Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Tipping Point

Recently I watched a TED talk by Sir Ken Robinson on Changing the Education Paradigm and it made me feel even more disheartend with our country's approach to educating children. The talk was recorded almost 5 years ago and nothing has changed towards a more sensible and effective method to public education. I know that many other pundits have declared our education system to be broken decades before Sir Robinson but it seems like true education reform is gaining more momentum because of recent books such as NurtureShock, Feel-Bad Edcuation, Drive, The Flat World and Education, The Death and Life of the Great American School System, and the like.

The official website for the movies Waiting for Superman and Race to Nowhere have sections on taking action. In fact, the Waiting for Superman site is hosting and streaming a live town hall meeting On May 11th with Secretary of Education Arne Duncan on the future of education in America.

Or perhaps it seems that true education reform is this way only because I've become a parent to school-aged children?

I thought of my 10 year-old nephew who is like the dancer in Sir Robinson's talk. Circles being pounded into square holes. I think of my brilliant 15 year-old honor roll niece who is worried that she doesn't have a 'hook' to get into the ivy league schools. Which makes my mind spin with recent opinions posted on Forbes online regarding the decline of investment in higher education.

With all the multimedia attention I wonder what would be the tipping point for education transformation?

Is it a matter of bringing it to the voting booth again and again and writing to your elected officials? Would it be a critical mass of driven parents demanding change at their school -one school at a time? Or do we need to wait for a trickle down effect from college admissions boards should they change their criteria to have less emphasis on test scores ?

So here I sit pondering how I can be the change I wish to see in the (education) world. In my last post I told you all that I was not going for Round 2 and keeping my spot at Jefferson. I also mentioned at one point that I was exploring the idea of joining a home school coopertive. One parent asked me why I didn't want to go to Jefferson. It's not Jefferson I have an issue with, it's the approach and test-driven philosophy in public education. The reason why I was so attracted to the Presidio Hill School and Synergy was because they have an entirely different approach. And given that Luke was neither accepted nor could we afford either without aid, I looked for a solution between the public and private options.

It came down to creating the educational environment I wanted for Luke - from scratch if needed. The initiative is to
  • Hire an amazing teacher with over 35 years in primary education who is passionate and progressive in teaching style.
  • Secure a dedicated classroom space for the children to attend and feel a sense of ownership in their learning environment.
  • Dedicate the time, effort, and funds that will go directly to my child's learning and that of the families children in the co-op.
This small home school group, called the San Francisco Schoolhouse , is still looking for K-3rd graders to be part of their inaugural year. I find myself very drawn to this option to roll-up my sleeves and create what I want for Luke.

And yet other family considerations are pulling us to our third option: moving back east. West and I will be leaving our hearts in San Francisco and going with our heads and children to the suburbs of Northern Virginia. Our family is sadly joining the statistic of those middle class families exiting San Francisco.

So there you have it. A spot at Jefferson will be available as are spots in the home school co-op (email info@sfschoolhouse.org for more information if you are interested). We will enroll Luke and Lulu into a Virginia public school. I will be a vociferous advocate for my children's right for quality education. I will cast my vote and elbow grease into the ring with other parents seeking education transformation and hope we get closer to the tipping point for nation-wide change.

Our very best wishes to all SF K file readers.

- Aissa, West, Luke, & Lulu


  1. I understand your concerns but I disagree with your decision to homeschool. Here's why. You only have so much energy. If the school isn't fulfilling certain things, you can use that energy to supplement it, but Jefferson is a good school and your child will gain a lot by going there, plus social skills. You can then add educating your child with whatever else you feel is important on the weekends.

    Like it or not, testing will affect your future success. The SAT Test is a very important test, and your kid will want to go to a standard High School and Lowell is far better than the other high schools. Your child will want to go to a standard school where they can have friends and date and have free afternoons without a parent waiting outside. San Francisco is a very special place to grow up because before you can drive, you can take the bus around town, explore, whereas in most suburbs you can only go where your parents drive you. So it would be a bad choice to homeschool. Not only that, but you'd lose a future spot at Gianninni for Middle School, the prime feeder for Lowell, which is a prime feeder for Cal.

    School is more than just grades. It's social, learning to conform to a system, learning from different adults, different subjects. The government is offering to spend 10k on your child. Take that and add to it.

    Also, homeschooling is a contributor to our failure to live up to Doctor Martin Luther King's Dream of kids holding hands together across racial lines and learning together. We hear that dream every year, but private school and homeschooling cause more segregation in our society from childhood, because it's mostly whites who homeschool. This then starves the public schools of the parents most likely to volunteer, donate and be a positive part of the school.

    By joining the PTA at Jefferson, you can have a positive influence on a good and diverse school. If you homeschool, you will reduce your child's education and harm diversity. If you supplement, your child will get more than their share of education and it will help Jefferson be better.

  2. To 2:45 AM. WOW! That's early. Doesn't look like you read entire post, but that is understandable at early hours in the dark. Aissa is moving to Virginia so is passing on educational opportunities in SF completely.

    To Aissa: good luck in your endeavors in Virginia. Thank you for sticking with public education. Post a note to SF K Files after school starts to remind us how easy it is to enroll in a nice school in the real world. Best to you and your family.

  3. "School is more than just grades. It's social, learning to conform to a system, learning from different adults, different subjects. The government is offering to spend 10k on your child. Take that and add to it."

    Wow. So many things wrong with that comment, and with these sentences alone. Factually, our per-pupil spending is not $10K, it's a measly $7,571 and dropping. And the idea that school is "learning to conform to a system" is precisely the problem. Not to mention that home schoolers have as much access to the city as anyone. Or the fact that "feeding" your kid to Cal is not everyone's idea of a great process or outcome. Or the fact that Aissa is moving to a different state, not leaving public school.

    But if she were leaving public school for another educational choice in California, I would understand. There is less and less to stay for.

    Best of luck, Aissa.

  4. 2:45 writes: "...Not only that, but you'd lose a future spot at Gianninni for Middle School, the prime feeder for Lowell..."

    What makes you think Giannini is the "prime" feeder to Lowell? All middle schools feed into Lowell. The larger the middle school...the more the amounts of kids who feed into Lowell from it.

    I very seriously doubt that Giannini feeds any more kids into Lowell than other large middle schools such as Hoover or Presidio.

  5. I am sad you made the choice to head back East, but I'm not surprised. When I first moved to my street, there were four families with kids at a similar age. As the kids neared five, two moved away -- one to Virginia, three to the East Bay (Piedmont and Albany). We are now the only family with school-age kids on the block. And I have to wonder whether this would have been this way in any other city but SF. It is sad.

  6. I'm trying to send an email to SF Schoolhouse but get a bounceback. Any other information on how to contact them? Thanks.

  7. Just curious, do you know whether the schools in Virginia don't teach to the test? Or are you going to go private or homeschool when you move?

  8. I agree, it's sad. I love that interesting people move here but personally I wish only people moved here who wanted to stay for the long haul and raise their kids here. It's very disruptive for the rest of us when so many leave, losing friendships, continuity. I sometimes think the same thing.

  9. The year leading up to K is a particularly awkward year because so many families move away. For many, SF just proves to be too expensive and complicated. But once you are settled in an elementary school, far fewer families choose to move. At least that has been my observation.

  10. It's not too expenseive. It's mostly the whites who move, and they are in the highest income group. They aren't moving out of poverty. They're moving to avoid their kids going to schools which would make their kids a minority. Many whites don't feel comfortable being in the minority, but it's the future of California. Our schools are good. Many will even move to avoid a mostly Asian school with great scores. There is a comfort with being among your own. Trust me, when someone moves to Marin or Orinda or Hillsboro, they weren't forced out by economics. They chose to live to be near people like them.

  11. California is 49th out of 50 in funding. That is not too good. There are very good schools and very bad ones in California and in San Francisco. Whether they are good or bad is mainly related to location, like real estate. If someone in San Francisco wants to go to a good school they can move to where the schools are better or stay here and go with the luck of the draw. This is the choice that San Francisco has made. Now you make yours.

  12. @ 2:45 am- You nearly lost me in your 1st sentence but I endured to read it through. Home school is a valid option for many families. Many of your statements make false assumptions and generalizations of those who chooses this alternative in educating their children.

