Thursday, March 24, 2011

Guest blog post: The Case for School Equality

Every year a significant number of San Francisco families are denied access to a viable public school option for their kids. In some cases it is the result of sheer misfortune as a result of the lottery system. In other cases it is the “misfortune” of living in an area with an undesirable attendance area school and a preference system that favors you going to that school, not escaping it. In all cases, it is unfair.


Neighborhood School Assignments Will Not Work Unless Disparity Between Schools is Reduced

I disagree that because only 24% of people selected their neighborhood school as their first choice that parents do not want a neighborhood school system.

Just about every parent I know dreams of being able to walk to, or be in close proximity to, their kid's school...assuming of course its a good school. But, under the new assignment system you still have the same set of desirable and undesirable schools in place. You can't expect people to automatically want to go to a struggling school simply because it is now their "neighborhood school." And it is unfair to place the burden of turning that school around solely on the families that live in that attendance area.

Data does not accurately reflect demand

The preliminary data shows that the neighborhood school assignment system did work in neighborhoods where the school is desirable: Clarendon (62 first choice requests from the assignment area), Sherman (51), Miraloma (47) just as examples. Even in desirable neighborhood schools not considered the top 14 most requested schools, the data shows that the number of applicants who requested those schools as a first choice exceeded the capacity of the school: New Traditions, Grattan, Sloat for example. High percentages of offers for these schools went to attendance area applicants, demonstrating that there is demand for quality neighborhood schools, despite the fact that data indicates system wide a low percentage of people listed their attendance area school as a first choice

True demand for neighborhood schools is not accurately quantified in the preliminary data. For example, many parents in the Grattan attendance area who I know listed Rooftop as their first choice. Rooftop is one of the cities top schools and is a K-8 (as opposed to Grattan which is a K-5). Given the close proximity of Rooftop to Cole Valley parents considered it a great “neighborhood school” option (even though it wasn’t their attendance area school and expressed their preference for a K-8. They did so because the new lottery system did not penalize them for the order in which schools were listed. Just because they didn’t list their attendance area school first doesn’t mean they do not desire a quality neighborhood school above all, simply that they shot for the stars and requested a K-8. Thus, one needs to look beyond the first choice listed by applicants in order to assess demand for neighborhood schools.

Furthermore, the data doesn't reflect true demand in areas such as the Southeastern part of the city which has attendance area schools considered less than desirable by many applicant families. If polled I’m sure many of these families too desire to send their children to quality public schools in close proximity to their house though their attendance area schools do not meet that criteria for them...yet, at least. Demand for neighborhood schools is of course not reflected in their application choices.


The problem of Demand, Disparity and Disenfranchisement

As long as great disparity between the schools in the city remains, the neighborhood school concept will remain controversial and inequitable. Demand for desirable schools will exceed supply. And, as long as demand exceeds supply, we will continue to have families forced out of the system because they are not given a viable public school choice. Thus, it is a large percentage of people most hurt by the system that leave the system and are therefore no longer visible to remind us of the problems with the assignment system and to be involved in the process of changing the system. This disenfranchisement of families most hurt by the system only perpetuates the system.

There is hope in that there have been changes to the student assignment system AND the SF School Board seems receptive to making changes and fine tuning that process to meet the demands of families. Nevertheless, it is difficult to see how a neighborhood schools movement can occur in San Francisco when: 1) there is such a disparity between schools in San Francisco that many people do not want to send their children to their attendance area school and 2) those who have desirable attendance area schools can’t even get them because demand exceeds supply.

Disparity

If neighborhood schools are going to work something must be done to equalize schools. It seems that families, much more than the district, have been the driving force in turning around troubled schools. So, perhaps it is up to families to lead the push in turning around the poor performing schools. That is, schools that your child doesn't even attend. If the district has done their part to put the staffing resources in place at these schools then (in overly simplified terms) the true disparity in most cases is the lack of PTA involvement and additional funding for programs which are generated through PTA efforts. Many of the desirable schools raise close to 200K a year. They fund art, music, garden, PE and other programs that seem fundamental but are lacking in public schools these days. They organize parents to help in classrooms and around the school. Until parents are willing to share the wealth and volunteer resources of their own PTAs with other struggling schools, the disparity will exist. It is a problem that no one wants their own kid to wind up in a low performing school but, when they escape it through sheer luck, they don't look back.

What if top performing schools were partnered with low performing school through a sister schools program? For example, active PTAs from desirable schools such as Clarendon, Grattan and New Traditions, could be paired up with low performing schools like Muir to strategize about fund-raising, increasing volunteers hours and organizing parents at those schools. Thus, everyone in the system is part of the process of turning around schools, especially families who had the good fortune of getting assigned a choice school.

Demand Exceeds Supply for Desirable Neighborhood Schools

The preliminary data released by the SFUSD indicates that even if you live in an attendance area with a desirable school, it still takes a stroke of good luck in some cases to get in that school. Take the microcosm of Cole Valley as an example of this problem. According to the data, Grattan received first choice applications at 135 % of capacity. This means, given the 66 spots available, 87 people listed Grattan as their first choice school. Thus, there is an entire Kindergarten class - about 21 kids - who want this school and did not receive it. If they are attendance area residents (we can't tell that from the data at this point but anecdotal evidence on listserves suggests a number of attendance area applicants did not receive their first choice of Grattan) they are also shut out of all schools in the immediate surrounding neighborhoods because those too are desirable neighborhood schools who were also likely unable to accommodate their attendance area applicants - West Portal, Clarendon, New Traditions, Miraloma, etc. They may get a citywide, but those are a longshot given that 66% of applicants received the "high density" tiebreaker.

This year it appears, most of the families shut out of Grattan received Muir as their assignment. Based on history it seems some number of families will automatically go private or leave the city and others will stick around and roll the dice with other rounds in the application process. Not a crucial majority will go for the school they were assigned and attempt to turn it around. (Side note: we have to stop expecting that simply because of the luck of the lottery families should be expected do this. Noone, including those in the attendance area, should have to send their kids to poor performing schools in the district.)

But what can be done immediately (before schools are equalized) to solve the problem of demand? I read somewhere that the goal of the new assignment system is to allow families to attend their neighborhood school, if they want to. But clearly in many attendance areas that simply will not work and parents are left with the same dreaded feeling of uncertainty that they had under the old system. The district and the schools are going to have to be flexible enough to meet the needs of fluctuating demand from attendance area families if they plan to legitimately accommodate them. I realize I'm completely naive about schools, unions, etc, but what if in our Grattan example above, an extra K class was added this year only to meet the first choice needs of the 21 families shut out? One more K teacher, one additional pod on the blacktop, a significant number of families served by the district. Is it possible? I'm not talking about requiring people to attend their neighborhood school, simply being able to meet the fluctuating demand of attendance area families for neighborhood schools.


Create a true Preference System to Close the Gap -- The CTIP Preference Advantages Families with Resources in CTIP Areas Above All

So, while simultaneously improving the disparity between schools, and meeting the demand among attendance area applicants for desirable schools, we need to devise a true preference system that targets the populations of students most impacted by the test score disparity gap. The current CTIP preference makes it all too easy for families with resources to game the system - shutting out attendance area applicants from neighborhood schools.

The data indicates that, contrary to predictions, a number of CTIP families flocked to desirable, hard to access (far from CTIP areas) neighborhood schools like Clarendon (30 CTIP), and Sherman (17 CTIP). One could argue, at Clarendon anyway which had the vast majority of offers made to white students, that diversity factors were actually thrown off by this preference. Certainly it worked to shut out neighborhood attendance area families from being able to attend that school (36% of offers went to CTIP families leaving only 10% for neighborhood families).

As long as families can move temporarily to a low test score performing area and be practically guaranteed a spot in one of the top performing schools in the district, they will do so. Think about it, a temporary move - to save a quarter of a million dollars in private school tuition (20K a year for the next six years times two kids) or a move from this beloved city, is totally worth it! Some families did that this year, dozens more are kicking themselves for not having done it and increasing numbers will undoubtedly do it in future years. These are families with advocate parents, resources and the ability to move. These are not families that the CTIP preference system was designated for. Continued use of this system will only encourage gaming of the application process and encourage families with resources to flee CTIP areas - thereby making it even harder to turn those neighborhood schools around.

Perhaps a preference system based on qualification for school lunch programs or other factors could be considered? (Side note: It seems futile to consider a preference program for this population if they have no way to even access schools in other parts of the city. Thus, back to the point above, all families should be willing to give time and money from their own PTA coffers to ensure that programs that serve low performing schools are equalized.)

Okay, that’s my rant. Call me na├»ve, misguided, whatever -- I admittedly am. I have an incoming SFUSD kindergartener and I realize I am new to these issues which have been debated by parents and the school board for years. I’m just writing my thoughts down because this entire process has been so upsetting to participate in. And guess what, we got our first choice school! But, our many many of our good friends and neighbors did not. I'm curious to hear from other parents -- what do you think about these or other ideas are out there for addressing problems of the current assignment system?

Thanks,

Idealistic Mama

147 comments:

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  4. Low performing schools are not being shortchanged for services. They get more funding per pupil and they need more funding per pupil.

    Schools will always be unequal in popularity. It is a wild goose chase to pursue a goal of equal popularity, or even equal test scores.

    The job is to have a fair system of school assignment, given the unequal popularity of schools and the unequal achievment levels of African American and Hispanic students compared to the rest of the student body.

    CTIP tries to use residence in an area of low test scores to target the African American and Hispanic populations, which have the achievement gap. The is nothing to prevent others from renting in the CTIP area just to get the golden ticket. This loophole is a big problem.

    Another big problem is that it is in everyone's interest to flunk the tests.

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  5. There is no such thing as "equal". Everyone would term it according to the results. If you get your #1 pick, you will say it is a great system. If you get 0/N, you will cry unfair. So any debate over "equal" is nonsense.

    The only fair debate we can have is whether the system will help the district to have better schools, not this or next year, but in 5 or 10 years.

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  6. I live in a CTIP1 area (1 block from public housing) and have a kid in HS, so no horse in this race. I find it hard to believe that many people would actually choose to rent here, even for a year, if they had other choices. Between the car break-ins, home burglaries, automatic gunfire most week-ends, and shady characters hanging around the corner store (reputed to sell more than groceries) at all hours, this just isn't a place you want to raise a family if you can afford another option.

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  7. I agree with CTIP1 family. I would choose a relatively safe area for my family any day over the golden ticket. I'm in Vis Valley every day for daycare and I wouldn't want to be there at night.

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  8. I live in CTIP and my child took part in the"lottery" last year. Our neighborhood is very liveable! I know many families who moved to the area as soon as the new policy was revealed. As always, San Francisco creates a strange system in the name of equality that actually benefits the well educated that can legally work the system.

