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.

238 comments:

  1. Ok, I'm also a public school booster, but you really need a Plan B. 30% of SFUSD elementaries are stellar, superb, exceeding (IMHO) another 50% are solid performers, but 20% are schools where the challenges are very great, test scores are low, and the demographics are high-poverty. These are mostly concentrated in the SE of the city, and so they're going to be your wooden spoon if you're unlucky in the lottery. So in March 20% of parents freak out when they get these schools in the lottery.

    Good Plan B's are the parochials. Really. Tuition is 4-6K/year, and there are several good ones in the SE (St. Finn Bar, St. Paul's , St. Philip, Epiphany, Corpus Christi, Mission Dolores). A backup spot in these will do no end of good for your mental health if you're unlucky in the SFUSD lottery. And if you do get a good public school during the 10-day wait in August/September, it's easier to walk away from $4-6K in sunk costs for tuition than $25K at an indepentent school.

    If you're in the SE and your kid doesn't have language learning issues, you should also look into the immersion programs that SFUSD offers at e.g. Monroe, Flynn, Webster, Alvarado, Fairmount, Marshall, Revere, Starr King. They're concentrated in the SE of the city.

    Good luck.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Another plan B (especially if you are a renter) is to decide which local suburbs you think you could live in. If you end up with a really bad assignment you can just move.

    ReplyDelete
  3. If you live in the SE part of the city, the Friends of Noe Valley Recreation Center are hosting an elementary school fair at the Upper Noe Recreation Center on the morning of September 25th. It's free and a parents for public schools will be holding an enrollment workshop from 9am-10am. There is more information on the fair and SE schools at their website:
    www.noeschools.com

    ReplyDelete
  4. First question is--as a SE dweller do you live in a CTIP1 area? If yes, that will help you a lot. If not, that's okay, but your job just got a little harder.

    Second question, what is your assignment area school? You will have a better chance of getting into that school, unless is wildly popular like Clarendon, so you should at least check it out.

    Third question is, what schools are you looking at, and will you consider listing not-wildly-popular schools on your list in the FIRST round (not waiting until they are fully booked in later rounds). By which I mean Webster SI and GE, Harvey Milk, Junipero Serra, Glen Park, Marshall (SI only school), Flynn GE. These are fine choices, but people don't realize it until after the first round. Putting these does not guarantee you'll get one, but it sure it better insurance than not!

    Best of luck!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Lola,

    Have you looked at the middle school issue in the Southeast of the city? I know it seems like it is many years away, but you might want to think about the fact that in other cities (San Mateo, Burlingame, etc) you have a better chance of going to your local school for both elementary and middle school. It's is difficult for kids and families to be separated from their friends at Middle school and as an SE family in San Francisco, even if you are lucky enough to get an acceptable assignment, you and your children will be separated from your friends at middle school.

    As things are now shaping up, there is very good chance that you will have no middle school option at all.

    You have an opportunity now to choose a stable community now for K-8, through parochial school, or by moving to an affordable community with a school system with capacity at the middle school level.

    Things are only going to get worse here in the city and especially in the SE of the city.

    ReplyDelete
  6. "It's is difficult for kids and families to be separated from their friends at Middle school and as an SE family in San Francisco, even if you are lucky enough to get an acceptable assignment, you and your children will be separated from your friends at middle school.

    As things are now shaping up, there is very good chance that you will have no middle school option at all."

    I'm sorry, but this is overly alarmist.

    Under the feeder system (which was *not in place this year*), your kid will get priority assignment to the MS for which it's the feeder. They will stay with their friends if they pick that MS. Some of the SE elementaries drew the short straw on the MS feeders (e.g. Webster), and some did OK (Starr King, Flynn). And for some of the MS the demographics of the intake are going to shift radically (e.g. Everett, Denman) which could in turn change the school. Yeah, it's a concern, but it's a bit early to make pronouncements on how the feeder system is going to work. What's evident is a citywide choice system for MS was not going to work because there's no longer the lots of excess capacity at the MS level that enabled the citywide choice system to work well for MS in previous years.

    ReplyDelete
  7. "Third question is, what schools are you looking at, and will you consider listing not-wildly-popular schools on your list in the FIRST round (not waiting until they are fully booked in later rounds). By which I mean Webster SI and GE, Harvey Milk, Junipero Serra, Glen Park, Marshall (SI only school), Flynn GE."

    The other thing to consider is that, to a first order of approximation, Demographics Is Destiny. Many schools score low not necessarily because of poor teaching but because of the demographics of their intake.

    For instance, caucasian kids at Marshall ES get an API of 965. For comparison, caucasian kids at Clarendon have an average API of 954. But Marshall has an much lower overall API, because Marshall is ~80% English learners and Clarendon is ~20% English learners.

    Now, that's not an unconditional endorsement of Marshall: acquaintances of mine had a really hard time there because of lack of aftercare if you didn't qualify for the low-income aftercare program.

    But if looking at test scores, you need to compare apples to apples. Despite Marshall being overwhelmingly Hispanic, ELL, and low-SES, caucasian kids there are beating their counterparts in Clarendon.

    Also, some school's GE programs are less popular because of location at the outskirts of the city: other examples I'd think of are E.R. Taylor, Monroe GE, SF Community, Longfellow. These have good test scores despite high ELL and low SES populations.

    So spread your net wide, as 1:47 suggested, and don't just go by what has "buzz".

    ReplyDelete
  8. Would you mind sharing what pre-k your child goes too? I'll be looking at pre-k next year?

    ReplyDelete
  9. Lola here. We are not in a CTIP1. Funny thing is, we just moved out of one without realizing! Our assignment area school is Junipero Serra. On the top of my list are Serra, Webster, Starr King, Glen Park Elementary, Alvarado...I'm already thinking outside the box, but will still add a couple gems like Rooftop, just in case.

    And no, haven't looked into Middle School. And I'm interested in Plan B parochial too. Just haven't really investigated yet. Thanks for the tip.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Maryann- we're in Yerba Buena Gardens Childcare. Have been there for 2 years now. The Pre-K teachers are amazing. Also, this school qualifies for Preschool for All, which helps with the bottom line.

    ReplyDelete
  11. "Lola here. We are not in a CTIP1. Funny thing is, we just moved out of one without realizing! Our assignment area school is Junipero Serra."

    Despite Bernal gentrifying in the past 10-15 years, the demographics of the schools haven't reflected that because 70% of Bernalites send their kids out-of-neighborhood. This dates back to when Bernal was a rough neighborhood, and to the fact that for a few years in the late 1990s Bernal got lumped in with the Mission on a zip-code based preference system (kinda like CTIP1).

    IIRC, Serra's "feeder" MS will be Denman. Denman's API ranking is 4. However, if you look at the schools that will feed into Denman (I think Miraloma and Sunnyside as well as Serra), it'd be reasonable to assume we may see some uptick in Denman's scores. Unfortunately, we won't know that for a year or two until we see how the new feeder system will work.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Hi Lola,

    What 2:40 and 2:55 said, along with the advice to consider schools that don't get 1000 applicants *in round one*. It's fine to have a backup plan, but if you are willing to look beyond the top-20 requested schools to the next 20-30, you should be okay. Do check the cross-tabs to see how kids in your demographic are faring--in a diverse school, that is not evident in the one number.

    Serra is a nice school, with active parents now from Bernal who are now in first grade--definitely talk to them!--and your other choices (other than Alvarado and Rooftop) are good ones for a balanced list. No need to be alarmist if you go in with that mindset.

    And don't worry about middle school yet. That is still being sorted out. I can remember being told we would surely end up in private for middle, unless we got Presidio. Things keep changing.

    ReplyDelete
  13. If you live near Serra (Holly Park neighborhood), I can tell you that I know of no one, out of hundreds of applicants, who have gotten into E R Taylor, Alvarado and Rooftop. Glen Park, Serra, Marshall, Sunnyside, maybe.

    You should also be aware that there is a good chance that you will be assigned to a school in the Excelsior or Vis Valley.

    There seem to be a number of public school boosters on this thread who are not aware of the realities for Bernal parents.

    I live here and I have closely followed who got where in our neighbourhood (near Serra) for the last four years. With the exception of Sunnyside, Harvey Milk, Glen Park, and maybe Ortega, you're chances of getting a school to the north or west of Bernal are zero to none.

    Just sayin'.

    ReplyDelete
  14. One thing I tell everyone starting their search is to look into aftercare if you need it! We made a big mistake with that and got a school where there is a tiny aftercare program with few spots available (and the program is $450 a month if you get it) and ended up having to pay over $600 a month for my kid to take a bus to the JCC. It turns out to be the same price as parochial in the end. Some schools have much cheaper programs than others, some have on-site, some don't etc.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Serra will feed into Hoover.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Hi Lola,

    I'm a Leo.

    San Francisco would also have neighborhood schools if it wasn't a transient city. People come and go here, probably very unlike where you grew up. Many of the families that would like to stay have not been successful in getting into the local school and so they pick up and leave. As a result the very people who might vote to support neighborhood schools are gone. So the system is reinforced at the polls by the lottery winners. Now we have some elements of neighborhood preference, but it is far from providing certainty in many areas. I suggest that you vote for Measure H on the ballot on November if you like NS.

    Gook luck.

