Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Screening of new documentary "American Teacher"

On behalf of Sherman Elementary, I want to invite everyone to a special sneak-preview screening of the new documentary "American Teacher" at the Roxie Theater on October 12th at 6:30. After the film, there will be a Q&A with producer Ninive Calegari and cast members from the movie. Tickets are $20. Funds will be used to pay for teachers to attend the screening and to support other community events.

Narrated by Matt Damon, produced by Ninive Calegari and Dave Eggers and directed by Academy Award-winning filmmaker Vanessa Roth, "American Teacher" chronicles the lives of four educators across the country as they reach different milestones in their careers. Told with humor and wit, the film delves into the realities and frustrations of the teaching profession and examines possibilities for reform and what we can do to invest in it for tomorrow.

You can order tickets through a link on our school website:

Thanks so much for your time. I hope to see you there!

San Francisco Parent PAC and It's Mayoral Forum Oct 11

Dear SF Parents,

Across the City street intersections and bus stops parents are attempting to get their kids to school and themselves to work on time. I find significant comfort scanning the streets seeing everyone doing what I am doing and doing it as gracefully as possible!

Whether public, independent or parochial, we all balance similar responsibilities and duties in navigating schools and other facets of our lives in the city.

All school years are critical - this year though is significant not just due to school related issues but also because of the upcoming Mayoral election.

Leadership in city government significantly makes our lives easier or harder. The mayor's decisions determine park and library hours, attention on quality of life factors (street cleaning, trees, etc), maintenance of funding for Preschool for All (program that provides reduced tuition for all 4 and 5 year olds in qualified public or private preschools), continuation of support arts and get the drift.

This is why parents throughout the City formed an organization this last election cycle -- SF Parents PAC. SF Parents PAC was created to finally bring our voices to the forefront; ensuring that as decisions are being made, our perspectives are part of the consideration and in many cases should drive them.

In the last election cycle, we successfully endorsed two school board candidates. This year, we are focusing on another strategy. 

We want every candidate for mayor to hear our voices and understand what it will take to make SF the best place to raise kids and have families.

With that in mind, we are hosting the first Mayoral Candidate Forum focused on our issues. 

Please come to hear how each candidate understands your needs and his/her ideas regarding this City and family issues.

Tuesday October 11th from 6:30 to 8:30
Sherith Israel at 2266 California Street
Moderated by Steve Symanovich from the SF Business Times

Sponsored by The SF Parent Political Action Committee, Parents For Public
Schools, SF Family Support Network, Teach for America and Congregation
Sherith Israel.

Refreshments, Childcare, and Interpretation Services will be provided.

Read more on Facebook 
http://www.facebook .com/event. php?eid=21363434 2032302

After the Summit, irrespective of who wins, we will continue to hold the new mayor accountable to the concepts raised in the Summit. More importantly, we will make our voices heard as issues arise.

Become a member of the PAC today:

See you on Oct. 11th!  Please rsvp to

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

SFGate: S.F. schools to test new U.S. math standards

This from SFGate:

Four out of every 10 or so people say they hated math in school.

They didn't like fractions, they've told pollsters - or formulas, polynomials or even pi.

Solving for x was as bad if not worse than a pimple on prom night.

Yet with the 21st century job market increasingly requiring proficiency in math - and the critical thinking skills that come with it - the country can't afford that many math haters.

With that in mind, San Francisco has signed up to be among the first districts in the United States to put new national math standards in its classrooms. Adopted by 45 states, the standards' purpose is to make math more relevant and interesting, less about getting the right answer and more about why one might need to get that answer in the first place.

The school district has received a $3 million, three-year S.D. Bechtel Jr. Foundation grant to carry it out.

"We're getting killed across the world in terms of mathematics," said Terry Bergeson, executive director of the San Francisco School Alliance, a district partner in the implementation of the grant. "Around the rest of the world, the kids are ... applying mathematics to real-world problems. We teach formulas. We teach algorithms. We teach math facts."

And we bore students to tears.