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  9. I live right next door to public housing too, and have lived here for the last ten years. My kids already went through the lottery so we're not directly affected, at least right now. I would argue as well that there really don't appear to be a flood of people moving to CTP1 areas just to game the system. Living here is not like living in Cole Valley, it just isn't. But I also agree that living here is getting increasingly livable as the neighborhood changes. Most people moving here do so because the housing costs are lower, not to game the system. And even if they are, look at the other big gain -- a move toward a greater sort of integration in San Francisco with people of different backgrounds, colors, races, incomes living together. They're ultimately helping San Francisco because a less racially and socioeconomically polarized place, which is great on a broader level. I applaud those with higher incomes who are taking a chance on lower income areas. The lower income families and kids who live here as well are benefitting in many ways.

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  10. There are plenty of places in CTIP1 that are not dangerous,and are similar to Cole Valley. If gentrification of the area is what the city wants, this system will do it.

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  11. To the second point I'd like to make, I believe that you overemphasize the role of PTAs in schools. Not to underestimate either, many people equate the higher outcome at schools to the effects of PTA efforts at fundraising and in volunteerism and outreach. No doubt they are very important, but the students with strong families benefit primarily from the preparation and enrichment that they receive at home. That is to say, academic outcomes are, in my opinion, less related to those PTA activities than they are to the concomitant effects of family life. This is impossible to buy and is the reason why many school reforms that increase per pupil spending are often less than successful.

    Asking SFUSD to resolve school disparities is akin to asking them to part the Red Sea at present. I am no apologist for the District as I feel they do not have their eye on the prize. They still after all these decades seem to think in term of racial politics rather than academic achievement. Our district is not focused on districtwide reform as it is on only 9 schools. And much energy is eaten up on school assignment policy. But there is no easy fin either and it will only come about when communities all neighborhoods rise up and participate.

    We are losing tremendous time and money in search of the holy grail of student assignment. Until every neighborhood community commits itself to its schools, we will continue to see this exodus from public education. That's why I feel a neighborhood based school system has the best prospect for SFUSD with its diverse communities. And that should go along with a robust choice system for alternative schools which should include all language pathway schools.

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  12. The 2 comments above were posted in reverse order.

    Don

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  13. Great comments.

    Cross-posted from Rachel Norton's blog:

    A piece of background that’s helpful to understand is this (it took me years of following these issues to figure out how to explain it): A school that serves a critical mass of disadvantaged, high-need, at-risk students becomes overwhelmed and struggles. These are the schools that are sometimes harshly branded “failing schools” — I appreciate that no one posting here used that term.

    A school that enrolls a percentage of disadvantaged, high-need, at-risk students that falls short of that critical mass can cope. (Just what that percentage is probably varies somewhat depending on characteristics of the school.)

    I think that’s useful to understand when discussing policies like SFUSD enrollment.

    If the student population of John Muir were switched with the student population of Miraloma (to use two non-random examples), the achievement of the students wouldn’t change– it’s that connected with the advantages and challenges each student brings with him or her.

    I hope this is helpful as we work to understand the effects of poverty and related ills on student achievement.

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  14. Well I cannot post the first part. It keeps getting removed. Don

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  15. Are you saying gentrification is a bad thing for schools? Three or four years ago many people were completely dismayed to get an assignment at New Traditions. I toured it two years ago and there were three people on our tour. Now look at it -- it's what you applaud, a neighborhood school embraced by the neighborhood

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  16. We live one block from Clarendon. We moved there long before our child was born. We put it as our first choice. We did not get in. We got Sanchez, a school which gets tons of money which is still undesireable. We will never send our child to that school.

    I know of two families who moved in the past year to a CTIP area to get in a higher choice. Sure enough, one of them got in to Clarendon. This mother is an attorney with financial means.

    Basically she played the game, she won.

    I firmly believe if the CTIP is to be included you need to prove financial and socio needs other than just an address.

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  17. To the person who didn't get Clarendon, would you consider Harvey Milk? I was originally dead against it (not the highest test scores), but am eager to learn more about it now for Kinder2012 as it is own neighborhood school. I hear it's been getting more middle class and upper families with every passing year. I've been there recently to its Auction and was blown away by the great vibe and sweetness of all the kids. This morning, I had to pick up an Auction prize, and the kids were all quietly assembled in the cafeteria before school. I think it might be a school for us.

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  18. 2:57.

    Your friend got lucky, very lucky. Oh well. I too wanted Clarendon (either program, but especially JBBP) and, big surprise, didn't get it.

    It's sort of crazy to be totally down because you didn't get one of either the most sought after (or one of the most sought after) schools in the entire district. Statistically it was entirely unlikely for you or me or most of us. There just aren't enough spots.

    Really, there are lots of good schools beyond Clarendon. Lots of them. There are even lots of people who love Sanchez, though I respect that you don't. Your kid will be fine. Mine ended up at our 6th choice, and you know what? They're completely fine. The school is nothing like what I thought it was, because really, I didn't know. Good luck!

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  19. Gentrification of the neighborhood does not produce gentrification/divesification of the local school, when all we are doing is giving the new residents a golden tioket to go to a trophy school.

    Gentrification of low performing areas, although it may happen, is not the goal of school policy. The achievment gap of African American and Hispanics is the school district's target. A gentrified area is not a close fit to the target population.

    Think about Social Security. Even high income senior citizens get Social Security, but at least they have to pay income tax on it. The high income senior citizens do not get a free ride as we provide a minimum of financial security to all seniors. We do not demand complete needs testing for awarding Social Security. But we do make an adjustment for the seniors we do not really need the Social Security check.

    The CTIP golden ticket is like that Social Security check, going to people who live in the area, whether they really need it or not. We need to bring CTIP up to the level of Social Security and make an adjustment for those who do not really need the golden ticket. To leave the loophole open is a disservice to eveyone who does not get a golden ticket.

    I do not know how to close that loophole, since the school staff does not want to deal with anything except addresses. I conclude that we need to replace CTIP with the public school voucher (everyone can pick two assignment areas for the "local" school preference, no matter where they live.)

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  20. Dear Idealistic Mama,

    Bravissimo!

    New parent or not, your grasp of the situation is comprehensive and thoughtful. I commend you on that post.

    Just a couple of thoughts.

    Reducing the disparity between schools is the 64K question in education. But first we have to define what we mean by disparity.

    There are the disparities in resources or per pupil funding and there are the disparities in academic outcomes, which generally equate to standardized test scores. There are also disparities in cultural issues as they relate to outcome and those issues receive the least attention and are the hardest to remediate.

    There is also a disparity which has to do with unions. The revolving door of teachers at low performing schools has a strong negative impact on outcomes and that is irregardless of per pupil funding. That is to say money itself is not an educational tool and amount spent does not generally correlate significantly with outcome unless other factors are equalized.

    As long as low API schools are staffed with teachers who get laid off first or otherwise leave for other schools sooner rather than later, the revolving door that is inimitable to strong student-teacher relationships will continue to spin. And that is the case whether we spend double or triple per pupil as we do in San Francisco. Another way to say that is until we reform seniority we will continue to waste precious education dollars on reforms that fail to address one of the most fundamental problems facing student achievement.

    That is not to say there are not other significant problems, there are, or that the extra spending is of no value. But how much more is fair and sufficient is a very large consideration as it impacts all students. But it is putting the cart before the horse not to solve structural issues before applying massive funding for reform.

    Don

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  21. As it relates to the assignment system, parents would be very surprised if they visited Muir as I did recently. With SIG funding these schools can deliver exceptional services that eclipse other schools in terms of class sizes, interventions, tutoring, after school and summer opportunities and more. I have considered enrolling one of my sons, but finally had to recognize that removing him from a good school and the familiarity of his friend and surroundings would not bode well for him. Entering at kindergarten is another matter. The question is what will happen in two years from know when many of the resources dry up. Will a legacy effect prevail? We cannot spend triple and there is no telling what the SIG outcome will be at present. I am only saying that in terms of service a child will be very well served in the Superintendent Zone. ( read my forum post - "A Superintendent for the Mission Bayview") That's another story.

    Don

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  22. The problem with CTIP 1 areas is EXACTLY the same problem that the District faced with its old preferences for families who spoke non-English languages. It is NOT narrowly targeted at its intended beneficiaries. Marry the fact that 50% of Rooftop K assignments came from CTIP 1 with the fact that 41% of Rooftop assignments went to white applicants, and it is fairly clear to me that a significant number of non-SES families are using the CTIP 1 designation for their benefit. (I know I am making assumptions here, but you can look at the demographics for Rooftop, Clarendon and Lillienthal and it is pretty clear this preference is not just benefitting low-SES.) The old non-English speaking preference led to abuses -- wealthy European families getting into Rooftop, etc. So the District dumped it. For the life of me, I do not understand why the District dumped the preferences for public housing, for those who qualified for Section 8 housing, and for those who qualified for free lunch. To me, those preferences were entirely legitimate -- narrowly targeted at audiences that really needed the extra help. The District made up some blather about how they wanted the preferences to be easily identifiable -- but, come on, the raft of EPC placement counselors has only increased, not decreased, so this can't just be about reducing bureaucracy. Moreover, the numbers bear out that families don't want to go to their neighborhood school -- the District's report on that is clear from the stats. They want CHOICE -- and are willing to live with the possibility of losing the lottery. I think that, rather than show that we need MORE neighborhood preferences, this new system shows exactly why we should go BACK to a choice system with the old preferences.

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  23. 1:54 PM is spot on.

    BTW, the schools with active PTA's are forced to do so much fundraising, because standard funding is severely lopsided toward failing schools...whether it be Weighted Student Formula, Title 1 or any number of grants which cause those school to get 2-3 times the funding per student that "desirable" schools do.

    Without PTA fundraising, these "desirable" schools would get none of the things failing schools take for granted.

    Asking the PTAs of "desirable" schools to share funds from their hard work with schools who get so much extra money for nothing is beyond acceptable.

    If you want a strong PTA with good fundraising skills; become active in your school's PTA and help make it happen. The 2nd District PTA (SF) offers help to any school SF school PTA who asks and has PTA mentors to assist you.

    I know its easier to not volunteer your time, effort, and money...but don't expect schools that do to float your budget.