    ReplyDelete
  17. I don't live in the SE but I thought I should let you know about my experience. We live in the inner sunset. Our neighborhood school is Clarendon. We are within walking distance of Alice Fong Yu - alternative cantonese immersion. We aimed high - listing Alice Fong Yu first and Clarendon second. I kind of knew that we had very little chance at either but figured a tiny chance was better than none at all and we listed 14 other schools, mostly in the sunset, thinking that would ensure that we got one of those. We didn't get anything on our list. The lesson we learned here is that it is what you list first or second is the most important because the system seems to be set up to try to give everyone their first choice if possible. So, our third choice, which we would have been absolutely thrilled with, was already filled up by people who listed it as their first choice.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Lola! I think it's time that someone welcome you to the SF K Files and thank you for sharing your story with us. I look forward to reading about your search.

    ReplyDelete
  19. @Trice -- actually, the lottery does not take into account the order in which you place schools on the list, unless you're chosen in >1 school's lottery -- then you'll get the one you listed first. This means that I *can* be bumped from my #1 choice by someone who put it at #10, as long as it's not my AA school and/or they're not CTIP1.

    Of the local to Bernal schools, Serra is gaining some attention/interest. It has a weird enrollment, though -- one year there are 2 k classes, and the next there is only 1. This school year is a 1 K year -- next year there will be 2x as many K seats.

    As someone who just went through the MS process and is about to gear up for the K process, I can tell you that I'm not really looking closely at the MS feeder set up for my 4 year old. I figure in 6 years there's a lot that can change, either in which schools feed to which middle schools, or in the quality/perceived quality of the middle schools.

    Ultimately, I think for all of us in the lottery, understanding the statistics is useful, insofar as it gives us some idea of what our "chances" are of getting specific schools. That said, as with all statistics, what happens to your family/child happens 100%. If you have a 1:2 chance of getting a school or a 1:100 chance of getting a school, if you don't get it, you don't get it.

    Our strategy will be to identify the list of schools with which we are comfortable, which are commutable, preferably en-route from my home to my work. We're not in a position to go private independent, and won't go parochial, so I'm not sure what our back up strategy will be.

    I'm sure I'll see you around on tours, regardless!

    ReplyDelete
  20. Don't forget about Sheridan - lots of people from St. Francis Wood and Glen Park get assigned there when they don't get any of their choices -- it's a great school and should get more attention in the first round.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Whatever Lola wants, Lola gets (when you were CTIP1).
    Now you've done it, moving out (to SE CTIP2).

    To Serra you will go, most probably,
    Not the greatest and not the worst,
    But was the closest, or close enough.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Hi Lola,

    I highly encourage you to be open to parochials as a backup. When we started this process a year ago, we had our heart set on public. We put down 14 schools on our list, not all trophy. We went 0/14 the first round, got a struggling school second round after which we decided we'd be crazy not to have a back up. We went through an agonizing summer, the 3-day count, the 10-day count, and we never got a public school.

    We are currently at St Paul's and so far we are really happy there. Their program is solid and the kinder teacher is outstanding. The school is intimate, and the kids are safe. I'm thankful to have the option of private school although I can tell you that we never intended to be here, and it is financially a strain for us. All this just to tell you that not everyone has a happy ending, or even a doable ending. Don't put all your eggs in the SFUSD basket. We still haven't gotten a call and the lottery dissolves on Friday. At this point, I'm not even sure I want to get a call.

    Just to clarify, the deposit for parochials is typically around $500, and even though you have to pay tuition, you get refunded that if you don't end up going.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Hi Lola! Good luck! You will need all the enthusiasm you can muster as a public school parent in the SE sector. I know becuz I'm a SE parent too. If your invested enough in your kids education to write this blog, you will have a hard time settling for what you'll find, especially in the upper grades. It's all roses in the lower grades, but the uppper grades, where the massive socioeconomic differnces really start to show, are a whole different story. But by then, 3-4 years in, you'll be stuck in the situation and hard to move. If I had to do it all over again, i'd move out of the city.

    ReplyDelete
  24. 10:06 - please elaborate. I am in SFUSD right now. Good elementary. But a k-5. I am worried about middle school. Worried about high school! I have multiple kids and also sad that they might not go to the same schools down the line. Worried about making a bigger commitment to SF now or if we should suck it up and make a commitment to the burbs.

    ReplyDelete
  25. "I live here and I have closely followed who got where in our neighbourhood (near Serra) for the last four years. With the exception of Sunnyside, Harvey Milk, Glen Park, and maybe Ortega, you're chances of getting a school to the north or west of Bernal are zero to none."

    I'm sorry, but at least under the old citywide system, that isn't even close to true. I'm a Bernalite with a 2nd grader, and almost all in our social circle got one of their 7 choices - these included Fairmount, Clarendon, Miraloma, AFY, McKinley. The only one who didn't get one of their choices only listed 3. 70% of Bernalites send their kids out of neighborhood. That's the stats. You can look them up on the documents under the SAS redesign.

    Under the new system however, there's not much hope of getting Miraloma or Clarendon, but E.R. Taylor, Sheridan, Moscone, and the citywide programs (e.g. SF Community and the immersion programs) are still worth a shot. McKinley is probably also gonna be AA'd out (oh how I remember the dim distant days of three years ago when it was a hidden gem), but Milk probably won't be. As mentioned, check what the afterschool situation is, though. (Under the old citywide system, you could pick your school more freely to suit you on aftercare and start times, but the Neighborhood School brigade took that away from us.)

    But still, as I mentioned in the first post in this thread, have a Plan B.

    ReplyDelete
  26. @1AM the word from EPC is that it's not really over until at least 9/15, because the runs have been taking longer than people expected. Who knows... you could get a surprise you like.

    As for parochials, I'm the one who said we won't consider them. We're not Catholic, not even Christian. Not even from Christian backgrounds. Don't celebrate Easter, Christmas, etc.

    Not sure what I'll do if we don't get a K I can live with, but I think my standards may be less high than others.

    As for MS, we got lucky, with Hoover. I really do think, though, that with the new feeder patterns, the MSs will even out by the time this round of K kids hits the next school level. As others have posted elsewhere, Aptos was considered to be a "no way, not on your life" school 6-8 years ago, and is a top pick now. Given the feeder patterns, I'd look at Denman and Everett as both having potential for a full turnaround. Denman already got most of the '11 5th grade class from Sunnyside this year.

    Yes, everyone should have a backup plan in their head. No, it doesn't work out for everyone. But, I think this can be a great forum for "have you looked at this school? This is what my family liked about it."

    ReplyDelete
  27. Holy smokes. Thank you all for great feedback and discussion. I live in Glen Park (feeder school is supposedly GP) and this thread has sent a shiver down my spine. The sad part is that I work for SFUSD and am a believer in a public system.

    I know there are great options, but it is just so frustrating that there is so little security. We own our home and picking up to move is a challenging option. I hope EPC can help clean up this process in the next two years. Ultimately, we need to improve performance at all schools.

    ReplyDelete
  28. 10:06 - We are right there with you. I really wish we had moved to Albany, Piedmont, some other walkable, community-focused, close-in burb with guaranteed placement in good schools all the way through. We have a 5th grader now and our school experience went downhill in 4th grade...and it's a highly desirable 900 API school. But with 33 kids in the class, it has been very difficult on my kid. Jealous of our friends in Piedmont where the upper grades are "only" 27-28 kids. We feed into AP Gianni, which is supposed to be "the best" but we are not looking forward to a 1300-kid middle school with 35 kids per class..

    ReplyDelete
  29. @ 1 AM -- that may have been true under the old system, but the new system is a whole new ballgame. Unless someone has priority (sibling/CTIP1/neighborhood) there are some schools (referred to as "trophy" schools) that are nearly impossible to get assigned to. With the new system, I think it's very important for people to be practical about their approach to touring. I just know too many people who spent all kinds of
    time, sick days and babysitting money touring highly-sought after schools last year, only to end up with no assignment at all.

    My advice to Lola and anyone else who is not in a CTIP1 area is to focus on their neighborhood schools, city-wide schools (e.g. immersions, k-8) and those neighborhood schools that admitted a fairly high percentage of non-neighborhood kids last year.

    A good resource for this is http://www.sfusd.edu/en/assets/sfusd-staff/enroll/files/Post_March/Update%20Apri\
    l%2013%202011_Revised.pdf
    Look at page 15 for a list of the top 14 most-requested schools. It gives you some idea of which schools would be unlikely for the non-CTIP1-dwelling/sibling child.

    For a more in-depth analysis, look at page 28. This gives a break-down of the students who were assigned to each school in the March placement round, in terms of the percentage of sibling, CTIP1 area and attendance area kids. Add up the percentages, subtract from 100 and that's the percentage of admitted kids who were NOT in those priority categories. Mathematically, it's not the same as your child's chance of getting into that school, but it gives you a general idea of your child's chance. For example 54% of the kids admitted to Glen Park elementary and 51% of those admitted to Sunnyside were from outside the attendance area for those schools (nor did they live in CTIP1 neighborhoods).
    Compare that to 6% at both Miraloma and Grattan who were from outside the attendance area, and you have a rough idea of which schools are more likely for non-neighborhood kids.

    This doesn't mean you shouldn't put highly sought after schools on your final application for the March round. After all, you can list as many schools as you
    want to in that first round and your child might just be part of that aforementioned 6%! This is just offered as a way to focus your energy if you've
    got limited time for touring.

    I hope that's helpful.

