Monday, March 21, 2011

Make your case for public schools

Over the weekend, many families received disappointing news from SFUSD and didn't receive one of their top choices. This is frustrating and its tempting to give up all hope when this happens. We'd love for parents who have their kids in SFUSD school to share their positive experiences with public schools in the comments. Also, please share your success stories with going through the trying process. If you believe in public schools, this thread is for you! Make your case! And please, keep this thread focused on the positive aspects of public schools. Let's not make this a private vs. public debate, which turns many people off all together. Thank you!

The SF K Files team


  1. All I can say to these parents is Oh how I know your pain. Last year when my letter came and my daughter was assigned a less than desirable school I screamed, yelled, threw things, slammed doors and cried. A very, very unbecoming adult tantrum. I was mad even at my lucky friends who got a school of their choice, mad because we were not one of them.

    Having not applied private we figured moving from our beloved city was our only option. But we would try one more time. We decided to waitlist our second choice (which came second on our list only because of start time issues) because the requests for the school were a little less than our first choice, and they had more classes - I figured that upped our chances. But at the same time we started exploring the burbs, figuring we would be moving in the summer if our May letter did not come with good news.

    In May it came, a few excruciating days later than promised, with GOOD NEWS! We got our waitlist school and are so happy with it, even the 7:50 start!

    So my advice is to take a deep breath and consider all your options. Make strategic choices if you make an amended list or waitlist (not sure if you waitlist in the new system). Perhaps now is the time to give up on a way oversubscribed school and look for something you have better chances at that will fit your child equally well... or maybe not.

    Next year you will be in my spot, and this will be a painful memory, but it will be over and most likely you will be very happy with the outcome you made happen, even though the road there may have been bumpier than you could have ever wanted.

    A now happy Lafayette mom.

  2. I no longer believe in "public" schools.

    A public school system would provide everyone with a good school choice, rich, poor, middle class.

    A system that assigns 2/3rds of its resources to poor children, while failing to provide even a mediocre school to half of middle class families is not public.

    The current system that we have is poor school, not public school.

    Except, of course, if you live in the politically protected northwest side of the city.

    So we should be discussing whether we support schools for the poor and schools for the rich in the northwest of the city. Middle class families in the Clarendon, Miraloma, Bernal, Noe, etc districts need not apply.

    San Francisco schools are not public schools. Please be honest about that.

  3. I have children at Yick Wo ES and Francisco MS and my children are thriving! Can't say enough good things about them.
    The PTO at YW is great and funds Opera Aria, art, pe, orff music for K-3, and the SF Ballet, provides weekly classes for 2 & 3 graders - what is not to like?

    My middle schooler is in the honor's program at FMS and is working on a novella in creative writing, is writing a blog, presents her work on powerpoint, and reads the weather page of the newspaper to study geography, earthquakes and make math calculations.

  4. 11:33,

    99% of families at my Northwest side school are far from rich, we have many free and reduced lunch children and working class families. We all want good schools for every child, but please do not make false statements or generalizations.

  5. I've been a public school parent in San Francisco for 13 years and my kids have attended five different schools (one of them a charter). Of course it hasn't all been perfect, but the good experiences have far outweighed the bad.

    In several cases they have attended schools that were considered unacceptable by most when they started and are now off-the-charts popular. Perceptions about schools change unbelievably quickly and that can have a huge effect on the school itself. The thing is, the changes that come with popularity don't necessarily make that much difference in the experience of the children.

    The most important thing for kids is the relationship with their teachers, and the most important factor in the quality of the teachers is the principal. If you see a school with engaged teachers and a principal that is dedicated to giving each student the best possible experience, I would recommend that you enroll your child at that school. Don't worry about what other people say about it or what your neighbors will think.

    Of course we all want what is best for our children. But what is best is usually not what is easiest. It may be easier to be in a setting where everyone looks pretty much like you, but it is much richer and ultimately more rewarding to be part of a community where there are different kinds of people with different expectations and experiences. I wouldn't trade that for the shiniest building or the fanciest field trips in the world.

  6. Glad you all have burgeoning PTO budgets. You'll need more of that.

    Parents with kids in middle school really don't have much to say to us with kids in primary school.

    Your issues won't be ours, that's for sure.

    No, I no longer support public schools.

  7. Anon, I'm really sorry you've felt screwed by the system, and no longer support pubic schools. I hope wherever your kid goes is a great fit for him/her and your family. But please don't write off public schools totally, even if they're not right for your family. They are important, they do matter in terms of making all our our community(ies) better. It's still worth trying to improve them, and trying to support them, and trying to make things better. A lot of us do have kids in public schools and also live in places where kids without a lot of opportunities need to go to school (and not languish on the streets). May your child's experience be a good one.

  8. This comment has been removed by the author.

  9. Here's my question: What about more budget cuts?

    Unlike suburban districts, SFUSD has no district-wide foundation to help backfill cuts. And what about the talk of the district forcing all PTAs to merge their money into one pot to distribute back across all schools?

    As an potential K parent, I saw lots of wonderful schools on tours. But I am genuinely concerned about the district's ability to prevent major budget cut damage.

    We went 0/14. Between the lottery process and the budget situation, I am sadly thinking we need to look elsewhere.

  10. hey Don, there has been plenty of room for venting here on SF K Files -- check out the 300+ messages several threads down. I imagine the blog team is simply trying to direct any positive energy to this thread in order that it not get lost in the midst of frustration from the 24% of first-time applicants who didn't get a choice. Just as they are trying to separate out the private school thread as well. Hey, it's their blog and perogative and many people find it helpful to hear the good stories. For people who don't want to hear it, just head over to the other thread.

  11. I want to put in a plug for Rosa Parks Elementary's JBBP (Japanese Bilingual Bicultural Program) for those of you who haven't considered it.

    We have children in Kindergarten & 1st grade in this program, and they are thriving. They love their teachers (we do too) and love learning there -- both Japanese (not native to either of us parents) and all else.

    We are highly educated parents (MD, JD) who obviously want the best for our kids. At Rosa Parks we have found a wonderful, enthusiastic and fun community of like-minded parents with all sorts of interesting backgrounds. We just had our auction fundraiser for the program on Saturday -- and we couldn't have had a more dedicated group of parents making it happen. And it was FUN!

    We live near West Portal and drive the 20 mins getting the kids to school in the morning and some afternoons. The only thing I wish is that the school and Japantown (now my second home)was closer to West Portal!! 2 days a week, the kids take a schoolbus about 4 blocks with a whole crew of kids to the Nihonmachi Little Friends afterschool program. Sounds daunting initially to send your K child on the bus, but turns out it's easy as pie.

    Rosa Parks has 2 tracks - the JBBP track and the GE track, the latter of which draws heavily from the low-income African American community in the neighborhood of the school. I, for one, feel the fact that my kids are getting exposure to a real cross-section of SES families is only a good thing. Real life.

    I went to 4 yrs. of public school in San Francisco before continuing in public school in Palo Alto which was a whole different experience. I then went on to private university and medical school - but I feel certain that my years of public education in SF really helped shaped me and gave me a perspective that has served me well as a physician.

    Don't give up of SF Public Schools! I know loads of people who didn't get what they wanted last year (either 0/7 or they started somewhere they didn't feel was a good fit) and EVERY SINGLE ONE ultimately got into the school they really wanted -- if they were willing to hang in there, on waitlists.

    Hope this helps.

  12. I know how anxiety-provoking it is to lose the lottery as that was me last year (o/7 in round one and round two). I lost a huge amount of sleep over the whole process. In fact, sometimes I can't believe how lucky we are to have our daughter in a good public school, even now.

    We went 0/7 in both rounds last year, and did not get our wait pool school in any of the spring or mid-summer rounds even after we changed to a less popular school (from Feinstein to New Traditions). Our daughter did not receive her admissions letter to New Traditions until the Saturday before Kindergarten camp started (about nine days before school started). I cried when I received that letter.

    Even crazier, was that our class was not full when school started. Some of the children on our class roster never showed!! I'm not sure if that is because the families didn't tell the district or the district didn't tell the school. Nevertheless, our class continued to receive new students at the beginning of the school year. In fact, our class just reached capacity a few weeks ago.

    I think that if you are willing to wait and if you don't pick an uber-popular school that you MAY be able to get a space. I also know that uncertainty and the long wait are extremely difficult to bear.

    Best of luck to those of you still waiting...

  13. My daughter is in Kindergarten at JOES MI. I can't believe it's free! She is getting such an incredible education. She is so completely supported by the teachers and the principal. She has made great friends. She is speaking full Mandarin sentences and staying ahead of her English goals. Her educational and emotional needs are being met. I wish everyone could have her/our experience.