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  24. well said, all around. I think the largest problem of all is that the current system does not use a certain tie breaker if that tie breaker doesn't resolve all requests. This is HUGE. Basically it means that if you have 40 spots left for an attendance area school, after sibs and CTIP1 are assigned, and you have more than 40 kids from the attendance area, the attendance area tie breaker is thrown out of the window and everyone goes to the lottery. Which means that living in an attendance area of a great neighborhood school makes absolutely no difference. I would have imagined that the lottery would be ran amongst the next tie breaker kids (in this case attendance area kids) but I believe that's not the case. Also I think this means that the density area tie breakers never come into play, since 66% of all families are in an overpopulated attendance area, and thus there are too many kids for that tie breaker to ever come into play. Basically, if you live in an area with a reasonable school, not too many attendance area kids, and few CTIP1 requests you're likely to get your attendance area. But if you live in an area with a great school you're basically relegated to the lottery system. If CTIP1 didn't exist, and this was really a neighborhood system, you could still get screwed if there were too many kids from the neighborhood that all wanted to go to the same neighborhood school. Personally, I think it's impossible to build a perfect system and you're absolutely right when you say that more schools need to become better in order for this to have a chance to work. As a temporary band aid though I think eliminating tie breakers if they don't break ties should be eliminated.

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  25. "..it is fairly clear to me that a significant number of non-SES families are using the CTIP 1 designation for their benefit."

    This is the system that SFUSD adopted. Inferring that all high SES applicants in CTIP1 are opportunists is not nice. They are playing by the rules. If someone moved in with the sole intention to game the system, that is something else, but it is still playing by the rules that the Board voted through. What do you expect of these better off CTIP1 families? That they should recuse themselves?

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  26. Why is the moderator deleting on-topic rebuttal posts within minutes of them being posted?

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  27. "Low performing schools are not being shortchanged for services. They get more funding per pupil and they need more funding per pupil."

    Yes, indeed. But how much more funding? 25% more, 100%,200% or even 300% more as is the case in certain schools at present?

    I liked what Idealistic Mama said and I was impressed by her grasp of the facts. But do we really need to make a case for equality? That isn't the issue. How to get there, that's the rub.

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  28. I had the same problem this morning.

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  29. Beyond anecdotally, does anyone know how many high-SES families benefited from CTIP1 applications this year? It's a serious question.

    Looking at the broad stats, it looks like white families are about 9% of CTIP1 (which is itself not quite 20% of the total). 9% of 20% of the total is about 1.8%. That's a bit less than 100 families out of 5,000. (Feel free to correct my arithmetic, btw).

    I understand that "white families" is not exactly correlated with "high-SES." It's an extremely rough proxy! I just haven't seen any other stats that show how many of CTIP1 is low-SES status. I assume quite a few though. Many of them picked schools such as Buena Vista, Moscone, Taylor, Drew, Alvarado. Probably most of these less than 100 white families were the ones picking Clarendon & Rooftop. I bet there is a huge racial correlation to a small set of schools for each racial group.

    I'm not saying that these 100 families somehow "deserved" this status (although in fairness, it is not "gaming" the system for families there for years to benefit from this policy). I myself opposed dropping the specifics of the old system for the simplicity of the new.

    However--of all the things that can be easily tweaked, I am suggesting that 1.8% is a smaller issue than some of the others. I know, it doesn't FEEL that way when you hear of so-and-so who got into Clarendon. But from a bird's eye perspective, given the district's desire to give broad preference to Latinos and African Americans without using racial categories, this is not the worst way to do it. Or at least, 1.8% isn't the worst outcome given competing goals.

    I'm just not sure that THIS is the battle worth fighting. As emotionally fraught as it is.

    Thoughts?

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  30. March 24, 3:44 PM wrote: "...Marry the fact that 50% of Rooftop K assignments came from CTIP 1 with the fact that 41% of Rooftop assignments went to white applicants, and it is fairly clear to me that a significant number of non-SES families are using the CTIP 1 designation for their benefit."

    Are you saying that white people can't be low-income or academically struggling?

    "...I do not understand why the District dumped the preferences for public housing, for those who qualified for Section 8 housing, and for those who qualified for free lunch."

    Proof of income is not required to qualify for free lunch. The district takes what you write on your free lunch application at face value. When free lunch was used has factor, people gamed it by saying they made less than they did. When race was used, many lied and said they were a different race (many still do in the mistaken belief that it is a criteria). When the mother's education level was used, people lied about that too. People are always going to try to game a system they view is gaming them (which it is).

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  31. I belong to a neighborhood listserve that serves hundreds of parents in the southeastern part of the city. There has been a recent discussion about where one with a young toddler should look to purchase a home to capitalize on the attendance area preference for schools - this particular family was drawn to the midtown terrace area. The overwhelming response was don't do it! You don't stand a chance of getting in to that school under the new system. Multiple people posted that if you want to get a good school you should instead move to a CTIP1 area, only a few blocks away, and choose which school you want to attend, then move. There were then a few comments about whether or not this would constitute fraud. The numbers may not look problematic this year, but they may in future years.

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  32. 5:29 PM wrote: "Multiple people posted that if you want to get a good school you should instead move to a CTIP1 area, only a few blocks away, and choose which school you want to attend, then move."

    This is risky. I'm pretty sure the district has said that CTIP1 areas will be redefined each year. This year's CTIP1 may not be next year.

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  33. @3:46pm 3/24

    Regarding "I think the largest problem of all is that the current system does not use a certain tie breaker if that tie breaker doesn't resolve all requests. This is HUGE. Basically it means that if you have 40 spots left for an attendance area school, after sibs and CTIP1 are assigned, and you have more than 40 kids from the attendance area, the attendance area tie breaker is thrown out of the window and everyone goes to the lottery. Which means that living in an attendance area of a great neighborhood school makes absolutely no difference."

    What??? I'm not disputing anything that you wrote but this was news to me! Based on the revised highlights (don't know what's different but using it anyway), let's take Miraloma for example:

    60 spots minus
    34 siblings minus
    4 CTIP1 equals
    ------------
    22 spots still open.

    There were 47 attend. area kids who listed Miraloma for 1st choice. Since 47 is greater than 22, then the attendance area tie-breaker was not used and everyone went through the lottery? If I remember and did the math correctly, then you had a 1 in 639 chance of getting in? As in 0.15% chance???

    WOW!!! We lucked out and did get Miraloma but I thought being in the attendance area played a huge part in that. Didn't know we really had a hail-mary-touchdown-for-the-win scenario...

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  34. Caroline,

    I looked on the new SFUSD website for SES statistics. Free and reduced lunch for 20110-11 is 61%.

    This is the usual barometer for schools to identify low SES. How can the district hope to attain a 40% cap on low SES when the higher SES caps out at 39%?

    On another note I'm not sure of your point about what you consider the disparaging term "failing schools". It is hard to call a school successful when it only has single digit proficiency rates. Is the term an issue and if so, why?

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  35. 3:45,

    The post about PTAs at 1:54 that you referred to was the second half of my post. But I had troubles posting this morning and the second part got posted first.

    It is hard to differentiate the benefits that parent involvement brings to schools and it is a mistake to attribute all the benefits where there is active PTA involvement to PTSs themselves. The important point is that parental involvement, whether at home or at schools, and preferably both, cannot be overstated.

    I don't think districts can compensate for it even if money was no issue.

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  36. 5:52
    Only the next level of tie-breakers went into that lottery: the 47 or so attendance area kids, fort the 22 spots remaining reads more like a slightly less than 50% chance. And after that, there would then be nothing left for out of area,non CTIP -1 non siblings.

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  37. Are you saying that white people can't be low-income or academically struggling?

    It is actually a good question. There are lots of parts of our country where many white people are extremely low income and also academically struggling. And there are white families in SF who are. However, it happens that in San Francisco, statistically, white correlates with high SES status, generally speaking. You can look this up on census sites and so forth.

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  38. The discussions of the quality and livability of CTP1 areas are futile. Gentrification will not occur from well-to-do families rushing into CTP1 units.  If parents are committing out and out address fraud, then they are not "moving" into a CTP1 address, they are merely renting a vacant apartment and leaving it vacant while they continue to live in the comfort if their Northside or Westside not-so-humble abode.  All they want is the address, not the crime and uncertainty of the neighborhood.  Do the math. Small (and I mean small) studio pied a terre in the Mission for $1K/month, and voila!  CTP1 fastpass to Clarendon, BV, wherever!  Never step one foot in the apartment.  Pay the rent and utilities for a year, then "move" out when school starts.  The best tenant a slum lord could hope for!

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  39. Oops, I forgot to do the math. Approx. $12K for the fast pass to dream kindergarten (about the yearly cost for preschool) vs $20K to $25K for 1 year of private kindergarten vs $300K for the long hall (K-12). Nice investment, eh?

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  40. OK, so I have a plan. If they redo CTIP zones every year, what we have to do is get every parent in the neighborhood to pledge to get their kid to fail the standardized tests. A true race to the bottom! The most "successful" neighborhoods will be magically transformed into CTIP 1 zones for the following year.

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  41. A little off topic but...can anyone confirm whether families who's second page school choices were not inputted are being allowed to waitlist at schools?

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  42. @6:28pm

    Thanks for the clarification. OK, your post jives with my understanding of the tie-breakers.

    BTW, my mistake - the 47 attendance area number I picked up was for choice 1 applicants, not all attendance area (AA) applicants that listed Miraloma as another choice. So, the %age would have been 22/(some number between 47 and 639). And according to Helga's number crunching, 4 spots were offered to non-attendance applicants (which only makes sense if the AA tie-breaker is only for a certain percentage of available spots) so...

    What does this all mean to me? It was pretty much "Close your eyes and use the force" because the system is goofy!

    Thanks for letting me rant... =P

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  43. Don, my comment about schools that enroll a critical mass of high-need students was general and informational; I wasn't speculating about how to achieve schools that all enrolled a percentage of high-need students that fell short of the critical mass.

    Yes, I think the term "failing schools" is cruel and harsh. It's not a perfect analogy, but if a hospital admitted more patients whose health was more fragile than the average hospital, and thus had poorer outcomes than the average hospital, would it be a "failing hospital"?

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  44. Disparity – The achievement gap will not be eliminated with money, which is obvious given the fact that low performing schools already receive way more money than other schools. Spreading PTA money to all schools is a very bad idea that will crush community commitment to up-and-coming schools. Low SES disadvantaged minority kids need support at home in addition to school. The state/SFUSD should create some kind of matching system for parent involvement in low performing schools – if you donate a certain amount of money or (more realistically) time, your school gets a certain amount of extra support. This will incentivize and empower parents to get involved much more than will simply handing out more money. And it might create a kind of snowball momentum that could propel a school to new heights.

    I think the best way to lift low performing schools is not to equalize schools, but rather to (get ready to cringe, don’t worry – I’m a liberal Dem) allow for more disparity in the short-term! If decent schools and good schools get even better, you’ll soon get massive participation by high SES families – especially as private school tuition climbs to >$30K/year per kid, which is what is almost is now (for good progressive non-parochials) when you add aftercare and donations. Inevitably many of these families will be assigned to average or slightly below average schools. But having seen the rapid rise of other schools, having toured schools in person and getting their heart set on public (and set on saving $60K/year for two kids), a percentage of them will take the spots and begin to lift those schools up. Over time the low performing schools will be fewer in number and we can all focus even more intensely on turning them around – charter options (see the success of Learning Without Limits in the East Bay) etc. On the other hand a school district has NO CHANCE whatsoever of success if high SES families bail.