    @ 11:58 - email should be working now, but if not, shoot me an email at sftransplants@gmail.com

    @ 1:01 - SF is a transient city and when we moved here, we had full intentions in putting down our roots. As life goes, there are many changes and factors that forces us to look at the our pro's and con's list and go with what is best. And in our case, moving is best for our extended and nuclear family.

    To be clear, we are going to enroll Luke into public school in VA. They teach to the test also, but the big difference to me is that they have resources to support the children's learning. There is no lack on learning specialists, nurses, PE and Art instructors, books, computers, etc. We will be close to family to support our aging parents, and cost of living is lower. Many other factors in our decision and we know what we are trading and grieve for all the magnificent aspects of San Francisco.

  13. Best of luck to you, Aissa.

    I grew up in the DC suburbs (Maryland) and went to college in Virginia... Public schools all the way through grad school.


  14. 2:45 AM, 1:01 and 1:47 are the same person, who was banned from the forum for hijacking every thread and saying that it's racist to not go public, people should move to SF and stay here, etc. on and on, no matter what the topic. Insulting and simplistic posts ad nauseam.

    You have every right to move to SF and move out. You have every right to take a look at the CA public schools and decide that they are not good enough for anyone's child, including your own. This state has destroyed its once first-class K-16 public educational system, and if it loses population for that reason, it deserves to.

  15. The concept of "putting down roots" in this age of global labor arbitrage is ridiculously outdated. You want Mayberry, find a time machine.

  16. 8:20
    I don't think that those that desire to "put down roots" are living in a Mayberry dream. I am a transplant having moved here as a young single woman over 25 years ago, met my husband (also a transplant) and we made a decision to stay once we got married, had kids, etc. Yes, there were several hiccups along the way - we almost moved twice (to Austin and to Portland) when we thought we could sell our house, buy there and have lower housing and cost of living (it didn't turn out we'd be better off as much as we thought it'd be.) We have either family or close friends in both places - there are pros and cons for both.

    But having been in a preschool cooperative where I made some of my closest friends, then onto various public schools, and becoming involved in the community (serve on several different nonprofit boards) and work and live in SF, I have grown to love the small-town feeling I get. I can hardly go to the grocery store, mall, or walk down any of our neighborhood streets without running into someone I know. In the end, for us it was a reason to stay.

    Both my kids are in middle school now and we are likely to be going to private high school for my oldest, but expect to stay in public for my youngest. As we've looked at privates, we've been amazed that we know so many families and kids through our various connections. In the end, through sports teams, music lessons, dance groups, swimming lessons, etc. etc. - you end up less than 6 degrees separated by almost every other parent with kids the same age and grade in San Francisco!

    All this to say, most of my friends (public and private) find a strong bond of friends and community here. It's certainly there if you want it and look for it. It's our family value so we make it part of our lives. My family in Austin and friends in Portland don't make this a priority and dont' seem to know as many people in their community.

  17. Most of the people I criticize aren't moving across the nation for a new job, but to a nearby suburb. I understand, sometimes you have no choice but to move far away. However, in good times economically, there is always a job here, hopefully they will come back. It is a wonderful community but it would be better for children if friends didn't move, or for that matter get assigned to different elementary schools. You see it in teen movies all the time, high school kids make references to having known people since Kindergarten, it creates community and togetherness and is a wonderful thing. Virginia does have a wonderful high school that is maybe even better than Lowell, so good luck. Just sad, that's all. Good luck.

  18. Ignore the troll.

  19. Yes, we should all stay put, no matter the subpar schools, tanking economy, ridiculously high cost of living, or reactionary politics in this state, not to mention our own careers, wish to be nearer to extended family, etc. Otherwise we traumatize our poor darlings. Everyone knows that kids are incapable of forming new friendships or maintaining ties to old ones. We owe it to them to commit to whatever miseries SF and CA inflict upon us.

  20. You got that right. Far left reactionaries ruined California. San Francisco is a great example of those politics run-a-muck.

  21. "We owe it to them to commit to whatever miseries SF and CA inflict upon us."

    Well put. That is exactly what people are suggesting. They can't afford to have the middle class abandon SF and SFUSD and the schools that their kids are currently attending. Face the music. Don't live in denial. Your ship (SFUSD) is sinking! It it taking on water fast. No amount of guilt trips will change peoples opinion of what is happening with public education in CA. Stop the guilt trips and instead focus on fixing the real problems. Many posters on this blog have great ideas.

  22. Seriously, if it was so great here, you wouldn't have to guilt-trip people into staying.

  23. We could make it better if we were determined to. I feel there isn't enough dedication. Some of those with power to improve things do great things, but others don't do much. The strongest power doesn't focus on fixing this and it's sad. In myview, cut defense, let us have 5 x the % in prison as Germany and England, which would cut our prison population by over half. Let us pay a little more in tax. WE seem obsessed with cutting taxes for those who need it the least, defending ourselves against nonexistant threats and jailing people who are not violent, like Lindsay Lohan. We're also individually often focused on materialism and other odd things. We could make the schools better if we all focused on it.

  24. Garcia doesn't want change. He wants money for his friends, attention at all the big parties, and sits there and pretends he honestly believes changing nothing will result in closing the achievement gap. He doesn't address key issues, like home life, study hours. He doesn't want to close the achievement gap. He just wants to make you feel guilty about it so he can siphon of tax dollars from high performing schools to incompetent people who make 150k as a consultant and know they are providing no value to children. It goes back to the '70s, every superintendent has a new idea which is no different from the old one, Rojas, etc. They rake in the money, give it out based on seniority, not performance, give it to consultants and administrators at Cabrillo who sit around and surf the Internet for 100k a year and act annoyed if they actually ever get any work. Give me a break. Garcia is as much for the status quo as anyone. If the achievement gap closed, he'd have no one to blame to steal money. The answer of how to get kids to do better is obvious, motivate them, but no on eever tries that approach. Most teachers in middle school look like they can't wait for their 4 PM vodka tonic and yell at kids for asking questions. People on this board care more about closing the achivement gap than Garcia or any principals I know. They won't deal with any tough issues. It's like saying I want to clean up my dirty kitchen but not get my hands dirty. Good luck. The only reason SFUSD has good stats is the Asians who teach their kids to ignore their teachers' negativity.

  25. I am so jealous of anyone who is leaving SF. We have third and first graders and we wish we left in K. No kids on our street and cold and foggy summers at daycamp while I work to pay for living in this insanely expensive place.

  26. If you stay that long, if your kid is sharp, it's worth staying for Lowell. Lowell is by far the best public or private high school in Northern California. As for Garcia, I think you're thinking of Cortines. Ramon Cortines said pretty much the exact same thing in the '80s about closing the achievement gap, but like Garcia he didn't address any controversial issues and nothing changed. You can't change it from the schools. You can't change it from money. DC proved that, spend nearly 30k per kid for the same failure Detroit gets for 9k. You won't change it until you change the attitude towards school of the underachieving kids.

  27. Our family is staying in San Francisco because we find we our kids are getting a really great, bilingual education. We are lucky enough to have rent-control, so our cost of living isn't killing us (too badly). And, because, more than anything, we do have roots here.

    I feel our struggle within our children's public school was the thread the tied us here. We've gotten to know so many wonderful families, and (maybe I'm naive), I really believe the kids are getting a first class education. They also are living tolerance, art, music, hella lotta sports.

    So, no we don't have a back yard or a dog, but we do have the DeYoung, the Giants, Land's End, Ocean Beach, Golden Gate Park, SF Viking Soccer, a Marshall Arts Studio or Dance Studio on every corner, the list goes on.

    Our kids are exposed to so much. They have friends whose parents may clean houses and others who are published authors. Some drive tow trucks while others are professional chefs. Some are lawyers while others are newscasters. Really, our community is a remarkable, cross-cultural, cross-socio-economic class, cross everything ... it's just a bunch of eclectic, interesting people who are tied together by what it means to be a San Franciscan.

    So, at least while the kids are in a good, stable, bilingual public school, we aren't going anywhere. We do feel part of a community.