  14. Hi 12:29,

    I think you have a point. I didn't look at it that way. I will delete that comment on mine.

  15. We got our number one choice last year, but had to wait until the first week of school to get in. It was worth the wait. I feel that most people I know got in off the waitlist eventually. However, many of them had already moved out of SF or accepted a back-up parochial/private school. There is a lot of movement and we benefited from it.

  16. Another over-educated (PhD) Rosa Parks JBBP family here--it is amazing! Our son is in kindergarten and our experience there has exceeded our greatest hopes. He loves learning Japanese, and already holds brief conversations with the UPS delivery guy who has our home on his route (we had no idea he spoke Japanese until he saw our son's t-shirt and they started chatting). Our son is also puzzling out compound words in hiragana--kemushi/caterpillar means hairy bug, apparently.

    When our friends and family visit from out of the city they are routinely shocked to discover that Rosa Parks is not wildly over-enrolled. According to our Connecticut relatives, "You are so lucky that you have such great public schools in San Francisco!"

    The shared JBBP/GE community is great, and kind. I felt like I had never really experienced San Francisco's diversity until I started doing Japanese calisthenics each morning with mothers in hajib. Not everyone in our program listed JBBP as a first choice or even in Round 1 last year, but at Saturday's auction we all agreed that we had won the lottery.

  17. I don't think you need to make the case for public schools--the schools are serving some people very well. If none of us believed in public schools, we wouldn't care that we didn't get in. The problem is that there is such disparity between programs and schools and principals; the problem is the number of people (from all walks) who are not being served by SFUSD. We all know the biggest determinant of the school is the principal, that's why we toured and applied to the ones with principals we liked. The shame is that once parents get into a public school they like, they lose all perspective on whether the system is doing its job for the whole population versus their two happy kids--try to look from the outside in. Complacency of the winners. The unpopular schools aren't all hidden gems in the making.
    So, if we eventually in August do get into a school we like, we will take the spot gratefully. But that doesn't mean the system isn't broken, desperately. Hopefully, I will still be agitating for a better system and not telling people that if they can just out-think, out-last, out-play their peers, they can get into a good school--yay!

  18. I am a huge proponent of public schools, as the product of the NYC public schools during some very dark years budget wise (1970s - I had 45 kids in my 6th grade class!!!)

    We are new to SF, and didn't have to go through the K lottery -- my daughter started 5th grade when we arrived in late August. Overall, it has been OK, and we're not at a "trophy" school by any stretch of the imagination. Some of the issues my daughter is having (not being sufficiently challenged, for example) I feel we could have addressed in the earlier grades, and the solutions would have carried forward. The school is safe, they do interesting projects, and there's a very active PTO (a relatively new phenomenon, from what I understand.)

    I think satisfaction/dissatisfaction depends a great deal on what we expect our schools to offer. To me API scores are important not because I think they're a great measure of teaching ability, but because my daughter's test scores are high and a high API score school will give my daughter a cohort of similarly academically functioning kids so I'm not asking the teacher to differentiate curriculum for one student alone.

    Physical plant? Well, it should be safe and clean, and have some accessible outside play space. I grew up in NYC, so a blacktop or concrete yard is not a surprise to me, and our buildings were as old as the ones in SF.

    "Extras?" Nice to have, but... not critical. My daughter had the opportunity to play violin, and they've had a bunch of pretty interesting field trips. She has learned quite a bit this year, and has, for the first time, been exposed to kids from different backgrounds (we came from a very homogenous suburb in NY)

    For me, reasonable commute is key, as we're a 1 car family and if the car is heading out of the city in the morning, the big girl is taking the bus on her own, and next year I'll be taking the little boy by foot or by bus.

    I think the schools are worth investing in, and that while there may be a handful of schools that would be "unacceptable" to your family, there are probably many more that would be pretty good.

    My 2 cents...

  19. 1:33 ....

    One the BEST posts I have ever read on this entire blog. BRAVO! I hope people take to heart your words.

  20. Michelle--your views are very similar to mine. I don't expect the schools to provide every last thing. The things you mention are right in line with what I do expect. And of course I expect a lot of education to occur within the context of the family as well. In fact, that's where most of it happens. Relaxing a little from having hyper-vigilance over my child's school and teachers (something my generation of parents is somewhat prone to) is a good thing for everyone, I think. In any case, she is a thriving, articulate, creative and happy child so I guess we're doing fine so far.

  21. 1:33, I would agree that we should support public schools in general.

    However, having witnessed several years of joyous, yet thoughtless, parents who got their kids into Clarendon, AFY, Miraloma, Alvarado Spanish Immersion, Sunset, etc., I've lost all faith in the concept that the public school system is equitably serving the greater good.

    Not in this city. I've seen too many labor and political insiders who got the kids into top "public" schools to believe that the system is fair.

    The situation with fraud and the loophole in the application process in previous years that rubber stamped non-native English speaker kids has added to malaise. I all too often run into wealthy non-native English speaker families with kids at AFY, Clarendon, etc. This year, the probably has been spun differently, but it only exposes the dearth of good schools and overdemand South of Market.

    And that doesn't even begin to touch upon those that liked about their "free lunch" status.

    I would happily support public schools in general, but not in this city. The system is far too corrupt and far too geared to give handouts to the families that serve various political interests.

    1:33, you're certain right on the money when you point out how frequently so and so says "Oh, but I got my little Johnny into such and such and it really is a good school so everything must be OK. And I'm really sorry for your pain, etc. etc."

    ie. Sorry you got screwed out of $20K per year. Sorry your assigned school is recommended for closure by the federal government. Sorry all the teachers in your assigned school have lay off notices. Sorry you'll have to move and loose all your friends.

    Oh, and please vote for another tax increase.


  22. Michelle

    Where did you get placed for middle school - did you get a school on your list?

  23. My daughter is in kindergarten at Chinese Immersion School (aka De Avila) and absolutely loves it. She is not only receiving a strong education (in Chinese and in English) but is reaping the benefits of being around a diverse group of kids from a variety of socio-economic backgrounds. I'll be blunt. We could have afforded private school. Barely, but we could have made it work. But we didn't even apply to privates. We wanted our daughter (and our 2nd when she's old enough) to go public school, to experience the real San Francisco, to get a solid education, and to appreciate what she has. The principal at CIS is unbelievably passionate and smart, and does not settle. She has set high goals for that school and I am confident we will achieve them.

    Now, as for the process, my heart aches for those who received unwanted news. We too, received similar news last year and decided to waitlist at CIS for as long as it took. We got a call a week into the school year. Everyone kept telling me to hold on and I wanted to kill them all. But I waited. And waited. And then she got in. Not saying this will happen for everyone. Just sharing our story.

    We waited and are now paying ZERO tuition for a wonderful school. We are now able to make a generous donation to a SF public school, knowing that that money will help many kids, not just ours. In this way, I feel like I'm not only giving our daughter a wonderful education but I'm also helping improve SF public schools.

    Best of luck to everyone.

  24. I cannot believe how incredibly disappointed we are with the lottery. Our daughter was just under a 4.0 throughout middle school, scored advanced in both English and Math, but still fell just a couple of points short on the Band 1 point system at Lowell. An active student council member, a school peer mentor, an athlete participating in 3 sports, a member of the all city orchestra, yet I didn't see these activities given any points to get into Lowell. Our bitterness doesn't stem from not getting into Lowell, points are points. Our anger stems from the lottery school assignment. She was assigned Mission High School. Lincoln High School is up the street, yet they would like my 14 year old to worry about her safety instead of continuing to be an active participant in school activities. I understand that they would like me to be open minded and help Mission High fix their problems with my high achieving child, yet I think the chances of the bad environment ruining her are higher then the other way around.

    So she will be attending the private school she was accepted to with honors as a top applicant and use the scholarship she was awarded and send her to a school, where of course I'm sure safety is still an issue, but not an everyday factor. After all it's high school and you can never tell what might happen, but as a parent who grew up in San Francisco and took certain buses just to avoid passing through certain high schools such as Mission High, I will not allow SFUSD to use her as a possible success story. When the key word here is possible... Low possibility in my opinion.

  25. We were wholly focused on the private school search and toured one public school that seemed to potentially meet our criteria of quality, distance and start time -- George Peabody.

    To our mild surprise, we received our first (only) choice. To our medium surprise, we decided to send our son there. To our major surprise, we are absolutely satisfied customers of the San Francisco Public School System!