    Assignment – It seems that SFUSD is trying to achieve: 1) better integration of African-American and Latino low SES kids (not Asian low SES kids) into quality schools, AND 2) increase retention of high SES families via the neighborhood preference system. I happen to agree with both of these goals. The problem, as was obvious to everyone from the start – is that the CTIP1 preference is going to be gamed big-time. If SFUSD thought this year was a problem, wait till next year when families have this year’s data in hand and time to plan that empty studio rental in Bayview – it will be a disaster. They should keep CTIP1 advantage but simply add a low SES requirement – proven by the previous year’s tax return or welfare checks/food stamps, etc. This basic solution has been mentioned by others and is a no-brainer.

    To take care of the inadequate number of spots in a neighborhood, the district needs to start by redrawing some of these assignment area boundaries. For example, in the Inner Sunset, where I live, we need to shrink Clarendon’s massive assignment area by at least 50%. Most of the Inner Sunset portion should be redirected to Jefferson (way closer for most of them), which has 88 spots per year. Some of Grattan’s Inner Sunset area could go to Jefferson too. Jefferson’s western border could move farther east. So at least there will be fewer families competing for these competitive schools and the ones that do will be closer to the schools.

    What do you guys think?

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  45. Thank you Guest Blogger for your post! I was very disappointed in the District's spin on the assignment results. In college, we called this “lying with statistics.” Some of my classmates called it “sadistics.”

    Here is how I would have written the story:

    Most Applicants’ First Choice for Schools were Located Outside of Their Neighborhood

    March 18, 2011 (San Francisco) - The district analyzed the requests from applicants and found one result particularly surprising - less than 25 percent of kindergarten applicants thought that the schools closest to home were acceptable educational institutions for their children.

    “Over our years of gathering community feedback, we heard from the majority of parents that they wanted to be able to choose the schools they felt would be best for their child,” said Deputy Superintendent Myong Leigh, who oversees the district’s Educational Placement Center. “This year, as with previous years, parents overwhelmingly refused to apply to the downtrodden schools in their neighborhood despite excellent odds of getting into these schools because nobody else wanted them.”

    - Donna

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  46. CTIP tiebreaker is meant to help low SES status families. Yet, people with means legally game the system by moving to CTIP area. Some families didn't even really "move". The BOE didn't see this coming? How do they plan to combat fraud?

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  47. Some middle class families chose to buy a modest home or condo in a CTIP1 area as that was all they could afford. Their property taxes support all SFUSD schools. Should they really be castigated for not renting in a more expensive part of the city? I'd guess that the number of families who actually moved to CTIP1 to game the system is insignificant (maybe 10). Why are we wasting so much energy on such a minor problem when there are much bigger problems (i.e. the disastrous MS feeder plan) to ponder?

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  48. Getting all schools to be successful or desirable to the point where we would feel good about sending our kids to any school in the city is a challenge much bigger than only schools. The issues range from what troubled kids bring from home (things many of us could never conceive of, I was blown away when I volunteered in a school near a housing project)...to staffing and leadership in schools...to funding...to the unwillingness of higher SES families to go to certain schools. Many won't attend a school, even one with high test scores, based on the other students or the location. I know some parents who wouldn't send their kids to a school like Moscone (API 844 rank 8), simply because of where it is and the population of kids (low SES). They don't even live that far away (about a mile).

    It's really a societal problem. To have all schools be great, we need all neighborhoods to be great (or at least safe!). We need to have kids that are adequately cared for beginning in utero and an education that begins the moment they are born. We need people who are not afraid of "the other." Achieving this ideal world, to me, is what I'd love to see, but figuring out how to get there is just simply overwhelming. However I think the first step is to see the problem as larger than only schools. Everything on this planet and in our society is a part of a larger system.

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  49. I think it's delusional to think that many families really can afford to rent a second apartment in a CTP1 area, even at $1K a month. That would stretch most of us. Those who can go to private for the most part.

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  50. Thank you 11:01p.m. my thoughts exactly.

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  51. "Beyond anecdotally, does anyone know how many high-SES families benefited from CTIP1 applications this year? It's a serious question. "

    How many high SES families benefitted from being in the attendance area of a good school? It's a serious question.

    Why's it OK for a high SES person to, say, move to Grattan or Peabody's attendance area, but not OK for them to
    move to CTIP1? Why's getting a preference based on location irrespective of income OK in one case, but not for another?

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  52. ^ Well put, 11:41.

    Wish we had the old system back (tweaked to close loopholes) to benefit those of truly low-SES and leave all of the rest of us in a lottery regardless of neighborhood.

    Some of those who are decrying middle class families in CTIP1 getting a golden ticket are the same ones who want Clarendon's boundaries redrawn and CTIP1 limited so that THEY can have the golden ticket. Either way, it's higher-SES families getting a high-status school based on neighborhood.

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  53. I live in the Mission and I don't know of any high SES families that benefited from CTIP1 status. I find that the non-latino newcomers in the Mission are generally middle-class, working families, often artist-types, making a go at raising a family in the city.

    I think the high SES populations gaming the system in CTIP1 is a myth. That being said, I think CTIP1 should be capped, per school, so that CTIP2 folks have a chance.

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  54. ^12:58, do you believe that CTIP1 applications should be capped within CTIP1 districts, for example for Moscone, Buena Vista/Mann, and Taylor? That would seem grossly unfair, to exclude families from the better schools on the east side of town.

    Particularly since so many of the popular immersion programs are also on the east side of town and so are citywide, leaving a huge squeeze on the ones that are left. There are so many kids over here in the SE and not enough school capacity.

    The CTIP1 crowd-out issue is really only a big issue at a few schools, no?

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  55. I live in Potrero Hill, which is probably one of the very few neighborhoods with lots of high-SES people in a CTIP 1 area. I know of 5 high-SES families who got their #1 or #2 choice, including us. And guess what? None of us picked Clarendon or any other NW-side trophy school. The only family I know in CTIP 1 who picked a school like that and got it is actually low-income.

    A couple of us high-SES CTIP-1 families had Alvarado SI at #1 and didn't get it, as Alvarado had a very high number of CTIP 1 applicants. These folks got our #2 instead. What most of us used our "golden tickets" for, and got, was immersion, in the neighborhood (Daniel Webster SI and Starr King MI).

    If anything is unfair, it's that CTIP-2 families in Bernal, Glen Park, parts of Potrero, and other SE-side neighborhoods were pushed out of immersion. Leaving immersion city-wide put CTIP-2 families on this side of town into a really bad position, as the GE strands and schools are for the most part low-performing. Most families over here are dual-income families, too, and cannot commute up to the fancy NW side. We're also not as well off as residents of attendance area schools like Clarendon, and can't do private without financial aid, which is hard to get.

    I wasn't the only person to predict that this new system would be particularly hard on the SE side. But the myth that we flooded out the trophy GE schools is just that, a myth. Perhaps people in more centrally located CTIP-1 zones did, I have no idea.

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  56. High SES CTIP1 applications will likely increase dramatically next year. I personally know a couple families who are about to move to CTIP1 for the advantage. And I disagree with the person who said $1K/month is out of reach. That's private school WITH financial aid - well within the reach of many in this wealthy city.

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  57. UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES

    CTIP could vey well close the achievment gap--by giving everyone an incentive to perform badly on the standardized tests.

    CTIP could very well reform testing procedures in San Francisco. Since the multiple choice exams may become invalid as students peform badly on the tests in their own self interest, we may seek to supplement those exams with something not tied to preferences for school assignment.

    SAT's are using essays and not just multiple choice questions. Most college exams require written answers, not multiple choice answers. Since we want to prepare all students for college, let us make our tests for high school students, at least, more like the exams given in college or at least like those on the SAT.

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  58. It is no big surprise that so many schools in the Richmond had no CTIP1 applicants. People don't want to go across town to go to school. Eureka!

    SFUSD paid good money to be advised otherwise - money that could have gone to education rather than phony baloney research. It is mentality that thinks it is OK to spend $1575 a day for consultants at SIG schools, not that all consultants are bad. But can we really afford it? Wouldn't it be better to hire two more tutors in the classroom for a fraction of the cost?

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  59. Well said 7.13 - I live in the SE part of the city (Bernal), we have no tie breakers (not even the hihg density one) high SES, cannot afford private, don't particularly fancy Flynn, Serra and got assigned Chavez which we will not take. This will force Bernal families to take Flynn, Serra etc., Glen Park families to take Glen Park and eventually, when our kids are in middle or high school, these schools will be trophy schools.

    Unfortunately we do not have the time to devote to making the neighbourhood school better - I mean we will to some extent but we have 8-12 hour jobs that we cannot give up or cut down on.

    Not a happy camper here. We are really in a bind and struggling for answers !

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  60. From the original post: "Just about every parent I know dreams of being able to walk to...their kid's school."

    Agreed. But a big problem that hasn't been addressed is HOW SFUSD came up with these ridiculous "neighborhood lines" that define where kids go to school - and they often don't follow actual (re: real estate) neighborhood lines at all.

    For instance, I live in Cow Hollow and my "neighborhood" school is Cobb - which is a joke. Cobb is not in my neighborhood (it's in Western Addition) and is not within walking distance, nor does that area have anything in common with Cow Hollow. Claire Lillianthal or Sherman are much closer and within walking distance - but are not our neighborhood schools. As a homeowner and someone that pays extremely high taxes - this really p*sses me off.

    I think it's absolute BS the way they figured "neighborhoods" and is another reason parents end up placing kids in private or fleeing the city.

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  61. 5:58

    This is a diverse, urban school district. The district staff and elected leaders understand that socio-economic integration is an important strategy for raising achievement (put another way: high concentrations of poverty are very bad for academic achievement whereas mixing can help improve things). Thus, your neighborhood was set up to mix things up.

    Of course, this is a hard strategy to implement as higher-SES parents are often loathe to send their children to school with poor kids. Most people don't say that straight out, but that is the pattern. Thus the white and middle class flight from urban public schools to private or suburban. What has reversed that flight and created some integrated schools is magnet programs such as immersion. There are few integrated non-immersion schools such as Harvey Milk, SF Community, and Aptos. Rosa Parks is a sweet example not too far from Cobb.