    ReplyDelete
  30. @9:41. You're lucky! Glen Park is a good school with a dedicated teaching staff and a growing PTO. Definitely put it on your list in round 1 though, even if you are aiming for somewhere else. Several neighborhood folks did not put it on their list last year, thinking it would just be their default assignment, and they ended up with Hillcrest or El Dorado instead. Not to criticize those schools, but just to say that Glen Park folks likely won't get their neighborhood school if they don't put it on their list.

    ReplyDelete
  31. 10:25 AM:

    Just to point out, Lola is not in Glen Park. The borderline is along Mission Street, last time I checked.

    ReplyDelete
  32. If there was a strict neighborhood schools policy (alternatives excepted) we wouldn't have these problems. All our enegies could be focused on what really matters, making every school a quality school. Instead both the District and the community has expended its time and money on assignment instead of achievement. This entire student assignment system has been a debacle. It defines on one level what is wrong in education today. We want to focus on the educational service to students, not the assignment system. There is a good reason why almost all districts use neighborhood-based assignment systems and that is why Diane Ravtich said in her book that "we abandon neighborhood schools at our peril".

    I know that we don't have the infrastructure to place every child at a neighborhood school, but that is fixable.

    ReplyDelete
  33. Lola,

    If you are willing to consider St. John's, St. Paul's or St. Philip's, you should start talking to them now. Glen Park, South Bernal and Noe years ago were primarily Catholic and these are the traditional "neighborhood schools" for these neighborhoods.

    I realize that this is not an option for everyone, but these schools do seem to be quite friendly to non Catholics, especially for families who show early, dedicated interest.

    St. Philip's has a great soccer program.

    ReplyDelete
  34. Thanks everyone for amazing insight. I'm taking down notes. Site unseen at this point my plan is to put down Serra, Glen Park, Webster, Starr King, Taylor, Fairmount. McKinley...just to name a few. I'm going to start booking tours and come up with a Plan B such as Parochials (thanks @10:37). We *just* bought in Bernal so we are not going anywhere anytime soon. Stay tuned!

    ReplyDelete
  35. A piece of advice: don't kill yourself on tours.

    It's not like private tours, where being seen might increase your chance of getting in. If you over-tour, you'll just get angry that you were so invested in this process.

    Tour 4 public schools, max. Your assignment area, a "trophy" (Rooftop, Clarendon, etc), then two more (immersion or Montessori, if you're interested). Then identify the 7 or so closest schools and investigate them (drive by to see the neighborhood and physical plant, read reviews here and elsewhere, evaluate start time and before/after-care. No tour).

    Then list a bunch. If you get one, tour it then. If you take 10-15 mornings off work, you'll feel that you'll "deserve" one of your choices. That's just not true.

    Don't waste your time.

    ReplyDelete
  36. "I'm going to start booking tours and come up with a Plan B such as Parochials (thanks @10:37)."

    I forgot about St. John's. It used to have the wildest looking drama teacher there - 6 foot redhead woman with tattoos down her body (my kid used to take a swim less with her). Not what I imagined a Catholic school teacher would look like. I've heard nothing but good things about St.John's though.

    Other parochials you can look at are St. Finn Barr, St. Philip, St. Paul. Really liked the principal a. St. Brendan's is no hope, however, as they don't have enough space even for their parishoners.
    The catholic schools are superb for sports because of the CYO.

    St. Finn Barr has a first-come-first-served admissions, and start interviews in December (or used to). So we knew we had a place there in December.

    St. Anthony's & St.James are pretty resource-poor, but St. Anthony's does have smaller classes. St. James has a lovely principal, though.

    Other Catholic schools in the SE are St. Elizabeths, Epiphany, and Corpus Christi, & Mission Dolores. Don't know about St. Charles'.

    ReplyDelete
  37. "A piece of advice: don't kill yourself on tours.

    It's not like private tours, where being seen might increase your chance of getting in. If you over-tour, you'll just get angry that you were so invested in this process."

    I don't know. We toured 25+ schools over two years, and after a while it was kinda fun. One thing I didn't expect was to be as impressed with the publics & catholic schools as I was, and to be underwhelmed by the independents. I sure got to know the social makeup of San Francisco a lot better by touring the schools.

    ReplyDelete
  38. "If you are willing to consider St. John's, St. Paul's or St. Philip's, you should start talking to them now."

    FYI, St.Philip's takes in non-Catholic locals before Catholic non-locals, because they see themselves as being a neighborhood school. So I'd see them as being very welcoming to non-Catholics.

    ReplyDelete
  39. "If there was a strict neighborhood schools policy (alternatives excepted) we wouldn't have these problems."

    Except, umm, if you lived near Cesar Chavez.

    75% of families picked a school that wasn't their closest school in this year's lottery, Don. Why do you want to take away choice from them?
    You preach against social engineering, but want to impose your view of what you think people should want on them. I'd rather let them choose for themselves.

    ReplyDelete
  40. "For a more in-depth analysis, look at page 28. This gives a break-down of the students who were assigned to each school in the March placement round, in terms of the percentage of sibling, CTIP1 area and attendance area kids. Add up the percentages, subtract from 100 and that's the percentage of admitted kids who were NOT in those priority categories."


    Just to point out, the numbers on page 28 of http://www.sfusd.edu/en/assets/sfusd-staff/enroll/files/Post_March/Update%20Apri\
    l%2013%202011_Revised.pdf
    aren't quite right for all schools. For example, 59 out of kids given places AFY were either sibs or CTIP1. But adding up the numbers on page 28, you get ~30% non-sib non-CTIP. So there's errors. But in general, it's a good guide for which schools are going to have heavy numbers of sibs, AAs, and CTIP.

    There's a couple of surprises there: Taylor, Monroe, and Moscone have high demand. I'll need to start recommending others to neighbors. Longfellow, though, looks a good bet.

    ReplyDelete
  41. Correction to the SFUSD document URL:

    http://www.sfusd.edu/en/assets/sfusd-staff/enroll/files/Post_March/Update%20April%2013%202011_Revised.pdf

    ReplyDelete
  42. "The lesson we learned here is that it is what you list first or second is the most important because the system seems to be set up to try to give everyone their first choice if possible."

    No, the order in which you list schools makes no difference to your chance of getting in (in the new system). What it affects is if you get into two schools while the lottery algorithm is running, the slot at the less preferred school gets released.

    FYI, AFY and Clarendon were both heavily impacted by large sibling intake and (secondarily) by CTIP1 last year. Clarendon should be less impacted by out-of-attendance-area siblings in subsequent years: just it had a *lot* of out-of-AA siblings because it used to be an alternative school. (A case of be careful what you wish for parents close to Clarendon.)

    ReplyDelete
  43. Lola that's awesome that you want Serra. You will almost definitely get it.

    ReplyDelete
  44. To expand on the comment about the need to consider extended care before and after school: This is a CRITICAL factor in deciding whether to request (SFUSD) or apply to (independent or parochial) an elementary school. Find out
    1. Does the school have on-site care it all?
    2. If yes, are spaces available to people in your income bracket?
    3. If yes, will a program with space meet your child's needs?
    4. If you have to go off-site for child-care, what options do you have? Is a spot likely? (I hear people wait years for spots at JCC extended care for example). Is there transport from the school you are considering to the extended care program? Will the pick-up location work for your family?
    5. If you need an off-site program, will the available options fit your budget?

    If the before- and/or after-care options at a school won't work for your family, the school won't work for your family and you may as well cross it off your list.

    Every parochial and independent school I have visited has on-site extended care for every student who needs to attend. Program content varies, but there will be something on site that's safe for your kid to do after school. Not all public schools have on-site extended care programs, and a fair number of public school extended care programs are limited to low-income families or have very few spaces available for families who are not low income.

    I realize parochial is absolutely unacceptable to some people. Still I will share that we know a couple where one parent is very anti-Catholic and anti-religion generally. Their older kid has gone public K-12. They just put their younger kid in Catholic for 6th grade because their SFUSD middle school assignment was not acceptable and the Catholic price was right. So far the parents are happy and the kid loves it. SF parochial schools generally welcome non-Christians and non-traditional family structures. (In addition to the many Catholic schools, there are also two Lutheran schools in SF.) Many non-Christian families are having good experiences at parochial schools in this city. Not telling anybody what to do, just saying that if you don't get a workable SFUSD assignment, parochial schools are relatively cheap, quite diverse (especially compared to the mostly-white $25K/year independents), and may not be as bad as all that if you want to avoid a move to the suburbs.

    ReplyDelete
  45. Lola,
    I'm in the same boat as you and am curious about the two charters - Edison and the new one - Mission Prep. Edison was recently taken over by the teachers who work there and it seems like it might be worth a tour. Mission Prep has a longer school day and is brand new so I'm imaging parents could have a role in shaping the school.
    I'm also interested in SF Community as it goes through 8th grade. While I'm concerned about middle school and definitely will look at K-8 schools, I'm not going to let it shape my K search. Schools might change a lot by the time my son reaches middle school. If I find an elementary that is a good fit for K-5, that will be my target.
    I'll look at San Francisco School and Synergy as private back ups, maybe Alta Vista. I did a lot of research on the Noe Schools website.
    When you blog again, can you tell us what you are looking for in a school? What a school offers that is a good fit for your family and your child. For us, it's aftercare, PE, school site council, and facilities. It's important for us the school and classrooms are pleasant and inviting and there is a library and good play spaces.
    Good luck. I look forward to seeing your tour reviews.