    Peabody is a fantastic school and our experience has been just great. Yes, the facilities lag far behind the privates and the parents need to do way too much of the financial heavy lifting (which we are fortunately increasingly successful at), but it has absolutely exceeded our expectations in all other areas.

    Awesome teachers, wonderful families and a generally great bunch of kids. We literally won the lottery.

  26. I was 0/7 last year. Stunned to not get assigned to my attendance area "failing" school I had listed first. Assigned to J Serra, which wasn't even on my radar. Within 3 days after the letters went out about 30 0/7 J Serra families had found each other through K Files and neighborhood listserves and started meeting, toured the school, and most were pleasantly surprised. Not all these 30 families are currently enrolled of course, but a whole bunch of us still are. It's a small school in a great neighborhood, committed engaged principal, a park for its front yard, free afterschool program. PTA meetings are bilingual and the other night there were 38 parents attending, very representative of the student body which I think is about 75% Latino. And my kid is learning and thriving.
    I had no idea how this whole thing would turn out last year after I received that grim letter. The process pretty much chewed me up and spat me out. We're lucky that it turned out fine, and that we now have a terrific experienced kindergarten teacher introducing our child to school.
    The J Serra story from last year might be unusual because of our large numbers, but it makes me wonder if this year there is a group of people assigned to a similarly unsung school that already has strengths?

  27. In contrast to the previous poster, Mission High School was listed on our application. Here's what we liked about Mission:

    1. Small classes. QEIA money means 22 or so in academic classes.

    2. Strong principal. He's been in charge for a couple of years and taught at the school before that. The previous principal was stellar, so there's a long track record.

    3. Amazing building and location. The atmosphere was peaceful and safe when we toured. (My daughter pictured herself reading a book in one of the sunny courtyards.) Across the street from Dolores Park and half a block from Bi-Rite Creamery--what's not to like?

    4. TONS of AP classes. I think they offer something like 18 different subjects.

    5. Small-ish enrollment but large enough for a critical mass for clubs, activities, and differentiation.

    6. Word of mouth: A teacher there is also a parent at my daughter's middle school and raved about Mission. On our tour another teacher went out of his way to tell us that he used to teach at an East Bay high school and left because he didn't like the direction the new principal was taking his old school, and that Mission was the only other place he wanted to work.

    7. College admissions. I think many kids have a much better chance of getting into a selective college coming from Mission than from many other high schools. (UC admits the top 4% of each class from every California high school, for example. It's pretty hard to be in the top 4% at Lowell.)

    The commute might be a little harder for us than for other schools, but we don't live that close to any public high schools so MUNI will be a factor anywhere. However, my daughter has been taking public transportation to various places around the city for a couple of years now and has not had any problems. If you've spent any time on Dolores or Valencia lately, you know that the neighborhood has become hipster heaven and feels as safe to me as our West of Twin Peaks neighborhood.

    Once again, perception is everything when it comes to school reputations. It may not be a good fit for you, but please don't automatically dismiss a school that you have never set foot in. Ironically, ten years ago Lincoln was considered a dangerous school and was shunned my most parents.

  28. We were happy with our public school - a trophy K8 - until 4th grade. The 35 kids in my son's class make it very hard for him to concentrate, and there are behavioral issues. We are looking at leaving the city now for a district with smaller class sizes, or going private.

  29. If it's one year, I'd wait. You lose a chance to go to a nationally recognized UC and Ivy League Feeder School in Lowell, one of the top 56 schools in the U.S. and tops in Northern California. If it's just this year, it will probably get better next year and in middle school. It may be bad luck. Don't ruin your child's whole future and chance to graduate from Lowell just due to one year, it's almost over, at least see if 5th grade is better.

  30. I'd urge 4:52 to give Mission another look too. It was one of our top choices. it has a great faculty and is big enough to have a lot of the things you'd want in high school yet has a small learning community structure. 9th grade class size is 16! Unfortunately my kid put Washington as a higher choice and got in, I'm expecting class size there to be up to around 40 next year.

  31. 5:45 here again. Thanks for your comments about Lowell but we aren't convinced about it - even if we could be guaranteed places for both of our kids. With so many smart kids in one place, it's very hard to shine academically there enough to get into a UC. There are many more kids that go to SF State from Lowell than UC Berkeley! We're more focused on finding a solid, high-performing general high school like Piedmont High, one of the Marin high schools, or a Peninsula school at this point. High school is not something to take lightly!

  32. Many college admissions offices are very impressed with Lowell, more so than with private school (lots of fine but not stellar kids get in because their families can pay tuition) or the good suburban high schools like in Lafayette or Piedmont. With Lowell, they know the kids, from whatever background, had to get in on their merits--admission to Lowell means they have already stepped toward college on their own merits.

    It is true that a % go to SF State from Lowell--of course--lots of families are not wealthy and that is a thrifty education (live at home, keep working in the family business and taking care of grandma while earning a B.A. or B.S.). These are families that consider it just wrong to pay retail :-) ....

    But it is also true that a significant % get into Stanford, Ivies, Cal & UCLA (in-state tuition!), and lots of other good schools across the country.

    Lowell is what you make of it. With over 100 AP courses and dozens upon dozens of clubs, sports, arts, languages, you name it, it is there for the taking. They won't baby you there so it helps to have some drive. You grow up at Lowell! It's like going to college early. But if you want it, and you are lucky enough to get a spot, it is there.

  33. I know the aim of this thread is to be encouraging, but the timing seems a little off.

    We requested Rosa Parks JBBP first. What did we get? 0/10 -- and Rosa Parks GE instead.

    I can't read any more glowing reviews of the JBBP program right now. Feels a little like I'm really hungry and having to sit and watch someone else eat a giant slice of cake all by themselves.

    I know that wasn't the intention, but over here, that's the effect.

  34. 8:42. I'm so sorry. I agree. I would feel the same way. I hope you get the JBBP program in the next round.

    Hang in there...

  35. 8:42--As a current JBBP parent, I'm shocked to hear this and so sorry. We heard that the district did not send out enough offer letters to fill the kindergarten class, and assumed that the program faced yet another year of under-enrollment.

    Last year at least one family did not receive a JBBP assignment because of an error at EPC, which was immediately corrected on review. I hope you will check out this possibility (if it happened once it could happen again) and if not this isn't what happened, I hope you can take some comfort that although JBBP was supposedly full in August 2010, the program actually still had kindergarten openings until February 2011. Honestly, we have had so few applicants in the past that I would never want a family who ranked the program first to feel hurt or unwelcome. But I realize that is cold comfort in your situation.

  36. There's going to be an amazing amount of movement in the next 4 months, use all your strengths to be patient! Think positive! It WILL work out for you. Just remember that some parents won't be able to handle it, and that means more open spots for YOUR child on your list that you made- and resubmitted! When I toured, I got fried out of touring there were so many good schools in the city! Hang in there. Unfortunately, it feels like an audition, this process, but it WILL work out for you if you just hang in there.

  37. "There's going to be an amazing amount of movement in the next 4 months, use all your strengths to be patient! Think positive! It WILL work out for you."

    Uh. No. What a pile of crap. Sure, terrorize your family and play a game of chicken. For what? So that you can get into Junipero Serra and then have to move in third grade when class sizes expand to 35 or 40 kids?

    Sure, Lowell is a great school, but many Lowell kids come from K-8 private schools, Clarendon, AFY and Lilienthal. Without GATE and advanced placement classes, most other public school kids probably can't make the grade for Lowell.

    So again, there's public school and then there's public school.

  38. This is a common misperception about Lowell, that 4% of each high school goes to UC so it's easier from another high school. Yes, a minimum of 4% get in from each high school, but the average high school in California sends 12.5% to the UC System. A full 69% of Lowell Students last year were qualified to go to the UC System, which in the lower cases may mean UC Merced or UC Riverside, but a UC nevertheless. About 20 go to Stanford, 35 to the Ivy Leagues, many to other better schools. Over 300 actually go to UCs each year out of 660, but again some qualify but go somewhere better, and some qualify but go to CCSF first to save money or SF State to live at home. They should have made SF State a UC, we have the kids to fill a local UC but have only Cal.

    But your odds are nearly 70% to get into a UC or better going to Lowell vs. 4% at Mission, it's probably more like 10% at Mission, but a much higher percentage of kids go from Lowell to a UC and you don't have to be anywhere near the top of the class. You sound like you prefer the suburbs to begin with and aren't doing this because of a couple rowdy 4th graders, but had planned this all along. If you believe in white flight before middle school just say that, don't say it's due to a couple rowdy kids.

