Wednesday, June 1, 2011

It's a done deal!

Last night, BOE members appeared to unanimously support the District's phased-in K-8 feeder proposal, as presented on May 24. Commissioner Jill Wynn asked for more CTIP1 enrollment data to determine if the CTIP1 tiebreaker should move up to No. 2 position (before middle school feeder), but overall it appears that the BOE supports the plan with feeder pattern unchanged from Feb. 1 version of the map. There was no dissension, and BOE will likely vote approval at an upcoming BOE meeting. PAC and PPS deserve praise for their efforts. Don deserves credit for being correct. Maybe more San Francisco families have moving vans in their future!

165 comments:

  1. I was only able to catch bits and pieces of the webcast and maybe I'm mistaken, but I thought I heard Wynns say at the very end that she wanted to bump CTIP1 before feeder, just like she did last time. And I also thought I heard her say they would get rid of MS assignment zones. I don't know what that means since the schools feed rather than the neighborhoods. Can anyone who may have watched the whole webcast or attended please clarify?

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  2. It was not unanimous.

    The amount of misinformation spewed on this blog is frightening.

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  3. The exact makeup of the feeder plan has yet to be finalized. However, it was very clear to me that feeders are going through, unless several Board members have a change of heart. At this stage in the process that would be very unlikely.

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  4. I read in the Examiner that the feeders will take into effect in 2017. Does that mean, until then, we still have citywide choice for MS? Existing ES students should be "grandfathered" from the feeders. It is unfair to make feeders retroactive on them.

    I thought there was "tsunami" of enrollment headed for MS, making MS reform quite urgent. I guess maybe not. We can grandfather everyone in ES now, even the lower grades. I am pleasantly surprised.

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  5. If approved as presently proposed, the system will feed in with feeder school being the second tie-breaker behind siblings and will official start when the 2012 K class reaches middle school. It's not a done deal, but based on the commissiners comments, I think there will be at least 5 votes in favor of approval. I am unclear where Norton and Wynns stand. Rachel did a good blg post on the meeting. Worth reading.

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  6. Don,

    Now, there won't be a middle school attendance area to use as one of the tie breakers. (Not sure what the "attendance areas" were going to be-- all the attendance areas for the schools feeding into the MS? Or was there going to be some geographical boundary more specific to the surrounding MS neighborhood?) Anyway, a kid who lives in whatever the attendance area for a given MS would have been will not have an advantage (tie breaker) in getting that school.

    (I think Wynns did say something like what you heard regarding CTIP1, but also wants more information on this year's results before deciding.)

    http://tinyurl.com/45xqcyu

    Proposed Middle School Tiebreakers
    (2012-13 through 2016-17 SY)

    Requests for general education

    1. Younger sibling of student enrolled in and continuing in the school
    2. Enrolled in an elementary school that feeds into the middle school
    3. Live in a low test score area (CTIP1)
    4. Random number

    Requests for program pathways

    1. Younger sibling of student enrolled in and continuing in the school
    2. Enrolled in an elementary school that feeds into the middle school
    3. Currently enrolled in the program pathway
    4. Live in a low test score area (CTIP1)
    5. Random number

    Proposed Middle School Tiebreakers
    (2017-18 SY and thereafter)

    Promoted into 6th grade school and program pathway based on elementary enrollment (K8 model)

    Choice process

    1. Promoted to the middle school but not in the desired program pathway
    2. Currently enrolled in the program pathway
    3. Younger sibling of student already enrolled in and
    continuing in the school
    4. Live in a low test score area (CTIP1)
    5. Random number

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  7. CTIP 1 zones are starting to look really attractive folks. There are definitely parts of the Western Addition and the Mission that are going to see an influx of middle class families!

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  8. On the CTIP 1 zones, is there anything more concrete in terms of boundary definitions than the blue shaded map on SFUSD's website? Since a lot of folks are going to be looking at locations in those zones, is there a document that actually lays out the metes and bounds of the zones?

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  9. Seems like the outer Richmond and outer Sunset will be attractive housing options as well with their guaranteed ES and MS tracks.

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  10. Thanks 10:14.

    I think this whole MS SAS hinges on how SFUSD implements equity. Having separate school philosophies, like no honors for example, does not comport with equity. Ironically, those principals and staffs that are philosophically against honors on equity grounds are in conflict with the district's goals of equity of programming.

    Something has got to give. Either SFUSD has to have a districtwide policy and have no honors (bad idea, very bad)or it has to have honors tracks in every school with a gate population. This applies for all the programs that are now school specific.

    Regarding Commissioner Norton's vote - At someone's suggestion here, I read her blog this morning. IMO, she laid out a case for why she will vote yes.

    Wynns cited the definition of insanity as doing the same thing and expecting different results in the context of why they need to change the SAS. But the same is true of the high school SAS and they are making no substantive changes. When we talk about quality middle schools we compartmentalize the conversation because middle schools are different from elementary schools. But they are not so different from high schools. We should be talking about quality schools across all schools.

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  11. I kinda doubt the district wants to give a high resolution map of the CTIP1 zones because that would just make it easier for the non-underprivileged to find an apartment they like there.

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  12. 11:35 am -- I can't see how they could deny it. It is called transparency. I think a FOIA request to SFUSD should force them to spill a document they have for their placement people to use in deciding whether someone lives in a CTIP 1 zone. Anyone want to send it in and then post it on this blog? Don?

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  13. A few comments:

    The BOE and the District staff didn't significantly change their position, but they did put on more of a show of being appreciative of the efforts of PPS & PAC. Some might even say they were patronizing.

    They want to kill the density preference as soon as possible, though probably not for R3. It was a terrible idea to begin with, or at least a terrible implementation.

    Sandra Fewer was in full reelect mode. She was shocked, shocked I say, to find that some middle schools in SF really suck.

    Rachel Norton pointedly asked whether the questions prepared by PPS & PAC had the benefit of the revisions in the staff's presentation. It seemed like a sophomoric attempt at playing gotcha.

    I can't remember the exact phrasing, but Hydra Mendoza seemed to say that East Side families need to learn about the programs that are available to them.

    Kim-Shree went on and on.

    Norman Yee mumbled along.

    Finally, they didn't really have a vote. Jill Wynns slickly took a sense of the Board and chose to send it to the full board (same people) without a recommendation. That allowed time to make minor modifications and provide a bit of political wiggle room for members. But it's still a done deal.

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  14. Oh for heaven's sake people, drop the tinfoil hats already, the CTIP1 map by streets is not hidden, it's floating around and has been posted on this blog even. IIRC, you can even zoom in on the pdf that is provided on the district website in the enrollment section.

    And in any case, it is based on census tracts, so anyone can compare census tracts to that map and pretty quickly figure out the boundaries. www.census.gov

    The only tricky thing to remember is that (just like precincts), the boundaries run down the middle of the street, so you want to be on the correct side of the street.

    Another thing to realize, for those who are several years away from the process, is that SFUSD reserves the right to change the CTIP boundaries based on changed academic performance. This may not happen right away, but it is a possibility in the future. You don't want to be caught out, like so many in Oakland and NYC, which have neighborhood-based assignment systems in which people spend oodles of money to buy into favored districts, and then get crowded out--now, that seems like a worse bummer than going 0/X in the choice lottery ....

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  15. "Rachel Norton pointedly asked whether the questions prepared by PPS & PAC had the benefit of the revisions in the staff's presentation. It seemed like a sophomoric attempt at playing gotcha."

    What? Not true. That's not how I saw it at all, I thought she was just making sure that they had that information before writing their responses and questions.

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  16. No one will move. This will enable parents to turn schools around. Balboa is already a pretty good high school, so Denman will become a better middle school with Lakeshore feeding in. More schools will turn around. San Francisco is improving every year and so are it's children. This will allow SFUSD to focus on the real issues and study habits, stop playing musical chairs.

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  17. Things are so crappy because they rely on unpaid parent volunteers to "turn schools around".

    Don't taxpayers pay SFUSD staff to do that?

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  18. 4:04,

    Are you living on Mars?

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  19. 3:21

    Watch the presentation:

    1:31:15
    1:33:30

    At a minimum, I don't think you can say that she was just trying to make sure. But the PPS person said they stood by their questions and that there wasn't enough detail in the presentation.

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  20. Does Rachel own her place in the Outer Richmond?

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  21. The families who want the feeder patterns all feed into Aptos, Giannini, or Presidio. Why not reserve 70% of the incoming seats for those "feeder" schools and leave 30% up for lottery with the remaining schools 100% lottery until schools become more equitable across the board? You can't force people into schools that don't have the same resources. When they desegregated the schools, it was thought that "separate but equal" was unjust. Now, it's "separate but unequal." How is that legal?

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  22. "Things are so crappy because they rely on unpaid parent volunteers to "turn schools around"."

    Note the operative word -- volunteer. People who volunteer make a choice. This feeder system removes choice. The parents who turned around Aptos and Lick chose to go to those schools. Is replacing choice with coercion going to work? My bet is no.

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  23. It seems a lot of people CHOOSE to support the feeder system.

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  24. I urge you to submit your support or opposition on the feeder plan on Rachel Norton's blog. She has a place for comments. It would be interesting to see how many people are in favor and how many are against and why.

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  25. People who leave comments on Rachel's blog, or god knows here, are hardly a representative sample of SFUSD parents or even SF parents! That's why PPS and PAC made an effort to reach out to a more representative groups. Their reflections on that outreach, i.e., how responses differed in the Bayview and Mission and elsewhere, are interesting and worth reading.

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  26. 4:18

    Rachel is a renter. You seem hell-bent on trying to make her look bad, what is your problem?

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  27. From Rachel Norton’s blog:

    "Still, principals and district administrators have made strong arguments in favor of an assignment system that allows them to better plan and tailor their programs for the students who will enroll in them. Tonight, staff pointed out that many of our middle schools are currently receiving students from 40-50 elementary schools – each of them offering different experiences and attracting vastly different students. If they could focus on 10-15 elementary schools, the MS principals say, they could do a better job tailoring their programs and serving students. From that perspective, it’s no wonder that MS principals voted unanimously to urge the Board to adopt feeder patterns."

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  28. But why are the schools unequal? Or are they really unequal? Some have lower test scores because they have students who study less by choice or have language issues, but that doesn't make it a worse school. I'd argue the white kids at James Lick, considered average now but once considered below average, do just as well as the white kids at Presidio, on average, so what if the other kids at Presidio are high achieving Asians and the other kids at Lick are lower achieving, it doesn't affect one's education at the school nor the quality of the school or teachers. It's important we help kids maintain friendships as well as cut down on commuting. That's why I support feeders. To integrate the schools, we need to prevent white flight/private at middle school, as 29% of SF Kindergarteners are white vs. 13% of 12th graders, so we need to offer certainty and keep people in the system. Quit your whining and make the school better.