  28. 12:18, I agree with you on all counts. But that's a very different set of actions than refusing to leave SF, putting your kid in a shitty school, being the Best Bake Sale Mom Evah, and being nasty to people who make other choices. The solutions you suggest have to do with our exercise of our citizenship, not our parental choices. The fact that people think it is actually a POLITICAL ACT to send your kid to a given school is what's wrong with this city. It is political to vote for higher taxes, to march in the streets for better funding, to hold the city and state accountable in any way possible. That's what politics is, not this more-righteous-than-thou advocacy that we all stay in public and help make it private with our volunteer and post-tax dollars.

  29. I respect the poster's decision so my comments are more directed toward what her decision says about the city of San Francisco.

    We are a wealthy and well educated city. From the 2010 US Census data, median household family income is over $86K per year, roughly 24K more than the national average. 51% of the population has a college degree or above compared with the US average of roughly 27%. 7% of San Francisco families live below poverty level which is 2% less than the national average. There are 18 billionaires living in the city of San Francisco.

    Yet, even with the extraordinary amounts of wealth and education this city, with a relatively small population of school age children, has a school system that is failing to provide the basics of public education like PE, art, music, and academic competency. (I realize the poster is not leaving because Jefferson does not have these particular things. I know it is a school with high test scores and other services). It does not make sense that the public schools in Virginia are more appealing than those in San Francisco. Why doesn't San Francisco as a community and political body try to make our school system funded within the top 10 of the nations public school system. Why don't we try to make an appealing, desirable public school system? We don't have to adhere to the state's position of being last in funding. Why is there no impulse to see what steps would be necessary to make our school system competitive with a system in Virginia?

    Has anyone looked at the Reed School district in Marin. http://www.reedschools.org/
    They have a wealthy population like San Francisco and they seem to have found a way to fund their schools. Granted, they are dealing with what is mostly likely a homogenous student body and a very small number of students. My observation is that the community is committed to public education. My main question is why do we as a City not commit to funding our schools so that all schools have PE, art, music, science facilities, librarians, and other basic services? Why is it that we don't think of some way to fund the schools? Maybe a 10 cent school tax on every meal and "to go" check processed in the San Francisco. For every 100 meal checks, $10 would go to the SFUSD foundation. People in San Francisco love to eat out and 10 cents added onto a taco or an heirloom tomato salad certainly wouldn't stop anyone.

  30. "Our family is staying in San Francisco because we find we our kids are getting a really great, bilingual education."

    We would love to have our kid in bilingual kindergarten -- as would many others. But not everyone wins the lottery and therefore don't have the same incentive as you do to stay.

    "The fact that people think it is actually a POLITICAL ACT to send your kid to a given school is what's wrong with this city."

    I couldn't agree more.

  31. 4:39, how about closing the corporate loophole on Prop 13?

    For god's sake, taxing goods and services is the most regressive tax possible. Lots of people who eat "to go" food are eating $1 meals at McDonald's, not the tax base we need to go after.

    The Economist this week (I think it is) has an article about how we savaged our educational system with our stupid ballot measure system and our me-first thinking. The PTA "solution" to funding schools is ridiculous. So is taxing food, something everyone needs, as opposed to going after corporations who pay no taxes. California is the least civic-minded state I have ever lived in. I am stuck here for job reasons, but I don't blame anyone for leaving.

  32. "Why doesn't San Francisco as a community and political body try to make our school system funded within the top 10 of the nations public school system. Why don't we try to make an appealing, desirable public school system? ...Why is there no impulse to see what steps would be necessary to make our school system competitive with a system in Virginia? "

    Because most of the highly educated, high net worth citizens, with access to power and resources send their kids to private school.

  33. "Because most of the highly educated, high net worth citizens, with access to power and resources send their kids to private school."

    Yes. Our family.

    But we did apply to public school and were keen on attending. However, we didn't get into any of the immersion schools we applied to. Didn't get into any of the middle tier GE programs we had researched. And yes, we're tired, having worked our butts off as grad students for all those years, only now to be paying buckets of cash for private school on top of combined taxes (parcel taxes, property tax, state income tax and federal income tax) that well exceeds the salary of an SF supervisor.

    In spite of the fact that both my husband and I attended public schools (not in California), we look at the reckless administration of schools in SF and say "No thank you."

    No to more parcel taxes.

    No to more income tax.

    No to more property taxes.

    Actually, with all the taxes we are paying, we'll be lucky to retire at 70.

    The so called "high net worth" citizens in this city are taxed to death and really have neither time, money or interest to devote to public schools that focus only on serving the needs of a chosen few.

  34. 8:28
    Regarding those disgruntled and vengeful comments, do you really want your private school kids to grow up in a society where most of their peers are poorly educated? IYou are understanably upset the lottery didn't work out for your child but don't cheerlead against the taxes many of our future generation relies on. On a positive note, when you're 65 you don't have to pay anymore school tax.

  35. Giving up on supporting the public schools (leaving aside the question of sending one's own children there) is the pathway to Third World country status. It's symptomatic of despair: giving up and saying that we are a country in decline. We're not a community, so I'm just going to cling to or grab what is mine. We can't build anything together.

    Even for the wealthy, it is not so wonderful to live in a Third World country--nasty and brutish. I say this from experience.

  36. As a longtime public school advocate who will likely be going private for high school for our oldest, I plan to spend time and effort making sure all the private school families I meet understand the importance of supporting and funding our public schools.

    Yes, sending my kids to public was not only the right decision for our kids and family and they got a good education, but it was indeed a political act as well. I was and continue to be proud of our contribution to the SF community and to improving the lives of kids by growing parent involvement at our schools, partnering with teachers, helping pass parcel taxes and construction bond measures - and on and on.

    When did it become a BAD thing to try and make things better for the greater good, better for the future that our kids will be living in?

  37. Wow, that's disgusting that you opt out and fight taxes to pay for more equality. Why don't poor kids deserve the same chance your kids get? If you actually pay more in taxes than a Supervisor earns, 135k, then you make 400k, you are in the top 1% of income in the U.S., can retire at 70 easily which will be the age for our generation, and are very lucky. You have more after tax than most on this board whether you pay 135k or 150k in tax. You are selfish, racist and mean. Racist because the income of the current generation is largely based on the past opportunities and past racism. Blacks aren't dumber than whites, they're poorer due to bad habits and past racism and institutional racism. If you don't think racism is a factor, you think there's a genetic difference. I don't. I think your're rich largely from your efforts, but largely from luck. You shouldn't be damaging poor kids.

    But it does prove the prior poster's point that when the rich opt out, they vote against the needed taxes. We have an income per pupil as high as any City in the U.S. and pay the least. This is because of private school. I guarantee you if 29% of SF didn't go to private school, they'd vote for funding to an equal level. Why is a school not OK for your kids and OK for others.

    Jimmy Carter sent his daughter to public school in DC. It is a political act because it shows you believe we should all dig in together and fix the problem, rather than everyone for themself. Jimmy Carter had the right idea. If the rich in SF were like Jimmy Carter, minorities would have much more spent on their education and much more opportunity.

  38. Boy 8:28 sure proved 7:40 right! It is the reason society never prioritizes this. I've found gay people with no kids are much much much more supportive of higher taxes for public schools than people with kids in private schools like Hamlin. That's the problem in a nutshell.

    If you actually look at GNP per public school pupil, SF has 5 times as much as places which spend more per pupil. It really isn't a priority among the elites who really make the decisions in SF.

  39. "If you actually pay more in taxes than a Supervisor earns, 135k, then you make 400k, you are in the top 1% of income in the U.S."

    Actually, our family income is 340K per year. Perhaps you aren't aware that the marginal rate of state taxation has increased in the last few years. Additionally, there is the AMT, which also increases our marginal income tax rate to about 40% for both state and federal tax.

    After taxes 135K and private school tuition 50K (again we didn't choose this but we're forced out) we're left with 340K - 185K = 155K per year. With this 155K, we have to pay our mortgage and save for retirement, which leaves few $ for extras.

    I wouldn't say we are lucky. We started from the same point that an average American kid started at. We often had to sit in over crowded classrooms with poor teachers. Most of my K-12 classrooms had thirty kids in them. However, while most of our friends were out having a good time, we were studying, often until the wee hours of the morning, and often getting up to do labs with only four hours of sleep.

    I know people on this site are sick of top ramen stories, but both my husband and myself spent years in torn jeans and T-shirts, eating cheap pizza, suffering from a lack of sleep, exam stress and fear of not being able to pay off our huge student loans.