    U.S. News and World Report and Newsweek did studies on this. I can say without a doubt Lowell is far better than any suburban high school in the Bay Area, including those you named. As the anonymous poster said, you really grow up there, by the time you start college, you're more than ready and are a top student there. I got a 2.6 at Lowell and a 3.85 at Cal, and obviously I had to transfer in from a State School and CCSF, but at Cal I was ready and worked about as hard as I had in high school, maybe a little harder, but I was really ready. I know many kids who have similar stories.

    You also don't seem like you ever really planned to stay. You are probably oversensitive to the things that happen in big cities, a couple kids yell, things like that. You probably believe that white kids, by teen years, should live in all white suburbs, or nearly all white suburbs. You don't really learn to be nonracist and relate to other races and classes in elementary school. You get that in high school when kids are older and personalities have formed more. You seem more into the segregation thing, the suburban way. I wouldn't be surprised if you already moved to the suburbs and are a troll. If you argue those schools are better than Lowell, you're not being honest.

  39. Some things in life are bad
    They can really make you mad
    Other things just make you swear and curse.
    When you're chewing on life's gristle
    Don't grumble, give a whistle
    And this'll help things turn out for the best...

    And...always look on the bright side of life...
    Always look on the light side of life...

    If life seems jolly rotten
    There's something you've forgotten
    And that's to laugh and smile and dance and sing.
    When you're feeling in the dumps
    Don't be silly chumps
    Just purse your lips and whistle - that's the thing.

    And...always look on the bright side of life...
    Always look on the light side of life...

    For life is quite absurd
    And death's the final word
    You must always face the curtain with a bow.
    Forget about your sin - give the audience a grin
    Enjoy it - it's your last chance anyhow.

    So always look on the bright side of death
    Just before you draw your terminal breath

    Life's a piece of shit
    When you look at it
    Life's a laugh and death's a joke, it's true.
    You'll see it's all a show
    Keep 'em laughing as you go
    Just remember that the last laugh is on you.

    And always look on the bright side of life...
    Always look on the right side of life...
    (Come on guys, cheer up!)
    Always look on the bright side of life...
    Always look on the bright side of life...
    (Worse things happen at sea, you know.)
    Always look on the bright side of life...
    (I mean - what have you got to lose?)
    (You know, you come from nothing - you're going back to nothing.
    What have you lost? Nothing!)
    Always look on the right side of life...

  40. "You also don't seem like you ever really planned to stay. You are probably oversensitive to the things that happen in big cities, a couple kids yell, things like that. You probably believe that white kids, by teen years, should live in all white suburbs, or nearly all white suburbs. You don't really learn to be nonracist and relate to other races and classes in elementary school. You get that in high school when kids are older and personalities have formed more. You seem more into the segregation thing, the suburban way. I wouldn't be surprised if you already moved to the suburbs and are a troll. If you argue those schools are better than Lowell, you're not being honest."

    Sorry Floyd. Lived in cities all of my life, except for the brief period in my childhood when I lived in Africa. Survived malaria. My "white" cousin is married to a black guy. His cousins are longtime Bayview residents.

    Floyd, quit rambling. You don't know what you're talking about. I think you're just pissed that it's completely out in the open now as to the degree that white middle class neighborhoods are getting SCREWED.

  41. LOL we aren't in the burbs yet, never planned to leave at middle school (we won the golden ticket and are at a K8!), and we aren't white. So I guess all of your assumptions about us are wrong. After many years in SF, we're quite bored with it and don't find it worth the struggle anymore. And, yes, I just want my kid to have an engaging, challenging, relatively unstressful high school experience at a smaller school. I went to two high schools - one with 1400 kids and one with 700. The latter was infinitely better.

  42. My son got into Lowell, and also got into SI (with honors) and into SH (with honors). We could scrape the $ together to send him to SI, but won't, and guess why? Because he tells us that he believes in public schools and he wants to go to Lowell, even though he will be one of the crowd.

  43. Don,

    Take your meds and stop quoting poetry.

  44. It's disappointing to hear that parents get disappointed with the new system. Twins are in 1st grade and got #3 choice in the old system, first round. We were among the lucky ones, but still it took a lot of energy and worry to get to this point. It's sad to hear that this hasn't changed with the new system :(

  45. "Think positive! It WILL work out for you. Just remember that some parents won't be able to handle it, and that means more open spots for YOUR child on your list that you made- and resubmitted!"

    Great system where you have to hope other parents won't be able to handle the stress so you can get your kid in ... wonderful system. Survival of the fittest. That is exactly how a public school system should work.

    Funny how those that got what they wanted go from trashing the system to loving the system.

  46. Always look on the bright side of life.

  47. Another factor people often forget is that people will respect you far more if you go to Lowell than a private high school. If you go to Lowell, you're seen as someone who is middle class and worked hard, as self-made. In college, which is generally very liberal, you get viewed as someone who earned it. If you go to private school or a suburban high school like Palo Alto, you're seen as priveleged by your parents work, not your own.

  48. When I taught at Cal I wouldn't have given you an A with spelling like that, Floyd. (I was only on the Cal admissions committee for a couple of years so I'm not responsible, either :) )

  49. We have twins, and they got placed into two different schools, Now were screwed, they both start at 7:50 across town from each other. And are very popular programs so second round probably will not be helpful.

  50. Sure, Lowell is a great school, but many Lowell kids come from K-8 private schools, Clarendon, AFY and Lilienthal. Without GATE and advanced placement classes, most other public school kids probably can't make the grade for Lowell.

    That is what Band 3 Lowell admissions is for. The bright kids at "underrepresented" schools such as James Lick and Everett can get in via Band 1 (test scores and grades) OR Band 3 (school recommendation). Or Band 2 for that matter. My only complaint about Band 3 is that there are elite schools such as Hamlin that are also on it--I mean, if you have all the advantages of an elite private education and you still can't get in, why should you get that boost? But that's the system.

    Point is definitely true that it is an achievement to get into Lowell given the competition and that Lowell kids have lots of opportunities if they want to take them. Check out the list of famous Lowell alumni sometime (including a current Supreme Court justice). Kids go to all kinds of colleges on their merits. There are more working class families at Lowell of course than at private school, so that is a factor in the Ivy vs. UC outcomes--seeking bang for buck over name brand.

  51. 9:07, my family is like 8:42. We also requested Rosa Parks JBBP, very much wanting it, and went 0/10.

    If the district is telling you that the program is under-enrolled, and then telling me there is not enough space, this is crazy-making. Argh!

  52. Hi Rosa Parks parents, do you know what is the proposed feeder middle school for the Japanese program?

    Also thanks for posting all your positive feedback about the school.

  53. Rosa Parks JBBP 12:41 here --

    8:42 & 5:29, I'm thrilled by your enthusiasm about the school and hope you will hang in there for round 2! It's possible that 9:07 may be incorrect about the K class not filling. I (completely unofficially) heard otherwise - that the K classes did fill but with only a very small waiting list. As I said, through the grapevine, so take that with a grain of salt too.

    This is good news (!) both for our school (means people are interested and choosing to rank us, which is a great thing -- you definitely want a group of excited parents in your kindergarten class!) AND, if the waitlist is very small, there's BOUND to be movement in the second round, giving you a very good chance of getting the spot you wanted. Even though families got RP because they ranked it on their list, some may have ranked some schools higher that they are still holding out for.

    5:29, I'm not sure exactly where the feeder middle school issue stands right now - but I do believe the current thinking is to send both the Clarendon JBBP and Rosa Parks JBBP to the same school (Presidio?) and to try to establish a continuation of the JBBP in that middle school -- which doesn't exist now.

  54. "We have twins, and they got placed into two different schools, Now were screwed, they both start at 7:50 across town from each other. And are very popular programs so second round probably will not be helpful."

    I know another person with twins who had the same problem last year. This is so telling. How can anyone take SFUSD's placement center seriously when they do stuff like this?

    I don't know what to tell you except to make a personal appearance down there. Maybe it can work to your favor in the end.

  55. 2:53 Fair question. I should preface this with a note that my comments about many schools being a better fit than you might think really applied to elementary schools. I think the disparity in Middle Schools is MUCH more significant, with some schools not having honors classes (though I know this is a cause for much debate...) and some middle schools do not have Orchestra, which (for my child) is a serious issue.

    We did get a school on our list -- Hoover. We feel extremely lucky that we have a school that is a good fit for our daughter, not so thrilled that she'll spend 45+ minutes in transit on 2 different muni vehicles (2 buses or a bus + light rail) each way. It would be 15-20 minutes driving, but failing a local family who feels like driving her every day, that's not going to be her primary route to school.