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  29. @5:30
    The schools simply have huge disparities between programs and offerings. The district presented these facts via their Middle School Matrix chart at the May 9 BOE meeting. The middle schools are very different. That is why feeder patterns should not be implemented. Once all schools have similar offerings, then feeder patterns would be more equitable. Look at the chart.

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  30. Does anyone living in Glen Park, Bernal, Potrero, or Noe like the feeder patterns? Just curious.

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  31. @ 5:49
    "Once all schools have similar offerings, then feeder patterns would be more equitable."

    The problem with that statement is when will that happen? How will it happen? If no one wants to attend those schools, how could they improve? Throwing money at it doesn't seem to work.

    It is too bad that the board doesn't think more creatively. Many of the posters on this blog have great ideas as to how to make those schools more attractive and offer unique draws.

    The problem though, is why make everyone wait for the feeder program? Is it fair that we all suffer? It is ok when tie breakers prevent people from getting spots in their neighborhood?

    The children are the ones that are suffering, can we at least think of them first instead of thinking how it will effect "you" ?

    It seems as though the feeder pattern will go through as planned, it is how they implement it is the problem.

    I understand that some families feel they will not benefit because it is a fact that the schools are not equal but how will things ever change if we keep trying to block any positive changes.

    This round many people benefited from the CTIP's which directly impacted families in certain areas of the city but people accepted that.

    It is true that some people sacrifice so that others may prosper.

    The issue is that families can't let the district steam roll over them and I understand that voices need to be heard. If some of the city benefits from the feeder pattern, it is essential those people still stand up for those that haven't yet. We need to act as a whole.

    It is unfortunate that some people who are lucky in the "fixed lottery" are oblivious to others misfortunes. Once they get what they want they are done fighting the good fight.

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  32. Reflections (and unvarnished reflections).

    We have MS feeders based on where you went to ES, because we cannot reliably administer a MS attendance area system based on where you say you live. (People lie, and we cannot catch very many of them.)

    We are cutting back on MS parental choice to implement the policies that the school district wants to push, such as

    1) reducing overconcentrations of Hispanics and African Americans (choice has resulted in resegregation),

    2) reducing cross-town school assignments to very low performing schools (shorter distance assignments to low performing schools is what we now offer), and

    3) reducing transportation services (we are broke, or bad money managers).

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  33. The people in the Mission, Bernal, Excelsior and Glen Park should think about the schools next time they vote to rebuild housing projects or require low income percentages in new developments. Market rate housing will attract educated kids who study. Projects will attract those who don't have a thing, believe in divorce, bad English, don't study, and spend no money at local businesses which creates jobs.

    We should make it so all the projects are private. The people in them can buy them over time, when they get equity, sell them. This will make them money and in 10-15 years, we won't have people there in poverty, if they're desperate for drug money they'll sell and move and if they work hard, they can get a job and own a home and their kids will do better. Privatizing all the projects would benefit both those living in them now and the City as a whole. The voters in those neighborhoods are responsible for this because their votes put far left people on the Board of Supervisors who keep people here whose kids don't do well in school and distract others.

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  34. Donna,

    I just want to comment that it was not so much that I was right about anything, as much as it was that people simply misunderstood the nature of the feeder postponement and the community outreach. I honestly don't know why SFUSD did not make an effort to clarify that they were not reconsidering the SAS, but deliberating over its implementation with the postponement.

    What I would like to know is this: During this one yea interim period what has SFUSD accomplished if anything in terms of creating better conditions for feeders?

    I'm not clear what benefit was gained. Does anyone have any ideas on this?

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  35. 5:56, Potrero Hill here. Opted out of public for a private K-8 in part because of the middle school mess. Between the cuts, the new SAS, and the feeder thing, we took our financial aid offer and ran.

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  36. That decision, Potrero Hill, was conservative, not liberal. You caused more class and racial segregation in our community. You deprived the local middle school of children whose parents care and are a in a position to help, rather than dig in and change it. If everyone does this, Denman will stay Denman, but hopefully you are an exception and it doesn't become a race to the bottom. Your post makes me pessimistic.

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  37. Don, a postponement normally means a postponement. Sadly, many in big cities now postpone things to study them as a means to secretly make them never happen. Rebuilding the Twin Towers was delayed do to this. The Giants Stadium was delayed over 10 years due to this by Jim Firth. I heard many in the '80s say they would send their kids to private schools but their grandkids would fulfill Martin Luther King's dream of integration "once they fix the public schools". You want to delay the feeders until "all the schools have every program". Won't happen. The time for feeders was now, it should have been this year, some people a block from a school going to a local E.S. didn't get in. They never intended to not have feeders happen, they only were delaying to study it because of the complaints. Sadly, many of the people who said what about this, you didn't think about that, were lying because after they addressed that they came up with a lot of pure bogus reasons to delay at the last minute this time. Thankfully the board saw through your dishonest crap and passed this so another year of kids won't suffer that.

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  38. 8:20

    I have no idea what you're talking about.

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  39. Potrero Hill.

    You did what is best for your family.Ignore those that want to guilt trip you into feeling bad for not opting for public. I don't need to say it, but with this character trying to make everyone who opts out of public as some criminal, I think it needs to be said. Good luck!

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  40. I am a Glen Park parent feeding into Lick, with a three and a half year old. As a matter of principle I would not send my child to a school (i.e. Lick) that has done away with honors classes "as a matter of social justice." I will tour some public schools but am decidedly leaning towards private at this point.

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  41. Bernal here -- and I think the whole notion of a feeder plan based on the location of your (lottery assigned) ES is bizarre. Add to that the totally weird commutes (J Serra to Hoover -- 40 minutes, 2 buses -- my daughter will start doing it next year due to the way this year's lottery worked out for us -- a good academic match, but a weird commute) and uneven offerings, and it's just a mess.

    On the issue of whether schools are "good" or "bad," I looked not only at school performance, but at how they handled differentiated instruction. I believe that for many subjects, grouping kids of varying levels together has benefits. I also believe that for some subjects (math in particular) it's a huge challenge for the teachers to do it well, and often they'll focus their attention on the kids who don't "get it" to the detriment of those who do.

    I don't buy that the only purpose of sending my child to school is so that she;ll "do well." I'd like her to be challenged, as well.

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  42. Please give me an answer. Do we have citywide choice for MS again next year? Do the feeder patterns only start in 2017?

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  43. Seems to me that the threat of a class action law suit might slow this feeder process down...it's worked in the past. Any lawyers on the blog?????

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  44. Feeders based on your ES is not bizarre if you do not trust the address information provided by the parents.

    But then, why use the address info for ES? No choice. Have to go on something, or go back to citywide choice, which we are not going to do.

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  45. 8:54pm - The board hasn't voted on it yet, but the proposal from the district sets up a MS lottery starting next year that uses your feeder middle school as the 2nd tiebreaker after siblings. So while it does offer some choice, it's not the same kind of choice lottery that was run this year, which used siblings and then CTIP1 status as tiebreakers.

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  46. 8:54, they haven't voted yet, but it looks like choice is dead at the MS level. They are pretending to implement a compromise phase-in between 2012 and 2017, but this will likely be the priority starting this coming assignment cohort (starting 2012):

    1) Siblings
    2) Feeder schools
    3) CTIP1
    4) Everyone else.

    The top 5 requested schools are Presidio, AP Giannini, Aptos, Hoover, Roosevelt. They are leaving room for some lottery entrants (you will hear this endlessly from NW side feeder proponents, that we will have a chance to get into these schools if we want).

    However, the reality is that some CTIP1ers will get most of those spots, the few that are not taken up by sibs and feeders. I suppose it is always worth a try, but most CTIP2 families that do not want their assigned school, who want one of the popular ones, will be SOL. Instead of random unluckiness via the lottery, we will all know ahead of time. That is "predicability" I suppose.

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  47. Bernal @ 8:35--is there not still a Hoover bus from the Mission--I'm thinking Flynn Elementary or thereabouts?--for one more year anyway? I agree it is a bizarre commute, but if there is still a yellow school bus (which there is for Aptos, and they are not dropping it this one last year) then that could ease your daughter's commute for 6th grade. The school buses are faster than MUNI by far.

    Perhaps after that (**dreaming**) they will actually offer bus service to those SE kids who are being sent several miles across town thanks to the feeders.

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  48. or go back to citywide choice, which we are not going to do.

    more's the pity....

    I do think folks obsess way more than they need to about address fraud. It's not that big of a problem in the first place and they have been cracking down on it. We humans are hard-wired to obsess over that kind of personal cheating rather than institution-level unfairness, even if the problems are not even close to being in the same scale.

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  49. 8:34 Glen Park parent, are you saying you have a child at Glen Park who will be feeding into Lick in one year? Or that you have a 3.5 year old but no older child?

    In the first case, I would say you have a point....I would only say, get in contact with the Alvarado folks who worried about the same thing....maybe you can strategize on this issue of honors. Worth looking into, at least.

    In the second instance, it would a little silly to worry about this now since things can change so much. Ten years ago Aptos was absolutely avoided by the middle class in this city. Five years ago it was beginning to get on the radar. Just three years ago there were just about the same number of first choices as spots at Aptos.

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  50. @9:23 I'll look into the yellow bus, but not sure it will work for us, since Flynn is not terribly close to where we are in Bernal (1.2-1.4 miles per Google, with a 25 minute or so walk...) Bernal Hill is between us and Flynn.

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  51. ^^^looks like stops at Flynn ES and also 26th/So Van Ness. Return stop in the afternoon at Cesar Chavez and Mission.

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  52. 9:33 thanks for your comment. I have a 3.5 year old but no older child. I agree that if Lick were merely a one-off it might be premature to take too much to heart its doing away of honor classes as a "matter of social justice." From reading this blog, however, and if Don is right, Lick is simply one example of the District's willingness to sacrifice all other priorities (honors, gate, etc) for its own special notion of "social justice." Combined with California's general underfunding of schools, the result is very unappealing to me. But I have not yet done much research or toured any schools, so perhaps I will be pleasantly surprised.

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  53. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  54. Weird -- there's no Flynn (or Chavez at all...) stop in the AM, only on the return trip.

    It is definitely worth us looking into it for the return commute, though I think on balance she'd feel safer and more comfortable taking the 24 home from Noe than the 14 down mission.

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  55. 9:59, me again from 9:33

    I would only say that your child is very young and you have a long way to go before middle school and I guarantee a lot will change by then. It's the current crop of soon-to-be-5th-graders who should be concerned. By the time you get there, I promise it will all be different. I don't know how it will be different (could be better or worse), but it will be different.

    When I first started thinking about schools, Horace Mann MS was considered a viable option for middle class families, and Aptos was absolutely NOT on the radar. Now Aptos is oversubscribed.

    I'm not saying that you should send your kid to a school with no honors (unless you want to, for all the reasons that some parents choose this). But in seven or eight years, Lick may very well have a stellar honors program. The SAS could have been shifted. Lots can happen.....don't plan for this now!