Sleep inducing math

"I just think it's boring slash hard," said Jason Byers, 14, a freshman at San Francisco Mission High School. "I fell asleep last year."

The new "Common Core" math standards are sleeker and more in-depth than the old ones. They build on key mathematical concepts like measurement, size and volume. Kindergartners might be asked to identify the smallest of three apples, for example, while high school students would be required to calculate the growth of a bacterial colony.

It will be important that the students get the right answer, but the how and the why will be just as essential, said Common Core advocates.

"Kids will still have to add fractions. That's not going to change," said Phil Daro, an author of the new national math standards. But if it's successful, math "will look different."

That will especially be true in the early grades, with kindergarten students learning an elementary form of algebra even as they're being taught to add single digits.

They might count 10 bunnies and then move on to this question:

"A bunnies sat on the grass. B more bunnies hopped there. How many bunnies are on the grass now?"

The idea is to get them to come up with: "A + B = _."

Homework reformed

Homework is expected to look different too. The old "Do problems 1-30, even" will be tossed out the door in favor of a few problems at most, with an emphasis on applying math ideas.

Instead of teaching students to add fractions (cross multiply the numerators and denominators) and then solve 15 problems to get the right answer, they'll be asked to apply the concept to a real-life situation. Students would be encouraged to bounce ideas off each other about how to solve the problem.

Bergeson dream is to see 10-year-olds working out how to build a bridge in place of the current method of having a class of kids sitting in rows doing two-digit multiplication problems until their hand hurts.

"I think it's going to be a revolution in mathematics across the country," she said. "They can be a little engineer in the third grade."

Monday, September 26, 2011

Noe Valley School Fair thoughts

We manged to get to the Noe Valley Rec Center fair yesterday morning despite the rain (and our car battery dying). The school fair was a great introduction to many schools in the SE area of the city. It was packed with prospective families and school representatives. We didn't get a chance to attend the PPSF session in the morning. If you did, let us know your thoughts in the comments. We spoke with several schools, Leonard Flynn, Junipero Serra, St Philip, Glen Park, Fairmount, Starr King, Finn Barr, Mission Dolores Academy, Edison Charter...It did get a little blurry at the end. Walking away I was most impressed with Glen Park, Edison Charter, Starr King and Mission Dolores Academy. I was also delighted to hear such great things about Leonard Flynn. These schools will be on my list for touring for sure. We also got a few moments with a mom from Miraloma. I know this school is one of the hotter schools right now. I look forward to visiting the school to learn more. We didn't get a chance to talk to McKinley or Monroe. We also didn't talk to any of the privates since we most likely won't go that route.

I'm interested to hear your thoughts if you attended and which schools stood out. I felt after hearing about a few of the schools, they started to blend together and we wont' be able to really get a feel until we tour. I'll post more robust thoughts and facts after I start touring.

Friday, September 23, 2011

SFGate: Obama: Education reform aimed at raising standards

This from SFGate:
Decrying the state of American education, President Barack Obama on Friday said states will get unprecedented freedom to waive basic elements of the sweeping Bush-era No Child Left Behind law, calling it an admirable but flawed effort that has hurt students instead of helping them.

Obama's announcement could fundamentally affect the education of tens of millions of children. It will allow states to scrap the requirement that all children must show they are proficient in reading and math by 2014 — a cornerstone of the law — if states meet conditions designed to better prepare and test students.

And the president took a shot at Congress, saying his executive action was needed only because lawmakers have not stepped in to improve the law for years.

"Congress hasn't been able to do it. So I will," Obama said. "Our kids only get one shot at a decent education."
Read the full story

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Workshop on BULLYING (Sept 23)

(From SFUSD Community Advisory Committee for Special Education Website)

Friday, September 23, 2011

Support For Families

Parent/Professional Workshop: BULLYING

Presented by the Office for Civil Rights

Time: 10:00 AM to Noon

Location: Support for Families of Children with Disabilities, 1663 Mission Street, 7th Floor.