    I will tell you that I really liked James Lick, and thought Denman had a great deal to offer -- both closer to my house. BUT neither has an orchestra program. Neither has honors classes. Both of these were deal breakers for us, at least for our first list.

    And since I figure the honors debate will come up... I'm not advocating honors for all subjects. That's what was done when I was in Junior High School (7-9th grade) in NYC -- you were either in honors or not, and your whole class travelled together. However, for math, particularly, it's extremely hard to differentiate well. I have no problem with mixed level language arts classes and social studies classes -- it's not so hard to teach everyone about Ancient Egypt, for example, and then provide a variety of projects for students to complete. For math, though... when 1/3 of the class has understood and mastered a concept, and 2/3 has not -- what should a teacher do? Move forward for the first 1/3, leaving the others behind, or continue teaching the concept to the 2/3 leaving other kids bored silly?

    What would I have done had we not gotten one of our choices? I would have gone second round, third round... possibly even expanding to other parts of the city figuring we'd figure out transportation *somehow.* Not ideal, and I do feel for (and wish I had a good solution for!) our friends who were assigned Everett and MLK because they're close to their houses. (To be fair, I toured Everett, but did not tour MLK.)


  56. This comment has been removed by the author.

  57. I have a second grader in a sought-after public school. The key to making public school the best it can be under such severe budget restriction is an active parent community; it has little to do with SFUSD. Our PTA funds much of the non-core programs at our school. When choosing a public school, meet with the PTA president and find out how much they raise in funds/year. Commit to the fact that despite your working status, you will need to be a part of the community and help. Our school is a good school, there is plenty that could be better (we have teachers who teach PE because we can't afford a gym teacher for example, and we have a very, very small art program and for only a few weeks a year), still our children are doing well academically and enjoy their school.

  58. To the person with twins. Go down to the placement office after Weds.(they won't do anything for anyone until then) and see what they can do. Really. That's just RIDICULOUS and may qualify for the personal hardship appeal. It doesn't seem feasible that you could actually do that. Or could you register one and then get sibling preference for the second one?) There has to be something they can do..

  59. 9:32 p.m. 3/21 is confused about the entire situation regarding Lowell admissions.

    He/she says: “... many Lowell kids come from K-8 private schools, Clarendon, AFY and Lilienthal. Without GATE and advanced placement classes, most other public school kids probably can't make the grade for Lowell.”

    I think what this confused wording is trying to say is that “kids from most public schools can't make it into Lowell.”

    First, Advanced Placement classes only exist in high school; there is no such thing as AP in middle school.

    Clarendon, by the way, is a K-5, so the student from Clarendon would have attended middle school somewhere else before applying to Lowell.

    All SFUSD middle schools have some type of differentiated instruction for GATE students, whether it's separate honors classes (which is what my kids had at Aptos) or differentiated instruction within a general ed class.

    However, that really has nothing to do with whether students get into Lowell. The Band 1 admission criterion is a compilation of the 7th-grade standardized test score and GPA in 7th grade and the 1st semester of 8th grade.

    Private school students who don't have standardized test scores in 7th grade take a special version of the same tests during the Lowell application process.

    As a previous poster noted, the Lowell process also reserves some spots for applicants from middle schools that don't send many students to Lowell. That means attending an underrepresented middle school is an advantage for students who are aiming for Lowell -- whether it's Viz Valley MS or the Voice of Pentecost Academy.

    As you can see, the claim that “most other public school kids probably can't make the grade for Lowell” because they don't have GATE and AP classes just doesn't jibe with reality, and for that matter doesn't make sense.

  60. To everybody discussing the twin issue: SFUSD has a clear policy on twins and there's clear advice on what to do when they screw up and don't put both twins in the same school. Don't reinvent the wheel -- PPS can give you the advice if you haven't found it by now.

    I would like to urge parents not to put down schools gratuitously. I know parents (aware, conscientious parents) who are happy with Everett, which has such benefits as fantastic architecture, a terrific location and a great principal; and Martin Luther King is up and coming. OK, if you looked at a school and didn't find it to your liking, it's fair game. If you haven't looked at a school it's just wrong to disparage it.

  61. Band 1 admission is based on:

    • the applicant’s grades in English, Math, Social Studies, and Science from the entire 7th grade and the 1st semester of 8th grade.
    • the applicant’s scores from the English Language Arts and Math portions of the CST (STAR) test in the spring of 7th grade or the Reading
    and Math portions of the Lowell Admission test in January 2011.
    The total possible score for Band 1 is 89 points. The 2010-2011 cut-off score for Band 1 was 85.5 points. This may change for 2011-2012.

    Band 2

    To be considered for Band 2, students must have
    • a minimum GPA of 3.00 (derived from English, Math, Social Studies, and Science from the entire 7th grade and the 1st semester of 8th
    grade) and
    • a minimum 60% average in the CST (STAR) or the Lowell Admission test.
    Band 2 admission is based on:
    • the applicant’s grades in English, Math, Social Studies, and Science from the entire 7th grade and the 1st semester of 8th grade. (max 64
    • the applicant’s score from the Band 2 evaluation done by school-based committees. (max 45 points)
    The total possible score for Band 2 is 109 points. The 2010-2011 cut-off score for Band 2 was 82 points. This may change for 2011-2012.

    Band 3

    To be considered for Band 3, students must have a minimum of 64 points derived from
    • the applicant’s grades in English, Math, Social Studies, and Science from the entire 7th grade and the 1st semester of 8th grade.
    • the applicant’s scores from the English Language Arts and Math portions of the CST or the Reading and Math portions of the Lowell
    Admission test in January 2011.
    and be attending a Band 3 identified school. Band 3 schools will be identified as under-represented using data from the last several years of student
    population, number of applicants and number of admissions.
    Assignments to Band 3 seats are made based on Principal nomination.

  62. This comment has been removed by the author.

  63. Caroline,

    When a school has been publicized as among the lowest 5% in California, it is hard to keep an open mind.

    In my estimation, Everett which received several million dollars of the school improvement grant will be able to provide exceptional service, especially if you have a child who is struggling with core subjects.

    Students that take honors classes in middle school are at a disadvantage in attaining the GPA requirements. Just something to consider if your're hellbent on getting into Lowell.

    My personal feeling is that Lowell is a disservice to the community as it's uniquely responsible for lowering academic diversity across the district. It is hard to understand how a district so intent upon diversity would allow a school to substantially undermine the core values of the BOE, the administration, the strategic plan and the community at large.

  64. Clarendon and noe are not middle class...just saying!

  65. 9:07 from JBBP here--
    What I heard about the K class not being full is also completely unofficial, I'm afraid. It sounds like this information was wrong and I'm very sorry if I've added to the confusion and disappointment. It is a stressful process and I wish that SFUSD were more transparent about placement offers.

    I am so happy to hear that JBBP was your first choice (please don't give up!) and so disappointed to hear you were both shut out in Round 1.

    I have also heard that the feeder middle school plan is to have Clarendon and Rosa Parks JBBP at the same school, and the most recent proposal was that they would be located at Presidio (but what do I know, see above...) The district recently received a federal grant to provide middle school language education in Japanese and Russian, and apparently believed it was practical to keep all those programs in one location.

  66. We got Claire Lilianthal and we are happy with the choice. Unfortunately, I do not know much about the school.... and would like to hear from the current parents. HOw is the school in general? What aspects do you like about the school? How is the parents community? Do current students also come from the neighborhood? or mostly from outside?

  67. Spots at Paul revere are reserved for Lowell, now, that is surprising given their 8th grade test scores on great schools.

  68. "Clarendon and noe are not middle class...just saying!"

    Parts of it certainly are.

    There are many small appartments in the Alvarado assignment district that will have been bumped from their assigned school.

    Many of the Clarendon homes are modest fifties style homes. Compare that to the many opulent Victorians in the Mission district.

    Drive around much?

  69. Regarding twins. I have twins but not in lottery for public K yet. There are at least 4 sets of twins mentioned in the SF Parents of Multiples group I am in who's twins were not assigned the same school for K. And they were just the ones that posted.

  70. "Spots at Paul revere are reserved for Lowell, now, that is surprising given their 8th grade test scores on great schools."

    PV scores are abysmal. It's a noble gesture, but most of the PV kids will probably drown in their first two years at Lowell.

    It's probably a hand out to David Campos.

  71. FYI:

    SF K Files deletes posts of opinions it doesn't like.

  72. Rosa Parks Enthusiasts: I'm trying to get a confirmation on how full our classrooms are and details about how to best advise on round 2.

    As a long time JBBP family, with a 12 year old alum and a 3rd grader currently at Rosa Parks, I'd like to underscore what's been expressed so far about the program and school.