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  56. I know several people who went to Lick recently, one still there, and the classes are challenging and it's a good school. It gives you good odds to go to Lowell, so 3 years of Lick vs. Hoover is worth it if it gets you 4 years of Lowell vs. Lincoln or Mission.

    As for the extra non CTIP1 spots, the problem is that the upper class parents from Bernal, the Mission, Lower Nob Hill condos, will all try to get the spots at Presidio. This isn't good. This causes more segregation just like private schools do. Those spots should go to CTIP1 kids only. The upper class people are really needed at Everett, Denman, VV, so that they can integrate the school and build a PTA and community. It causes less integration, not more, if the well off in Potrero and these neighborhoods either try to get into Presidio or Hoover or go private. It causes more integration if some upper class people go to those schools and some poor kids go to Presidio, Hoover, Giannini, Roosevelt and Aptos. If you are rich and live on Bernal and try to go to Presidio, you aren't being liberal, you're being conservative.

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  57. That's a great idea, they did that in soem projects in the Fillmore in the 1970s. The families living there build equity, then it becomes private housing. If they did this, they could give wealth to the poor who really need it and after a few years, there would be far fewer poor, challenged, disruptive kids in our schools. It really would be win win because you are making houses market rate, but the people making the profits are the poor people liberals love to help. This would make it so no schools would be considered awful.

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  58. All I want from the BoE is a clear well thought out plan. A concrete step by step outline of action based on successful paradigms which explains how they intend to bring ALL middle schools up to the same standard of excellence in the next 5 years. Without a clear and implementable plan this is all just so much BS. Case in point: Everett MS where very recently either the principal or 50% of the staff had to be fired in order to keep their SIG funding. Guess what? SFUSD promised the veteran teachers they'd be relocated so many left voluntarily but there were no relocations. Now those teachers are jobless and Everett has lost some of it's best. This is not the way to make things better people. Now about that concrete plan. . .

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  59. "Weird -- there's no Flynn (or Chavez at all...) stop in the AM, only on the return trip."

    I looked at the Hoover bus schedule too. I think there IS a morning bus from Flynn and Chavez--you have to keep scrolling down though. There seem to be a couple of buses, so I guess there is a big "lift" of kids from the Mission right now. Makes sense given the Spanish immersion, honors, and the draw of the music program and other electives of a big school.

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  60. The whole point of the law they must fire 50% of the teachers means they should do something else, they are doing a bad job. This isn't always fair as sometimes the students aren't trying, but the teachers should be fired, not transferred so they damage another school. That's a dance of the lemons. We won't make middle schools all good until we get rid of seniority as the sole determiner of pay, protection vs. layoffs, etc. We have to get rid of that.

    To make all schools good, we have to convince students to put more time into studying. The teachers aren't that bad, some individuals are but I bet over 50% of the teachers at Everett were pretty good, in reality only maybe 20% deserve firing, but they face kids who aren't motivated, don't study enough, or face more extreme hardships.

    But delaying it until blah blah blah just means it won't happen. In 2021, we won't be sitting here saying all middle schools have every program and they're all equal. It takes a long time for these things to change.

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  61. Who says those 50% of a reconstituted school's teachers are doing a bad job? They are in a very challenging situation and there are many factors. Reconstitution is not an evaluation tool, it's a blunt instrument.

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  62. Well seniority being the way to determine layoffs hurt our children these past two years. Principals should be able to let go teachers if they don't feel they're doing a good job. 1 in 10,000 teachers is ever fired, over their career. It should be 1 in 20. Most teachers are good, but come on, it's too protected and our kids are paying the price. There are some bad teachers principals can't do anything about. Tenure and seniority are making it hard to reform. Imagine how much more effort teachers would put in if they knew the principal could make a decision in the interests of their students, not them.

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  63. Don at 8:32 -- Potrero Hill here. Thanks! That was generous of you. I toured tons of publics and liked what I saw at many. What I do not like is SFUSD's imperiously changing the assignment game on people and this absurd idea that parents ought to be carrying the burden of our pathetic tax scheme. I'll continue to support our local public with donations and participation in fundraisers despite my wish for higher taxes that would make supporting public schools the obligation of ALL citizens, but I don't want to be at the mercy of SFUSD's constant flip-flopping and the funding cuts. Not to mention the bizarre testing culture that I think has ruined a generation of kids' critical thinking skills.

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  64. @1:04 Thanks... late night blindness, I guess...

    If I could find another Hoover parent able to drive over to Flynn... or perhaps even a Flynn parent, it might be do-able. Otherwise, there's really no good way to get her over there that is not almost as time consuming as taking Muni the whole way.

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  65. I'm cracking up that someone with one 3 1/2 year old child is concerned about honors in middle school. How can you even be sure your child will qualify for honors?

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  66. People with transportation concerns should leave a comment on Rachel Norton's blog. This is a real concern for SE parents. Why doesn't Serra feed into Lick? The Divisadero 24 goes right from Cortland to Lick. Also, Serra has a Spanish language component which would fit with Lick's other Spanish language schools.
    In general, there a very long commute times being asked of SE families.
    If you have a specific transportation concern, contact the BOE. These are real issues for families, especially if they have one child in elementary school and one in middle school . If you have one a Serra and one at Hoover, how easy is it for you to get them to school on time?

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  67. Glen Park parent here. Whether my child would be in an honors class is not the point -- I have no idea currently. Rather, the issue is do I want him to attend a school -- and school district -- that values social engineering over academic achievement (remember, Lick's principal said the school got rid of honors classes for reasons of "social justice" -- not for pedagogical or even budgetary reasons). I will tour schools and do research, but this "social justice" over academics mindset -- if true -- troubles me greatly.

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  68. Glen Park Parent, you should be concerned with a school district that does not value difference, academic or otherwise. Our school system should be serving all students in a way that supports and challenges them. Difference should be embraced and acknowledged. It should not be a point of discrimination. Students need to be recognized as individuals and treated as such. I personally don't trust the district because of the high levels of students who are not proficient in English and math. If they feel that it's okay to let some of our poorest students be incompetent in basic skills, then they are not even adhering to their social justice mission. All capable students should at least be proficient, all students who excel in particular fields should be taught in a manner which challenges them. If you look at the proficiency statistics at some elementary schools like Drew, over 70% of the students are not at proficient levels. Is this social justice?

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  69. Thanks. I have left a note on Rachel Norton's blog listing transportation as a significant concern with the new system.

    As for the family with one at Serra and one at Hoover -- Serra starts at 8:30, Hoover at 9:10, so I guess an unemployed parent with a car could get kids to both start times... though in my family the Hoover kid will be getting on the 24 around 8:15 to hopefully make the 9:10 start time

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  70. 9:34,

    I was with you. I was totally against the district's "social engineering", namely putting immersion programs in poor performing schools.

    However, guess what, it works. A lot of schools improved because of that.

    Regarding the honor class issue, it is way easier to push for change when you have a big group of parents who know each other, trust each other, and speak in one voice, than a single "newbie" in a sea of people you don't know.

    More importantly, the Choice system won't really be "Choice" in five years. It will be "Luck". It is not like that you will definitely get a school with honor classes. With Choice system, your kid may (I would say 40% chance when your kid goes to MS) end up in a poor performing school and you will be powerless to change anything.

    I always like to remind people that only 10 years ago, 90% of the district's ES's are considered poor-performing. Only the "alternative schools" were acceptable. Even in Sunset area, only Lawton was OK. Things change. You really don't need to worry about something which won't happen until 8 years from now. Principals change, community change, school change (hopefully for the better).

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  71. "I will tour schools and do research, but this "social justice" over academics mindset -- if true -- troubles me greatly."

    9:34, welcome to my world. I have been trying to alert the community to the radical views of this administration for some time. Read my recent forum side topic "Is the achievement gap a civil rights issue?" I wrote about this because it is the expressed premise of SFUSD's entire district strategic plan. The thread got hijacked unfortunately.

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  72. @ June 1 6:40
    The district could actually change schools if they simply capitalized on the strong interest in immersion programs. Instead of forced feeder patterns, they could make several schools a combination of geographic attendance area and citywide lottery. Lick, Everett, and ISA could be citywide Spanish immersion and attendance area. Hoover and Francisco could citywide Cantonese immersion and attendance area. Denman could be citywide Mandarin and attendance area. These schools could be bi-lingual and bi-cultural so all students would have access to the language programs and the arts and history of the second language could be incorporated into the schools.

    The district could use the monetary and educational resources of the Bay Area to start math and science magnet middle schools. The educational and business community in Silicon Valley is actually worried that they won't have enough qualified students in math and science to keep the Valley going. UCSF is building a huge bio-medical-tech complex in dog patch. Don't you think there would be some way to partner with these schools and businesses to create one or two math and science magnet schools in the SE? There are many creative ways to build better schools, especially in this resource rich community. The feeder system is one way but may not be the best.

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  73. "Not to mention the bizarre testing culture that I think has ruined a generation of kids' critical thinking skills."

    We have a child in a public ES and this is my biggest concern about what I have witnessed so far. (Child just finished K.) I would like to start a separate thread on this and find out what other parents think of this issue.

    I'm no educator, but the worksheet approach to learning seems incredibly uninspired. My question is: does the curriculum get more interesting as the kids move up in grades? We just finished K and the worksheets my kid brought home all year made me want to cry.

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  74. 10:51: I'm with you on the uninspiring worksheets. My child actually was able to read prior to K; so the whole K year she was socializing for the most part. She even told me on several occasions that she was so bored because all they taught was "at, fat, cat" while she was already reading at 3rd grade level. So, we pulled her out of GE and put her in 1st grade immersion. Everyday Math in first grade is still a mess; so "soft skills!" I really don't know how a child can excel based on the public education curriculum without parental intervention and hours of extra work beyond school work.