    ReplyDelete
  46. @2:35. Regarding after school care, which is our top priority, how can I find this information? SFUSD website lists if a school has before and after care, however it does not indicate availability, restrictions, etc.
    Is it just necessary to call each school to find out cost, who has priority? Not sure if you know, but your post was very helpful to me.

    ReplyDelete
  47. One other note about after care- find out how likely it is you will get an aftercare spot (at places that do have it) if you don't get assigned that school in the first round. I heard a lot of "you'll get a spot if you sign up early" when I toured, but that's not possible if you don't get in until a later round. Very few schools actually have enough after care for all kinders who need it.

    ReplyDelete
  48. @3:38, My top things to look for are very similar to yours. Aftercare, PE, Art, Computer labs, Sciences, warm and caring environment. As I read the comments I'm both more stressed and more optimistic. Ha! I'm now thinking more about parochials then I ever did, which is good I suppose. Especially as a back-up. I'll be attending the Noe Valley Rec Center fair on 9/30 and will report back.

    ReplyDelete
  49. 7:21 - yes you have to call each school individually and ask them for the number for their aftercare provider. Sometimes that info is on the school's individual website. You can ask them how many spots there are, how likely you are to get in, what number of spots are reserved for low-income, the application process etc. We found that the prices vary tremendously - from $250 a month to $800 a month. We now use the JCC at $650 a month. It is not ideal, as it's expensive and a long busride on the SFUSD bus for our son - he is a shy kid and doesn't much like the bus ride - but it was our only option. Some schools also bus to Boys and Girls Clubs and the Parks & Rec Latchkey program - so make sure to ask each school whether they work with those groups. The Latchkey program is crazy cheap - like $50 a month or something - and it right now uses the SFUSD bus to drop kids off at various city playgrounds for the afternoon. We didn't do that, as wanted more structure and safety - plus the signups for Latckey are through P&R during the summer and we were too afraid to leave our aftercare decision that late, as we work and it's essential for us.

    ReplyDelete
  50. In addition to aftercare, the other thing to consider is care during furlough days and breaks.

    Many private and parochial schools have in house programs during these "days off." That's a nice option for dual income professional parents.

    Public school furlough days are another reason to consider parochial school.

    There are also programs such as the one at the Exploratorium that have programming on furlough days. Of course, you have to pay for it.

    ReplyDelete
  51. There's an interesting article today in the Wall Street Journal:

    "Homeschool Co-ops Tap Pooled Resources"

    ReplyDelete
  52. I live in Bernal and we did not get a public school we liked and we are now at a parochial (St Philip) and frankly right now I sort of hope we do not get a call from EPC with a placement (we may nit even take it).

    If you are in the SE part of the city your best bet is your neighborhood school. Tour it more than once and talk to parents. Highly likely that you will get the likes of Serra, Flynn, Taylor , Sunnyside, Glen Park.

    The first round is important (unlike prior years) and if you miss your attendance area school or the supposed non trophy but emerging schools in Round 1 then you will get sidelined like we did.

    I also agree with an earlier comment that don't go crazy scheduling too many tours - focus on the neighborhood schools and ones close by and the citywide programs.

    I feel most for those families in trophy attendance areas that did not get their schools - Clarendon, Grattan, Miraloma etc. But even those families should list other acceptable schools nearby. If a Miraloma family lists Glen Park or Sunnyside they will probably get it otherwise get assigned to Vis Valley or Some other school that is not as acceptable.

    BTW - we are a non catholic, non Christian family at St. Philip and they are very welcoming to people of all faiths.

    ReplyDelete
  53. 3:38 pm -- definitely look at Edison. edition is really ripe for a group of middle class parents to get in there and make it a true gem. We toured it for middle school. Loved the energy of the principal, loved the location, loved the k thru 8 set up, loved the organic lunches, loved the Spanish language emphasis. We got into our first choice middle, but Edison was definitely our second choice. Honestly, parents should use this blog as a way to build up a core of involved middle class families.

    ReplyDelete
  54. Re. Marshall: the after school program ISN'T limited to lower income families, but there must be some demonstrable need (academic, social-emotional, etc.). It ISN"T daycare; it's an educational and social development program, and only families that plan to make full use of the services are enrolled in it. In other words, children must attend the program every day after school and remain until dismissal. Some middle class families do use (and love) this program.

    ReplyDelete
  55. I actually hope Edison charter becomes a big contender - esp for middle school. I am not crazy about any of the feeder schools for spanish immersion programs.

    ReplyDelete
  56. "In addition to aftercare, the other thing to consider is care during furlough days and breaks.

    Many private and parochial schools have in house programs during these "days off." That's a nice option for dual income professional parents."

    Many publics also have programs during those times - if you're in one of the six GLO schools, they run programs during furlough and breaks and holidays (usually at West Portal).

    ReplyDelete
  57. " definitely look at Edison. edition is really ripe for a group of middle class parents to get in there and make it a true gem."

    Edison's had a real rocky past, though. Because of the lottery, charters haven't been the only game in town for school choice in the publics, unlike other districts with strict neighborhood assignment. So they've had a harder time getting traction. Edison's 2010 API was 782, which is pretty good given it's 90% free/reduced lunch. But there's no test data posted for it for 2011 (yet). It's similar schools ranking is 4, which is OK. The teachers are a bit on the inexperienced side (4 years experience), and you may see churn in teachers.

    Harvey Milk, which is nearby, has an API of 820 and a similar schools rank of 6. If you're checking out Edison, you should also check out Harvey Milk.

    ReplyDelete
  58. "In other words, children must attend the program every day after school and remain until dismissal. Some middle class families do use (and love) this program."

    Thanks for the correction. My friends got into Marshall off the waitpool and the care program may have been full. They also wanted to have the kids to take [external] music lessons during the week, which sounds like it was not an option with this program.

    IIRC, Moscone has very limited aftercare except the co-located CDC but willing to be corrected on this.

    ReplyDelete
  59. " If a Miraloma family lists Glen Park or Sunnyside they will probably get it otherwise get assigned to Vis Valley or Some other school that is not as acceptable."

    Vis Valley Elementary ain't that bad test-wise (API in the low 800s). Vis Valley Middle School, is nothing to write home about (API below 700).

    ReplyDelete
  60. "One other note about after care- find out how likely it is you will get an aftercare spot (at places that do have it) if you don't get assigned that school in the first round. I heard a lot of "you'll get a spot if you sign up early" when I toured, but that's not possible if you don't get in until a later round."

    Aftercare programs will also give preference to sibs of kids already in the program. At my school, half the available kinder aftercare slots to non-sibs were gone by 9:30 the Monday after the letters arrived. Good thing I was there before 8. Spouse thought I was nuts.

    ReplyDelete
  61. On Boys and Girls clubs - several schools use 'em for aftercare, but as the minimum age for Boys & Girls club is 6, you have to scramble for a year or hope the school has an alternative for the kinders.

    Longfellow ES doesn't have aftercare for kinders, but IIRC there's a program at a nearby church that can bridge the kinder year until you can sign them up for the Boys & Girls club.

    ReplyDelete
  62. Correction to the correction:

    Demand data is on page 28 of

    http://www.sfusd.edu/en/assets/sfusd-staff/enroll/files/Post_March/Update%20April%2013%202011_Revised.pdf

    ReplyDelete
  63. Edison has an interesting Bay Guardian article on their website about the school's history and its recent incarnation after the teachers took the school over from the corporate charter school company. I think it also said that the school is a "10" compared with other schools with similar demographics. At any rate, it might become more attractive to middle class, SE parents as its location is good and its K-8.

    ReplyDelete
  64. We are new to SFUSD. This is our first year attending as we just moved here from another part of the state. In reading thru most of the posts here, I see that most of the post are from SE parents, which leads me to believe that most of the North and NWest parents are doing "ok" with the SFUSD school assignment system.

    It just seems like an odd "phenomenon."

    ReplyDelete
  65. @959 It's really about demographics. The SE of the city includes the historically lower SES (socio-economic status) areas, and, frankly, the historically Latino/African American/Samoan areas.

    Either for this reason or others, depending on your point of view, there are more schools in the SE of the city with poor ratings.

    I believe school density may also be higher in the NW of the city -- not sure. Either way, the SE families tend to feel like their choices of *good schools* are extremely limited.

    HTH
    Michelle

    ReplyDelete
  66. "... the SE families tend to feel like their choices of *good schools* are extremely limited."

    So do YOU feel the same way? Or do you feel if families in the SE look a little closer, they will realize they have an adequate number of *good schools* to choose from?

    ReplyDelete
  67. "I think it also said that the school [Edison] is a "10" compared with other schools with similar demographics."

    Not even close to true. You can check the similar schools index on the California API website. Their 2010 API index is 782 and their similar schools index is 4 (better than Chavez, worse than Milk, about the same as Grattan).

    No test data posted for Edison for 2011. All the publics have their data posted: don't know why Edison doesn't.

    ReplyDelete
  68. "So do YOU feel the same way? Or do you feel if families in the SE look a little closer, they will realize they have an adequate number of *good schools* to choose from?"