    I am in the process of putting together the big "thank you" for everyone involved in JBBP's auction fundraiser this past saturday and I am awed by all the volunteers that sacraficed their time and put their passion and dedication into making the fundraiser successful and fun. There was a gaggle of alumni kids who showed up to help -- from middle school to high school. They still think JBBP is the coolest. Alumni families (who's kids are in college for godsake) who still show up year after year to volunteer and support JBBP. Retired Sensei who come to shop and recall with fellow staff the fondness they still feel from having taught Japanese to youngsters all those years. Program founders who established JBBP 38 years ago and still show up for monthly Advisory Board Meetings! And our current, energetic families who came out despite the rain to have a good time. And we did! The list goes on and on. We are so fortunate and I think anyone lucky enough to get into RP, as another poster stated earlier, has hit the jackpot.

  73. I do wonder how these kids from k-8's with spots reserved manage at Lowell. It is not the only school with spots reserved. Don't get me started on Campos.

    Does Lowell have some intervention set up for these children? or just set them on their own to, as you say, "drown?" what is their drop out rate?

    Paul Revere has so much potential. K-8 with two immersion classes, improving scores, money for intervention and focusing on math and literacy. Dedicated PTA.

    I can only hope they begin to focus on Science and Technology. As a K-8, it should be a priority.

  74. 11:28 AM:

    Schools are not allow to "advise". Only the EPC can do that. I don't think it is helpful to give anyone false hope when they could otherwise be putting their energies into finding a more likely alternative.

    Don't forget that there are still some CTIP1 families that have probably not registered. Wouldn't they have priority?

  75. 11:30 AM:

    I remember touring PV two years ago. They probably will teach the kids the three Rs, but that's worlds away from the kind of skills that kids at Lowell will have.

    Really, the difference between an AFY or Clarendon experience and one at PR, for example, brings us back to the whole middle school discussion.

  76. I just checked Paul Revere's middle schools CST results.


    Only 3% of 8th graders are proficient in Algebra I.

    Test scores across all other middle school disciplines are below 20% proficient.

    Who's drinking the Kool-aid thinking these kids aren't going to be set up for failure at Lowell?

    That's just pure negligence on the part of the Board.

  77. For what it's worth, I did my doctoral work in sociology of education and am the parent of a child who tests ridiculously high on all types of tests including GATE IQ tests and I have to disagree that a high API means a cohort of similarly academically abled students. High API scores mean that the school is doing a good job teaching the children to take standardized tests. And, probably, that there is a low number of ESL students in the school. As I value more open inquiry curriculum and a diverse student body I don't particularly value a high API in a school. The last thing my gifted student needs is more practice in drill and kill exercises. Just my two cents.

  78. 1:40:

    OK. But 3%. I don't think so.

    I also value more open inquiry methodology. However, I have looked at the CST questions. Most kids benefitting from an open inquiry curriculum would ace the CST.

    Even with ELL kids, you can't make an excuse for only 3 kids out of 100 passing CST Algebra I.

    No way.

    And it's even more eggregious when you consider that PR has benefitted from STAR school intervention funding for over five years.

  79. Twin parents here (with kids already in school.) You get sibling preference once you register one of your twins in a school. You'll get the other one in.

  80. Don, in this case what I said was not that people should keep an open mind, though I'm all for keeping an open mind. What I asked was that commenters not expressly disparage schools, especially schools they hadn't even seen. In this case, the school disparaged was not a SIG (bottom 5%) school.

    Regarding the discussion of spots at Lowell reserved for underrepresented schools -- this is not a special favor to Paul Revere or to David Campos. It's a longstanding part of the Lowell admissions policy, applied to a long list of underrepresented schools.

    In general, students who aren't academically inclined aren't interested in applying to Lowell -- don't forget that we're talking about 8th-graders, so they're actively involved and likely to vigorously resist something they don't want. From what I've heard over the years, there's not a consistent problem of unready, unqualified kids pouring in from low-performing schools to take those spots reserved for underrepresented schools. Sure, some kids don't work out at Lowell, but my understanding is that it's fairly random, not for that reason.

    I do know of a private school that changed a student's transcripts to qualify the applicant for Lowell (without the parents' knowledge, until after the fact). That would be near-impossible in SFUSD, due to sheer bureaucracy and impenetrable technology. In this case the student was successful at Lowell, though the family said other kids from the same school had stumbled there.

  81. Just to echo Caroline:

    Schools that get "underrepresented" aka Band 3 status at Lowell include such low performers as Hamlin & Stuart Hall. I assume this is not seen as a favor to Michaela Alioto? :-)

    Caroline is correct that the kids who go in through that process are fairly self-selecting, and are also vetted by the principal and staff. They just might include a couple of those kids who DID pass the algebra CST with proficiency or above, for example. No one wants to set these kids up for failure.

    You have to apply for Lowell, even Band 3, through a separate process that includes gathering documentation and doing some short write-ups. This is not a check-off box that some kids sneak into. I'm sure someone can think of an anecdotal example or two, but the vast, vast majority of kids at Lowell earned their spot with test scores, grades, and possibly boosted teacher/principal evaluation that this is a youth with strong and documented potential to succeed there.

    The results are pretty clear if you look at the CST results and AP exam results at the school. It's not a fluke.

  82. 1:40
    Yes, but...

    There are a few different aspects to what goes on in the classroom educationally. I am not a fan of "drill and kill" either. And, perhaps I was oversimplifying the connection between API and CST. I agree that at the top end of APIs there's a lot of test prep, and that accounts for some of the scores. That said, as a previous poster noted, a school where very low percentages of students are tested as "proficient" in a variety of subjects is pretty shocking.

    So, let's look at Hoover, for example:
    as of 2008, in the 60% range were proficient or over in all subjects. Some percentage of that may be testing prep, but it still shows a student body with solid academic abilities.

    Compare to Everett:
    Generally under 20% proficient or better in 2008. So, 4/5 of the class is not proficient in any subject. And, math and language arts are pretty similar, so it's not a language learners based disparity.

    Now, I know I got some flack about not being supportive of MLK, (and I admit I judged quickly, not knowing alot about the school) so let's look at their numbers:
    <40% proficient, even ignoring the pretty shocking 2008 19.7% math score for 8th grade.

    So, why do I think this matters?

    If a teacher has a class of 35 students, and only 20% are performing proficiently, that's 7 students who are actually functioning on or above grade level academically, and 28 who are not. The majority of that teacher's time, "open inquiry" or not, will be spent on skills that the 28 students need to master.

    This is not to say that those 28 students shouldn't have their needs met -- they should. BUT, so should the 7, and I don't see how that's possible in all subjects.

    I hope this makes my thoughts a little clearer.


  83. Michelle-

    I'm still not convinced that ability to do well on a standardized test = academic skill and more importantly that inability to do well on a standardized test = poor academic ability.

    First: there are linguistic and cultural factors inherent in testing including stereotype threat which could account for lower test scores in schools with large concentrations of low SES and/or ethnic minority kids.

    Second: many studies show that all kids benefit from heterogeneous classrooms more than from homogeneous ones (regarding academic achievement or capacity, however you want to measure that). There is a great documentary film called "Off Track" that documents this very phenomenon in a middle school in New York. Michelle Fine was the researcher.

    Having said all of this, I'm not trying to talk YOU in or out of anything, just stating for the record that I don't believe high API = high intelligence nor that low API = low intelligence and that there is evidence to back this up. I always worry when a point such as test-scores-indicate-academic-capacity is made and left unchallenged that people will just accept this as true without considering alternative explanations and paradigms. Please feel free to prioritize test scores for your gifted child! : )

  84. Thanks for the thoughtful presentation and civil debate -- I really appreciate it, when this is such an emotional topic for people. And also thank you for calling me out on the generalizations I'm making about schools based on scores. It needed to be said!

    I'm going to take a look at "Off Track," since I'm familiar both personally and (through family and friends) professionally with NYC. I do think the way "grouping" was done in my JHS was overly rigid -- we were "tracked" for all subjects, and travelled together as a group. I think it led to all kinds of inequity. That said, I think managing a heterogenous classroom is tough, and not everyone can do it well. In suburban NY my daughter had teachers who were good at it, and some who were less so. The BEST year she had was the year her school ran an experiment with 4 classes, where they remixed the kids each "unit" for math. It allowed for homogenous grouping for specific topics, but heterogeneous the rest of the time.

    And you're right, of course... judging schools by test scores is a short cut, and probably unfair/inaccurate.

    For *my* child, this year has been rough because her teacher doesn't see her as bored because she behaves in class (though comes home with her sneakers and notebook extensively decorated...) So, how schools handle differentiation was high on my list for middle school.