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  75. Part 1 - agree w/10:32
    I think this is a very nuanced issue.
    Number one, everyone wants a good school for their child and to know for sure they will get that. And that should include every child in the district, not just ones who live in certain areas or have involved parents.
    Parents are upset because middle school feeders weren’t known when they chose an elementary school in the last several years, so they may have made other choices had they known. In fact, the SFUSD projection of feeder elementary details that schools will become more diverse based on the enrollments of the elementary feeders, but those diversities will probably change as people select schools for middle school feeder pattern. The logical response would be to grandfather in all existing elementary school students to the system of choice used this year – sibling, CTIP 1 (with income limits) and all else as open lottery.
    Parents also want to know they can send their child to a close school if they don’t choose a specialized program and that someone from across town can’t take that spot away from them. This is also fair. The imbalance is mainly due to
    a) Student demographics
    b) Parent monetary and time input to provide extra programs beyond what the district can
    SFUSD is hoping to equalize that by forcing parents at elementary into schools close by which would change demographics in many schools and bring those middle class resources to them. Previously this was accomplished by “carrot” programs like immersion. This could work in middle schools as well but would take more time. Why the rush people ask, why not build up the whole middle school system and make it all good so people are happy wherever? Well, the "build it and they will come" model has worked for elementary fairly quickly but not as quickly for middle school. Probably due to parents being at an elementary school longer and also feeling as if they themselves can supplement elementary curriculum while they are helping build programs. In middle school the curriculum ramps up to where many parents feel less confident and they are not involved in the same manner as in elementary. It is still possible to attract families such as Lick and Aptos show, but it isn't that quick. However, it is probably quick enough for the demographic shift SFUSD expects.
    The reasons SFUSD seems to truly be doing this are not transparent and are hidden behind things that while true, are not compelling (reverse demographic inequity, build virtual K-8 because studies show it affects student achievement, provide predictability to principals who can target to the schools coming in, provide parent predictability, etc.). That these are not the real reasons may not be apparent, but there is enough suspicion these aren’t the real reasons based on SFUSD response to concerns, as well as apparent SFUSD disregard of parent voice, that huge mistrust is present which taints all the SFUSD presentations.

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  76. Part 2:
    SFUSD’s true reasons for implementing this so quickly seem to be:
    a) according to the Lapkoff demographic forecast there will be a huge jump in middle school enrollment (30% predicted) over the next few years so it may be easier to even out the demographic input into schools now rather than have many angry parents who don’t get their “choice”.
    b) Under NCLB there are several failing middle schools that the district is penalized for and by changing the demographics of the students in those middle schools the scores will rise and the NCLB penalization will end more quickly.
    c) There is a requirement to offer special ed services at all sites that may be easier to plan for if there is a known population of students arriving from elementary schools.
    d) It is very apparent that there are wildly diverse offerings at middle schools and they are paid for mainly by parents so the district wants to even that out as well.

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  77. I think they shouldn't allow kids to start kindergarten if their parents are lazy and haven't taught them to read some. It is a privelege to go to Kindergarten, the government is paying 9k a year to watch your kid all day, and usually free until 5:30, so you should do your part, buy the 110 flashcards, sound out words, teach basic reading and math skills. It's disgraceful that smart kids are damaged because lazy parents bring kids to kindergarten not even able to read.

    As for the Noe Valley parent who wants Lick to have honors, I agree. If you plan to raise your kid well, parent quality is probably 80% of whether your child will get into honors. So if you are a quality, diligent parent and not a slacker parent and you have good genes, you can be pretty confident your child will get into honors. You don't know for sure, they could have ADD, but you can be pretty sure. This is why some parents fail, they just wait to see if their child is the honors type. If you work hard and make sure your child works hard, you can make them the honors type.

    As for testing, before this movement people were graduating from high school functionally illiterate. People always forget what led to a movement. Everyone acts like the school was full of these honest, diligent, creative, artistic kids and these bastards forced tests on them. No, we had a nation and still do where the average kid spends more time watching TV than studying, reading and doing math combined, near dead last on international tests, and nearly half of adults haven't read a novel in the past year. We were doing social promotion, which fits seniority and tenure, you automatically get passed up, no merit to it. You don't have to be an automaton to pass the test, it tests basic skills, if you work hard in class you should naturally do well on the tests, look at them yourself, buy a star test prep book, the questions are basic, not specific whereby you have to study for them.

    It's kind of like communism, everyone says how horrible it was that Cuba became communist, China, Russia, etc. But no one remembers that before Cuba became communist, 12 families owned 95% of the country and people were starving and dying of disease so revolution was the only choice. Oh wait, sounds ike I'm talking about the U.S. 2011. We're getting closer to that.

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  78. Part 3:
    Other reasons can be dissected, but one of the main problems is the demographic report may not be as accurate as SFUSD believes. From the available data it would seem the report predicted a middle school enrollment of 11,354 for next year but it seems based on SFUSD March placement report (which has historical data for enrollment request) to be around 9,073. Also, the March placement reports talks about increase in applications, but what increases have there been in actual enrollments in the last few years since the Lapkoff report was done? This is important demographic information to know because if there is not the projected increase, the middle school plan could be revised and rolled out more slowly, allowing for grandfathering of existing students and building of programs.
    From the report:
    “After a slight decline in 2009, the Most Likely forecast shows middle school enrollment increasing. We show increasing enrollments through 2020, the last year of the middle school forecast. By 2020, the Most Likely forecast shows enrollments at 15,084, a remarkable 30 percent increase over 2009 levels.
    The initial decline results from smaller birth cohorts reaching the middle school grades. The steady increase from 2011 and onward is a result of both housing growth in the major development areas and larger birth cohorts becoming middle school students. By 2020, housing growth is responsible for 1,082 students, or a nine percent increase over 2009 levels.
    The range of uncertainty is quite large because of the smaller number of students in middle school compared with elementary school (less than half as many). By 2020, the two-thirds confidence interval ranges from 12,027 to 18,157.”
    But also from the report detailing the validity of state demographers birth rate forecasts:
    “Considering the difficulty and uncertainty in carrying out birth forecasts for small areas, we do not fault the State demographers but simply stress the limited use of projected births in forecasting medium- and long-term school enrollment.”

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  79. Part 4:
    From the reasons SFUSD is giving:
    K-8 with these middle school feeders will support diversity – probably not as parents make different choices regarding middle school feeders or opt out of SFUSD.
    Provide equitable access – the middle school increase may or may not be as forecasted and the programs are often due to the fundraising abilities of parents, not district funded programs so if the parents opt out, the offerings decrease.
    Articulating between elementary and middle schools – there should be the same basic programs for all students at all schools. Honors, special ed, remediation, sports and arts offering – these should be the same at all schools or the feeder is unfair. Language is obviously different for immersion. There should be no problem if the elementary students are getting a standardized SFUSD education if they come from 5 or 45 schools. Many of the middle school principals who spoke in favor of this are new principals as well, and it would be interesting to see their research based reasons for this statement. Also, student needs change over time in an elementary school, so there wouldn’t necessarily be “years” to plan.
    Over time feeders do make sense with citywide lottery for language programs. Over time, all schools can be standardized to some degree, but that will take time. Most parents would be happy to go to Presidio, Giannini, Roosevelt, Hoover or Aptos for the academics. Most parents would be happy to go to all of those plus Lick for arts. Everett is just beginning to change as is Horace Mann with the new Buena Vista move. A Mandarin program could be placed at Denman and a magnet at some of the other schools. For it to be acceptable to everyone though there needs to be consistency in academics.
    To summarize – the Board should grandfather in the existing elementary students since they chose elementaries not based on this idea and use that six years to develop programs at the middle schools. There is enough time to do this as the Lapkoff demographic report doesn’t seem to be as accurate as thought. IN the meantime, use sibling, CTIP 1 with income qualifier which is who it is designed to help, all other lottery. As programs build there will be more choice into them.

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  80. 12:24... 10:51 here. I'm sorry to hear your daughter was bored in K. That must have been really frustrating.

    Our son is still not reading after a year of K but he did learn a lot throughout the year on all fronts. I am sure kids learn in lots of different ways. My concern about the public school 'worksheet' approach is that they are missing myriad opportunities to be more creative in engaging the kids in meaningful ways.

    I am hoping as the kids mature, that teachers take more liberties with the curriculum (more project based) without having to focus on making sure everyone is paying attention/behaving/keeping up. The worksheets seem to be the easiest way to keep everyone on the same page, quite literally, while also allowing a teacher to assess where a child is developmentally without the luxury of much individual attention.

    I don't like it one bit - I'm just trying to understand why educators have made these decisions. Any teachers reading this, please feel free to chime in!! I know this is all off topic, so maybe I'll try to start another thread on the side. Sorry for the detour!

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  81. 10:51 AM, please do start a separate thread. I actually am an educator, so it's of great concern to me. I only know what I saw on tour, what parents with kids in public K tell me, and what I see at the college level where I teach. While we are going private for now--the largest reason being that I do not see critical thinking and problem-solving skills fostered nearly as well in public--we may not be able to swing it all the way through if our aid package goes down, my pay gets cut, etc., so we may head back for public at some point. I would really love to hear what current elementary school parents are seeing and how they feel about it.

    To be fair, I do know one family whose kids are every bit the equal of anything I've seen anywhere as far as research skills, written expression, critical thinking, etc., in the humanities and social sciences. But are they representative of what later elementary and middle school are doing?

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  82. 12:24, can you contact me? plinkton256@gmail.com. Wondering if elementary school is challenging enough for us too and what to do about it.

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  83. The BOE needs to come up with a way to keep a bit of the feeders idea so the EPC can save face, but overall it's a very premature plan not currently appropriate for our district. Let's move on.

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  84. "I think they shouldn't allow kids to start kindergarten if their parents are lazy and haven't taught them to read some. It is a privelege to go to Kindergarten, the government is paying 9k a year to watch your kid all day, and usually free until 5:30, so you should do your part, buy the 110 flashcards, sound out words, teach basic reading and math skills. It's disgraceful that smart kids are damaged because lazy parents bring kids to kindergarten not even able to read."

    You are making a HUGE generalization about kids not being able to read as they enter K because of LAZY parents. I read to my kid EVERY DAY. He loves books. He's extremely articulate, has a robust vocabulary and has original, creative ideas. Is he interested in reading on his own yet? Nope. Is his teacher concerned? Nope. Are his parents (so lazy!) worried? Nope. It just hasn't clicked for him yet and the last thing I want to do is put pressure on him.

    Come down off your high horse. You made some good points in your 4 part manifesto. But stop accusing parents whose K kids aren't reading yet of being lazy!! It makes you look, well, not very smart.

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  85. 1:14 - I am the "manifesto" writer and there was a comment stuck in between my posts that isn't mine. The mainfesto is labeled, part 1, part 2, part 3 and part 4.

    also, I agree with your points. The curriculum has been pushed down to younger and younger kids - reading in kinder - and many are just not developmentally ready. this has NO correlation for their intelligence or later success, just that many four and five year olds are not developmentally ready. I suspect the same is true of algebra for eighth graders, but don't know for sure.

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  86. But there are things you can do to make sure your child can read. We adopted a child born addicted to both heroin and crack and at 3 she had memorized every one of the 110 flash cards, actually 55 both sides, I had bought at Walgreens. It cost 3.95 and I don't watch any prime time TV Shows. I also read books to her, sound it out, she had memorized the alphabet before turning 2. Many parents do this and many don't. Most that don't have a dad who leaves so one person is stuck doing the job of two, or the parent watches TV in the evenings instead of doing books and flashcards. I do think on average, kids who can read by start of kindergarten have parents who are harder working at it. It isn't random and it isn't genetic, maybe there's an element of that but you can get your kid to at least know the alphabet, the 110 frequency words and basic sounds and count to 10 and the shapes and colors if you are hard-working and diligent as a partent. Are you saying parents have no influence on this and all parents work the same? People who choose to work less hard on something are lazier than those who choose to work harder at it. Many parents don't want conflict; it's easier to play music or laugh or watch a show. That choice will impact your kid's development. How is this not smart of me to say? I see it in my cousins, they all do this, and their kids end up dropping out of JC. It started before kindergarten. You show your kids education isn't important when you have no books, don't teach kids to read, and send them to school behind. Kids emulate their parents.