    I don't see the current school system or political structure in California as worthy of funding. I'm not a Republican, but I'm also resentful of paying for the reckless stupidity that is California.

    As to California's future, it's not going to be determined by whether or not my husband and I "care" about public schools. California has sealed its own fate, without us and long before we ever arrived here.

    As to the kind of society my kids will grow up in, I'm prepared to send her to university back east or out of the country if necessary. Most of the technorati I speak with have similar plans and alternatives. I don't see that our family has a future in California.

    We're simply here to capitalize on our education. Really, there are so many others around me that are doing the same thing (private school, with a plan to leave once our highly paying, highly taxed tech jobs run out) that again, what goes on in the crumbling California public school system is irrelevant to us.

    California runs independently of whatever goes on in public schools. Most of its tech economy runs on workers and scientists who have been educated in other countries and states, not the broken California public school system. Every industry leader knows this. Any lip service they give to the California public school system is window dressing only.

  40. 3:46 We sold our house in SF 7 years ago and moved to a nice suburb of Sacramento (an oxymoron, yes, I know). Yet we have decided to move back to SF with our two children (a 5th grader and 2nd grader). Your comments hit the nail on the head as to why we want to move back. We are giving up our backyard, swimming pool and dog (died a year ago), but we hope to gain all the things that you mention in your post. We do have concerns about the education of our children in SF, but we are hoping (perhaps naively) that everything else that SF has to offer and that we, as parents, have to offer will balance things out for our kids.

    I tell my kids we currently live in "la-la land" and we should experience a more realistic version of what I think they will be living 10-20 years from now (ie, diversity and challenges). So, I've experienced what it is to have your child go to the neighborhood school, ride a school bus, live in a cul-de-sac, have tons of kids in the neighborhood, barbecue with your neighbors, have cocktails with your neighbors, and we are giving that up because I want to engage my kids in a life that isn't so (fill in the blank).

  41. 9:45am - be very careful about moving back to SF with a middle-schooler! I have never heard of anyone doing that, almost everyone leaves at middle school or high school. If you want a more urban experience with diversity, but still with a very good high school with over 90% of students going to college, try Albany.

  42. 9:38 We are right there with you. We are a dual-income family making about the same with two kids in a lower-cost private. We chose the private for personal reasons, and are very happy with it. But we continuously get criticism from friends and family for abandoning public education, making a 'Republican' political act, wasting money etc. Yet, considering we pay 42% state and federal tax plus property tax, we are financially supporting public schools. Meanwhile, the majority of our friends who give us grief about picking private? The moms don't work by choice! They literally make no money at all, or do just a bit of freelancing, and enjoy leisurely lives having coffees with school moms and volunteering. They thus pay way less tax than we do. Who is hurting public schools more? I wish we could leave SF, I am so tired of the parent wars...

  43. Hi 11:14,

    9:38 here again.

    I really have no problem with a mom who wants to stay home.

    What pisses me off is the endless crap on this blog about the necessity of inclusive public schools. Any illusion of inclusive public schools vanished for us after two years of public school assignment abuse.

    The public schools in this city are for cultivated minorities and labor interests who vote for DCCC candidates. The educated, white middle class (outsiders) are hated by school insiders and the city bureaucracy unless of course, they are DCCC sychophants.

    I occasionally run into the public school snobs that go on about their immersion program and their moral superiority about having their kids in public school. They're not so smug lately, however and virtually none of them would have attended the schools that were assigned to us.

  44. We tend to focus on taxes in this forum, but the conversation today is about spending. Like it or not, the only debate regarding public sector spending these days is not whether to cut, but by how much.

    The public sector as we have come to know it will not be recognizable in 10 years. How is SFUSD, or any California school district for that matter, going to adapt?

  45. I know a lot of families who have moved to SF when their kid was about to go to Middle School. In elemntary, you're dependent on parents and not as open to the cultural benefits of San Francisco. It's ideal to be here for elementary school but some people need to save. San Francisco is a great place for a 12-15 year-old because suberban kids are isolated and need rides and in SF, you can take the bus to very diverse neighborhoods, museums, movies, etc. You can live as if you can drive before you can, go on a Friday night date to the movies without a ride. Maybe some in the suburbs can if they live in the right part of San Mateo, near the one theater, or Orinda, and if they have a decent movie at that theater, but kids are far more independent here. Also, I know another poster mentioned this but Lowell is better than any suberban high school so many move to get in there. That's why it's so hard to get in. Som elie about their address to go to Lowell as it's estimated Lowell has 30 kids living in suburbs, displacing SF residents.

  46. 12:37 - (ie Don) - Believe it or not, lots of people do not want their kids to go to Lowell. Many families I know do not want their kids to get lower grades there and be lost in a crowd of 3000 supersmart kids, hurting their chances of getting into a good university. You can take public transit in Albany or Piedmont, too - and have a better chance of going to a great university.

  47. I call bullshit. Lowell sends 90 kids a year to Cal, out of 660, and 480 go to a UC or UC equivalent private University. Talk to the Principal before you make thse false statements. No other school sends as high a portion of their kids to top schools. They send 33 to the Ivy League, no school in CA does that, 5%. Even the kids who go to State or CCSF usually transfer into a UC and graduate from there. You won't find another high school which admits that high a proportion of their kids to top Universities. Compare Lowell to any school in Albany and look at the percentages.

  48. Most kids in the city do not get into Lowell. Additionally, it is a trek for most in the city to get to. Remember, the center of mass of families with children in the city is shifting southward. Most of us don't even work in the city.

    I used to walk to my high school. No such luck for most SF families.

    You can simply move to Piedmont or Palo Also and you're in. Here, you're kid would have to qualify for a spot at Lowell. Most of us would spend those five years trucking our kid across town. Why bother?

    Piedmout, Marin or Palo Alto are hipper, warmer and more easily accessible than SF. It's just a matter of time before most of us make the exit.

  49. Yes, after working super hard in middle school to "make the numbers" for Lowell, what if one of your kids gets in and not the other? Horrible for the self-esteem of one child, and a logistical nightmare for the whole family. Our whole family is looking forward to moving to a town with a great high school they can both walk to.

  50. Palo Alto is lovely but it is even more expensive than San Francisco!

  51. 9:38 I don't agree with everything you said, but probably 80% of it and I think, like you (I imagine), take no pleasure in the reality of the school situation nor the choice to go private.

    We had planned on public since the day our child was born, but in the past 5 weeks since round 1 of the lottery we have flip-flopped completely and are now going private.

    Seeing the detioriating budget situation and the inanity that is the new lottery system, we came to same conclusion as you:

    "I don't see the current school system or political structure in California as worthy of funding. I'm not a Republican, but I'm also resentful of paying for the reckless stupidity that is California.

    As to California's future, it's not going to be determined by whether or not my husband and I "care" about public schools. California has sealed its own fate, without us and long before we ever arrived here."

  52. hey, 2:01, I hope you find a great school for your kids that works for your family as well as a supportive and livable community.

    warmest wishes!


  53. I think some of these people are phonies or fakes. I mean, if you moved out 5 years ago or are moving, why would you be debating on an education board about future changes to SF education? I think you are pretending you moved years ago or are moving to influence policy here in SF. For me, if I were moving to Virginia, I'd be reading the Virginia education blogs, learning about the schools there, I think they have one awesom magnet high school, finding out what the admissions criteria for that is so I could prep my kids to be competitive to get in, debating points there. Same with Elk Grove, I'd be trying to find out how to do well there and get into a UC. I wouldn't be debating about the future policy of a place I left years ago. I call BS. YOu are in SF and trying to get your way by pretending you're moving or moved. You are secretly Don or one of Don's sockpuppets.

  54. 5:32 PM:

    You are a nut. Lots of people read this blog before and after they leave the city. Hundreds of people.

    You just don't like it that people sharing information about options that are more workable than San Francisco.

    But of course. Everybody who doesn't suck up to the SFUSD is Don. Right.

    By the way, the financial information Don has put up on this site has been most enlightening. Corruption in the SFUSD is worse even than I could have imagined.

  55. Three kids here. It would be unbelievable to have $155,000 after taxes and private school costs. We don't even start with that much pre-tax. There really are some of us here on the board, even ones with fine educations and white-collar jobs, who are really living in a quite different reality. That said, we've got the same access to the myriad of phenomenal cultural, outdoor, and intellectually stimulating opportunities San Francisco offers generously, and that makes life pretty grand, despite the far tighter purse strings.