    The SE has a shortage of elementary school capacity, see slide 23 & 24 of http://www.ppssf.org/Issues/SAS/AdHocCommittee_September14%202009.pdf. The shortfall is particular acute in Vis Valley, Bayview and Mission. (Which is an additional argument for CTIP1, BTW)
    This deficit has been balanced by families in the SE going out-of-neighborhood. When you add in that most of the schools with absolute and "similar schools" API ranks of less than 3 are in the SE, things are more challenging for non-CTIP1 SE parents than in the old system.

    ReplyDelete
  69. 11:19 again. I'd recommend reading the presentation at http://www.ppssf.org/Issues/SAS/AdHocCommittee_September14%202009.pdf just to get an idea of the constraints the board was facing on the redesign.

    Slides 33, 34, and 37 in particular should be read by incessant Neighborhood School boosters who think that if we just went for neighborhood schools everything would be integrated and peachy.

    ReplyDelete
  70. 11:19 again. I'd recommend reading the presentation at http://www.ppssf.org/Issues/SAS/AdHocCommittee_September14%202009.pdf just to get an idea of the constraints the board was facing on the redesign.

    Slides 33, 34, and 37 in particular should be read by incessant Neighborhood School boosters who think that if we just went for neighborhood schools everything would be integrated and peachy.

    ReplyDelete
  71. From the 6/1/11 SF Weekly Article on Edison.
    "Edison's scores this year are better than 37 percent of district elementaries and smack-dab in the middle of the district's middle schools, more or less where they've been for the last decade. But last year, Edison for the first time scored among in the top 10th of schools educating a similar student population of low-income minorities, known as the Academic Performance Index. The school advertises the success with a celebratory banner on the school's fence facing Dolores Street: "A Perfect '10' Academic Performance Index Compared With Similar Schools."

    ReplyDelete
  72. @ 11:25

    I don't think neighborhood school boosters are worried about things being integrated. I think you will find neighborhood school advocates live in neighborhoods with good schools. I couldn't get your link to work, but I know there are some neighborhoods with good schools that can't accommodate all the neighborhood students so that would still need to be resolved. I am curious why so many in the SE part of the city moved to areas that don't have many good school options near by. I guess people have their reasons, but driving across town for a good school seems like it would be a hardship for many. I think many west side families feel they have made their sacrifices to get themselves closer to good schools. Fog, longer commutes, etc.

    ReplyDelete
  73. "I am curious why so many in the SE part of the city moved to areas that don't have many good school options near by."

    Because their kids were newborns or they hadn't had kids yet?

    Or because It. Didn't. Frickin. Matter. Under. The. Old. Assignment. System.

    ReplyDelete
  74. @11:19
    I don't think the SE has as many good choices, or enough choices that are as good as the good ones in the NW. Plus, if you get closed out of your "reasonably good" SE choice, the next closest school might be low performing.

    I do think people look for the "perfect" school for their child. I'm not convinced that there is such a thing as *the* perfect solution.

    I honestly don't know what the solution is. I also don't think SFUSD has made clear what problem they're trying to solve.

    ReplyDelete
  75. OK, link didn't work. Try this page:
    http://www.ppssf.org/Issues/SASHistory.html and scroll down to a September 20 presentation 2009 by Orla O'Keefe for the data I discussed.

    ReplyDelete
  76. "I am curious why so many in the SE part of the city moved to areas that don't have many good school options near by."

    From my own circle of friends: Because they bought or rented cheaper housing in the Bayview or marginal neighborhood in the Mission. Because they moved in with growing-older parents who had a home there already. Because, under the old system, it didn't matter because the district schools belonged to all of us, not only those who could afford to buy a house on Lake Street. Because raising a child in a diverse neighborhood, one with ties to the cultures of both parents, seems like a good idea .... the opposite of the Oakland USD experience, in which people are so segregated by class and race in part because they have neighborhood schools.

    ReplyDelete
  77. @ 1:36 PM

    Not everyone on the west side is rich and their are plenty of wealthy people in the SE. Personally I want my kids to go to school with other kids in their neighborhood and don't want to be driving all over town for school and play dates. I think the school should also be a part of your community and we should be looking to build strong communities and schools.

    ReplyDelete
  78. "I am curious why so many in the SE part of the city moved to areas that don't have many good school options near by."

    Very similar to above posters, we bought in the SE because it was more affordable then anywhere else in the city. We have a 4 bedroom house, yard and great neighbors for a lot less then we could have gotten anywhere else. I also have a feeling that the schools nearby are good and getting better. Well, I'm crossing my fingers.

    @9:59 I believe there's so much talk about the SE on this thread because that's where I live (op). There are other bloggers on SF K Files that live in other areas and once they start posting we'll get more comments about other parts of the city too. I'm sure we're not the only ones that are going through this.

    ReplyDelete
  79. I suspect there are so many SE posts due to the proximity of good schools. If you live in some west side neighborhoods there are a whole bunch of good schools that are relatively close. I can count 4 or 5 decent ones that I could walk to from where I live. Even if you don't get your closest neighborhood school you have a good chance of being at an almost neighborhood school that is as good or better. I don't think that is the case in the SE.

    ReplyDelete
  80. "Very similar to above posters, we bought in the SE because it was more affordable then anywhere else in the city."

    Proximity to good schools or lack thereof is one of the reasons this part of town is more affordable.

    ReplyDelete
  81. Actually, many SE neighbhorhoods are NOT cheaper at all than the Sunset and Richmond! Houses in the fogbelt are much cheaper than Bernal, Glen Park, Portrero, Noe, Dolores Park, many parts of the Mission. Yes, Excelsior, VV, Bayview are much cheaper, but I think most people on this board are more of the Bernal/Noe/Portrero set. I think many people chose those hoods because they are sunny, hipster, and yuppie - not because they are cheap. Have you looked at the cost of houses in Bernal lately? Our friends just lost out on one in a bidding war where it went for over $800k.

    ReplyDelete
  82. For K families that are in oversubscribed attendance areas where the likelihood of getting in to go a good school is virtually nil, Edison offers a real alternative. For example, if you are in Clarendon attendance area, I can guarantee you you are not going to do well in the assignment process. Furthermore, those who are thinking down the road about middle school may be nervous about where schools like Harvey Milk will feed to. Well, being at Edison gives you a guaranteed (smaller) middle school to attend. So, it seems to me that a core group of savvy middle class families, faced with such a situation, could go in en masse to Edison K. Edison has EVERYTHING but a small cadre of middle class parents willing to do the extras to make it a gem. Figure 10 middle class families go into K this year -- that really should be more than enough to make Edison into a new Miraloma in a few years -- and one with a built-in good middle school to boot!

    ReplyDelete
  83. "Not everyone on the west side is rich and their are plenty of wealthy people in the SE"

    I really, really, think people should look at FRICKIN' DATA before sounding off. See the presentation . I know NW families want to blame us in the SE and go through impressive amounts of cognitive denial, but the fact is that the Mission, Excelsior and BV/HP . As can easily be proved by

    "Personally I want my kids to go to school with other kids in their neighborhood and don't want to be driving all over town for school and play dates. I think the school should also be a part of your community and we should be looking to build strong communities and schools."

    Again, LOOK AT THE FRICKIN' DATA. There are lots and lots of kids in the SE, in Mission, BV/HP, Excelsior, and Vis Valley. There are not enough school capacity in those communities. Also, some of the schools are unpopular - e.g. Malcolm X is at less than half capacity. But even if you stuffed Malcolm X to capacity, some BV/HP would have to schlep. If you looked at the data instead of lecturing us all how we're defective on community building and how we should live our lives, you might start to understand the position the SE is in.

    ReplyDelete
  84. Sorry incomplete sentence there:

    The fact is that the Mission, Excelsior and BV/HP have higher poverty rates. As can easily be proved by looking at, say, home prices per square foot.

    ReplyDelete
  85. Hey Lola,

    Your anonymous SE, near Serra, neighbor here.

    We bought here because:

    1. It was cheaper than Noe, but very close to Noe, the Castro, and Cole Valley.

    2. We love the architecture of the area.

    3. We love Bernal Hill, Billy Goat Hill and Glen Park Canyon.

    4. We love the restaurants: Regent Thai, Delfina, Vino Rosso, Incanto, Blowfish, Kasa, and Vega.

    5. We love that we can get to the Peninsula without having to struggle through city traffic.

    6. We love the beautiful church near our house.

    7. Lola, we also *love* our very large back yard.

    8. We love that we can find parking on our street.

    9. Surprisingly enough, in our particular corner of Bernal, there is little crime.

    10. We love the local groceries stores: Drews Meats, Canyon Market, Avedano's. Did you know the butcher at Avedano's was recently interviewed on NPR?

    11. We consider our house to have been an amazing bargain. We are now below the $417,000 limit on our mortgage and pay next to nothing in interest.

    12. We like that our street is still affordable. There are many young families here, some who will stay.

    What we don't love are the public schools. They are of poor quality, with many students who are struggling with English language acquisition commuting here from out of the city.

    SFUSD policy has drastically reduced capacity for the many middle class families that live here by creating so many Spanish immersion programs: Flynn, Paul Revere and Fairmount.

    Strangely enough, Bernal, Glen Park and Upper Noe have never been Spanish speaking neighborhoods. Most of the old timers on my street are Catholics, originally from Italy and Germany. Also, there are seveal projects locally that have many African Americans who also don't demonstrate much interest in Spanish Immersion programs.

    There's a narrow strip along Mission that is Spanish speaking but that is the only Spanish speaking part of Bernal, Noe, Mission, Glen Park.