To attend the workshop, call: (415) 920-5040

BOE to Evaluate Carlos Garcia (Sept 18)

Oh, to be a fly on the wall! ...

(From SFUSD Website, Upcoming Board Meetings)


The Special Meeting of the Board of Education, San Francisco Unified School District, in Closed Session, will be held on Sunday, September 18, 2011, immediately following the Special Meeting of the Board in Retreat, and will take place at 236 Monterey Boulevard, San Francisco, California, for the following:


(Government Code § 54957) Title: Superintendent of Schools


(Government Code § 54957) Superintendent of Schools


Public Comment is welcome prior to the Closed Session

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The K Search from SOMA

Hello everyone,
I'm afraid this is a rather long first post. I've been thinking so much about the search and writing about it that I've been trying to collect too much data, when I need to be collecting feedback from parents with more knowledge about the schools.

To start with a little about us.
My Blogging name is MJ. Myself, my husband and two children (4.5 and 2) live in SOMA.
We are not in CTIP1. We do own our little apartment and are not in any position to move any time soon, and we do not want to move out of the city.
We are lucky to be able to walk to our childrens daycare/preschool and then bus (my husband Downtown) and walk or bus (me to the Mission) to work. We do have a car which we street park, this is relevant to the school search as if we do drop offs by car to school, we will either have to pay for parking near one of our work places or come home look for parking on the street which is difficult at that time of the morning, before we rush off to work.

SOMA as you SFKfiles readers know is a pretty large area with only one elementary school (Bessie Carmichael - citywide) and our AA school for the whole area Daniel Webster in Potrero Hill.

What we are looking for in a school for our son is a great GE program with additional art, music, sport, secondly a guaranteed spot in an after school program which isn't outrageously expensive and thirdly we would like the school to be easily accessible by public transportation or walking so that either of us can do pick ups.

I took some pointers from the responses to Lola's first post which referenced after school care. I will be calling all of the schools on my initial list to see what their aftercare options are before we tour. I will also be attending the Noe Valley School Fair on the 25th, which I am very grateful exists as we hope to have toured our schools of interest before the SFUSD school fair in November. I also added parochial as based on not too much research the cost is comparative with after school care that we would have to pay in some publics. I don't know if parochials offer after school but I'm guessing they do based on other threads on sfkfiles. I've heard that their class sizes are bigger and don't know if this is true. I went to Catholic school in another country and find the Church here quite open to everyone compared to my upbringing so the Catholic values issues that others raise here are not an issue for us. Private is not an option for us.

Our initial list, is ordered in distance from our home and is comprised of schools which are easy to access from our home, on our way to work by walking or public transportation, along with our AA school which is not as close geographically as a number of other schools and is a bit of a trek from downtown if my husband had to pick up or drop off using Muni. So here goes with my list. I'm looking forward to your feedback and any other schools that I may be missing that may suit us. So no "trophies" in our list that I know of and that is fine with me. It means we can concentrate on the 3 items which are important to us without worrying that we will get into the school (hopefully).

Bessie Charmichael - less than half a mile from us. Easy to get to for either parents work. Close to younger childs daycare. Afterschool care is quite high in the $400 range (is that high? I dont' know). There are limited places and priority is given to low income parents, but I think they would like to have a mixed group of kids. I have not toured it and don't know how it stacks up in regards to actual GE. API scores I think are OK. But I don't know how much we should be focusing on those unless they are below 700. Also as a K-8 we don't have to worry at about the Feeder plan.

Tenderloin Community - walkable and closer than our AA school. I think their after school care is open to all students, but I need to research that. I spoke with their principal last year at the SFUSD fair (I went as I thought it would help me this year) and I really liked her. They seem to have wonderful programs outside of pure academics for the children and we will definitely tour it.