  56. "There really are some of us here on the board, even ones with fine educations and white-collar jobs, who are really living in a quite different reality."

    Yes, the reality I lived as a kid and found a way to escape. It really isn't very fun to be a kid going to a crappy school with parents who aren't thinking ahead about how to finance higher education.

    I like being about to afford good healthcare and education for my kids. And no, I don't expect someone else to pay for it or the financing of my retirement.

    So don't complain now about being in a "different reality." We all make choices. It's true that there are a lot of freebies in this city. However, a good education for your kids is not one of them.

  57. "Yes, the reality I lived as a kid and found a way to escape. It really isn't very fun to be a kid going to a crappy school with parents who aren't thinking ahead about how to finance higher education."

    Are you speaking about public school parents? I know for us we couldn't afford a private without aid and it would be tough even with it. So in essence we are thinking about the future higher education of our children and being to able to save for that and our retirement as well.

    Reading this thread is particularly depressing since it seems some of you think public school parents are condemning their kids to a life of mediocrity. We are selfish etc...

    I sometimes wonder what I'm missing when I think about how happy we are with our public school which many poo-pooed when I told them where I wanted my child to go.

  58. No, I'm not entirely speaking about public school parents, but I am speaking about the majority of San Francisco public schools.

    There are options.

    There are many good parochial schools in the city. Many of them have been discussed at length on the K Files.

    There are many good public schools in other parts of the Bay Area, with rents and home prices that are a lot lower than here.

    Some families manage to get their kids into Rooftop, Diane Feinstein, E R Taylor, etc. Just not most of us. And it appears that there are fewer of those spots for more kids every year.

    The homeschool science program at the Exploratorium is terrific.

    For middle schools, any middle school with Algebra CST scores of less than 70% is probably not a good choice.

    With regard to high school, I seriously would consider only Lowell or SOTA as viable options.

    There's always moving to Oregon or other states with better schools, cheaper housing, lower taxes and lower costs of living.

    I've lived in a lot of different places and I feel that San Francisco is seriously over rated in terms of livability, public schools, safety and the overall cultural experience.

    People really aren't kidding when they say that SF schools are 49th in the country (in a country where schools are rated at about 20th in the world.)

    You're comdemning your children to a dim future if you drink the SFUSD koolaid.

    Look at the CST scores on great schools.org. If they're below 70% in any subject you don't think you can home school your child in, find an alternative school, town, state or country, as necessary.

    With the looming budget crisis, it's not going to get any better.

  59. Hey 9:17pm. How old are your kids? Just curious... It's really not all that bad out there, even in schools you might deem not especially desirable. Seriously. And yes, we do think about higher education, and don't expect someone else to pay for it. And yes, went to an Ivy. Husband went to fine small liberal arts college. And yes, kids not at fancy school in SF now.

  60. I disagree. Lincoln and Washington are good schools with higher college graduation rates than the vast majority of suburban schools. Balboa is getting better, Gateway and Wallenburg are decent. I value the diversity, not just racial but income, etc. Sure, those schools aren't Lowell or SOTA, but they're decent, well above-average in CA, and the kids there have a good life. I agree the best middle schools have the highest scores, but James Lick used to be low. So did Aptos. They only became decent because good parents did send their kids there and worked to make it better. Presidio is seriously overrated and some kids get cheated out of Lowell by going to that school.

    There's also a social justice issue. When we hear Martin Luther King say every January that he had a dream little children of all races would hold hands together and go to school together, you aren't advancing that dream if you are priveleged and rich and white and spend your money to keep your kids away from kids who are poorer and mostly black, brown and yellow. The speach makes it seem easy to do, but in the real world integration takes some work, and if you have power, you can use that power to help your kids' school. If all the private school parents went to public schools and donated half the tuition, the black and brown kids with far less luck in the birth lottery would have far better test scores. So that's another factor. Also, your income is damn good. You are rich, your kids are very lucky. You shouldn't be complaining. You're not a victim, you have more than 95% of the people on this board. You're perpetuating privelege, not helping to bring the underpriveleged up, you're moving us further from Dr. King's dream, not closer.

  61. Having read every single post I would like a simple answer to my situation. I was assigned a under-performing school that many parents would hesitate sending their kids to at this point. I am familiar with the "its not so bad", "try it you will see", "give it a chance" comments but for sake of argument, lets just assume most of us on this board would agree that we got assigned a "bad" school.

    Are many of you suggesting that I send my children to this bad school anyways, donate the money that I would otherwise spend on a good private school option, in hopes that money will magically solve the problems at this school and the district? All while hoping and praying other parents are guilt tripped into doing the same and my kids sit potentially bored and unchallenged in a overcrowded classroom for years. And I believe that signing up for this duty would mean having to do the same all over again for middle school.

    Is this what you are asking me sign up for? If so, let me think about it and I will call you with my answer. Oh and by the way, calling me a racist if I don't agree with what you are suggesting isn't really a good selling tactic.

  62. No, 4:35am. If you went through the lottery this year, you should try for round 2 and if that doesn't work after -- if you want to get a good school. It does work most of the time as many of us know who'v been in the schools for a while. At worst you can transfer later. People move for jobs all the time. Many spots open up at highly desirable elementary schools in the early years (and later) because people very often move for jobs or other reasons. If you give up after round 1 after being unassigned an unacceptable school, you will be angry. Many people give up at this point. But if you stick around, your odds get a whole lot better, among other reasons because so many people give up and dismiss the system based on the round 1 experience. We do understand it's incredibly frustrating to get a school you can ever imagine in round 1, but you don't have to stick with that system. I hope things work out for you.

  63. meant to say if you give up after round 1 after being assigned an unacceptable school...

    and that it's depressing getting a school you could never imagine or accept your kids going to. (typing too fast)

  64. 3:46 - Couldn't agree with you more. I grew up in Northern Virginia and welcome the contrast. It all depends on what you value. If you don't mind the homogeneous culture of the suburbs then I can see the draw. But for me, I feel that raising my child in this diverse, culturally rich environment counters what I see as the big problem with education, teaching to the test.

  65. 4:35am
    Years of segregation and then white flight are the reasons are schools look like they do today. You also can't mix it up when some of the ingredients keep running from the pot. Add to that many parents of children of all races never wanted to mix things up in the first place. They did,however, want an equal quality education. So now many people get assignment to not only poor performing schools but also to schools where they are a minority. There are few cultural commonalities and no comfort zone. Who wants their kid in a school where education is not as highly valued by many of their fellow students or parents and gang culture is already appearing to take hold in the form of dress, defiance, foul language and no snitching codes? Who wants to go to a school where your kid doesn't have playdates becuase their fellow students parents don't feel their kids should do nothing but homework, studying as well as extra tutoring classes afterschool and on the weekends. If you are brown, black or yellow do you really want to go to a school where the parents are pushing for playdates, talking about green issues, the arts. and bring tofu hot dogs to school events? All the while talking how they value diversity but unfortunately need to go private or move to Marin County? White people, you need to have more kids and stay put if you want the schools to reflect a large part of yourself. And 4:35am, I would not send my children to the school assigned as you described. Sounds like it's not a good fit. There may never be self intergration but every child should have a high quality education in a safe, nurturing environment that takes into account the whole child and not just test scores. And there's my cultural bias. For the record my child goes to what was a diverse school (race,lbgt, rich, homeless) it getting very gentrified now and I miss the old mix. Oh well, my kid is thriving academically and socially so we're staying. In the next few years I'll probably one of the only ones at school events who won't be talking about moving to Mill Valley home with solar panels while eating a gourmet tofu dog with goat cheese spread. It is really hard but somehow if we all work together as a team and make sure our elected officials and parents are doing their jobs maybe we can make some headway into ensuring that all kids of all back grounds will benifiet from a high quality education. Let's not squabble with each other. Doing this only allows the upper, upper class to divde and conquer, taking away all of our opportunities to make better lives for ouselves. Making us all servants to their needs.

  66. 9:17-How do you feel about people getting financial aid at private schools? I'm assuming by your post that you pay full tuition since you look down on those of us who send our children to public. How does it feel when you know you pay full tuition and someone else in your kids class only pays half or less? That your donations to auctions or annual funds etc is going to those people? Those same children will eventually move on to ask for more financial for high school or college too.