    Thanks again!

  85. Michelle

    I really enjoy your posts. Thank you. I feel that you do good job of stating the realities of teaching to all kids and I think you are honest about the trade-offs. Thanks.

  86. In response to Michelle: in recent years, there has been a history of SFUSD schools' surging in popularity while their test scores lagged behind the popularity.

    Miraloma's test scores dismayed its increasing number of loyal families for years, and just started to show improvement in the past two or three years.

    Same with Buena Vista's. Fairmount's are just starting to come up.

    So the concept of judging schools entirely by the numbers is losing favor with San Francisco parents.

    For that matter, in posts on this blog we see parents unhappy with assignments to McCoppin (API 841), Sheridan (API 825), Ortega (API 811) and Giannini (API 874). Not to pass judgment on their judgment, but I'm just saying that parents are looking at other factors besides the numbers.

    By the way, Denman does have an orchestra program.

  87. Michelle-

    You're welcome. Thank you for your open mindedness and for taking the time to thoughtfully post your experience and opinions.

    I acknowledge that some are better than others at teaching differentiated curriculum. The good news (for me, at least) is that there are so many other important things to learn in school that cannot be found in books.

    Like your daughter, my son has spent at least one year in a situation with a teacher who firmly believed he was not trying and/or was choosing to misbehave when he was bored. (One example of how this manifested is that he was reading many grade levels ahead and couldn't stand sitting in a circle on the carpet while each kid painfully attempted to sound out single syllable words.) It's tough when that kind of mismatch occurs, but I strongly believe that my child (and I) had a good learning year regardless. My son learned resilience. He learned that not everyone will understand him or believe him but that some will, and those are the people he can go to for help. He learned that other people's opinions of him do not need to define him, even when those people are in positions of authority. He learned that he has the ability to teach others, and in teaching gained a sense of self-esteem and mastery of the subject far beyond that which he would have gained by one exposure. He learned that there are different types of intelligence and different ways to display intelligence and that his own intelligence does not make him more important than others nor more deserving of resources. In addition to all of this, he learned a great deal academically that year. I felt it was a success, though it was a bit more work than other years have been.

    In any event, I really hope that next year is an easier one for her and for you. Your daughter has won the lottery in one respect at least: she has a mother who is invested and tireless in the pursuit of an excellent educational experience for her. : )

  88. Make the case for public schools?

    OK. Move to CTIP1 and ride the wave of BOE ideology to the door of your favorite public school. Ain't opportunity grand?

  89. About 1 in 7 kids entering Lowell are forced out, mostly in the first 2 years. You're right, they let in kids who can't compete to be politically correct. This is why a lot of kids transfer in as sophomores, they are kids who fell through the cracks, who maybe had a hard teacher and lost a point or two and didn't quite make it. There would be no transfer spots open if there were no dropouts. Very few people choose to move once a kid is in a top school like this, so that's mostly what it is. It's a negative side effect of Affirmative Action. Once they stopped AA, the # of dropouts at UC Berkeley and UCLA and other UCs dropped dramatically.

    I don't know what the solution is. I do think we need to make things more equal racially. However, one thing I disagree with the majority on is I feel it's far better to start career life one year later, or even two, from a strong position skill-wise, than to rush into a mediocre life. Therefore, maybe they should have affirmative action but kids on the edge who get into Lowell, or for that matter UC Berkeley, spend one year at a preparation academy where they focus on honing their skills and preparing for the academic rigors, learning how to write well, do math well, study skills, what it takes to do well in Biology, etc.

    I know I could have used this. I got a 2.6 at Lowell and a 3.85 at Cal after transferring in. I could have done better had I had a year of this.

  90. If I lived in a CTIP1 district, I would "make my case for public schools".

    Alas, I live in a CTIP2 district with either inaccessible immersion schools or schools at the California bottom in terms of performance.

    San Francisco does not have a public school system. They have a school system that has been highly manipulated by special interests.

  91. 10:05 Thank you for leaving your comment and such a positive outcome from what I'm sure was a difficult situation. We may be in a similar situation next year, and I think you are absolutely right that there is a lot more to it than just being taught at your academic level. What valuable lessons you and your son learned, which will probably be much more useful in the long term than had he been "challenged " more academically. Obviously he will do well academically no matter what.

    Your comment helped me take a deep breath about this whole thing.

  92. We are a grattan family. We got in very late in the process after going 0/7 2 years in a row.
    We could stretch and afford private if we needed to, but we wanted to give public a try first.

    We are very happy at Grattan. We've had great teachers, the parent community is excellent, and our son has made nice friends. Yes there are some kids I'd rather our child not associate with, but he has made good choices not to play with them. I am sure there would be as many kids at private we also didn't want him playing with (granted, it would likely be kids with a different set of issues: the behavioral problems that come with wealth rather than those of poverty). Grattan doesn't have all the extras that some of friends in the privates have - but we are paying language and music lessons after school on our own and still have about $20K left over for fun family trips and college savings.

  93. 11:15 AM

    I'm thrilled that your family had such a terrific experience at Grattan.

    I'm sure that parents in the Grattan attendance area are thrilled if they got into Grattan. However, most of us could never afford to pay $1,000,000+ for a home in order to live in the Grattan attendance area.

    You're lucky your school didn't get CTIP1'ed. However, it soon will be and parents in the Grattan district will be howling along with Clarendon, Miraloma and Noe. (never mind Bernal.)

  94. 7:42, they should have kept something like the old system, but west side parents fought to get more neighborhood preference. The people most negatively affected by the change are, indeed, CTIP2 families living near schools that are extremely popular (e.g., immersion) and/or failing schools. That is where almost all the risk has now been transferred--from risk that was shared across the board with exception for those of extremely low-SES status to CTIP2 families on the east and middle parts of town. We could all see it coming and now it is here.

  95. You did the right thing paying for language and music and going public. When you go public and pay for language and music as an extra, you save money and also give these things to your child without hurting the children who are in public school. When people go private due to this, they do tremendous damage to public school children and enhance racial and class segregation. You can do both, go public and pay for language, music or afterschool as an extra. That way no one is hurt.

  96. "San Francisco does not have a public school system. They have a school system that has been highly manipulated by special interests."

    Whatever name you want to attach to it, you are still paying for it and it is up to us to set it right. Don't give up!

  97. 9:08 - I'm so glad that I could help!

  98. "Whatever name you want to attach to it, you are still paying for it and it is up to us to set it right. Don't give up!"

    Don, how on Earth do you think things will improve? This year is worse than ever. And demographics indicate that things are just going to get worse.

    The city and state are no longer attractive to business. Pension obligations are exploding. The state is bankrupt. Carlos is once again pilfering the "rainy decade" fund to benefit his narrow swath of chosen schools. And, to top it off, they actually had the balls to sell the wreck that that is this new assignment system as an "oh, surprise, they didn't want neighborhood assignments after all."

    Holy Shit. How can anyone still believe in public schools in this city?

  99. It's not surprising more people didn't ask for neighborhood schools, that they asked for immersion or K-8 instead. People want immersion because they think GE is not challenging enough. People want K-8 because they don't think the middle schools are good enough. You can't change those perceptions by changing the assignment system.

  100. People do ask for their neighborhood school. It might not be #1, but it is often one of the top choices.

    The trumpeting of the lack of the local school getting the very top choice is the banal statement that parents have a lot of choices, citywide K8, citywide immersion, and every other school besides the one in your assignment area. If you mean to imply that parents are turning their backs to their neighborhood school, you need to look at all the choices that the parent is making, not just the first choice.

  101. Sweden has a school voucher system:

  102. Here's the PDF:

  103. "you're lucky your school didnt get CItp1'ed" like clarendon etc.

    What does that mean?

  104. We are very thrilled to have the neighborhood factor in play. We did the whole private application process because in the past there is no way that we would have gotten any thing close to home. Which is a shame, because having a neighborhood school helps create community, which ultimately improves the school. So when it works, it's great.

    We feel very fortunate this year. We got nothing at the privates, but got our neighborhood public. I'm glad my daughter will have a chance to make friends that live near us. I just wish everyone had a choice they were happy with. It seems unfair that there is not enough room in each neighborhood school for everyone who wants it.

  105. To 11:15am: I also didn't understand this:

    "You're lucky your school didn't get CTIP1'ed. However, it soon will be and parents in the Grattan district will be howling along with Clarendon"

    Don't CTIP1 students get assigned wherever they want, nit particular schools?