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  87. Watch out for the "study harder" poster aka 1:23. They are fairly incessant and repetitive. Whomever they are appears frequently on this site with the same basic concept which they repeat over and over and over and over again. They seem to think that the adults reading this blog need to have the same concept reiterated multiple times before we can grasp it.

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  88. Manifesto writer - sorry for confusing you with the wedged-in "study harder or you're doomed to a life of misery" poster who will not put a lid on it!! I sure would regret being stuck next to this person at a dinner party. Zzzzzz. Enough with the flash cards.

    However, I do respect this person for adopting a kid. Very admirable, and if more of us "concerned citizens" on this blog walked the walk, our society would benefit from it.

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  89. Thanks. I am not the same person who posted before. I do believe on average, kids who study harder get better grades and parents who work harder have kids who do better. I do think this is a solution, not sure how you could mock that. It's a basic in schools, study more, do better, if you do flash cards your child learns to pay attention for long periods. Pre-schools are mostly babysitters these days. Parents need to do some work if they want their kids to start Kindergarten a positive to the class and ready to read rather than a negative hurting the other kids. I think all kids are capable of learning to read, not just ones who you say are ready. You have to be strict, any kid's instinct is to walk away and play, it takes a strong parent to tell them no, not acceptable, it's study time.

    No wonder we have such a persistent problem with achievement gaps, lower test scores than other nations and functional illiteracy if people consider it ludicrous and dismissable and laughable that you say we need to convince kids to study harder and parents to work harder teaching kids. We'll never catch up without hard work. There is no magic potion whereby it becomes easy because teachers suddenly become creative. We tried that in the '70s and '80s, feel good, creative, it failed, we've moved on. Hard work is the new creative. Ideally we can combine both. Sorry to ruin your dinner conversation by trying to improve our schools. Let's just talk about the Giants and the Kardashian Sisters, that will be more fun.

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  90. As a Kindergarten teacher I must say it makes a huge difference when kids come to school in August prepared. Don't mock parents who do the right thing and work with their kids before starting Kindergarten. I only wish all parents would do this.

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  91. 2:01 we know who you are.

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  92. Not even a particular Giants fan here, but the parent of a young boy who is. You'd be surprised how many potential opportunities there are for math learning and comprehension in watching baseball, and for reading as well, My six-year-old was thrilled to watch and read the text spooling across the screen during the series.

    We all agree. Studying is good, and makes a difference. But there are a whole slew of ways to engage in learning (including math and reading) beyond drills and flashcards. All kinds of options can work (including the drilling approach) and part of the pleasure of being a parent is finding different ways to ignite interest in learning in your child or children. Lots of pathways can be effective.

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  93. I agree that sports and it's statistics are a great way to help kids enjoy math. I just was replying to them saying it's boring dinner conversation. If that's dull, I'd like to hear your approach as to how we can do better than Norway and South Korea in education. I never hear a plan from those who criticize testing and flash cards, just hear them be sarcastic, which probably means they'd rather do nothing and not put pressure on parents to do more parenting and less TV watching. I think we spend too little time talking about and thinking about how to be #1 in education like we are in so many things, Hollywood, Silicon Valley, military, science, etc., and too much on gossip and celebrity culture. If we put an effort into fixing this, we could be #1. Our kids aren't dumber, we just don't put as much time in as our Asian and European counterparts, not to mention Australia, Canada, New Zealand.

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  94. You know I feel a tremendous amount of pressure and see why education reform is not possible. Basically, I have to have perfect grammar, say something new (even though the initial plan would work), never offend anyone (even though some aren't doing their part), and even if I do no one responds. I also now have to be interesting.

    Sorry, education reform isn't entertaining. Some of the kids who get into Ivy League Schools are incredibly dull. Maybe we have to be realistic and we can't be all things to all people. Maybe we have to be more boring to do well, maybe we can't be interesting, grammatically perfect and transform our entire nation's educational system to compete with other nations. Maybe we need to decide what's most important and just make our kids study more and pressure other parents to do the same. It may be less interesting but we can only solve the problem that way.

    I think if we try to demand perfect grammar, fascinating dinner conversation, political correctness, always saying something new AND reforming our schools to perform better, we're trying to do the impossible. Let's focus on one thing only: improving our test scores to the level of Norway and South Korea.

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  95. No one expect a revelation from every post, nor is it expected to read the same idea over and over. No one expects perfect grammar, nor is it expected that the grammar will make the post intolerable to read.

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  96. Isn't it Finland, not Norway, that leads the world in educational success? (Not snark, just clarifying.)

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  97. But if trying to get kids to study more and parents to help more is completely off the table, how can we improve our schools? If some subgroups study 3 hours a week, others 14, others 6, how can we solve an achievement gap without addressing this issue? We'd have to have Jaime Escalante in every poor classroom to get so much more results from so much less work. I just don't think these goals are possible. They're mutually exclusionary.

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  98. Any 2-year-old can SAY the ABCs like a parrot if you insist on it long enough. But it's a rare 2-year-old who knows that letters correspond to sounds, that that connection is arbitrary, that a letter sounds the same whether lower-case or upper-case, that vowels have short and long sounds, and so on. Chattering the ABCs or chanting flashcards is not literacy; it's a parlor trick.

    Meanwhile, yes, I agree with the teacher who says it's good to prepare your kids for kindergarten. Read to them, tell them stories and nursery rhymes, expose them to books, play word games like opposites and rhyming, and so on: it's called building "pre-literacy" skills and has nothing to do with drills and flashcards or forcing reading prematurely. For promoting pre-numeracy, try cooking, fraction and multiplying games with pizzas and M & Ms, games involving dice you have to add up, doing scorecards at baseball games, and so on. There you go: an alternative, not just sarcasm. I did these things with my kid and she is an unbelievable abstract thinker, with a huge vocabulary, at 5. She reads, but not precociously--just short-vowel, one-syllable words. Yet at 4 she could say things like "I was thinking that the babysitter must assume I am too big to want to play anymore, and that's why she ignores me." Way to put yourself in the position of another person, articulate your and their thoughts, and sling a compound-complex sentence, kiddo.

    This idea that you can cram your kid like a roast goose and they will come out brilliant is just plain wrong. My drill-and-kill kids are B students. They weep and wail about their grades: "But Professor, what's the formula? What is it you *really* want?" I want you to find an interesting question and marshal the evidence to answer it, engage in nuanced discussion with other scholars, consider alternatives to your own argument and bounce your own argument off of them, answer the question "why does this matter?" I do NOT want canned 5-paragraph essays in which you summarize content in run-on sentences with no subject-verb agreement, the ones that apparently got you high test scores and As in high school or you would not be here. But it's too late.

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  99. I admit you have a good technique and your daughter will probably do well. There are different ways to do it. For me, I get them to know the alphabet before turning 2, learn the sounds and simple words by 3, and at 3 memorize the 110 frequency words. It is a parlor game but helps with confidence because these words come up a lot and some aren't very logically spelled. Then I bring in silent e, long sounds, complicated word parts like ph, gh, sh, ch. Then I read a book with them, a Junie B. Jones book, go over each word, help them if they can't get it but they pretty much are able to read it. I do try to take them to museums and discuss political issues. I did a logic book with my 10-year old.

    I agree, it's not all drill, but if you've done that minimum, when you go to Border's your kids are begging you to buy them 5 books instead of 2, then it seems cool to read, not like something they have to do. The more they read, the more ideas they come up with, my older kids debate me on things they read all the time, which is good.

    Math is harder, it usually involves some drill and just having to do something hard to get a grade, but much of it can be fun.

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  100. 4:36, we may disagree as to method, but I appreciate the care you put into preparing your child. I know we can agree that for each child, it is the parent's focused presence that matters most. And that is a lifelong commitment.

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  101. To the parent with the flash cards: Have you read The Hurried Child by David Elkind? Have you read The Homework Myth by Alfie Kohn? Just curious.

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  102. 4:13, thanks for your post. It was illuminating.

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  103. What does all this have to do with the MS feeder plan?!

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  104. The insufferable bore, known all too well on the forum side, that is, the one who infest every thread with his drill and test recipes for success, continues on his path of cyber-destruction. We are trying to rid our little corner of the world of his nonsense.

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  105. Yes, MS assignment - that is the subject.

    OK, so we will have feeders. The question that seems key at this juncture is this - if all SFUSD managed to accomplish during this one-year postponement was a technical revision of the feeder map, how long is real reform going to take?

    I spoke with PPSF today and the person there (I won't mention any names) seemed to agree that with the exception of the map revision there was little else gained during the interim. (If anyone know differently I'd like to hear it.)

    To cut to the chase - when it comes to reform SFUSD, in its current manifestation, has two choices. It can either hire a consultant or enlist the community. Well troops, this is one project that is shovel ready for those who haven't gone AWOL.

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  106. Don, some on this blog seem to think you are currently unemployed. Perhaps you'd like to volunteer to be the reform consultant? I am only half kidding.

    But seriously, I think one of the main things that keeps the district (and board) from making true improvements is that they are under such extreme scrutiny. You please one group, you infuriate another. I also think they are very concerned about lawsuits.

    And, of course, there's the 'you can't squeeze blood from a turnip' problem of dwindling funds, which seems especially true at the middle school level. (Is this true? Or are these 'failing' schools really getting gobs of extra funding like you say? If so, why can't some of it be used to create programs on par with popular MSs to entice high-acheiving students?)

    I guess it's like reforming healthcare. An imbroglio. Where do you start?

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  107. As many have pointed out, it's one thing to roll up your sleeves and get busy at an elementary school. The kids are happy having you around and you feel more comfortable contributing your time, energy and ideas. But when kids hit MS, it's harder to be so present. I don't have a kid in middle school yet. Does this ring true with MS parents?

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  108. I wish that SFUSD would revise the feeder map. The Monroe parents (feeding into Hoover) made a beautiful case against the forced commute for their school community. They came prepared with bar chars and statistics: in one zip code 95% of parents don't have cars! Also, at Hoover, language classes begin at 8:00 AM, adding significant hardships for transportation, esp. for families that have younger school-age children at home. They would love to have access to Spanish immersion/bi-lingual education closer to home, in the Mission in a Latino culture center. Admittedly, the Chinese language families at Monroe prefer Hoover, which goes to show you that feeding an ES to one MS doesn't serve all students equally. Why can't the District have Spanish at Lick, and other Schools, and only Chinese language and GE at Hoover (filling the empty Spanish-language seats with Mandarin-language students from Ortega and King)?