    As for neighborhood schools. Sure, we'd all love to walk our kids to school. But our top priority is good schools and we will all take our kids further away if given the choice for a school that we think is better. Those who want a system neighborhood schools they can walk to *always* have a school or two in mind. If you lived geographically closer to Cobb, say halfway up Pacific Heights but not over the hill to the Marina, you would still want Lilienthal or Sherman and you would not be talking about the joys walking to school. Because that is not really anyone's *top* priority.

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  62. Donna, I think that level of negativity is at least somewhat higher than warranted.

    For years, the "neighborhood schools" forces have insisted that if people had access to a guaranteed school near their house, they would flock to it and it would magically become great. It's not "the district" that said that; it's a variety of loud voices with different interests. (The current neighborhood schools ballot drive now seems to be led by non-SFUSD stakeholders who are just pushing a traditionally right-wing notion for ideological reasons.)

    So it IS news that that didn't happen, even though it's obvious that it wouldn't happen, for this reason: People living near less-popular schools have always had guaranteed access to them, as anyone who applied could get into those schools.

    When people choose not to apply to "their" designated school, I think it can be for a variety of reasons. In some cases it might be because the schools are "downtrodden" and "nobody else wanted them" (aka they enroll a critical mass of high-need, low-income students -- but should they really be disparaged for that?). In other cases, the family might be OK with a Sunnyside or a Junipero Serra, but still list a Miraloma or an Alvarado first. Lots of families want immersion and some want K-8. It just seems like there's a variety of reasons. So I don't really think it's fair, when you look at the full context, to either accuse the district of lying with "sadistics" or to declare that all the families who choose not to list their assignment-area school first were shunning it as substandard.

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  63. There is a world of difference between not applying to your neighborhood school and not placing the first choice of several for your neighborhood school. The school district reads too much into people by and large choosing some other school for the very first choice. Analyze the top three choices, at a mininum, before drawing any conclusions.

    Then anayze the top five choices to see if there is any different conclusion. Do not mislead us with just the first single choice.

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  64. I just noticed that I posted under the name of Alex. This is my younger son's name. H had logged into his email and then I posted without knowing that I was in his google account.

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  65. As a person who was involved in the Students First group early on, I can tell you that it was an all parent run group, with the exception of the consultant.

    Student assignment is an issue for the whole community, not just those who will be affected in the present by student assignment policies. The whole community has a stake in education whether its prospective public schools participants, former ones, or anyone else. We all pay the bills and we all are affected by public policies that craft the society in which we live.

    The measure will be voted on by the electorate at large as it should be. There is no reason to be afraid of democracy. The people will send their message to the Board and they can choose to deal with it as they wish as our elected representatives.

    And it is clear what they think of it at the moment. They are petrified. The very first sentence of the press release is an ill-advised attempt to combat the threat of neighborhood schools, even while SFUSD promotes the SAS as a neighborhood based system, which it isn't. Confused? They can’t figure out what their policy is or ought to be. I’ll give them a hint – student achievement.

    The whole community dialogue about the SAS comes down to one thing: Will SFUSD focus on student achievement or will they focus on a never-ending search for the holy grail of student assignment?

    They had an excuse before - consent decree. But now they are free to be a school district instead of a politically motivated social engineering firm.

    Donna’s right. The numbers are bogus. And we shouldn’t include citywide schools in the equation. It’s absurd on its face. And siblings have been left out, too, as usual. Our current school system is an amalgamation that does not represent communities. It is disingenuous for SFUSD to gauge interest in neighborhood schools when the layout is set up for choice. If you want to know whether people want to attend neighborhood schools it is much better to simply ask them as much and that is exactly what we have done with the measure.

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  66. Don, the so-called Students First measure will mostly be voted on by people with no experience with SFUSD, so how does that constitute "asking people"? The backers of the measure are counting on being able to convince and trick enough people who know nothing about the real issues.

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  67. And how is that different from voting on any other measure, initiative or proposition? You are always saying you know a lot about the issues because you've been around a while and made it your business to be informed. And you are. But by that logic all these new parents shouldn't be allowed to express an opinion either. What is this like card check? Are you worthy to vote? Our election process doesn't distinguish between the elite thinkers and the uneducated. They are equal in the ballot booth as they should be. Voter beware.

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  68. Caroline, ignore him, PLEASE?

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  69. As others have said, equity is very difficult to achieve without SES equity. I've observed some of the turn around schools mentioned on this blog and came to discover that many of the same teachers taught at the school both before and after it became sought after/acceptable to the middle class. I also met a neighbor not too long ago who was a youngish teacher at John Muir. She recently transferred to Clarendon. Parents who would have never sent their kids to Johm Muir were desperate to have this former Muir teacher for their children. The schools are not really so different. The difference is in the student/parent populations. It seems the best option is a school that has a SES balance. Based on the preliminary data, it seems that this new system may result in more SES imbalanced schools, which I doubt was not the goal.

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  70. Caroline,

    The idea that the Students First measure is somehow sneaky and underhanded, which is what you are implying, is incorrect. We met as a group of parents and created a measure that asks the voters to weigh in on neighborhood schools for or against. There is nothing deceptive in the wording or untoward about it. If voters who are not participants in public education should not weigh in on student assignment, why should they weigh in on electing the Board of Education?

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  71. Because the success of the Students First initiative is based on tricking ignorant voters into believing the lie that when neighbors are required to enroll in the neighborhood school, it magically becomes a good school. All anyone has to do is look at Oakland or LAUSD or one of many other districts to see that that's false.

    Sure, Students First isn't technically doing anything wrong. And sure, ignorant voters have as much right to vote as well-informed voters do.

    But succeeding by tricking the ignorant into believing something that's false is unethical and harmful.

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  72. Caroline,

    There's nothing new or deceptive about neighborhood schools. No one is expecting neighborhood schools to become instantaneously good.

    However, neighborhood schools are more environmentally sound, encourage walking to school, save time of busy families, and foster community participation, to name only a few.


    I live in Bernal, where most of our schools have been taken over by immersion programs. Several times a week, I drive by the beautiful buildings and gardens of Fairmount and Paul Revere School. It pisses me off to no end that my family wouldn't have a chance in Hell to attend these schools. I still remember the French family who lived across the street from Fairmount, who had painted a beautiful mural of animals on their garage. They couldn't get into Fairmount. They moved. The mural was painted over.

    The neighbors-need-not-apply system that we have now is a disaster for community building.

    Sure, the effect of the destructive system that we have now won't be reversed over night.
    However, it will gradually yield an improvement.

    Caroline, I'm puzzled as to why you think the current system was a success. As with others who've supported these resource wasteful non-neighborhood assignment systems, you're one of the few who were able to take advantage of a broken system in a more affluent time.

    It's sad to see you clinging to your selfish, wasteful, dysfunctional beliefs.

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  73. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  74. As for schools being taken over by immersion, the explanation is that the low enrollment school in that neighborhood needed a magnet program, such as immersion, to stay open. It is better for local GE parents that the local ES not be closed for underenrollment. The local ES still has a GE strand, which is better than nothing, if you are not interested in the immersion strand.

    Still that's not a whole lot of GE seats at the local school. CTIP1 students have priority over CTIP2, and that leaves many southeast CTIP2 parents holding the bag. I hear you. You need meaningful choices, an equal footing for getting into some of the centrally located and westside schools. Hence, the public school voucher to give eveyone two picks for the local school preference, no matter where they actually live. If you have to leave CTIP1 in place, leave it in place, but give parents something with more bite than the dense area tie-breaker.

    The public school voucher is the same general idea as the dense area tie-breaker, only supercharged so that some westside parents will get bumped by centrally located parents, who in turn get bumped by some southeast parents. Everybody gets bumped a little. That is fair.

    I hope the school district finds this a constructive criticism. I offer an idea for improving what we are now doing.

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  75. Caroline,

    You are attributing ideas to the Quality Neighborhood Schools for All measure that are false and misleading. Considering your disdain for the public’s ability to make an informed decision in this highly educated and overwhelmingly liberal democratic city, it is a wonder you support elections at all.

    For Christ sakes, did you even bother to read the measure? As a person integrally involved in writing it I could tell you what the measure says, but don’t take my word for it.

    This is how the City Attorney summed it up on the petition:

    The proposed measure would make it non-binding City policy that:

    * all students have the opportunity to attend a quality neighborhood school

    * the proximity of a student’s home to the assigned school should be the highest priority in SFUSD’s student assignment system, after assigning siblings to the same school

    * SFUSD should provide students with the opportunity to attend schools with language immersion or other special programs, even if those schools are not located neat to homes.

    It doesn’t imply that neighborhood schools will magically convert to higher quality overnight. If you read the text you will see that it is in essence, non-binding advocacy. It is a call to action. It is a plea to the district to focus on making every school in every neighborhood a quality school. In that sense it is optimistic in its belief in the power of community to spur school improvement when provided the necessary conditions and support, which is the role of the district. (And this central role largely has been abdicated through multiple Board initiatives that have little to do with school improvement and much to do with politics.

    Consider this:

    Under an all choice system, many schools are not “chosen” and those schools continue to lag. If it is true that desirable schools are the result of being chosen, it is also true that the persistence of under-performing schools is the result of not being chosen. In that sense the District could just as easily have framed the first round results as “applicants continue to choose a narrow swath of popular schools”.

    Caroline, the voters who are not so dumb as you seem to think they are, know that good schools are a product of quality teaching and management, quality curriculum and materials, quality community involvement and support and the financial means to bring all these potent ingredients together to make for excellence in our public schools. Who could possibly assume that simply by voting in this measure, quality schools will magically appear as if by ballot box decree? Only the utterly ignorant and unsuspecting voter that you cynically envision could make that conclusion. The great majority understand that school improvement is an evolutionary process.

    To sum it up, the thrust of the measure is to make the case that neighborhood schools will create conditions for greater community participation in schools and that such participation is a key driver of school improvement.

    If you read the measure you will have noticed but have failed to point out that, in addition to neighborhood school advocacy, the measure respects the needs of those public school families that choose alternative programs and calls to maintain the choice system for any such schools.

    If it is possible to have two side by side systems as they do in other localities like Seattle, the two competing system can compete on even ground to determine which is truly the better alternative or arrive at a agreeable symbiosis.

    Lastly, Caroline, please don’t respond by telling us that no urban school District has ever solved the achievement gap. That kind of skepticism is not inspirational or conducive to reform and it contradicts your contentions concerning the value of choice unless choice is only about the benefits for certain lucky winners of the lottery. You cannot make a choice case for school equality when much of the interest is concentrated among only certain schools.

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  76. What nonsense. Here are some of the claims the sockpuppets are making about the neighborhood schools measure, in the forum

    falsely claims that: this measure will put an end to white flight and drastically reduce the number of people going to private school.

    falsely claims that: It will incrase (sic) PTA volunteerism, parent participation, make kids safer and reduce traffic.