Sanchez - yes closer than our AA school! I toured Sanchez last year and I really liked it. The children were all well behaved and happy. I toured on a Friday which is parent involvement day and lots of parents were in the classrooms with the kids. The library was in the process of having a makeover and the children (maybe 4th grade) were learning how to catalogue the books on their individual laptops. They have a part time dance teacher, a gardening teacher, the SF Opera has a program there (I think that is right). They had a plan on the wall for greening their playground and I'm really looking forward to touring this year to see how it turned out. They also have a program where each grade reads the same book and all of the children do a project on it which is displayed in the halls. Maybe this is usual in schools in San Francisco but I am not from the US and thought this was really cool. Sanchez also has after school care available to all children. My only negative on the school was the start time 8am but I did like it very much as my only school tour last year.

Daniel Webster -- our AA school and I know a school with a growing reputation (good). They also I believe have afterschool for all kids at cost but no space limits, once again I need to confirm this. Then the Middle School Feeder Plan was thrown into the mix and ISA was the feeder for Daniel Webster. I am talking myself down and going with the thinking that by the time we get to Middle school this will not be the same ISA test wise and with a 6-12 grade set of kids. I do think the PTA and community are awesome with Daniel Webster and talking to a resident in Potrero Hill with children in High School she said that most of her neighbours agree that if the school as it is now existed when their kids were young they would all have sent them there. I'm really looking forward to touring. It is still not an ideal location for us.

Harvey Milk - The furthest away in our line up but easily accessible from home, downtown and the Mission. After school for all and I believe it is very reasonable if not free? confirmation neeeded. I know there are some issues with the Principal being let go and parents not being informed. Perhaps you readers can give me a better understanding of the school.

Mission Delores - I know nothing about this school except its location and tuition. Who can fill me in?

St. Charles - So close to my work but never listed as desired school. Why? Be kind but honest.

Thats it. Thanks for reading all of the way through this. I'm really looking forward to getting your insights to the schools I have listed and any that I may be missing. I'm excited to share our K journey with you all and hope that we find the best place for our son.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Hello from Jo

Well hello. It's nice to meet you. Under the advice of Kate I will not use my real name. My blogger name is Jo March, after my favorite character in Little Woman. I have two kids, and my eldest will be starting school in Fall 2012. My husband and I both work outside of the city, so finding a school that is near our house/freeway is very important. We live in District 8- which I believe is categorized as Central/South East Part of San Francisco. Our neighborhood school is Glen Park.

What I'm looking for in a school: Hmmmm, I've thought about this a lot. Besides being a safe and nurturing environment we'll be looking for a progressive school, strong parent community, and a school that offers a variety of activities including art, science, sports and music. Not very creative, I know! My kids already speak another language, so immersion is a plus, but not a priority.

I know there is no perfect school. Again, these are just some of our criteria that we will be looking at while we are touring schools. We'll be looking at public, private and parochial. At the end of the day, the most important things are: Is this an environment where he will love learning? Can I see him growing here?

Thanks for reading my first post. As I go through this journey, please be kind and supportive, and no grumpy emails. Promise. Ok, just a few are fine- I can take it.

School Tours

Many schools are starting school tours. Please share dates and times of tours in the comments. Also, be sure to update your tour information in the SF K Files Schools database here.

Commodore Sloat Tours

Information on School Tours at Commodore Sloat for the 2012-2013 school year Thanks for your interest in Commodore Sloat School! Commodore Sloat School will begin accepting RSVPs for tour dates beginning September 12th, 2011. This year's tours will begin in October 2011 for the 2012-2013 academic school year. Kindergarten tours will be conducted Tuesday mornings between 9:00 - 10:15 AM. Prospective parents are asked to please call the school office at 415-759-2807 to schedule a tour slot. Upon arrival, parents are asked to enter the school via the front door at 50 Darien Way and register in the lobby. Again, please contact the school office to confirm tour date and space availability: October 4th, 2011 October 18th, 2011 November 1st, 2011 November 15th, 2011 December 6th, 2011 January 3rd, 2012 January 17th, 2012 Visit our school website for more information (

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Noe Valley School Fair

The Friends of Noe Valley Recreation Center are sponsoring a free elementary school fair Sunday, September 25, from 9:30 a.m. to noon, featuring public, private, and parochial schools convenient to families in central and southern neighborhoods.