    So the lack of capacity in public schools is in large part created by the SFUSDs decision to create Spanish immersion programs out of most of the local schools here in Bernal and Glen Park.

    Local kids who are not native Spanish speakers can't get into these programs because they are subject to citywide choice.

    Lola, I think part of what were experiencing is that the SFUSD resents the gentrification that has occured in Bernal. They want to make it hard for us.

    If you really want to stay here, unless you are very dedicated to Spanish immersion and can get in, I strongly suggest that you find an alternative to the SFUSD. Otherwise, you will be frustrated, angered and underserved by their policies.

    ReplyDelete
  86. Correction to the above post:

    "There's a narrow strip along Mission that is Spanish speaking but that is the only Spanish speaking part of Bernal, Noe, Mission, Glen Park."

    Should read

    "There's a narrow strip along Mission Avenue that is Spanish speaking but that is the only Spanish speaking part of Bernal, Noe and Glen Park."

    ReplyDelete
  87. Thank-you, 3:37. Very informative post. What do you want to improve things?

    ReplyDelete
  88. Thanks 3:37 - Just curious. What is your solution? I like living in the city too. There are many advantages for our family, including biking to work. Struggling with the uncertainty of city schools for multiple kids.

    ReplyDelete
  89. "If you looked at the data instead of lecturing us all how we're defective on community building and how we should live our lives, you might start to understand the position the SE is in."

    I wasn't trying to imply that you are defective or lecture, but life would be easier for all of us if we could go to the closest possible decent school.
    I see the report you sent showed there are a number of neighborhoods that don't have the capacity to accommodate neighborhood school so maybe this isn't possible at present, but I would like to see a higher priority for proximity to schools. My top preference would actually not be my closest school, but another close by that is in the same neighborhood. I understand the SE isn't like NW so I understand why people in the SE feel differently about proximity.

    ReplyDelete
  90. 4:46 PM:

    3:37 here.

    I don't have any all encompassing solutions.

    I have seen a number of families send their kids to parochial. (St. John's, St. Philip's) They seem pretty happy.

    A few parents have been able to gain access to public language immersion programs.

    A number of my friends moved: to Alameda, Foster City, Portland and Mountain View.

    I posted a reference earlier in this thread about an article published in the WSJ about families forming their own home schooling networks. They seem to be able to do it for about $7000 per kid, which is about the same cost as parochial school. It may seem far out, but a number of San Francisco organizations, including the Exploratorium, have great support programs for home schoolers.

    I'm not saying that any of this is ideal. I'm not even against language immersion, but when you see so many newcomers in this city use immersion to continually jump in front of the line when it comes to public school, you know that business as usual isn't going to work for native English speakers.

    As to longer term steps that could be taken, one would be to eliminate all immersion programs in the city and focus on improving the curriculum. It's true that many poor, newcomer kids would join the line with the rest of us. However, we could then focus on retaining the middle class in the city and in the public schools. It is this cohert that has the greatest ability to do the heavy lifting of improving our schools. Without this, SE public schools will continue to be unsegregated and underperforming.

    Given the hue and cry that would incur if we were to eliminate language immersion programs, I don't think it will happen.

    The city could build more schools in the SE for families that don't want or don't qualify for language immersion. If these schools were true neighborhood schools, here in Bernal and Glen Park, I think you'd get a racial mix of about 50% white, 10 to 20% black, 10 to 20% Asian and 10 to 30% Latino. About 60% of the school would be middle class. (ie. with a family income of between $80K/year and $220K/year) Some kids would be from the projects. It could work, especially for Bernalites who are quite comfortable in a diverse neighborhood.

    As it is at the moment, the middle class in Bernal and Glen park are mostly going private, parochial or immersion. Very few end up in the local GE schools.

    There's another thing to think about. I don't know if you ever check out some of the Craigslist advertisements for teacher hiring. Lately, the SFUSD seem to be looking for language immersion teachers whose focus is not on teaching a conventional academic curriculum but instead want a very social justice focused curriculum.

    It's not that our family is against social justice. However, we want a conventional curriculum where math, science, history and social studies, etc. are actually taught according to California curriculum standards. Based on their recent ads, it looks to me like the SFUSD is headed off into left field on this front.

    I really think that a cooperative of well educated, motivated parents, perhaps assisted by a part time teacher, could do better, at least up to the 5th or 6th grade.

    As to the longer term, a strict neighborhood school assignment policy might help Bernal and Glen Park, especially if there was an attempt to create a Bernal/Glen Park school with a good academic program + plus arts + sports + good aftercare for all, including middle class families, not just low income families.

    ReplyDelete
  91. Please stop saying Bernal and Glen Park are cheap. The average is about $560 a sq foot (look on Redfin) in Bernal and GP is similar, or more. So that is higher than the Sunset, Miraloma Park and other areas with "good schools", and on par with the Inner Richmond etc. You could live in a more boring hoods with fog if you want to have access to good schools! Choosing to live in Bernal is for the lifestyle, cute houses, sun, community - great reasons. But don't complain about the bad schools, because other people put up with drearier and less hip neighbhorhoods - and yes, cheaper neighborhoods - like Parkside, just to be close to good schools.

    ReplyDelete
  92. There is only one solution to the paucity of good schools. Work to make the schools in your neighborhood better. Saying that you like everything about the neighborhood except the schools is like saying you like everything about family life except the kids.

    ReplyDelete
  93. Near-Serra Bernalite here. (Renting, FWIW) We're at this end of the city due to a southerly commute.

    The other schools that are sort of walkable for us are Revere (city-wide, due to K-8) Fairmount (city-wide due to all immersion) and Flynn (1/2 city wide due to immersion, also not really so close what with the big hill in the way...)

    Add to that the fact that Serra has a "rocker" enrollment -- one year there is 1 K class (so 24 kids) and the next there are 2 (so 48 kids). This gives us a very small number of attendance area slots for a pretty family heavy neighborhood.

    Contrast this with Sloat, Fairstein, West Portal, and Lakeshore -- all larger schools than Serra, all attendance area schools.

    I hope that clarifies some...

    ReplyDelete
  94. Lola

    we're proud Bernalites for many of the reasons cited by others (lots of parks for the kids, awesome views, good weather, the community, lovely houses that are less than $2M). We toured like crazy last year and ended up applying to 17 (sounds so crazy when I write it) public schools and 6 privates (which were mostly backups). We got into Clarendon at the first round, which we hadn't even listed as our #1, so all is possible - although not super likely. My general advice:

    1) apply to as many programs as you can. Each school is a separate lottery ticket, and in the new system all lotteries are independent, so the more the better. We looked at all schools between Bernal and our work and applied to all good / decent ones. There are a lot - we found 17 (programs, i.e. some schools counted double, e.g. Alvarado) that we really liked

    2) I don't think you mentioned Fairmount - it was our #2 choice and we loved it (you should definitely check it out).

    3) I agree with other posts - backup is key for mental sanity. It's kind of a crazy game, but it's a game that you can win if you're ready to not give up (and backup helps with not giving up)

    4) I think Serra is going to be great. Bernal is full of young families and I'm sure the school will grow immensely due to the community around it. Serra was also one of our top choices and we try to donate / visit for the Halloween party and other events to support it. Flynn was also very impressive - they raise a lot of money, have all sorts of programs, the building is great, the principal seemed great.

    5) best of luck! Although you only hear folks with horror stories, most people we know got one of their first three choices, and generally their #1. We only know one family that didn't get any of their choices and ended up going to private school.

    ReplyDelete
  95. 8:12 PM, given that your so flush with cash, I guess you won't mind when they cut the buses from Clarendon to the aftercare program at the JCC.

    ReplyDelete
  96. 3:37, eliminate immersion programs? A lot of the schools would have been shut down for underenrollment if it weren't for the immersion programs. I thank the immersion programs for proving to be a successful magnet program which kept open the schools in the first place. I thank the immersion programs for providing a program that parents ask for and have received. I further thank the immersion programs for offering an alternative to GE that worked better for bilingual families. I cannot disagree with you more over your proposal to shut down immersion.

    You point to a lack of supply of GE slots in the SE compared to the demand. As someone else pointed out, that did not matter before because we had citywide choice.

    It is a new system, now, and, yes, you in the SE CTIP2 have been drafted to do the bulk of the work of improving our schools. The Superintendent has power over discretionary funding. Ask for some of it. Ask for a lot of it.

    ReplyDelete
  97. 9:25
    wow, I didn't realize one could be offensive in so many ways using so few words. Good work. I believe the technical term to describe those like you is troll.

    Lola, I'm sure you will find a good school, there are plenty in SF and plenty around Bernal.

    Good luck!

    ReplyDelete
  98. Charlie,

    What you don't realize is that most people just want to educate their kids, not do the "bulk of the work" fixing San Francisco's broken public schools.

    People will opt out in one way or another, before wasting their limited time and resources on fixing our broken schools.

    Unlike the previous poster, I hold out little hope for Serra, especially if they don't provide aftercare for all and don't have good afterschool programming. Test scores at Serra have declined in the last few years, not improved.

    ReplyDelete
  99. "SFUSD policy has drastically reduced capacity for the many middle class families that live here by creating so many Spanish immersion programs: Flynn, Paul Revere and Fairmount."

    No, SFUSD introduced those programs into those then underenrolled schools to draw the punters in as those schools were bleeding enrollment back 5-6 years ago. The immersion programs have been wildly popular and are now hard to get into. But it's not like the punters were lining round the block for those schools before the SI programs were introduced. For Revere, the SI program probably saved the school, just like it did for Webster.