    Falsely claims that: the number of families in SF will increase and our schools will be more diverse.

    All rubbish and nonsense. The measure is just another legless proposition cluttering up the ballot that is non-binding and merely makes a statement. It's like saying: "we think no San Franciscans should drive around in purple cars."
    It will not "force" the Board of Education to do anything, and it will not have any impact on the BOE election. People can go ahead and vote for the stupid thing, but the claims the Sockpuppets are all making about how it will change everything are just lies.
    Just imagine if all that signature gathering effort was spent putting something on the ballot that WOULD make a difference -- like a sales tax increase to give 200K to every public school in the city, that each school could decide how to spend?
    The measure is meaningless fluff with no muscle.

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  77. 9:36 and Don,

    I've been following the “we want neighborhood schools” movement for years, and engaging in discussions with the advocates. They have frequent and repeatedly claimed that neighborhood schools will become instantaneously good. That has been an ongoing refrain. It's a pitch aimed at the ignorant, and trying to win an election by tricking ignorant people is just wrong.

    I understand the benefits of attending a school close to home. But Bernal families certainly have not appreciated them over the years.

    Back when we were first applying to SFUSD, Bernal families had easy access to then-unpopular Fairmount and Paul Revere. At that time, 94110 was one of the priority zip codes that got automatic entree into any SFUSD school of their choice. The empowered middle-class Bernal families flocked to Clarendon, Rooftop, Lakeshore, Buena Vista and even Claire Lilienthal, showing no interest whatsoever in the benefits of attending a school close to home.

    The system when I “took advantage of it” WAS a largely mandatory neighborhood system. Except for the magic zip codes (94134 and 94124 as well as 94110), families were told that our only options were our school of assignment or an officially designated alternative schools. Most alternative schools were popular and oversubscribed, including Lakeshore, which we got into through a grueling wait pool/appeal process not too different from today's.

    After touring our neighborhood school and meaning the then-principal, we refused to accept it. That school, Miraloma, was another one that became a success during the years of the all-choice process.

    The zip code preference was eliminated in the mid-late '90s, and then (due to the Ho decision), the all-choice process was implemented. Now schools like Fairmount, Paul Revere, Flynn, Aptos, James Lick, Balboa and a long list of others, which were spurned as failure by middle-class families, are popular and successful. That's why I think the current system was a success.

    Needless to say, I disagree that my views are selfish, wasteful and/or dysfunctional.

    Don, why can't I provide a reality check by pointing out that no school system has ever solved the achievement gap? It's an important point to be aware of, and it's true.

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  78. Hence, the public school voucher to give eveyone two picks for the local school preference, no matter where they actually live. If you have to leave CTIP1 in place, leave it in place, but give parents something with more bite than the dense area tie-breaker.

    Two thoughts about this:

    1) You really need to stop calling this idea a public school voucher, as that name has highly charged connotations in public school circles. It usually refers to something else (public dollars paying for private or religious school). Another name, please! I'm confused every time I read your posts about this idea.

    2) I think it's a nice thought, but it will work about as well as any other SAS idea so long as parents apply in huge numbers to the same 14-15 schools, with emphasis on top 4-5. There simply is no room for all those families at those schools. Like lemmings, parents would use any "2-school ticket" to apply to these same schools, as we always do....and then what? Same grief, same complaints of being screwed by SFUSD.

    The truth is that no assignment system can fix this. The choice system at least had an impact on raising up the visibility of schools such as Miraloma and Sunnyside over the years (although it was painful for the parents who intially got "bumped" into those lowly regarded schools at the time).

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  79. OK, no more public school voucher. Let's call it what you called it, a 2-School Ticket.

    The 2-school ticket can fit into the new SAS, today, with its CTIP1, dense area tie-breaker, and local school preference. Structurally, it is modest. As a policy, it is a significant watering down of the local school preference in favor of the equity of everyone sharing the burden of getting bumped a little.

    I do not measure success as the most people getting their first choice. I want as few people as possible getting the last choice, which would be a low performing school halfway or more across town. An assignment of the westsider to a low performing school in the westside is part of the breaks. That assignment to McCoppin instead of to Alamo, for example, made necessary by centrally located parents using one of their two local school picks on Alamo (if we have the 2-school ticket).

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  80. I'd choose McCoppin over Alamo any day. When we toured, Alamo had boxes of stuff everywhere and looked like a disorganized mess.

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  82. Caroline,

    The achievement gap is primarily the result of cultural differences. For example, it is well known that the middle class AA community, generally speaking, also has much lower academic performance as we measure it, which is unrelated to any innate ability. The very idea that a black child will learn more sitting next to a white child is repugnant. But that was the prevailing academic theory for many years. Kind of like getting a contact high or something.

    This issue will not be resolved through student assignment. Academic performance turnaround can only be resolved within the affected communities and in, my opinion, only when those communities make the necessary commitments. This is the crux of the neighborhood school movement. A school cannot replace a family and community, but it must be an integral part of it.

    The SIG grant is an attempt to address some of these issues. My concern, which is another topic, is the overloaded nature of those grants and you have also commented to this affect. It would have been so much better to have used the same amount of money over 6 rather than 3 years and used tried and tested techniques rather than big bloated consultancy contracts.

    But back to the point, I believe that neighborhood schools have a far greater likelihood of community building than does choice, one end result of which has been the abandoning of many schools.

    What games or trickery you perceived with former neighborhood school advocates, I cannot be held responsible for. In fact, the current movement is out of my hands. I was involved in the writing of the measure itself after many early discussions. The Students First group moved in a direction that I did not support and I am no longer involved. I needed to be sure that the message was consistent with our goals and I lost the confidence that it would be. I tried to keep it a grassroots parent-led organization.

    I really don't think that your beloved city of socially just liberal democrats are as dumb as you think they are. I heard that Malia Cohen has come out in favor of the measure.Each community wants to have good schools nearby, not have to travel to get them. The measure does not imply that they will spring up overnight. And it recognized the need for choice as it relates to all non GenEd programs.

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  83. CTIP needs to be changed from being based on test scores to being based on income in the area.

    The integrity of the standardized exams is corrupted with the reliance on low test scores and the incentive to flunk those exams to get the golden ticket.

    Switch to income, not test scores, and let the IRS be the policeman on accurate income information for the census tract areas. Act soon. Once damaged, it will not be easy to repair the damage.

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  84. Here, here, Don. Great post.

    When do we get to vote on this measure?

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  85. I need to add something to my last post. The measure is still what it is. That hasn't changed. But those that are delivering the message changed. I had a falling out with them. I was not confident in them. I suppose this is just standard stuff when it comes to campaigns and I will say they had their strengths. But given the charged nature of the subject I had a keen and unswerving interest in protecting the quality of the campaign message. And when I lost control of it I left.

    Right now the measure is on the November ballot. If Brown has a Sept. election which they have alluded to, then it would be on that ballot as far as I know.

    The BOE submitted the opposition argument. Given that polling indicates a major lead for neighborhood schools, that could be a political error for the commissioners.

    They portrayed the SAS as a neighborhood-based system. Now they are heralding phony statistics to make it look like neighborhood interest is low, which is wrong when you look at the real numbers that should exclude all citywide and/or language,k8, etc. as well as a number of other mitigating factors for first choice.

    They spent much time and money on a researched-based SAS redesign process. How quickly they are willing to be nonscientific when it comes to spinning the statistics in their favor. But the question is why did they want it to appear neighborhood-based in the first place? I think the answer is that the administration was much more neighborhood friendly than the Board and the commissioners sort of split the difference, but they have their hearts in choice.

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  86. 1:47, IMO the reason CTIP1 is based on test scores rather than income is, pure and simple, to deny enhanced access to indigent, but high-achieving kids who live the Chinatown and North Beach public housing projects. The remaining CTIP1 areas are centered around the other housing projects in the city (Bernal Dwellings, Sunnydale, Potrero Hill, BV-HP, Western Addition, etc)

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  87. Poorly informed voters are misled all the time -- it doesn't mean they're dumb. It's rather rich to support a ballot measure that makes all kinds of false promises of amazing miracles, and then accuse those who criticize the dishonesty of calling the voters dumb.

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  88. It's already on the ballot so let's have a real discussion of the merits rather than trying to make out a simple question put to the votes to be some kind of big scam. I've seen initiatives that were very sneaky. This is not one of them. Do you like neighborhood schools or not? It's only a poll given that it is nonbinding. Can we move on?

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  89. Move on? Yes, we'd love for you to stop bringing up the ridiculous ballot measure. It is nothing but a statement; nothing but fist-shaking, impotent howling.

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  91. Caroline,

    Could you give me some examples of the false promises you are referring to?

    Paint it poorly as you wish, but use facts,please. I'm know you are pretty expert in the area of sf school choice. Why use these low down techniques? Unless you can explain yourself I'm more inclined to think that you are the one using baseless trickery.

    I am not really going to be affected by whatever assignment system they have. So it isn't personal for me. If I came to conclude that your argument was better than mine I would change my mind.

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  92. I think you have to switch from test scores to income for CTIP to last for the long term. If you leave it at test scores, the kids are just going to sabotage the standardized exams. Why make an effort to work on getting the correct answer when that will just hurt your neighborhood's treatment in the SAS? It is far easier and beneficial to the student to get a wrong answer. And more fun to thumb your nose at the system, the stupid, stupid system.

    Once you have switched from test scores to low income, you have added the low income but high achieving residents of the Chinatown and North Beach housing projects. If you want to exclude these students because you are really only interested in the achievment gap of African Americans and Hispanics, then you have to add another barrier.

    1. Outright exclude the area east of Van Ness and north of Market from CTIP.

    Or 2. Limit the CTIP1 golden ticket to being able to be used for certain zones. For example, the low income areas of Chinatown and North Beach would get a golden ticket that would only work for the Western Addition-Mission-Bay View Zone. The low income areas of Mission and Bay View would get a golden ticket for a zone of the southern half of SF. The golden ticket would not apply citywide. The golden ticket would only apply for certain zones. Different parts of CTIP1 would have different, and partially overlapping, zones.

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  93. The headline in USA Today said that the large improvements in test scores in Washington, D. C. might be false. In SF, CTIP will turn all of our standardized test scores into false scores.

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  94. Good luck teaching your second grader how to test badly to game the system. And, good luck trying to unteach it when you end up at a school you like.

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  95. It is easy to flunk a test. Just answer all a for awhile, then all b for a while, then all c for awhile. When you don't care what the answer is, it is easy to fill in the dots in any fashion and catch up on some sleep during the exam.

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  96. I don't know what kind of parents would tell their children to intentionally flunk the tests. You have to get large numbers of people in any given census tract to all cooperate and sabotage the efforts of the school and its students.