  106. Well put 4.45. We ended with 0/5 privates and with neighborhood public (Alvarado) and absolutely thrillred. 2 blocks from home and better than many privates. The system has worked for us.

  107. "How can anyone still believe in public schools in this city?"

    I believe in the schools and their staffs and most of all the students. It's 555 Franklin and their playthings on the Board that have to be reformed. Don't give in. Fight the good fight. These are our public schools. If we abandon them all hope is lost for our society.

  108. Clarendon got CTIP1'd because many CTIP1 folks put Clarendon number 1 on their list, so there were very few spots left for neighborhood families. If the system doesn't change, Grattan and Alamo will be next. High SES CTIP1 families really got the golden ticket.

  109. Grattan, sure, given location. Clarendon based on reputation alone (practically everyone puts it down, even sight unseen). Almost for that reason alone, it should be a citywide school, since everyone so stubbornly wants it so badly.

    But Alamo?--I don't think so! It got what, zero (!) CTIP1s this year and is over in the far NW of the city, at least 45 minutes by car in traffic or 2 long bus rides away from most CTIP1 zones. Y'all are safe over there from the hoi polloi. It's the CTIP2s on the east side and middle who are having problems.

    There are plenty of problems to be sure, but let's stick to reality (and the trends indicated by actual data in the latest round).

  110. Elementary Schools with low or no ctip offers

    Alamo 1%
    Feinstein 0%
    Jefferson 0%
    Key 0%
    Lafayette 0%
    McCoppin 0%
    Ortega 0%
    Parker 0%
    Peabody 0%
    Sunset 0%
    Sutro 0%
    Wo 0%

  111. To Floyd: I am a public parent who pays for after school music and language etc. I don't do it so 'no one gets hurt'. I don't do it so that I can help racially and economically diversify the schools. That is ridiculous. The only reason anyone with options makes these choices is because: it is right for my daughters and right for our family. No one is, or even should be, using their children to push an ideological agenda, and any policy decisions that don't take that into account will be flops.

  112. Don: what is your day job that you have so much time for blogging? Seriously: what is it?

  113. I mean what do you care.? If I say I'm rich and I don't need to work does it matter? Does it matter if I'm unemployed and poor? If it's a hobby, obsession, or avocation?

  114. I just wondered how in world a busy person could have so much time to blog. I figured it wasnt a job as an employee, because you'd have gotten fired if you were online so much and using your real name, but on the other hand you couldnt be independently wealthy or you wouldnt be wrapped up in the public school situation. So thank you for clarifying: I wish I had that much time!

  115. my apologies if I'm hijacking this thread, but it seems to be winding down anyways. And maybe some of the more frequent visitors here know this already, but it was new to me, and I guess I'm the one with too much time on her hands, but: I just spent a few minutes googling "Don Krause" in San Francisco, and came up with all kinds of stuff - what an annoying man he sounds like! spending all his time complaining that the kids at his preschool don't wash their hands enough, and finding picayune code violations on the part of the school board and going on and on about it. one of those people who even if they're right, you sure don't want to get stuck sitting next to them at a dinner party!

  116. March 24, 2011 11:07 AM Wrote:

    "Alamo got no CTIP1 this year"

    Would you want your child to be the only African American kid in a school? Or one of 5 out of 550?

  117. 10:12:

    "Trolls are people who visit online communities with deliberate intent to start trouble and incite anger. They thrive on attention and upsetting people. Read something obnoxious on a message board? Ignore it. Starving trolls will go elsewhere for sustenance."

    Best thing to do is ignore him.

  118. We got Yick Wo as our public school designation. I don't know anything about this school other than it's relatively small and an "alternative" school. Any feedback is greatly appreciated. Thank you!

  119. Feed Don to the troll!

  120. Yick Wo is a wonderful little school. The only reason it is not more popular with families here is its location in the far NE section of the city (though accessible to downtown, which might work for people who work there). It's very close to the twisty part of Lombard, for those who know the area.

    It's truly a gem. Definitely go check it out. But meanwhile, chew on this: API score of 897, which is stratospheric for an urban school with 2/3 free lunch kids (okay, these are mainly Chinese kids, but still). Needless to say, the school has a similar-schools rank of 10 out of a possible 10. Beyond test scores (always look beyond test scores), it is also a lovely and warm community.

  121. I grew up going to private schools in SF (K-12) and had very little exposure to public schools before we started the process of applying for Kindergarten. We decided to give it a try and ended up getting our first choice, Sloat, which is close to our house. (We gave up on our dream of immersion because the numbers looked so bad.)

    I have to admit the first couple of weeks were hard. The weather was depressing, the classroom was packed with stuff, the kids seemed to be spending a LOT of time coloring in the lines, and I just couldn't see how a teacher could handle 22 kids on her own. I wondered if I should have applied to privates so I could have a classroom that looked like mine when I was 5 (which I vividly recall).

    Fast forward 7 months and I couldn't be happier with the school. My daughter's teacher is wonderful, patient and loving. The principal is dynamic, open and creative. The community is filled with like-minded parents who are in the classroom, making snack, driving on field-trips and raising money. My daughter knows more about biology than I did in 5th grade and has had enrichment programs including music, gardening, theater and Spanish. For the life of me, I can't see why our gem of a school doesn't have the buzz of other schools. It's awesome and has made me a believer in what a community school can be. It's not perfect (the classrooms still looked packed with stuff), but neither were my pricey private schools with their fancy interiors.

    I'm not saying the system isn't broken. It is. But a public school, even a non-trophy one, can be good in this city.

  122. Um, Sloat is now a sought-after school, as far as I know!

  123. "I just spent a few minutes googling "Don Krause" in San Francisco, and came up with all kinds of stuff - what an annoying man he sounds like!"

    Would you have your toddler wash hands a lot after playing in sand that had enough arsenic in it to qualify as a toxic waste dump? Rather than insure the safety of children the school the school dilly dallied, despite the clear evidence of contamination. Every city park was removing their arsenic treated wood. But not them. Don't believe every thing you read.

  124. Besides, that witch has already been admonished by phile for accusing me of sockpuppeting. The reason why she keeps blaming me is to make herself feel better about doing what she claims others do. I post in my own name, unlike the witchy one who takes on any number of personas under the cover of anonymous. This new one is just one more.

    I think if you are going to quote an article you shouldn't take it out of context as you did. But why would I expect you to be fair.That isn't what you're about.

  125. He posts in his name, and several other names!

  126. This comment has been removed by the author.

  127. What I do is post in my name and about subjects under the heading of "education". I do not spend my energies lambasting other people who participate on this blog. My criticism is directed towards those decision-makers who are elected or paid to lead our schools and whose actions are and ought to be the subject of public review. You on the other hand spend your time in a pointless crusade to impugn me and others. You have been rebuked by the moderator for making false accusations and you do so under cover of various anonymous personas. We can all hope that one day you will decide to move on to bigger and better things.

  128. Someone tell Don that all posts from people who are annoyed with him are not written by me. I wrote none of the posts on March 24, and I don't know who did.

    He wrote: "I do not spend my energies lambasting other people" ...

    You do, actually, you do it all the time.

  129. This comment has been removed by the author.

  130. 8:01,

    The reason you are responding as you did is because you recognize yourself as the one having been admonished by the moderator.

    My criticism is mainly for those in leadership. You can probably find some examples otherwise, but I put up with a lot more than I dish out. As a matter of fact you seem to spend most of your posting time doing exactly what you accuse me of. And you are anonymous so you can hide. But you are what you are. Why don't you try just giving it a break?
    You have to remember that it affects all the other people who would like to stick with the topic discussion.

  131. Not whoever it is Don thinks is stalking him.March 29, 2011 at 9:36 AM

    Don - I am the one who googled your name. I am a he, not a she. (Does that make me a warlock instead of a witch?) I have never posted to this blog before. I really was just curious how someone had so much time to blog, and so looked into it.

    I'm not saying you're wrong about handwashing or anything else, just that, like I said, you said like an annoying person. Most people choose to put up with some aggravation in life for the sake of getting along with others, some people make a different choice. You've made choice, fine, so don't get cranky if people find you a rigid and bothersome.

  132. You just started posting to this blog? Why then are you making these judgments about me if you only just started learning about this blog? No, I don't think you are for real.

  133. I've read it for a while, just never posted before. If it is hard for to think I am "real" it is only because you must have a hard time accepting that the world may see you differently than you see yourself. I'm done posting now, my foray is over. Enjoy yourself. But if we ever meet at a dinner party, please sit somewhere else.

  134. Somehow I don't think he gets invited to many dinner4s parties.
    Just sayin'.

  135. I guess not. I don't even know what dinner4s parties are.