    ReplyDelete
  100. "I think many west side families feel they have made their sacrifices to get themselves closer to good schools. Fog, longer commutes, etc."

    SE parent: I'm really concerned that my kid's gonna end up in a school with an API south of 700.

    NW parent: Why,you think you've got problems! I have to send my kid to school with an extra sweater 'cos of the fog.

    Oh, the Humanity!

    ReplyDelete
  101. Ha, under $2M is considered affordable? For a house in a neighborhood that apparently, from what most SE people are saying, doesn't have very good schools! Sheesh, if you have just under $2M to spend, I would definitely suggest instead opting for a $600K condo and private school, or an insanely nice house in Palo Alto or Piedmont instead! the "problems" of people on this board astound me. "Our house was so affordable it was only $1.8M and we got Clarendon, life in SF is really great for families!" That is so, so not the reality for many people in this city.

    ReplyDelete
  102. "Unlike the previous poster, I hold out little hope for Serra, especially if they don't provide aftercare for all and don't have good afterschool programming. Test scores at Serra have declined in the last few years, not improved."

    OK, reasons why Serra is currently performing below what it will in 3-5 years time:

    - It's the only school in Bernal (out of four, if you count Fairmount) that doesn't have an immersion strand. So the 'buzz', and applications from middle-class parents, have went to Fairmount & Flynn and to lesser extent Revere.
    - Bernalites have one of the most aggressive in sending kids to schoos out of their neighborhood. Only BV/HP was more prone to sending their kids out of neighborhood. This tendency dates back to a granddaddy-of-CTIP assignment scheme in the 1990s which gave preference by zipcode. Bernal, being 94110, got the same preferences as the Mission under that system. Nice deal for Bernal families, but really bled neighborhood support for schools in Bernal. Which is why Flynn and Revere introduced SI programs, to draw back families into those schools. Serra didn't, and so has been somewhat overlooked while Flynn, Fairmount and Revere have grown in popularity. But under a neighborhood system, there's good reason to believe Serra could draw local families back.

    Way back in the dim distant days of 2008, I remember Fairmount being discussed with similar skepticism as Serra is. Now it's a-I'd-cut-my-kidney-out-for-a-place school. Same with Sunnyside. In 2009, there were call-my-therapist-I'm-so-upset-I-got-Sunnyside posts here, now it's viewed as a solid pick.

    ReplyDelete
  103. 3:37 Thinks that "Bernal, Glen Park and Upper Noe have never been Spanish speaking neighborhoods."

    This person is clearly not a native of the area, but rather a recent arrival who wishes gentrification were happening much faster. But how hard is it to google José Cornelio Bernal, or Jose de Jesus Noe? It's one thing to be disinterested in immersion programs, another thing entirely to not even recognize Spanish surnames! Is it really too challenging is to look up the origins of San Francisco, for that matter?

    The students in Spanish Immersion programs will be leaps and bounds ahead of this person. Felicidades to those of you who are savvy enough to choose such programs for your children!

    ReplyDelete
  104. "Ha, under $2M is considered affordable?"

    It is fun putting words in people's mouths, isn't it?

    ReplyDelete
  105. "3:37 Thinks that "Bernal, Glen Park and Upper Noe have never been Spanish speaking neighborhoods."

    I've a cousin who remembers when Mission was an Irish neighborhood.

    Data in the September 14th 2009 presentation by Orla O'Keefe which can be downloaded at http://www.ppssf.org/Issues/SASHistory.html, indicates that K-12 SFUSD kids from Bernal are ~40% Hispanic, and only ~20% non-Hispanic white, despite the accusations of it being invaded by breeding hipsters.

    Bernal historically has been a blue collar neighborhood (many ILWU and other activists lived here) and it hasn't quite yet gentrified its way away from that past, despite superficial appearances. Like I said before, K-enrollment and the assignment system led me to a deeper understanding of this city and its makeup and dynamics.

    However, if it makes you feel better tearing a particular neighborhood down to make you feel more justified in the unearned windfall the new assignment system has given you, feel free. That's why it's the TheSFK-and-your-neighborhood-is-the-suxxor-Files after all.

    ReplyDelete
  106. What this blog shows again and again is how divisive the school process makes parents here, how it pits people against each other and makes some feel like winners and some like losers. It's really tragic.

    ReplyDelete
  107. It's "here we go" today and "going, going, gone" to the suburbs and neighborhood schools tomorrow. Lola, you are in for a rude awakening between now and then.

    ReplyDelete
  108. 3:37 also claimed students struggling with English language acquisition from out of the city were commuting into SF and taking up seats, cutting to the front of the line. I've heard about address fraud at Lowell, but 3:37 is talking about much more than that.

    3:37 is alluding to an illegal alien problem. 3:37 is blaming outsiders for our problems. Her school choice problems are being blamed on outsiders, just as national issues are blamed on undocumented workers/illegal aliens. With that demonizing of limited English students/immigrants follows the proposal to get rid of immersion.

    ReplyDelete
  109. There are no GE bernal neighborhood spots. period. What part of that do you not understand? You can make all the comments you want about home prices but I agree with the poster - there are very, very few neighborhood spots available in bernal. Many of the GE schools/spots have near bernal have been converted to immersion/city-wide. It makes it really hard to go to school with your neighbor on your block.

    ReplyDelete
  110. There are no GE bernal neighborhood spots. period. What part of that do you not understand?"

    There are 44 GE slots at Flynn and either 22 or 44 at Serra depending on whether what the demand is. As
    I said above, the immersion programs were introduced into Flynn and Revere because of the falling enrollment there.

    As for Bernalites going Emo on the new system - I posted on the Bernal Heights parents list about the changes to the SAS and that we needed to show up at BoE meetings to
    voice support for citywide choice, and I got no response or support. We got out-organized, and the BoE is not going to do an overhaul of the SAS for at least another five years.

    ReplyDelete
  111. "We got out-organized."

    Whattya want to bet that the NW side had a larger share of stay-at-home moms (or dads) who had time to go to meetings and make a lot of noise?

    Lola, over here on Potrero Hill both Starr King Mandarin Immersion and Daniel Webster SI have lots of parent support. Webster's momentum is especially impressive, and it's in a sunny, quiet part of the hill. A group of middle-class parents have also entered the GE program there -- too early to tell, but I think the GE program may be catching up with the SI one.

    The only thing is, lots of Potrero is CTIP1, so the immersion slots get snapped up. So do consider the GE program at Webster.

    ReplyDelete
  112. "3:37 Thinks that "Bernal, Glen Park and Upper Noe have never been Spanish speaking neighborhoods."

    This person is clearly not a native of the area, but rather a recent arrival who wishes gentrification were happening much faster. But how hard is it to google José Cornelio Bernal, or Jose de Jesus Noe? "

    Sorry, misinformed person, I have lived here for 12 years and know most of the old timers on my street. I have extensively researched the development of Bernal Heights and Glen Park.

    True that Bernal Heights and the Excelsior once belonged to the Bernal family, by way of a dubious land grant from the Mexican government which effectively stole the land from the Ohlone. It appears that for thirty years or so, the land was used to pasture cattle by the Bernal family.

    In about 1860, the land was sold off in parcels and bought by European immigrants.

    So, sure, Bernal was spanish speaking for thirty years or so, a hundred and seventy years ago, but for the rest of its history, it has not been.

    There are no local churches anywhere in Bernal, Noe or Glen Park that were Spanish speaking. That's a recent development within the last fifteen years.

    Much of the development of Bernal and Noe was done primarily by European craftsmen who lived here, and built their own homes while working to build more grandiose homes north of Market. That's the reason for the beautiful Victorian and Edwardian architecture in Noe and Bernal.

    So, no, the Spanish immersion programs are not a legacy of the area. If you were to look at old pictures of kids at Paul Revere school, you would see that these kids were the children of European immigrants.

    I believe that most people here would welcome Spanish immersion if it didn't mean that they were displaced from their local schools. However, they are displaced.

    The statistics, referenced above, show that there is a significant school capacity problem in the SE. The city wide choice Spanish immersion programs exacerbate that problem.

    ReplyDelete
  113. Let's get the history of immersion programs straight. The reason why they are Spanish immersion has nothing to do with local history; it had to do with a need by SFUSD to attract middle class English speakers into schools with low income Spanish speakers. Most of the schools that have SI are heavily attended by low income Spanish speakers. The immersion programs were a way to mix up the income levels of families at the school.
    They are citywide as the district probably wanted to draw as many middle class applicants as possible in the beginning and they are special programs.
    With the new SAS, my guess is that there will be more availability in the SI programs for parents in the SE as families on the north and west side of the city have more guaranteed access to their local schools. In addition, the MS feeder patterns make it especially attractive, if you live on the north or west side of town, to stay local. Most schools feed into good middle schools - Sunset to Giannini, Alamo to Presidio, etc. While the SE middle school situation is much less attractive, especially the patterns for many of the SI programs. Lick really got the short end of the stick. So I can't imagine a parent who has the option to stay local on the west or north side of town will want to drive across the city to a SI program and then have Lick as their MS. If it were me, I'd stay in the Sunset or the Richmond for the whole ride. This is all to say that there might be more SI spots for English speakers freeing up in the future.