    I appreciate your concern and I do believe that CTIP is a misguided effort to identify students in need.

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  97. But I don't put much stock in the idea that a flunking conspiracy is in the works.

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  98. False promises, reposting from an anon:
    "...this measure will put an end to white flight and drastically reduce the number of people going to private school."

    "... It will incrase (sic) PTA volunteerism, parent participation, make kids safer ..."

    "... the number of families in SF will increase and our schools will be more diverse..."

    (Also, cancer will be cured and war, poverty and hunger ended.)

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  99. ...and we'll never have an earthquake again.

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  100. Caroline,

    If the city was so interested in equality of access toward education, they would have:

    a. implemented a neighborhood assignment system decades ago.

    b. built subsidized housing across the city in a way that would distribute economically disadvantaged kids uniformly across the school districts.

    c. investmentments that level funding between poor and wealthy neighborhoods.

    We don't have that. What we have now are schools that are fragmented into Asian, Latino and AA schools, with whites holding out at Grattan. Subsidized housing is highly consentrated in the southwest of the city. The choices the city has made have been incredibly ineffective and wasteful in achieving the goals of integration and education equality.

    Most people from the East Coast and other industrialized countries find the San Francisco school system to be utterly ineffective in achieving it's professed goals. They see it for what it is: a playground for the rich with a few dog bones for the poor and middle class.

    We won't fix that until we have a neighborhood assignment system with a true commitment toward neighboorhood integrated subsized housing for those truly in need.

    Please stop saying that a neighborhood assignment can't work. You're simply propetuating a very broken and discriminatory system.

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  101. You do not need a flunking conspiracy to invalidated standarized test taking. African American and Hispanic students are already scoring low. The next time they take the test, they will realize that it is in their interest to do even worse, to preserve the CTIP golden ticket. The school district is most interested in their test scores (the achievment gap) but CTIP invalidates the reliability of those scores.

    We need to protect the integrity of standardized tests. Those tests are invaluable tools--imperfect and only one of many--but still invaluable. Do not make the tests valueless.

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  102. Why would it be in their interest to do even worse? The poorly performing demographics are already in CTIP1.

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  103. Caroline,

    Reposting comments on a blog by an Anon is hardly a substitute for facts about the measure. As the one claiming false promises by the proponents of the measure, it is your responsibility to make an intellectually accurate fact-based argument against it. What I am getting from you now is just disinformation intended to influence the very same naive people you claim to want to protect.

    If anyone can do it, you can. So why are wasting our time with this nonsense?

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  104. Do worse to stay in CTIP!. Do worse because that is easier. Do worse to goof off. Do worse as community service to your neigborhood. Do worse because you are not stupid, even if the CTIP stucture is stupid.

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  105. Offerings are different at many of the schools. Even if someone lives next to Grattan, they may still want Clarendon because of the parent community and the offerings at the school. For example, Italian language, art, music and PE , and a FT librarian aren't available at many schools. As long as schools have such different offerings and focus, people won't necessarily want their neighborhood school. In fact, I live on the same block as a trophy school and I only made it my number 6 choice. Now if the schools were funded adequately so that all schools had the ability to provide for arts and PE without having to have a PTA raise $200,000per year, then maybe neighborhood schools would be more popular.

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  106. "Even if someone lives next to Grattan, they may still want Clarendon because of the parent community and the offerings at the school."

    Unfortunately, we no longer live in a time where we can afford an all singing, all dancing school offerings. The driving burden alone places a huge burden on our environment, our time and our infrastructure. Or is that not a concern for you?

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  107. Give citywide choice back to parents at the middle school level, while leaving ES with a strong neighborhood school policy.

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  108. 10:36

    I do care, but there is a huge difference in the less than $4000/student spent in a high performing SFUSD school and the over $9000/student that some states fund. I happen to think that PE, art and music are important enough to fund. Many of these programs can be funded for an extra $1000/student. In the meantime, let me send my kids to a school that prioritizes these things, even if I have to fund them myself through the PTA. Many parents who can afford to pay for private school do so because they want their children to have access to classes in the arts. Maybe more of the higher SES families would stick around if the schools were funded adequately.

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  109. 11:48 AM:

    We haven't had choice in the city for years. That's a mirage. You were lucky enough to game the system and get a school with a few extras. That's not the norm.

    You point out that funding per student in SF is something like $4000 per student. However, the state pays more than $8000 per student. So where's the other half going?

    And you are right, other states pay more per student, primary because they don't carry the huge burden of the children of illegal immigrants like California does.

    There's not escaping that. Funding per student will continue to decline as long as the tax paid per family in California continues to decline.

    If your really concerned about, you'd best leave the state.

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  110. Many undocumented immigrants do pay taxes by the way. Prop 13 probably has more to do with the lack of funds for schools.

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  111. "Many undocumented immigrants do pay taxes by the way."

    They do pay sales tax, and a limited number pay income tax. However, their incomes on average are very low. Many work in the underground, untaxed economy of maids, nannies and construction workers. Many are unemployed. Therefore, while they do pay some tax, they do not pay into the system in proportion to the cost of free childcare, free preschool, K-12 education for their children, Medicaid, free hospital emergency room visits, language intervention funding, food stamps, and tuition assistance for college.

    It is legal immigrants and citizens that pay the lions share of state, federal and city income tax, social security contributions, medicaid contributions, property tax and sales tax.

    Regarding Prop 13: It limits only one type of tax, that of property tax. That is not why schools do not have funding. On the contrary, property values in many parts of California are very high. Hence, in real terms, property taxes are very high compared to other states.

    By the way, California now has one of the highest state income taxes in the country. It also has one of the highest sales taxes. Where is that money going?

    In addition to the cost of illegal immigration, one pressing reason for California's fiscal crisis is the huge burden of exceptionally generous and too early pensions paid to a bloated state, city and teacher work force.

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  112. God, sfkfiles sucks lately.

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  113. I am intrigued by the debate for/against neighborhood schools. I certainly see how neighborhood schools could provide the much needed benefit of attracting more high SES families to the public school system. I’m curious though, what supporters say about increased segregation and possibly further performance disparity between schools as a result. I get that the problems that underlie the disparity are beyond the scope of a school assignment system. I also understand that the previous assignment system based on “choice” didn’t do a great job of decreasing that disparity by providing an avenue/incentive/opportunity (how ever you want to phrase it) for people with low SES to attend other schools in other areas. I like the idea of calling a spade a spade – by having people attend schools near their homes you are calling attention to the fact that kids from low SES families live in areas with poor performing schools. But, how do neighborhood schools advocates propose we address this issue?

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  114. "God, sfkfiles sucks lately."

    It's California's budget that sucks, and has sucked, for at least five years. Lately, it's looming as a crisis.

    Paying high taxes, but getting crappy schools, crappy services and crappy infrastructure sucks.

    If it happens that talking that sucks, I'd say "tough titties".

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  115. "But, how do neighborhood schools advocates propose we address this issue?"

    1. distribute subsidized low income housing through out the city so that low income kids are evenly distributed and there is less low income concentration. Other cities do that. Vancouver, Paris, Montreal, for example. (Sure, not American examples. For some reason, that is not done in the US, as far as I know.)

    2. Provide equality of opportunity at low income schools. Level the funding, or increase it slightly so that low income schools get about the same funding as high income schools with good PTA funding.

    3. Change teacher pay so that it is based on merit. This will stop the practise of farming out less competent teachers and administrators to districts that don't have the political clout to get rid of them.

    4. Build support where possible within the community. Utilize and encourage parents as a resource.

    5. Rigorously enforced city residency. We can't afford to have our rainy day funds squandered on those who don't pay into the fund.

    6. Limit illegal immigration into the city. A city with more than 50% kids on free or reduced lunch in public school can't afford to continue with the "sanctuary" policy. These kids are not being given sanctuary. Most are being condemned to gangland bottom tier schools.

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  116. On the issue of low performing schools in low SES areas, I will support neighborhood schools without all that anti-immigrant bashing from some people.

    The Superintendent and the Board of Education allocate funding in their best judgment.

    The current SAS proposal is for a feeder pattern for middle schools. I disagree, but I do not question where their heart is. We can be respectful. Improve the schools by first improving our own debate over the schools. Kids are aware of how supposed adults act.

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  117. The anti-immigrant rantings are from people involved in Students First. Sfkfiles is now like some bi-polar Orange County Hell.

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  118. Neighborhood schools would decrease segregation. Modern segregation is the result of choice. All the higher SES people leave the SE and leave behind only the lower SES. If there were NS, the natural diversity of neighborhoods (like BVHP that is very multicultural with the AA population at less than 30%) would be represented at schools.

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  119. Don has a point. When desegregation was first being implemented in the South, school districts tried to get around integration with "choice." White families always chose the white high school, even if that high school was a farther bus ride away. The courts ruled that freedom of choice was not sufficent desegregation.

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  120. Under the new "neighborhood" system a very high percentage of white students were assigned to Grattan in the first round. Under the choice system, the upper grades were must more mixed. So, I'm not sure Don does have a point.

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  121. De facto segregation because of neighborhood composition is not illegal. Neighborhood schools mean student body compositons that mirror residential patterns--de facto segregation--such as Grattan. Until the NAACP wants to sue the school district for intentional discrimination again, neighborhood schools are completely legitimate.

    It is not required, but it is desirable, to achieve some ethnic diversity in the student body (CTIP). (Bakke type affirmative action--ethnic diversity is good for all students involved.)

    And the school district wants to reduce the over concentration of African American and Hispanic students, because that is associated with an achievment gap. This is how best to teach the students issue.

    Neighborhood school proponents say the neighborhood school system builds a community, and that the citywide choice system gives local residents no investment or stake in their local school. The weak get weaker as local residents, in their self-interest, search for higher achieving schools than the one in the local area.

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  122. 5:16 here from yesterday.

    I do not work with Students First. I am not "bashing" illegal immigrants. However, unlike the other people in this thread, I live in Bernal/Mission.

    I observe first hand the many schools in the Mission and Bernal that have over 50% Spanish speakers (and do not fluently Speak English).

    While I strongly support neighborhood schools, if something isn't done to limit the cities sanctuary policy, most of the schools in Mission/Bernal will remain low income ghettos for recent illegal immigrants.

    You can call it illegal immigrant bashing if you like, but you've probably never set your food in Everett Middle School, Cesar Chavez, Paul Revere, El Dorado, and Bryant, as well as many others.

    All of the very low performing schools, the ones that San Francisco parents flee, are schools with a very high burden of non-English speaking, resource poor, Latino children. Many of these children are the children of recent illegal immigrants who work as nannies, landscapers, house keepers, in restaurants and in the hotel industry. These families are not only poor, but have intense needs as well, including the need for psychological intervention and physical abuse prevention. Often, these families do not get this kind of intervention. They bring their problems to the school.