  67. @7:55pm

    My different reality isn't a bad one (from yours). It is lower income clearly, but it's not bad. It's actually pretty good. That's my point.

  68. "It does work most of the time as many of us know who'v been in the schools for a while."

    I for one am pretty tired of hearing this. But thanks i guess.

    "If you give up after round 1 after being unassigned an unacceptable school, you will be angry. Many people give up at this point. But if you stick around, your odds get a whole lot better, among other reasons because so many people give up and dismiss the system based on the round 1 experience."

    Reread this and tell me if this makes sense. You are saying for me to NOT GIVE because my odds will get better because OTHER GIVE UP. So what you are saying is that it WILL turn out ok for my family (because we all know it ALWAYS works out), if and only if WE heed your advise while MANY MORE do not. What the hell kind of public school system runs this way. It is a game of chicken. See which parents flinch first. If you can't stand the stress, get lost. It will increase our odds.

    Pretty crazy if you ask me.

    0/10 in first round and submitted choices for round 2. Planning for the worst, but of course hoping we "win". Crazy to think that in a public school system there are "winners" and more disturbingly "losers".

  69. You're right. It is a crazy system. No one here is saying it's a good system. It makes people angry and miserable. That said, you can let it defeat you, or you can accept that it is crazy, and then try to figure out the best way to move forward to get what you want. And though the system itself is or seems crazy, that doesn't necessitate that your child/ren will have a bad or crazy school experience. They may have a great one. Good luck and strength to you.

  70. " .. you can let it defeat you, or you can accept that it is crazy, and then try to figure out the best way to move forward to get what you want."

    ok. so now lets assume I don't flinch while everyone else does. So I WON, everyone else lost. Now I am faced with budget cuts each year, programs going away, teachers being let go and rising class sizes. All of a sudden, I don't feel like a winner anymore. Or am I over reacting?

  71. "No one here is saying it's a good system."

    By definition, good systems result in whatever the expected outcome is most of the time. I have read repeatedly on this blog that "It does work most of the time as many of us know who'v been in the schools for a while."

    So I am confused. Are you sticking with your story that it "works out" most of the time or not?

  72. 9:16 There are plenty of families that use the public school lottery as a back up and never really intend to go to public school. Plenty of people who end up in private get the trophy schools in the First round and still go private.

  73. In this economy private school is no guarentee of stablity either. Some are in poor financial straights and may need to close also. Be prpared to pitch in and fight for what students need regardless of whether you attend public or private. In the name of the children let's support each other. Going private, by its very nature , is opting out of something you feel is not good enough in to something you think is better. Since it takes money and sometimes connections also it appears to be elitist. Same thing with many language immersion parents except that it's free.

  74. 9:46 AM:

    This isn't really a discussion about whether or not to private.

    It's a discussion about alternatives to staying in San Francisco.

    People keep talking about the great cultural experiences and diversity in San Francisco, as if other cities don't have this to offer. Sounds like the association of realtors has gotten to this blog.

    Many other cities have lower rates of crime, cheaper housing, lower taxes, safer streets, and less traffic congestion than SF. Public schools are available based on your address.

    Sure, the X-Urbs may not be the place you want to move to, but Burlingame, Palo Alto, Piedmont, Menlo Park, Sunnyvale, parts of San Jose, Morgan Hill, Portland, Seattle, Vancouver BC, Victoria all have easy to access great schools, with safe liveable neighborhoods, diverse communities, and vibrant cultural offerings. Many of them are more affordable and more livable than San Francisco.

    I'm sick of reading the stand-on- your-head-for-a-crappy-school nonsense on this blog. The whole MLK thing is a joke too. The few remaining blacks that are left in the city are in the process of moving to cheaper, more liveable and more friendly communities out of state.

  75. 10:14 do you actually live in San Francisco? Does your child go to private or public?

  76. I'm not clear why the person frustrated with the system and with his/her child's placement wants to or is considering staying in San Francisco. It sounds like leaving is something he/she has already decided to do, which is neither good nor bad, just a choice.

    And I agree the racism comments aren't helpful at all.

  77. "In this economy private school is no guarentee of stablity either. Some are in poor financial straights and may need to close also."

    Sounds like you know of a few independent schools that are in financial trouble. Care to name names? In addition, if all of them were on the brink of financial disaster, you would have a good point. ALL SFUSD schools have been forced to cut their budgets dramatically over the past several year.

    "Going private, by its very nature , is opting out of something you feel is not good enough in to something you think is better."

    I am not naive enough to believe that what might be BEST for my family might be horrible for your family. So I don't think a decision to go private shouldn't necessarily be looked at as a racist or elitist decision. I, of course, am speaking for myself and not for everyone that makes that decision.

  78. Stuart Hall has had a lot of financial struggles in recent years, though got some funding. Adda Clevenger has had a hard time too.

  79. 10:42 AM

    Yes, I live in San Francisco.

    When the time is right (ie, our house is ready for sale and the market is right) I intend to move out of the city.

    The tipping point for us is the middle and high school issue. Sure, there are a few good middle and high schools in the city, but the schools for the upper grades are much better in other places.

    Additionally, I'm tired of having to drive everywhere in this city. I'm tired of worrying about the earthquakes. I'm tired of the ever increasing taxes. I'm tired of the lack of street and park maintenance. DPW is broke. I'm tired of the filthy public washrooms.

    Oh. I'm tired of driving to Stanford to get access to good healthcare. Thank you Brown and Toland.

    I'm tired of the dog shit and lack of leash policies that make it impossible for young children and old people to enjoy our public spaces.

    I'm tired of having to worry about druken, unlicensed, uninsured drivers killing pedestrians and the shrug reactionto it by city leaders.

    I'm tired of worrying about the precarious state budget.

    I'm tired of the crappy, all advertising, no news, Chronicle.

    I'm tired of the hypocrisy of how everyone in this city feels that it is OK to hire an underpaid undocumented person with no social security or healthcare benefits to take care of their kids and clean their house.

    I'm tired of all the trust fund hipsters and wannabes in Dolores Park, Ocean Beach and Golden Gate park pretending that it is still the Summer of Love.

    I'm tired of the "green" hypocrisy. FYI: the number one cause of climate change is flying in an aircraft. The number two cause are carbon emissions from driving a car. Whether you use a paper or plastic bag to pack your groceries is not going to make a blip of difference toward mitigating climate change.

    Hmmm. There are a few things I like here, like Bernal Hill, Glen Park Canyon, Crissy Field and Ocean Beach. I like a few of the restaurants. I like Noe Valley, the Mission, Glen Park and Bernal. I love the sunny weather in April. I like the architecture of the houses. Some of the museums are cool. I especially like the Exploratorium.

    Alas, other cities have nice architecture, nice weather, nice museums and beautiful open spaces without all of the SF negatives.

    So, yes I live here now, but I do not want to have my kids grow up here.

  80. The individual might not be racist but the effect can be racist in that it causes segregation. In my view, they shouldn't have projects. 1 in 30 houses everywhere in the Bay Area should be divided into several units for the poor, so they aren't isolated and in high crime areas. Marin, the Avenues, Burlingame. We don't share this burden and it causes segregation. It's true whites need to have more kids and stay. I understand if you don't like it but you shouldn't move here in the first place if you look down on your kids growing up here.

    Now as to the issue of leaving before middle school, to me that's crazy. The hardest years are elementary school. The advantage is having kids in high school and middle school. When kids are 12-15, no car, they can go out with their friends, to the movies, go on dates, museums, by taking the bus around town. In the suburbs, you can only go on a date if mom or dad drives you and as cool as you may think you are, that's awkeward for kids. You develop more independently and have more freedom in the City. I grew up here and wouldn't trade those years. And most kids don't get a car at 16 these days, so you have a lot more freedom throughout high shcool. You develop better socially. Not only that, but if you look at it, a higher percentage of kids go from Lowell and SOTA to Cal than any suburban school, and a slightly higher percentage go from other SF High Schools than the average Bay Area High School.