    Then just as passionately as Monroe parents pleaded "We don't like the feeder pattern. We want to send our children to a middle school close to home. We want the Board to reject the District's proposal," the Layfatte parents jumped in with, "We love the feeder pattern because we have a guarantee that our children will attend a middle school close to home (they feed into Presidio). We want the Board to approve the District's proposal.".

    That is how the evening went. "We feed into a crappy MS. We don't want to have burden of turn around--that is the District's responsibility. Please reject the feeders.". We feed into a great MS. We need predictability. Please approve the feeders.". "You have assigned my child to a MS across town. I don't have a car. My 11 year must ride a bus for 2 hours a day. Please reject the feeders.". "Our neighborhood ES will feed into our neighborhood MS (which is a great school BTW). We want our child to be able to walk to school. Please approve the feeders."

    Clearly, if you look at the map, there are halves and halve nots in the feeder proposal. Clearly, the more economically stable families in the W and NW, who are feeding into the most prized middle schools in the District, are strongly advocating for feeders (I think that every parent from Layfette was at the BOE meeting, and why not, they were like a pack of dogs peeing on their turf to protect it at all cost), while the economically disadvantaged E and SE families, who are feeding into struggling or remote schools, are more inclined to disapprove of the feeders. Unfortunately, these poorer families are also the families who need interpreters to advocate for their children and cannot mobilize to the same degree as the Layfette families for example.

    I would support the feeders if the District revised the map by consolidating the laguage pathways a little better and concentrated the language students closer to their neighborhoods. Also, I would like to see less inequities in the school distribution. Finally, I would like to see Layfette feed into Vis Valley. ;>)

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  109. "(I think that every parent from Layfette was at the BOE meeting, and why not, they were like a pack of dogs peeing on their turf to protect it at all cost),"

    This truly made me laugh out loud. What an analogy.

    On a more serious note, you raise some really good points and I hope someone who has some clout will read your post. Maybe you could also post it on Rachel Norton's blog, or send a summary to every board member? I do think they read their emails because I have gotten some responses to ones I've written.

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  110. @9:50pm
    Please post your comments on Rachel Norton's blog and send a letter to the commissioners. You make some great points. There are very clear divide between the north and west and the south and east. Families who are in the south and east have much longer commute times and the language pathways are not thought out to make good use of the language programs established in the elementary schools. The feeders seem to actually hurt the very same populations the board is trying to help by imposing long commute times on families which might or might not have a car or might or might not be working more than one job. Drew to Giannini?

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  111. Yes, 9:50pm. Please post those comments to Rachel's blog and anyone else who'll listen.

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  112. While I understand the desire for virtual K-8 (why else would most of existing K-8 schools be highly sought after?) I don't know if a hard feeder rule is the answer. But I don't know what the answer is:(

    There have been many comments on this particular thread (and previous ones) which I think are so obvious I don't understand why the SFUSD doesn't address them in their proposals. (maybe they do somewhere that I haven't seen?)

    In particular language pathways and a more rigorous academic program. So that ALL of our children can read, write and are proficient in math. Why can't all schools in the disctrict follow the same basic curriculum and have art/music/technology electives?


    I feel that the rush to implement the feeder will jeopardize the already rocky start to the AA ES plan. From reading this blog and comments on Rachel Nortons blog it seems that so many problems arose in the two placement rounds this year, that pushing on with yet another plan without resolving or understanding those issues will further frustrate parents. Parents will not choose their AA ES if it is feeding to a MS which is currently perceived as not academically desirable.

    For my own situation I'm torn, we go K next year 2012. Our AA school is Daniel Webster which is not our closest school. We were set to choose it first on our application but having it feed into a ISA (not even a virtual K-8 but a K-12) unnerves me. I DO want a High School choice. I do not want my 12 year old at school with 18 year olds.
    Is there a special plan afoot to turn ISA into a Bilingual/Immersion Middle school by 2017? If so I think it would make a huge difference to the Bryant/DW parents. No clue but its the only sane reason I can come up with for having the whole of SOMA and Bryant ES feed into ISA.

    Lots to think about.

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  113. So smart 10:30pm. Don't rush the feeders. So many aren't even on board with the ES system. Give people a chance to trust SFUSD. So many of us don't now, because we basically don't feel our concerns are remotely considered. We'd give SFUSD much more of a chance if this didn't seem so shoved down our throats. We get it. The ES system is here. But give us a chance to digest that, and begin to believe in you (SFUSD) before you force us to take the next change. So much better to have consensus before moving forward, especially as many believed real progress was underway in the middle schools under the choice system.

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  114. 10:40, don't rush the feeders? Seriously? What possible proposal would have made everyone happy. You want Lafayette parents to have to drive to the Bayview every day and go to Visitation Valley? They'd all move and we'd lose kids who are going to do well, likely go to Lowell, and make our City proud just to make space for kids who don't try hard. Most of the kids at Presidio from far don't appreciate the opportunity that they are getting because a kid across the street is taking 2 buses to Marina, they just do half passable 2.5 work or worse, 2.0, 1.5. I meet these kids and ask my son, they aren't greatful and don't see it as an opportunity, they see it as a drag, they feel oppressed to have to go there just like the kid going to Marina feels oppressed.

    They had to do this. It was the right call. Trust me 10:40, you probably wanted a delay a year ago and got it, and probably would have wanted another delay in a year. They'll never satisfy everyone, they have to just do it, shove it down people's throats, because you can't do it without someone being mad. You don't want to do it at all. We need to tell the parents at the elementary schools that are the pride of the district, we feel your pain, we'll guarantee you a good middle school. Next step is high school. They should expand Lowell to 3200 and make Wallenbergh competitive grade entry, as well as the 200 kid science school at SOTA. That would raise from 2660 to 4000 the # of HS kids admitted by grades and guarantee if you raise your kids well, they will go to a top high school. Lowell could go to 3200 and not lose quality, and get better at sports. There are that many awesome kids in SF. Lowell is huge and was made for 2660 when there weren't as many highly academic kids in SF and not so many people were trying to go from private school to Lowell.

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  115. 10:16, if it's nonsense let's bet $1000 whose kids get better SAT Scores. You say it's nonsense. I thought that would shut you up. Because you know it works but you're too lazy to do it. If everyone followed this we wouldn't have any bad schools in SF, and apparently you think a lot of schools are bad or you wouldn't be on here. Why are they bad? Because kids there don't get good test scores. Why don't they get good test scores? Make it suspenseful, come up with something interesting if you have a better solution. I don't think you can solve it without more hours studying, but if you can I'm all ears. Or do you just like to complain but aren't serious about helping make all schools good?

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  116. As for Kohn and the Homework Myth, I looked it over and don't agree. It says there is no demonstrated benefit to learning from homework. I know my kids have had tough homework and we do it together and they learn how to do math, rules of grammar, spelling, it makes them read their social studies and science, they've even done weaving projects and science projects for extra credit. Every time I do homework with my kids they learn things that should help them not only get better grades but do better on the SAT. The statement that it doesn't help to me is wrong. Most kids would just be playing or watching TV instead of doing homework.

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  117. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  118. Sukanya's winning word was cymotrichous, which relates to wavy hair. She likes hiking, rock climbing and ice skating and wants to pursue a career in international relations. She is the fourth consecutive Indian-American to win the bee and the ninth in the last 13 years, a run that began when Nupur Lala captured the crown in 1999 and was later featured in the documentary "Spellbound."

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  119. What is the evidence that the Middle School choice system wasn't working?

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  120. Somamum,

    Schools have different programs, because
    1. They have different populations. A big school can offer more. You cannot start a program unless you can have certain number of students wanting to take it. Feeder is essential to even out the numbers.
    2. Different philosophy. For this, I think district should have some hard rules and give parents more power.
    3. Different demand. Even when they all have similar population, they will still be different. That's not a bad thing.

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  121. If you have an opinion or ideas, please post to Rachel Norton's blog and write the BOE. I doubt they read comments on this site.
    You also might want to CC Parents for Public Schools, PAC, and the district staff involved in this process. It's important that all voices are heard prior to this decision.

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  122. It is too late. The Board is committed to the feeders. Now is the time to work on other solutions.

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  123. The feeders are a done deal so it is time to get beyond the MS assignment debate with some reflection on the process and the prospects for the future. What is clear to me is that SFUSD:

    1. created unnecessary strife when it mismanaged public perceptions as to the purposes of its community meetings,

    2. experienced significant technical difficulties in the interim assignment rounds,

    3. failed to implement quality middle school reforms over the one-year postponement,

    4. failed to delineate a clear plan of action for its Quality Middle Schools Initiative.

    The leadership does not come out of this smelling like a rose. The attempt to assuage the public with PR backfired when it became clear that SFUSD was not entertaining any significant SAS changes. And because the Board and the administration share responsibility for the redesign process, the Board is unwilling to hold the administration accountable for their bungling. First there was the postponement and then the failure to use the postponement to any real end. Besides the map revision, all they've managed to do is exacerbate a deep divide within the community.

    While geographically driven interest groups continue their futile and furious debate in the public arena, there is another issue that may nullify whatever decision is made.

    Feeders will be only as successful as the reforms that SFUSD can quickly put in place. But the community’s experience with SFUSD's rollout so far does not paint an optimistic picture for future timely and effective action. Without speedy reforms SFUSD will find itself in a hell of a mess. Middle class families will not sacrifice their children's educations to questionable promises of reform. They will need to see action or they'll vote with their feet and doom SFUSD's plan to redistribute populations.

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  124. @Don,
    You make some great points. It's disheartening to think the feeders are a done deal as they really do create a real divide within the city and might actually reduce the amount of "up and coming" elementary schools like Daniel Webster.
    I still think it's valid to contact the commissioners as it will be re-election time soon and if you feel that your voice was not heard, you might choose to vote differently.

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  125. If you don't write, there is no way to hold them liable for not listening.

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  126. It's a "done" blog, the trolls have taken over.

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  127. There is a pessimistic and an optimistic way of seeing this.

    The first is:

    Forget it, Jake. It's Chinatown.


    The second is:

    If you build it he will come.

    This is my suggestion:

    Everyone who is going to be assigned to schools that need significant reforms should contact one another and write a letter demanding the reforms you want put in place, clearly stating that failure to do so will result in an exodus from SFUSD public schools.

    SFUSD will only listen to you if you have a bargaining chip. Parents should band together and force change. If you don't you're less likely to get it.

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  128. The devil is in the details. Are they going to draw another map?

    To prove my point about how the details seem to be overlooked:
    see the chart found on page 7 here: http://www.ppssf.org/Issues/San%20Francisco/MSQualityK-8_FeederPattern_BOE_COW_Feb_1_2011.pdf

    There are approximately 111 seats available for GE students at Lick MS.

