. I listed them pretty randomly except for the top 3. I was hoping that history would repeat itself and every family who put New Traditions as #1 got in, but it wasn't the case this year. We did get our neighborhood school and #2 slot - Jefferson.

I'm not sold on Jefferson as I did the self-tour and did not have a chance to speak with the principal or hear anything regarding her priorities for the school. I do know that she has a great reputation from Fairmount and I hope she can continue her streak of building community and success at Jefferson. During my self-guided tour I do remember speaking briefly with a parent volunteer and a 1st grade teacher who both loves the school. The fourth grade teacher I spoke with seemed a bit disgruntled and had little to say positively and diplomatically kept her mouth shut. But that speaks volumes to me.

I peeked in one of the K classes and the teacher was working hard with the number of students she had. It made me think of the children that would 'fall through the cracks' when the teacher and student ratio is so high. It also made me realize how important helpful parent volunteers are and if I can be one of those parents given my schedule. I wonder if the racial make-up of the incoming class would change much from past grades.

This week calls will be made for those on private school wait lists and more shuffling will take place. We are also toying with the idea of a home school co-op whereby we hire an experienced teacher to do the curriculum and some teaching for us. At this point we are not holding our breath for a spot with financial aid at the independent schools for Luke. We'll keep our spot at Jefferson rather than go through Round 2.

Best of luck everyone!


  1. Does anyone know if proximity to school within the district is weighted more than just being in district? I am wondering if those that live closer to the school within the district are given the attendance area spots before those in the district that live farther away.

  2. I don't think so....priority in the lottery (after siblings and CTIP1) is attendance area--versus everyone else no matter if you are near or far.

    Except that, I believe that if you don't get one of your choices, the computer offers you the nearest school with openings (often still very far away if you live in a thicket of popular schools, e.g., Clarendon surrounded by West Portal, Miraloma, Rooftop, Jefferson, Grattan).

  3. My husband is in his 2nd year as a substitute teacher for SFUSD and subs regularly at Jefferson, and loves it.

    Back when our oldest was entering K, 1996, we looked at Jefferson, which at the time was not hard to get into. DH was a bit of a nervous nellie about some things like traffic, and didn't like the fact that it was along 19th Ave. Now he thinks it's amusing that he ruled out such a great school for such an irrelevant reason.

    Luckily we had a good experience at Lakeshore, where our kids did end up -- otherwise he might not think it was so amusing that he ruled out Jefferson!

  4. I'd give Jefferson another look if I were you. I've lived across the street for over 10 years. When my oldest started K 5 years ago we listed it 2nd and didnt get it. My concern then was a lack of community. Seemed like a lot of drop and go and the same 4 families showing up for clean up days. I never worried about the academics. It still doesn't have the community feeling that our current school has-at least fro a distance - but wow has it improved in that sense and I think that will continue to grow. Way more families showing up for the garden days and I see more parents out front chating. Since there's no way we'd get into our current school now, Jefferson would be 1st on my list.

  5. You are very lucky to get Jefferson. Count your blessings! We have good friends there and one of the K teachers in particular is fantastic.

  6. You can still enroll in Jefferson and then go through round 2 at the same time without losing that spot.

  7. I think Jefferson is a strong school that may soon rise to the rank of highly desirable. The school's biggest weakness is lack of diversity: 2/3 Asian (vast majority Chinese) according to I visited the school recently and noticed that the lower grades are more diverse than that. And surprisingly the district's fact sheet about this year's assignments shows that among students assigned to Jefferson, 44% are white, 39% Chinese. If the white families actually accept the position, this will start a major demographic shift for the school. Moreover, I bet the attendance area of Jefferson will shift east to absorb some of the ridiculously large Clarendon area (only 10% of area residents got into Clarendon)and the increasingly competitive Grattan area, while leaving some of the western avenues behind for less competitive westside schools. If this happens, it will make the school even more diverse (though none of this will bring in any African-Americans or Latinos, unfortunately).

    I visited Jefferson recently and found it to be very welcoming, with a solid curriculum (I haven't visited any others, so I have no point of comparison). The students really seemed to get along and were not segregated into ethnic cliques. I was also impressed to see that the PTA/school set a goal of $180K for fundraising this year, which they were halfway towards meeting.

    All in all, it seems like a star on the rise. I would seriously consider taking the spot if I got it.

  8. Hi Aissa, I would love to speak with you more on the possiblity of hiring a teacher and doing some home school co-op. We didn't get any of the schools on our list and the one we got assigned is just unacceptable. I am also starting to look at the process of private school. I can kick myself in the ass for not starting it at the begining but I had some faith that we would at least get one of the schools of our choice, we had 8 listed. We live in the Clarendon / West Portal schools area. My email is

  9. I know several K families at Jefferson this year. They are very pleased with the school.

    If you still are interested in New Traditions, there was definitely movement in the K classes at the beginning of the year. Several students did not show and new students were brought in to take their places. In fact, our K class only recently reached capacity.

    Best of luck to you!!

  10. Why do you wonder what the racial percentage will be? So if there are too many Chinese you want to go to a co-op or private? Last I checked, Chinese are outperforming whites in schools in CA, overrepresented at Cal, Stanford, UCLA, Harvard, MIT.

  11. Why did you place it #2 if you're not sold on it?

  12. I have several friends whose children go to Jefferson and they are very happy with it.

  13. @ Lisa - thanks for the insight. We will keep it in mind.

    @ Floyd - I don't want to get in any racial debate here. I am not attracted to any school that has one group representing over 50% of the student population.

    @ 2:20 - It was really impulsive that I put it that high on my list. Perhaps in a euphoric haze thinking about walking him to school and meeting/knowing more of my neighbors to build a stronger sense of community.

    Thanks to everyone else on their positive thoughts for Jefferson.

  14. @ 2:20 - It was really impulsive that I put it that high on my list. Perhaps in a euphoric haze thinking about walking him to school and meeting/knowing more of my neighbors to build a stronger sense of community.

    As a K parent at Jefferson, I just wanted to comment on this. We love walking to school, and meeting classmates and school friends on the route to and from Jefferson!

    Coming from a community driven co-op preschool, I wondered if I would get the same feeling at a large elementary school, and Jefferson has not disappointed. There are many parents in my son's class who volunteer in (and out) of the classroom to enrich our kids' experience.

    We really love the school, and have found the principal, teachers, staff, and students at Jefferson to be fantastic! If possible, I encourage you to come by for another look.

  15. I will be giving up our spot at New Traditions for K. We really loved the school and had it at the very top of our list, above the "trophies." We have accepted a spot at one of the 2 privates we applied to. (Only got in to one!)But I wanted to give some others hope for their second round.