    I think the racism issue is hard because people take it as an insult. I took classes on this in college, as did most people on this board. If we all just act independently, we perpetuate racism, because society is racist. The differences are historic and will continue with immigration. If we all just do what's best for ourselves and our kin, it will take 1000 years to achieve equality. To make headway against racism, you actually have to go out of your way to make affirmative decisions to fight racism. Staying in a City till your kids turn 18 before moving, moving to a diverse area, donating to tutors for the poor (I recognize that the poor not using them is another issue), voting for higher taxes to fund schools, joining big brothers and sisters to mentor an at risk youth, etc. There are many other ways but if we just do what is best for our kids, it will take 1000 years to attain equality. If we are proactive, it will still probably take another 50-100 years but at least we'll see steady progress. It's not enough to not discriminate in a historically racist nation. You have to be proactive. That's why I stayed in the Mission and had 2 kids and adopted one from foster care. That's me, I respect that many do it different ways, but think about the issues of how will my actions add to or lessen racial and class segregation and inequality of opportunity among our youth. If you really want to fight racism, if the effects though not the intentions of your action are racist, reconsider your decision.

  81. The problem with San Francisco and it's schools has nothing to do with racism or "white people not having enough children."

    Rambling and nonsense!

  82. 2:31 has a point. If everyone does what is best for their own with no regards as to how it affects others outside their family, then those who had the past priveleges and advantages are going to be in a better position to do more to give their kids a leg up. I think public school parents do it as much as private school parents, but at least it doesn't cause segregation. They get their kids tutors, help them, lobby their teachers for the grades to get into a college. But the advantage of a good example and donations helps. I don't know the answer, but I do think if we're not agressive and willing to sacrifice something to solve racism, we won't solve it. That being said, the teachers' union needs to give up seniority and tenure, as that does probably as much damage to kids as the whites leaving or going private does, perhaps even more.

  83. 9:40 PM:

    Turn the TV off and get kids to do their homework. Test scores will gradually go up and people won't avoid your schools like the plague.

    It's really that simply. People avoid schools because the test scores suck, the kids aren't getting the attention they need and become discipline problems.

    Stop blaming others for your problems. Take responsibility. That's what this country is based on.

    Blaming others and expecting others to pull you up while leveling accusations of racism at those same people will not work. You will be left behind.

  84. I agree the poor need to do more to achieve, but the rich need to do their best to make decisions which are best for all of America too. For instance, in Japan and Europe, CEOs are too embarassed to take 200 or 300 times the average workers' salary, or in some cases 500, they limit it to 40-50, still a pretty amazing living when you relly think about it, with lower taxes than in those nations to boot. If you use that salary to separate your kids from the poor kids, you aren't helping fight racism. That being said, yes, the poor need to turn off the TV and study more. We all need to do more to make this country great again. We're all letting America down, rich and poor alike. It's all greed, no focus on national achievement, just a focus on me achievement. It's sad really. China will pass us because of this.

    However, the question is, why do blacks watch more TV? Why do they study less? Does segregating good hard-working kids from them help or hurt them? Are your kids' habits the natural outgrowth of privelege? Of being lucky enough to have parents who study hard? Is it genetic, as they claim in 'The Bell Curve'? Do Hispanics not believe in education? Are Chinese and Jewish people genetically superior?

    I think it can be learned, but we need to level the playing field. The rich need to have more self-control and the poor also. We all need to dedicate ourselves the way we did in World War II to solve these problems. It won't be easy. Each of us has to ask ourselves if our actions move us closer or further from a world of equality, to a world where we get the contribution and potential of all our citizens. I can't imagine what it must be like to recover from being a slave or a migrant farm worker. I admire the incredible work ethic of Asians. I think if we all imitate Asians we can do a lot better, but I do feel sympathy for the oppressed. I mean there are men still young enough to not be able to retire and collect social security who were not allowed to drink from the same fountain as children, not allowed to go to the same school. Would your kids turn off the TV if they were adopted by a crazy, drug addicted pimp and ho combo in the Tenderloin? That's what you have to ask yourself. The real question is how can we make it better and what does each action contribute towards, a world of more equal or less equal opportunity for all? That's America's ideal. Let's try to live up to it! We're all on the same team!

  85. Alright no more drinks for this clown!

  86. There are likely no CEOs on this blog.

    There's this vision in San Francisco that people who move out of the city or send their kids to private school are exceptionally privileged. I know at least three single mom's who left SF because there kid didn't get assigned to an acceptable school.

    Hell, my next door neighbor is an auto mechanic and he avoided public schools. He sent his kids to St. Brendan's.

    Yes, we need to deal with CEO compensation, but that is not the tax increase that Jerry Brown is pushing for now. Politicians of all stripes, including Obama, Pelosi and Jerry Brown, will never touch CEO compensation because it will hurt their campaign contributions. That's why the tax burden falls increasingly on the middle class.

    "If you use that salary to separate your kids from the poor kids, you aren't helping fight racism."

    First of all, it was Alvarado and E R Taylor who rejected us, not the other way around. Secondly, as has been discussed many times on this site, poor kids will not be helped by going to schools with the well off. What poor kids, and all other kids, need to do is their homework. If necessary, they need to go to the library to extend their learning beyond what may not be available in the classroom.

    "It's all greed, no focus on national achievement, just a focus on me achievement. It's sad really. China will pass us because of this."

    I cannot think of a country that does more to help those on the bottom than the US. Ever talk to someone from China? I do. I've worked with many engineers from China. I cannot think of a more individualistic, driven society than China. If you don't work there, you will starve or be worked to death.

    Perhaps you should see the play "The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs" to aid your understanding of the current reality in China.

    "Why do Blacks watch more TV."

    People of all colors and persuasions watch too much TV, don't work on academic achievement, and have substance abuse problems. That honor is hardly relegated to "blacks". Plenty of white kids from my elementary school are scraping along on the bottom because they didn't apply themselves.

    Americans are terrific the way they are. They need not emulate anyone else. Their self reliance and determination have been examples to the world for centuries and it is only this example that we need to follow now. That includes people of every shade.

    The rest of this is just political nonsense, La Raza and DCCC pulp, which has been cultivated to manipulate people.

    As to migrant workers, no one asked migrant workers to come here. Hell, I met a technician from Mexico City recently who spent two weeks picking strawberries to get a migrant worker permanent immigrant visa. After that, he picked up a job fixing TVs and now pulls down over a $100,000 a year working as a Silicon Valley technician. Pretty good deal if you ask me, compared to the poor schlubs who spend years on an H1 visa trying to get permanent status in this country.

    It's really not up the US to import, educate and employ every poor person from Mexico. Does Mexico really have no responsibility for its own citizens? Sure, let's talk about "equal opportunity for all." Let's start with Mexico, the country with the wealthiest man in the world. Perhaps Carlos Slim Helu could hand a few dollars out to his poor countrymen, rather than having them come to the US to impose themselves on the struggling American taxpayer.

    The hard working middle class are not fooled by this political rhetoric. That's why most of us are gone from the city by middle school.

    By the way, the California test scores were published yesterday. I guess the K Files can't bring itself to publish the list. Here it is:


    Happy Mother's Day!

  87. I'd be happy to post it if someone hasn't already done so. - Donna

  88. I worry about some of the posts on this blog. If I was an alien from outer space reading this blog, I would come to the conclusion that schools are only good if caucasian kids attend and black and brown children don't value education, watch too much tv, embrace "thug life", and eat bad food. Wow, enough already. I have come to the conclusion that diversity in the Bay Area really means that you love to eat at the multitude of ethnic restaurants and attend a cultural event or two. I appreciate the honest debate about school achievement, the SFUSD lottery system and the like, but the blatantly racist comments have got to go. I also wanted to comment that most parents want the best for their kids, but are often limited by circumstance (usually financial), poverty, and forced residential and socioeconomic segregation. Stick to the logistics and leave your gross stereotypes out of the mix.

  89. Bravo!- 5:03 p.m. I would also like to add that "The I hate San Francisco!!!!!" and if you stay with a child in public school here you're crazy posts doesn't help much either.

  90. Not to mention the truly grotesque, random potshot at financial aid kids -- "those people"-- at private school: "9:17-How do you feel about people getting financial aid at private schools? I'm assuming by your post that you pay full tuition since you look down on those of us who send our children to public. How does it feel when you know you pay full tuition and someone else in your kids class only pays half or less? That your donations to auctions or annual funds etc is going to those people? Those same children will eventually move on to ask for more financial for high school or college too."