    Alvarado has capacity for approx. 44 GE students
    Flynn has capacity for approx. 44 GE students
    Glen Park has capacity for approx. 44 GE students
    Muir has capacity for approx. 40 GE students
    Harte has capacity for approx. 44 GE students

    44+44+44+40+44 = 216.

    The school profiles from 2008-2009 on the SFSUD website make it look like the only school that has a lot of attrition by 5th grade is Muir (28 kids enrolled in 5th grade = less than 50% of capacity). I know that we have slightly less than capacity at our school in the GE upper grades and that the bulk of our attrition is in our Spanish Bilingual program. Alvarado is probably full. Flynn looks relatively full as well. The numbers of kids enrolled in 5th grade at these schools exceeds the total number of seats available at their feeder middle school.

    What’s the plan here? Count on attrition in the upper grades to fit us all in? Hope that the kids in CTIP1 exercise their preference and hope that they get a spot at one of the other underenrolled middle schools? If the point is to provide predictability for parents and students and continuity for staff at the middle and elementary schools so that they can plan – I would think that assigning kids to a school where there is capacity for all of them instead of only 50% makes much more sense.

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  129. @10:49 I didn't realize that there were these capacity issues. That seems like a real problem. Has there been any discussion of that by staff or the BOE? What is the plan for schools that are simply over capacity?

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  130. Fortunately they put feeder ahead of CTIP1 this time. A lot of good kids with good grades from good elementary schools who lived a block away from Presidio or Giannini were driven away or sent to bad middle schools this year in favor of kids with low test scores and illegal immigrant parents. It was awful. Never again will a child from Lafayette be bumped from Presidio in favor of a child from 100 random schools far away just based on a lottery. We will build a community where good elementary schools know they can advertize a good middle school and keep families in SF. This will save friendships and the families in SF who actually pay the tax that pays for the school. This will preserve and create community. The Mission is expensive, they should be able to turn Lick and Denman into top schools. Maybe do a Harlem Zone and force Saturdays. It'd work.

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  131. I think that every parent from Layfette was at the BOE meeting, and why not, they were like a pack of dogs peeing on their turf to protect it at all cost),

    Finally, I would like to see Layfette feed into Vis Valley. ;>)


    Yes, I laughed out loud at both of these comments.

    I'm wondering just how fast these parents would rush to switch off their arguments about "predictability" if THEY were the ones sending their kids across town on MUNI to a school they don't want. I wish they would just be honest about it: "We are feeding into the most popular school in the district and we beg you not to take it away!"

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  132. 10:49, Are you sure about the capacity at Lick? Maybe that is the current amount of students, but not the full capacity.

    About the transportation issue, I agree it is a problem. But from the comments, it seems to be overlooked that students that are assigned schools with long commutes can enter the lottery for a closer school and generally those closer schools are less in demand than the assigned school.

    I think there are many who would gladly take their spots at schools like Giannini, Monroe, Aptos. There will be wiggle room in the feeder system for this reason. Many students in the SE will not accept their spots at the higher demand schools in the west.

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  133. Meant to say Hoover - not Monroe.

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  134. Another way to look at it is that James Lick's capacity is currently artifically low. The school has QEIA funding to keep classes small for another couple years. When that money runs out, class sizes will return to district averages, increasing school capacity.

    I would be interested to know if test scores have increased significantly with these funds.

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  135. If Lick numbers are wrong, please point it out the evidence. I get my data from what the District has made available.

    Current enrollment numbers based on the SFUSD profiles from 2008-2009 - Lick is 573 kids - which is roughly 190 kids per class, split between the Spanish Immersion and the GE program. It looks like they try to enroll 100 kids per program per year currently. It looks like they'll try to up that 187 seats available in the Immersion program per grade to accomodate all the kids in the immersion and bilingual programs from the feeder schools.

    Families that have chosen Lick have mentioned it's small size as a bonus, but with 6 schools (5 that are rather sizeable) feeding into it - that small class size benefit will obviously disappear. My understanding is that the QEIA money is in place for 2 more years - which is why the school is under physical capacity at this point. So it looks like they'll have even less seats for next year's class...

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  136. 12:23, are you insane? The kids at Lafayette average advanced to proficient on the test scores, their parents pay an average of 7.6k in property taxes, they contribute to the economy by going to restaurants, museums, shows.
    They appreciate a spot at Presidio and we work hard to earn it. You want to tell all of them they have to drive their kids to Hunter's Point/VV every day? They'll all leave and the Richmond District will become like the Marina, a neighborhood of yuppies where people move out once they have kids. We have enough parts of SF like that, we need to have some areas middle class people who don't ask for a handout and make sure their kids study hard can live comfortably, not have their lives ruined by a forced commute to a bad school. As for VV, those people won't move, and if they do they benefit our City anyways, so we don't need to worry about it. They are takers, they cost us food stamps, free lunch, SIG Grant Money, housing costs, and don't return the favor by at least studying so they won't cost us as adults, most end up raising kids to be as bad people as their parents raised them to be.



    If you were Mayor SF would quickly become Detroit. You have no idea how much damage your plan would do to SF!



    Also, a good part of the plan was no one has to drive that far, not over 2 miles. Rosa Parks does but that's a favor to them, most will opt for a closer school. No one has to go from the Outer Sunset to the Mission or from Hunter's Point to the Marina, it keeps it within reason.

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  137. Someone wrote that the level of address fraud is actually low. I hope he is right. However, even if it is, in fact low, the desire to not see address fraud articles in the paper has motivated us to use feeders instead of actual assignment areas for MS. The worry by school staff may well be misplaced, but the emotions often override the rational decision. We are not cold rational Vulcans. We are people who do not want to look bad. The public was given feeders because school staff did not want to look bad in the papers.

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  138. People in the Richmond work harder so they are entitled to have their children attend a trophy school? Really?

    How come hard working people in Bernal don't get a trophy school?

    Make a case for why communities should build up good schools close to home, but don't tell me that some people deserve it because they work harder.

    Do you think anyone takes seriously this stuff you churn out? For every one thing you say that has some validity there are about ten things that defy rational thought.

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  139. On average kids work harder if the test score average is better. But true, that isn't the reason. We need kids to go to school close to home to keep kids in the community, regardless of test scores. A kid getting good test scores at Bernal should try to move that school higher, they need the good students in the neighborhood. We need to cut down on traffic and let people go to school close to home. But I guarantee you, you see a school with a 923 or an 886 and the average kid works harder than a 680. That's why they publish the tests, so people can judge the average quality of a student and their work ethic and the quality of that school. The test averages mean a lot.

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  140. Your proposal would have devastated the Richmond District. I hope to refinance and have 2 years left on a 5 year interest only loan. I see bad sales ruin the appraisals. You will cause the Richmond District to have huge traffic problems if they send Lafayette's kids to VV, no one from this area will want to go there so it will become a school with only parents from afar, so it would ruin Lafayette and cause huge jams. It would also devastate property values and cause foreclosures. Why should all the kids at Lafayette have to go to Visitation Valley while all the kids at Alamo and other close schools, Argonne, Clarendon, get to go to Presidio? What do you have against Lafayette that you want to cause the collapse of a quality elementary school in Lafayette, a crash in real estate, and huge traffic problems as well as hurt Presidio? I don't understand this proposal.

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  141. June 3, 2011 7:02 AM
    - Thank you for the clarification.
    The enrollment numbers must go up so that the funding comes to the schools.
    To me this would mean that the children who are first to bump up the numbers lose out on programs. Hopefully this will not be the case.

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  142. As a real estate agent, I can attest the plan to send Lafayette's students to Visitation Valley Middle School would have been disastrous. One desperate sale can have a snowball effect. This would cause quite a few. One bad sale means another person on an ARM gets a bad appraisal as a result and can't refinance so they get foreclosed on, which leads to another foreclosure, then several more, then a collapse in values. Neighborhood schools would have the opposite effect as you'd get more buyers and that would prop up the market. These are scary times anyways and SFUSD needs to keep as many students as possible. We're all lucky the proposal to send Lafayette's pupils to Visitation Valley Middle School was not adopted by the board, and it's scary that it got 3 votes out of 7. I might have lost my job. Whew!

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  143. Ummm... I think the "proposal" to send Lafayette kids to vv was tongue in cheek, reacting to how crazy it is that we on the s. east end up sending our kids to the other side of town for a solid ms.

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  144. "I think that every parent from Layfette was at the BOE meeting, and why not, they were like a pack of dogs peeing on their turf to protect it at all cost)"

    Yes, I can see the humor in the analogy, but I also see the insult. I really think this kind of analogy is in poor taste. There is nothing morally abhorrent about parents protecting the interests of their children to attend a nearby school. I've seen plenty of parents from the East side lobbying in their own interests for choice.

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  145. "Ummm... I think the "proposal" to send Lafayette kids to vv was tongue in cheek, reacting to how crazy it is that we on the s. east end up sending our kids to the other side of town for a solid ms."

    I also think it was tongue in cheek. No one has seriously proposed sending Lafayette to VV. Least of all SFUSD or the BOE! They have not really entertained the idea of making the feeder schools more equitable. NW folks, you can lower your panic level to green.

    But did anyone else see the humor in these several panicked postings that popped up, basically, *immediately* from Lafayette and/or Outer Richmond? OMG, Visitacion Valley, not my child! Not my property values!

    I'm sorry, and Don your right, this is a bit snarky. On the other hand, these folks don't seem to mind at all that other people's kids will be told to take MUNI or be driven across several neighborhoods to schools with much worse test scores than Vis Valley. No, some of them even declare that that their kids "deserve" (!!!) the best schools more than anyone else does. Okay....anyone who says that deserves the snark.

    I don't mind people pushing for their own kids' interests. I only wish they would be straight up about the fact that that is what it is.

    I also hate that this feeder proposal has created winner and loser schools (and to some degree, neighborhoods--hence the real estate poster). At least in the lottery we were all potentially one or the other.

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  146. I feel for those people that will have an assignment they don't like. As the primary author for the Quality Neighborhood Schools For All measure I can tell you that many times I asked myself if this is the right thing. It always came down to two issues.

    First, what will turn around schools primarily in the SE? As long as they are abandoned in mass they will never turn around. The District understands this and knows it must prevent flight. Can it deliver on a Quality Schools Initiative? If not, I would not support neighborhood schools in the context of SFUSD leadership at present.

    Second, in the interim before school turnaround can take place(potentially), what is more unfair, to be assigned to a low-performing school in your own neighborhood or vicinity, or to be assigned to a low performing school far from your neighborhood. I say the former.

    As I said before in this thread, SFUSD has taken a bold step. If they do not deliver they will need to go. But that doesn't help your child now. That's why parents need to band together and deliver signed petitions for each school stating clearly what they expect and what will be the enrollment consequences if SFUSD fails.

    The title of the strategic plan is Beyond the Talk, Taking Action to Educate Every Child, NOW!