Parents and administrators from schools in Glen Park, Bernal Heights, Noe Valley, the Mission, Eureka Valley, the Castro, Miraloma Heights, the Market Street Corridor and the 280 Corridor will be on hand to answer questions.

Please see for more info.

Special Education Verification Review Invitation (Sept 22 Meeting)

(From SFUSD Website)

EVENT: The San Francisco Unified School District invites you to a meeting for parents and guardians of special education students. This will be a chance for you to tell us about the special education services your child has had. We are also interested in learning about your child’s experiences in the programs the school district provides for infants, toddlers, children, and youth. We would like to hear about what you think works and what areas could be made better.

The parent or guardian meeting is an important part of the California Department of Education’s Special Education Verification Review process for school districts. It is one way that school districts can examine their compliance with the law as stated in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). This meeting is designed to gain as much information as possible from parents and guardians about key areas in the district’s implementation of IDEA.

WHERE: The Parent or Guardian Input Meeting will take place at Mission High School, 3750 18th Street, San Francisco, CA 94114

WHEN: Thursday, September 22, 2011

TIME: 6:00 - 8:00 PM Refreshments will be provided.


The meeting site is physically accessible to individuals with disabilities. If you are in need of further accommodations in order to participate (for example: assistive listening devices, materials in an alternate format, or translation if English is not your primary language) please contact Kristen Devine at (415) 379-7677 by September 19th. We will make every attempt to provide accommodations, but cannot guarantee that we will be successful. Childcare will be provided. To secure your child’s care, please call Kristen Devine at the number above.


Please confirm your interest in coming by calling: (415) 379-7677 or email: by September 19, 2011


If you are unable to attend, we would like to have you fill out a survey within the next two weeks.

Contact Donna DeMartini, Education Programs Consultant

Special Education Division, California Department of Education

1430 N Street, Suite #2401

Sacramento, CA 95814-5901

Phone Number: 916-319-0298



If you have any questions please contact Donna DeMartini

We genuinely look forward to meeting with you and listening to your comments about the special education programs and services provided by your school district.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Here we go

Hello, my name is Lola. My family is entering the K search this year. We’re a family of four, with two boys aged 4.5 years old and 1 year old. I feel like I’ve been following the San Francisco education process for a while now. Wait. I have. Ever since my 4.5 year old was in my belly. It started when we were looking for daycare. Applying, touring, anxiety, sweats and finally joy, because it all worked out. After nanny-shares, family day care, and two preschools, we are in a lovely Pre-K program in the Southeast part of the city. It’s near our places of work and a relatively easy commute. We adore the school but now it’s time to do it again. Applying, touring, anxiety, sweats and I know we will eventually, hopefully, find the joy.

I grew up in the suburbs of the Midwest. We walked 2 blocks to Kindergarten, 10 blocks to middle school and a quick car ride from mom got me to High School. We went to the schools that were in our neighborhoods. It was a given. No ifs, ands, or buts. That’s just what happened. When I moved to San Francisco and started a family I was a bit thrown back to learn that this is not the case in this lovely city of ours. The process is daunting, terrifying, and I just can’t believe, stressful. Part of me feels that maybe if I just sit back, apply at the schools near our home and the ones that we really want to get into, we’ll be ok. Then the other part of me (I’m a Gemini) has been scouring the blogs, the websites, and the yahoo groups for over a year and knows that this isn’t always the case. Which brings me to blog on SF K Files. What a perfect place to let it all out and maybe get, as well as give, some helpful insight.

We plan to go the public school route. At first it was a money issue. Isn’t it always? With two kids, we just can’t afford privates. So, I’m prepared to give it my all at the public schools and come to terms that this is what will be best for us. I believe that education doesn’t stop at the school doors. We as parents are just as much educators as the teachers and we owe it to our children to provide that environment. We’ll be focusing on the Southeast part of the city since this is where we live and work, but of course are open to other areas depending on what we find during the tours.

I hope this time next year will find us all happy, excited and ready for our first day of Kindergarten. Let’s do this.