    I have never wanted to use the F-word on this blog so badly. I thought the claim that $155K/year after taxes and private school tuition is victimhood took the cake, but this one? "Those same children" from my generation, the ones I know personally, are now lawyers, college professors, investors, and presidents of major corporations. I assure you we take our educations much more seriously than the children of the rich, and give more back than we get. I was raised to see my financial aid package as an investment in the better world I could help deliver given half a chance, not as evidence of my parasitic tendencies. I knew there were people like you out there, but I had the good fortune of never hearing anything so hateful until now.

  91. 10:03 I think you misunderstood the nature of that post. It was response to 9:17's rather hateful post about people who send their children to public who eventually want everything for free in the future. In response I merely wanted to point out 9:17's hypocrisy because I'm certain whomever they are are looking down on anyone who receives F.A. for private. Needless to say they didn't respond.

    I personal don't care if you get F.A (more power to you) or not or if you go to private. That is your choice . What I do care about someone bashing people who choose public as if we are losers condemning our children to a dim future.

  92. Do you really think your income is because you work harder than others? From what I see in this City, most people work about 40-45 hours. Some poor work harder than some rich, and some rich work harder than some poor, but it's not a huge factor. Certainly not many people work twice as hard as another. Most put forth a good effort.

    If you are rich because you're white and went to Hamlin and you send your kid to Hamlin, or St. Cecilia, thus damaging the kids in the publics, you are perpetuating inequality.

    Bottom line, people have different positions in society, class and race are factors. If you don't proactively fight to make opportunity more equal, then the next generation will be more equal, there won't be much movement between the quintiles, etc. If you believe in this fine but don't claim you worked that much harder than someone else. You are mostly priveleged and lucky and you're using that to perpetuate privelege, racism, snobbery (yes, you are a snob, the one who wrote that insulting SF and public school people), and inequality. You are not making progress towards a color blind, class free nation of equal opportunity for and togetherness among children.

  93. 9:17 here.

    "Not to mention the truly grotesque, random potshot at financial aid kids -- "those people"--"

    Never said this. My comment was directed specifically to someone with three kids and a husband with a liberal arts degree who was commenting on their separate "financial reality." It's true that liberal arts general pays less than a professional degree. It's a personal choice. Also, having three kids is generally not something that the rest of us can afford. Clearly this person wasn't poor and made these choices. Therefore, I don't think they should then have the expectation of my tax dollars going to fund the post-secondary education of their children.

    I also never said this:

    "schools are only good if caucasian kids attend and black and brown children don't value education, watch too much tv, embrace "thug life", and eat bad food."

    As to:

    "Do you really think your income is because you work harder than others?"

    It's true that a doctor gets paid more than a barista. And yes, I do think that a doctor works much harder than a barista, especially when you account for all the unpaid and underpaid years they spent in training compared to a barista.

  94. What? Your tax dollars are not simply going to fund the post-secondary education of one family's children. You don't even know what those children will ultimately do for post-secondary education. Those children aren't asking anything from you, and we're not even talking about post-secondary education here. Finally, consider the idea that some of us do have children (that is, more than one) do make less money, but still believe our lives are good in SF, and are even working in jobs that contribute to making SF a better place for all families, including yours.

  95. 9:59 AM:

    "Your tax dollars are not simply going to fund the post-secondary education of one family's children."

    Well, how about if you fund our retirement, because we don't have a pension, unlike most of the teachers and public employees in the city? Due to this, half of our after tax income is directed toward our retirement.

    Also, our family has to pay an additional $7,000 plus, post tax, for summer camp. Unlike like teachers, we only get two weeks of vacation per year. Maybe you could contribute to a fund to help us out on that.

    We both also work about 10 hours a day and often on weekends without overtime. We often need to pay for afterschool care because of this. Maybe you could contribute to a compensation fund for those long hours and unpaid overtime.

    Oh yeah, we have a PPO healthcare plan because our HMO plan fell apart last year. Should any member of our family have a serious accident, it could cost us hundreds of thousands of dollars because PPO policies don't fully cover healthcare costs. How about a donation to help us self insure for the potential risk due to the fact that we can only get health care through a PPO plan.

    Also, we have little job security. My husband's start up company went under a few years ago and it took six months for him to find another job. How about contributing to a fund to cover our job security.

    Additionally, because we spent so many years in school gaining valuable skills, and because we had to take on such huge student loans, we've had less time compared to most to contribute toward our retirement. Perhaps you can help us out with a compensation fund for this.

    I'm sure you'll be happy to help us out.

    Finally, consider the idea that some of us do have children (that is, more than one) do have less job security, holidays and benefits, and are even working in jobs that contribute to making the world a better place for all families, including yours.

  96. PS. If you are a public school teacher or administrator, I don't see how your personally helping my family. The test scores look poor compared to many other communities in California.

    If you are a city worker or administrator, I'm sure you are aware that the Mission, Bernal, Glen Park and Excelsior are in disrepair. It's wonderful that all of the city's maintenance budget is directed toward political connected neighborhoods, while south side streets are in disrepair. Please arrange to have our streets cleaned more than twice a month. Please fix our broken sidewalks and remove the tangles of overhead wiring that blight our streets. Please do something about the sewage that backs up onto our streets when the rain comes. Please do something about the gas mains so that I am not burned to death like the people in San Bruno.

    Were some of these things to be attended to, I might feel that a few of my hard earned tax dollars actually went somewhere. As it is, I have little confidence that even 20% of our very considerable tax contributions benefit us in any way.

  97. Maybe instead of focusing on this you should focus on taking all the money the Mayor is wasting on the Social Justice plan buying things from minorities for hundreds or thousands of dollars beyond cost and just buy what we need from the cheapest source possible. $300 keys that cost $2 at a Locksmith, thousands on things available for $50, put that into the tutors and teachers. Maybe close Cabrillo down where dozens of people are collecting a salary to do nothing at all important. Maybe cut a bit from these consultants.

    There's so much waste it's incredible and that story in the Chronicle disgusted me. More like Social Robbery than Social Justice.

  98. May 9, 2011 4:02 AM writes: "...If you are rich because you're white and went to Hamlin and you send your kid to Hamlin, or St. Cecilia, thus damaging the kids in the publics, you are perpetuating inequality."

    So this doesn't apply to wealthy Asian, Latino, Black, etc. folk who send their kids to Hamlin, St. Cecilia, etc.?

  99. JeffScalini, you were banned in the forum -- why are you still over here?

  100. I'm not Jeff Scalini. It's a basic point, if family background plays a role in education, and we all do whatever we can for our kids but society doesn't do much for others whose parents aren't as concerned or don't have as many resources, society will remain unequal. Maybe the Hamlin parents want opportunity to be unequal. Personally, I hope we have equal opportunity for children in the future. Not equal results, but equal opportunity and an excellent education for all kids, not just the lucky ones.

  101. Hey, I get it now.

    The way the California Game works is that Native Californians invite lots of people here. Because they bought their house years ago, they don't need to earn a large income. They can afford to get by on a public sector wage. Additionally, they don't have to pay much property tax because they're protected by prop 13.

    It's the Non Native Middle Class who come here who get stuck with paying the taxes of the Native Californians (without the public sector benefits, of course.)

    The Poor who come here get stuck with taking care of everybodies' kids, laundry, dirty floors, gardens and construction jobs.

    When the Poor get mad about the raw deal they are getting, the Native Californians tell the poor that it is the evil "white" middle class that are to blame.

    Most of the Non Native Middle Class (NNMC) are accused of being evil "white" oppressors, (many are Asian, but that's just a detail). Never mind that the NNMC are not really responsible for California's woes, pay high taxes of all kinds, and haven't learned to game the system the way the Native Californians have.

    Many are not even aware that they are being scapegoated by the Native Californians. NNMC make an easy target since they spend all their time trying to get their jobs done instead of lobbying the Poor. The Native Californians know better. They have their cushy pensions and taxless houses to protect, after all.

    But now the NNMC's are catching on and don't want to play the California Game anymore. Uh oh. Trouble is on the horizon.

  102. Oh, and it's on the backs of the NNMC's, those evil "white" capitalists, that the property values of the Native Californians are supported and the high property taxes (that support social programs needed by the Poor) are assessed.

  103. Wow, sounds like someone should move. Oregon might be a better fit.