    So what action have they taken? Will they deliver on their promises?What have they delivered so far, if anything?

    I'm not optimistic on SFUSD. Everyone knows that by now. I think they are bunglers. That's why I am very worried for those who come out on the losing side with feeders. I am for replacing Garcia and the entire Board. None of these people have any experience in successfully turning around schools. And they are political ideologues.

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  147. "On the other hand, these folks don't seem to mind at all that other people's kids will be told to take MUNI or be driven across several neighborhoods to schools with much worse test scores than Vis Valley. "

    What schools in particular are you talking about?

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  148. WG, a few examples:

    Fairmount kids, who come from all over, including from the outer Mission and Excelsior and Bernal, will now be fed to Everett, with lower test scores than Lick (the closer school, the traditional feeder school from Fairmount, and the higher test score school). Many children will now be told to take MUNI to Everett rather than walk to Lick. Everett isn't across town, I know, but it is another neighborhood (and hill) over.

    And by the way, Lick is getting screwed in terms of getting a higher % of low-performing schools feeding into. Compare to Presidio. Sheesh.

    Another version of this is that Bret Harte and Malcolm X are being sent to schools several neighborhoods over, but which are not significantly better in terms of test scores or program offerings than schools that are closer.

    Another version of this is the one you hear more of because it affects more middle class families, which is that Lakeshore and Miraloma pass right by closer (in all kinds of practical ways--MUNI, walking, biking etc) Aptos for lower-scoring Denman. Why should property values be upheld in the Outer Richmond but not the Lake Merced and Parkside areas? I would be more sympathetic to this plan if there were a similar burden placed on other areas of the city.

    Another version is the kids from Glen Park, many from the Outer Mission and Excelsior, who will now be sent to Lick and not to closer Aptos, with its well-regarded GE program, higher test scores, and greater proximity. Glen Park kids are not privileged, for the most part. They have been choosing Aptos. Why are they being sent to a lower-test-score school that is farther away and less convenient to get to?

    In fact, Aptos has become a destination school for Latino families in the Mission (thanks to the bus), Excelsior, Outer Mission, Portola, etc. Now most of them will be shut out of this popular school, in fact out of of the big 5 most popular schools, except the three Hoover feeders and maybe the CTIP1 Mission kids if they get lucky. But the not the Excelsior kids who have been picking Aptos in droves.

    Another version is the crazy map that is now Hoover, with Monroe kids struggling to get to Hoover by 8am for their zero period Spanish class, and kids coming from literally all over the map. How does this build these communities we keep hearing about?

    And why is Clarendon going to Presidio again? That's a huge commute, and Clarendon draws from all parts of the city currently, so some of those kids will be traveling from very far. Why not send them to centrally located Hoover, or Lick, or Everett? Parks can go there as well if you want to build up a JBBP pathway. Then send Muir to Presidio instead of Lick -- a long commute, but provide a bus. At least that would send a very low-performing group to a much higher-performing school, rather than to Lick which looks to be in trouble in the new scheme.

    Bottom line, we need more shared sacrifice here. More balanced feeders overall in terms of test scores and high/low performers. More balance in terms of offerings at each school. And more balance in terms of commutes. I totally accept and welcome the idea of a very mixed school (like Aptos is currently). It's harder to love a forced system that is so inequitable.

    I know I'm whistling into the wind. I feel despair that this whole year was a waste: a sham of getting parental input and now we end up with this same crazy proposal and no actual programmatic improvements. The Outer Richmond supports it because they get what they want, but in their heart of hearts they know it is unfair.

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  149. Oh, and to very specifically answer WG's question: The Fairmount kids are being sent to a middle school with scores significantly worse than Vis Valley's, and to get there they are passing by at least one middle school with better test scores than the one they are going to.

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  150. Bravo to 1:42 AM! Please post your excellent thoughts on Rachel's blog and, if possible, cc the entire BoE and SFUSD head honchos.

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  151. "I know I'm whistling into the wind. I feel despair that this whole year was a waste: a sham of getting parental input and now we end up with this same crazy proposal and no actual programmatic improvements. The Outer Richmond supports it because they get what they want, but in their heart of hearts they know it is unfair."

    Yes, it was a sham display getting the parental input. To know how parents really feel about the proposal it would have been better to do a scientific survey. Those that scream the loudest are not necessarily representative of the community, though there is no shame in such input either from one side or the other.

    It appears that SFUSD accomplished little more than a map revision which could have been done in a week, but delayed a year. What does this say about what parents can expect vis-a-vis real on -the-ground programmatic reforms?

    Your heart of hearts comment is conjecture and wrong. If you want to know what's in the heart of hearts of people in the outer Richmond, it is that they feel it is wrong to take their children out of their neighborhood and to send them to schools far away. That others suggest to spread the pain around does nothing to override their sense of having been treated unfairly. In fact many communities feel this way, but everyone singles out the Richmond and Presidio MS. This neighborhood is defined in part by its geographical isolation in a far corner of the city. Alamo, where my younger son attends, is the same as is also true for Lafayette. When given a assignment preference, students from CTIP1 don't choose these schools in any significant numbers. It is one thing to say you will be assigned to your local school, and to the extent that this has not happened as you pointed out it is a travesty. But it is another thing to say that you will be assigned against your will to a school across town. SFUSD does correctly recognize that school turnaround must be community based.

    Lastly, I don't think you are whistling in the wind, or at least you don't have to be. It is time for people like you and many others here who have very legitimate concerns to band together. SFUSD doesn't listen to individuals, but groups are another story.

    If 100 people who might leave the system all make a uniform demand, you will get attention. Why? Because if you do leave the system their plan will fail.

    This is my suggestion. Open up a topic on the forum side for each MS school.Use it to assemble an off line list of families ( send it to a volunteer's email.) The middle school feeder schools can hold a meeting and perhaps PPS will help you. These will not be sham meetings, but a chance for all parents and guardians to craft a letter which all will sign demanding the programs that will give you the equity you need at a minimum.

    You are whistling in the wind if you only gripe about how unfair it is. You can take action. You have power if you organize.

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  152. grylkmt,

    The gist of your post is that you think all elementary schools should be fed to the nearest middle school.

    But then at the end of your post you say "Bottom line, we need more shared sacrifice here. More balanced feeders overall in terms of test scores and high/low performers."

    Your post is contradictory. If you base it all on geography it gets very unbalanced. Some school communities are fed to farther middle schools to balance things out or to create a viable language pathway.

    The reason I asked you the question is because you said kids are being bused across town to middle schools that are lower performing than VV. Maybe your example or Fairmount to Everett is lower performing, but it is not across town and the other feeder schools are high performing.

    That is the one example in your long post that comes close to what you described. The schools you mention like Bret Harte and Malcolm X are being bused to schools that are much higher performing than the local school.

    I understand you may be disappointed in the plan, but what you said was not accurate.

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  153. The District has a chart in their slide deck--Strategic use of limited resources--that shows the number of elementary schools currently feeding into each middle school. They use this chart to defend the K-8 feeder proposal, but I think that it shows just the opposite. It shows that there is absolutely no correlation between the number of elementary schools feeding into a middle schools and the middle school’s success.

    The highest number of feeders are at Giannini (API 874) with 54, Everett (API 607) with 53, Hoover (API 820) with 53, and Aptos (API 829) with 50.  No correlation. The lowest number of feeders are at Lick (API 728) with 28, Francisco (API 707) with 30, and ISA (API 620) with 33. Less feeder schools does not equal better outcome.  In other words, the number of elementary schools feeding into a middle school is not a predictor of a middle school’s success, and those with the lowest number of feeder schools are not necessarily faring any better.  And why should number of elementary schools matter?  All SFUSD elementary schools teach the same materials and follow the CA state instructional standard. 

    What’s next? Will our elementary schools demand preschool feeders, because they cannot teach incoming students from more than 4 or 5 preschools?  Will our high schools demand K-12 feeders, because they cannot teach incoming students from more than 4 or 5 middle schools?   Where does it end?       

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  154. 1:23, Lowell should feed to Berkeley, and on down the line for the UCs, CSUs, and Community Colleges, of course! Lowest-performing high school feeds directly to McDonald's.

    Just kidding, folks. But the feeder system is an educational caste system, in my opinion.

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  155. Race is a caste system. White kids at Lick or Denman do fine, just as well as at Hoover and Presidio. Asian kids at VV do fine. We need to fight the racism and convince all kids to study equal hours per week, regardless of race. Then we will solve this problem and close the gap.

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  156. "Race is a caste system. White kids at Lick or Denman do fine, just as well as at Hoover and Presidio. Asian kids at VV do fine. We need to fight the racism and convince all kids to study equal hours per week, regardless of race. Then we will solve this problem and close the gap."

    Ullyses/Jeff/Floyd or whomever you go by today,

    Your statement makes no sense at all. The problem isn't about racism. Based upon the one thing you have said a thousand times about personal responsibility, now you have suddenly decided that racism is the problem? And studying is the catchall solution to racism? Man, you are getting weirder and weirder.

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  157. I think we need to challenge the idea that a black kid studying hard all day on Saturday is acting white, or a Latino kid studying hard is a nerd and being like the Asians. We need to be more direct and tell all kids if you have bad grades, you will make low income. It might even be a good idea to pay kids for grades, so all races get more motivated. Imagine $200 for a 4.00 starting in Middle School, $100 for a 3.5, $50 for a 3.0, nothing below that. You'd get a lot of kids admiring the kid with the best GPA.

    People fall into racial patterns. Sad but true. They think they are limited. They aren't, it doesn't take much to see it is possible. Immigrants from africa do well in school, in fact on average better than whites. Indians do well despite facing racism. The trick is getting them to believe anything is possible. Cash for grades and a direct speach that your GPA now highly influences your income later would motivate more kids. You should see some of the kids in these schools, some of these girls are agressively hitting on my son, won't leave him alone, he wants to study but they try to tempt him into "hanging out" and he's only in 7th grade, they have no goals, I ask him what their GPA is, 2.00, one was under 2. It's all about the motivation.

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  158. Jeff Scalini,

    Perhaps you think that if people pretend to be Asian and adopt a name like you did with "Christopher Wong" they will act more Asian. Well, this isn't acting more like any one racial group, Asian or otherwise. It is acting like a fool.

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  159. I think cash for grades would work wonders. They're currently giving cash for the most violent kids to not disrupt class. Give a little cash for GPA. The motivation will be huge. That's a lot of money for a kid.

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  160. The problem in the bad schools is there is a culture where the kid with the great grade isn't seen as cool. In Europe and China, this is not true, so they're beating us. Nice checks to the top students could change a lot of perception. Parents would push harder, kids would be more motivated. It's like calling the fans the 12th man in football, it could be a hidden motivator, the counsellor who doesn't exist but actually is more effective than the real counsellor. We need to try something and I say it's worth a 3-year trial.

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