    It is unfair to ask Bernal, Noe, Mission and Excelsior middle class parents to alone shoulder the burden of trying to fix these very high needs schools.

    Over the decades, there has been little to no improvement in these Mission and Bernal schools. It could be argued that performance at these schools is worsening, even as funding in these schools increases.

    While I support neighborhood schools, something must be done to confront the overwhelming and disproportionate burden that the city's sanctuary policy places on SE schools.

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  123. The poor don't need more money for the public schools. Really, if they can't make do with what they have then they need to reconsider how they spend the money. Only the real citizens see it that way. Labor has driven the schools into the ground. Labor is at fault for the debacle that we have. Sorry but that is the truth. Have you bothered even to consider that the tax base is almost all paid by Privates? Ever think about the fact that they pay twice? Rally for the parents that pay twice next time. Everyone knows they agree.

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  124. The progressive community favors sanctuary and loose immigration policy. It routinely speaks out as one voice against fences, deportation, checkpoints and other anti-illegal immigration modalities.

    The progressive community is strongest and most vocal in the SE part of the city. It strongly favors choice over neighborhood schools as a means to enroll outside the residential areas most associated with large non-Asian illegal immigration populations.

    One could draw the conclusion that the progressive agenda articulates a vision of society in conflict its member's own personal assignment system preferences. Why espouse sanctuary if you're unwilling to send your child to the schools that are impacted by sanctuary?

    Indeed why practice a political philosophy out of kilter with one's own life choices?

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  125. 7:54.
    and your proposal is what? besides repeal SF Santuary policies?

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  126. 8:33:

    I articulated my proposal at 5:16 yesterday.


    Don:

    The legal immigration system attempts to allow immigrants who will contribute, rather than draw from the economy.

    It's not appropriate for you to decide which illegal immigrants are OK. The US already has a very generous legal immigration policy. While Asian illegal immigrants tend to have fewer needs than some other groups, they still burden the system. It's up to the federal authorities to decide what is economically viable.

    Illegal Asian immigrants take up preschools slots, which should otherwise be going to high needs American citizens and legal residents.

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  127. "The progressive community is strongest and most vocal in the SE part of the city. It strongly favors choice over neighborhood schools as a means to enroll outside the residential areas most associated with large non-Asian illegal immigration populations."

    Don, you seem to have a real thing against the "progressive community" in the SE. There are "progressives" all over the city. However, it's only SE families that are stuck with the resulting dreadful schools.

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  128. What do you want the school district to do, to be more precise?

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  129. We aren't going to get school equality until we have parent equality. That's more social engineering than any school--or any other institution--is capable of.

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  130. "It's not appropriate for you to decide which illegal immigrants are OK"

    Correct. It is not appropriate. And I am not doing so. It is the political left In SF that decided to do so. Sanctuary is a policy that benefits illegal immigration. And the vast majority of it is from the Americas.

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  131. 11:51 AM:

    What should the school district do?

    1. Make the case to the Supervisor Board for low income housing so that it is distributed across the city.

    2. Provide equality of opportunity at low income schools. . . I believe that is happening with the SIG grant, but it needs to be extended into a broad and longterm policy.

    3. Change teacher and adminstrator pay so that it is based on merit. This is a tough sell, I'm sure, but I keep hearing about schools that could be improved, if it weren't for such and such principal. The school board seems to know which schools are suffering from a lack of leadership, but it also seems like they are mostly unable to fix the situation.

    4. While sanctuary city policy is not directly a school issue, the city and school board could have a hard look at limiting sanctuary. It's up to the city to come up with a policy that honors the city's traditional position as a sanctuary for political refugees, but does not openly encourage illegal immigration for the benefit of the wealthy who want access to cheap labor.

    5. With state funding for education quickly drying up, the city could do more to foster businesses to stay in the city, AKA Mirkarmimi's current business tax proposal.

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  132. 5:16,

    1. location of public housing--talk to the Mayor and the Board of Supervisors.

    2. equal school funding and counting PTA fundraising to reduce funding from the district to that school--expect PTA reports of zero in fundraising and independent committee fundraising of just as much as before,if they even bother to tell you.

    3. teacher merit pay--If you can get the Facebook guy to give us some of that money he is giving to New Jersey, we'll design some type of merit pay. Or anybody else.

    4&5. everybody agrees

    6. immigration enforcement--talk to the feds.

    What do you want SFUSD to do?

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  133. "2. equal school funding and counting PTA fundraising to reduce funding from the district to that school--expect PTA reports of zero in fundraising and independent committee fundraising of just as much as before,if they even bother to tell you."

    In fact, I don't agree with the idea of trying to redistribute PTA funding. Frankly, it's not very much money in the first place.

    "3. teacher merit pay--If you can get the Facebook guy to give us some of that money he is giving to New Jersey, we'll design some type of merit pay. Or anybody else."

    I doubt that the Facebook Guy gives a damn about you, or me, or anyone else. Why don't you stop trying to court the Facebook Guy and instead try gradually restore trust with non-poor San Francisco residents. It's us, not Zuckerberg, who pay city and California wages.

    "6. immigration enforcement--talk to the feds."

    The city flauts federal immigration policy, so it's the school board, city supervisors and mayor, not the feds, that need to take ownership for the effect of excessive, unsustainable, illegal immigration.

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  134. What do you want SFUSD to do to restore trust? So you want neighborhood schools for ES, MS, and HS? Do you want Lowell to be admission by merit or admission, citywide, by lottery? Do you want feeder patterns for ES to MS? Please be specific.

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  135. The District cannot propose and the BOE cannot approve a mandatory K-8 assignment process that does not provide students an “equal opportunity” to gain access to public schools of equal quality. Granted, capacity issues do not allow every student to get their choice for middle school, but at least a full-choice lottery gives everyone an “equal opportunity” to get a choice.

    Is there any legal recourse against the District for mandating middle school assignments in a City with such a disparity of school quality?

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  136. "Is there any legal recourse against the District for mandating middle school assignments in a City with such a disparity of school quality?"

    The legal issue is what compelled the Board to postpone the MS SAS, particularly as it related to ELL and SPED. The new Inclusionary Practices Model is one of the reforms that is being implemented per the St. Paul people to deal with inequity. Th creation of the 7 zones is a step to try and bring the issues of schools closer to those that oversee them. It is a good move and, yes, I commend the district for it.

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  137. 1:32

    If the new caste system (feeder proposal) the district is mandating has deemed that your family be in the "untouchable class", then you should seek legal advice to see if you can file a lawsuit. Hopefully it would be successful. I told the district I would sue if there original plan went through. I also told them I would notify the Department of Justice since the first proposal seemed to be drawn according to racial and class lines. There was also very little chance of getting out of a low performing MS once assigned to it, unless you went private or moved out of te district. This second proposal seems better to most but some are still not happy with their new feeders and rightfully so. Most people whose kids will feed into a low performing MS with an unsafe enviroment are not happy at all to say the least. Good luck to you and everyone.

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  138. "I would notify the Department of Justice since the first proposal seemed to be drawn according to racial and class lines."

    The US Supreme Court has already weighed in on the matter of non-institutionalized social segregation, Parents Informed versus Seattle and others. The government in the form of public school districts are, as a rule, under no obligation to socially engineer a district to provide ethnic, racial or SES diversity.

    If SFUSD cannot provide a free and appropriate education to special education or ELD consistent with current law as a result of the feeder, then I believe there is more of a chance of a lawsuit. Obviously, the District felt that way too or they wouldn't have delayed the feeder. But why didn't their legal council advise them before they adopted the SAS last March?

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  139. I think the court would notice that, especially with the first propsal, there was blatent segregation when drawing up the feeders. Take Peabody going to Presidio instead of Roosevelt (which is five blocks away). If people segregate themselves well I guess hat's the way the ball bounces. If a governing body does the segregating that's against the law.

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  140. 10:42pm,

    Please do a little reading on the subject, before you weigh in.

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  141. Don't like the MS in your feeder pattern? Try this with the placement office: I would like to opt out of the low perfoming school under NCLB. Offer me another MS. See what happens and pleaase report back. Don had said that not many parents have pressed SFUSD on opting out, but it might be worth a try.

    And try it for ES.

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  142. "Public school choice: What right does a parent have to request a transfer to a school that is not in PI?

    All parents/guardians of students attending a PI school have the right to request a transfer of their child(ren) to a non-PI district school with district-paid transportation.

    For parents who select this option, the district will provide transportation to the non-PI school for as long as the home school continues to be identified as a PI school. If the home school exits PI by making AYP for two consecutive years, the student can remain at the school; however, transportation will no longer be district-paid. If the demand for choice exceeds funds available, priority will be given to lowest achieving, low-income students.

    If you are interested in transferring your child(ren) to a non-PI school in the district for the 2010-2011 school year, a list of non-PI schools available for transfer (as long as space allows) is below. Your preference of a non-PI school will be taken into consideration."

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  143. Which schools in San Francisco are PI schools? Where do we find this information?

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  144. Obama's reauthorization of NCLB under the old name ESEA, Elementary and Secondary Education Act, made several changes. One of them is the elimination of school choice for PI. So that option is out. Sorry, I was a little slow on the uptake.

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  145. 1:32

    Obviously there are different opinions on this blog. I would get legal counsel to see if there is any recourse reguarding your middle school feeder. Everything that Don guy says is slanted to favoring neighborhood assignment. He's in a nice school (Alamo) and his feeder is Presisio). He really could care less about encouraging you to seek help for your situation. He and many others make incorect statements on this blog. Don's tend to be proaganda. Many others just don't have their facts correct but mean well.

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  146. Caroline, you got me! Downtrodden was a poor choice of words. I meant it to mean unfortunate, not happy. Now, I see that the primary meaning is harsher than that. Apologies. Well, maybe we can put a different spin on the headlines, with emphasis on the 19% who got no choice, a % that is nearly identical to the % for neighborhood choice that the District chose to highlight in their story.

    Headline: 19% of Kindergarten Applicants Get Assigned to a School That They Don’t Want

    March 18, 2011 (San Francisco) - The district analyzed the requests from applicants and found one result particularly surprising - 19 percent of kindergarten applicants received “no choice” in their school assignment.

    “Over our years of gathering community feedback, we heard from the majority of parents that they wanted to be able to choose the schools they felt would be best for their child,” said Deputy Superintendent Myong Leigh, who oversees the district’s Educational Placement Center. “This year, parents overwhelmingly chose schools based on multiple factors, and, as with previous years, 931 kindergarten applicants (19%) got none of their choices and were assigned to a school that they don’t want.”

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