    ReplyDelete
  114. "There are no local churches anywhere in Bernal, Noe or Glen Park that were Spanish speaking."

    Go to St. Anthony's on 12 on Sunday. Or St. Kevin's on 12 on Sunday. A damn sight more packed than at the English services.

    Are you sure you've lived in Bernal for 12 years?

    ReplyDelete
  115. Hey, 8:30, it's clear that the demographic at many Bernal Catholic churches has changed in the last 20 years. That's generally true within the Catholic Church.

    That doesn't change the history of Bernal, Glen Park and Noe.

    These areas are not predominantly Spanish speaking. While some non-Spanish speakers in the area may be interested in Spanish immersion, their first priority is access to a good school for their kids. If public schools don't provide that here, people will look elsewhere to school their kids.

    ReplyDelete
  116. I've just got to make the point the posters above made, again:
    NO IMMERSION PROGRAM WAS EVER PUT IN A SAN FRANCISCO SCHOOL THAT WAS FULL
    Immersions programs went into schools that were half empty, because they were schools with low scores, poor kids, or next to the projects.
    Starr King, where my kids go, would have closed were it not for the Mandarin immersion program, which filled it up and now it's busting.
    Those schools were not at capacity and middle class families didn't want them.
    Now they're full and middle class families want them.
    History is important here. You don't close programs that are doing exactly what they were intended to do. Immersion did not 'steal' spots away from other middle class parents. Middle class parents didn't want those schools. To this day I still have people telling me they'd never send their kid to Starr King because "it's a ghetto school, it's too scary."
    If I were a betting person, I'd look for Malcom X to go immersion next. It's a tried and true way for the District to create a draw (carrot, rather than stick, which we all agree is a good idea, yes) into a school that's half empty.

    ReplyDelete
  117. "If I were a betting person, I'd look for Malcom X to go immersion next. "

    There's a concentration of Hispanics and Chinese along 3rd street, so that might actually work.

    I'll note that Malcolm X has gained a lot test-score wise in the last few years.

    ReplyDelete
  118. Beth,

    We understand why the immersion programs were put in place.

    However, rather than strengthening curriculum and making afterschool programs available for all, the SFUSD instead implemented immersion programs.

    Most middle class people in Bernal, perhaps you are the exception, do not want immersion programs at the expense of curriculum and afterschool.

    Beth, I'm glad you've been able to make the system work for yourself, but you are the exception.

    I would also say that starting an immersion program which recruits wealthy Mandarin speakers who then install their family here in San Francisco, while they continue to work in China, displaces American children from San Francisco schools. Maybe that's fine with you, but its probably not fine with the rest of us here.

    ReplyDelete
  119. On socioeconomics in the Looking at the Sept 9th presentation at http://www.ppssf.org/Issues/SASHistory.html

    - There's a slide with median incomes giving median household income in the SE at $49K and $78K in the west of the city (Richmond/Sunset) and $83K in the southwest (OMI/Parkside/West Portal etc.)

    However, I believe I saw people using iPads at Ritual Coffee Roasters on Valencia, so obviously those statistics are wrong.

    ReplyDelete
  120. Okay, I really should log off and not post when I'm appalled, but here goes:
    "I would also say that starting an immersion program which recruits wealthy Mandarin speakers who then install their family here in San Francisco, while they continue to work in China, displaces American children from San Francisco schools. Maybe that's fine with you, but its probably not fine with the rest of us here."
    I don't know if you've ever actually set foot in Starr King, or Jose Ortega, our sister Mandarin immersion program.
    But I've spent lots of time in both schools and know most of the families. We have no families who fit this description. None.
    What do you base this statement on?
    We've do have one Spanish speaking family who moved from Gilroy because they wanted their son to learn Mandarin, but beyond that, no one anywhere near fitting your description.
    I believe you are mistaken. Could you please tell me your source for this?

    ReplyDelete
  121. To clarify my response about "affordable" housing. I do believe Bernal is more affordable per Sq ft then the NE. We spent 6 months looking in the Richmond and the SE. For 800K in the Richmond you got a 2 bedroom flat, possibly-but not always-a shared backyard and maybe a tight, tight parking space, maybe street parking. For the same price in Bernal you got a Single Family Home, backyard, garage, 3+ bedrooms, oh and not as much fog...although lately the fog is winning even out here.

    800K+ is still a LOT of money. I'm not saying it isn't.

    7:02am- I do have Starr King and Webster on my list to tour. I know someone who just entered the GE program at Webster. So far they love it.

    ReplyDelete
  122. You know what's frustrating? to get a call today, four weeks into the school year, that you finally got a 1st grade spot at Rooftop! After you gave up your other kid's 4th grade spot at Rooftop - which you got in March - the week school started, because you had to make a choice on betting whether they would ever call for the 1st grade spot, chances of which you expected were nil. And instead you decided to stay private though you really wanted to change to public. And you didn't even know you were still in the running for 1st grade because you never got a robo-call or anything. And only to end up losing both spots at a coveted K8 because of the convoluted, uncertain, terrible process called enrolling in school in SF. It's like "here is a dream assignment that every parent in SF wants in the worst possible and most unworkable way". We are actually looking forward to moving out of SF now. I feel so defeated. The upside is there is a 1st grade spot at Rooftop for someone! I hope someone gets the call today.

    ReplyDelete
  123. I don't mean to bash immersion programs, which I think are great for people who want them. Many middle-class SF families love the idea of their children becoming bilingual global citizens. The earlier one starts learning another language, the more truly bilingual one becomes. I don't think there's any serious debate on the long-term learning benefits of language immersion programs that start in kindergarten.

    However, to be a bit cynical, immersion programs are a numbers game. You have a school that's half-empty and the students there have lousy test scores. You have to attract resourced families whose kids are statistically likely to test well, because otherwise your school won't meet its performance or enrollment requirements and will be closed. Immersion has proven to be the magic bullet that attracts more resourced families to the SE schools--general ed stands have not pulled those families in. The schools get full, their test scores, predictably, go up, the teachers keep their jobs, the district appears to be turning around failing schools, and everyone's happy.

    I sympathize with people in the SE who don't want immersion. It would not have been the right choice for our child. However, resourced families were not flocking to the SE general ed strands. The students in those strands (mostly poor and/or ELL) were not testing well and middle-class families pooh-poohed the programs as not good enough.

    The thing about immersion, as opposed to other "magnet" programs at the elementary level, is that it's extremely visible and therefore marketable. The work your kid is doing is mostly in Spanish or Chinese. To contrast, Spring Valley on Russian Hill is supposed to be a science magnet. It seemed like a nice school, but when I toured, I saw no evidence of any unusual amount of science going on. New Traditions, another nice place, is supposed to be an arts magnet, but when I toured, the kids did not seem to be spending noticeably more time at art than in other schools I toured.

    If you want to make an historically low-scoring school attractive to resourced families, you have convince resourced families that it's got something to offer their kids. If resourced parents can articulate what non-immersion special programs would attract them to SE schools, maybe SFUSD would listen. Just demanding "better" GE strands, however, is a chicken-and-egg proposition. The scores won't go up significantly until more resourced families go into the schools, and resourced families don't want to put their kids in a "failing" school unless there's something visibly new and improved about it.

    ReplyDelete
  124. "Most middle class people in Bernal, perhaps you are the exception, do not want immersion programs at the expense of curriculum and afterschool."

    I think you may also be misunderstanding how immersion programs are run. There is no "at the expense of curriculum"--the curriculum is learned, the same as GE, but mostly in the target language. The statistics have shown that test scores of immersion students in English are even with GE kids by 4th grade, i believe. The bonus is that unlike GE kids, they also know a second language, which is beneficial in many ways, including for brain development. Also, the programs are not designed for only native speakers of the languages, but for a mix of native speakers, English-only speakers and bi-lingual. There are separate bi-literacy programs for newcomers in Chinese and Spanish. Those are aimed at native-only or bi-lingual native speakers to improve their English. And I'd have to agree with Beth wanting to know where did you get that info about wealthy chinese moving here to take up spots in our schools while they work in China?

    ReplyDelete
  125. It is true, I haven't visited Starr King.

    However, our very own SFGate had an article yesterday: "China may lose grip on growing rich class".

    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/09/08/MNQC1L17P5.DTL

    From the article:

    "Su, the property developer, intends to stay in China and continue building residential high-rises and office buildings for another 10 years because he fears it would be too difficult for him to replicate his mainland business success abroad.

    "His wife is already in the United States, expecting their second child. Under China's one-child policy in place for the past three decades to control population growth, couples can be penalized for having more than one child. In Beijing, the penalty is a one-time fee three to 10 times the city's average income, a maximum of $40,000."

    Beth, I have toured E R Taylor. How does one explain the sudden change in demographic in the Excelsior? E R Taylor has three classes of Mandarin immersion. Virtually every kid in those classes is a native Mandarin speaker. . . In a neighborhood that until a few years ago was not at all Chinese.

    I realize that the E R Taylor Mandarin immersion program is different from that at Starr King, buy still, E R Taylor again does not match the demographic of the surrounding neighborhood.

    Another fact that indicates the impact of Chinese immersion programs is the phenomenon of Chinese realestate promotion in San Francisco.

    Recently, we decided to refinance our mortgage. We had it appraised four times because of the descrepancies in the numbers we were getting. It turned out that two of the four appraisers worked for a company that also leads guided tours for wealthy Chinese looking to buy a home in San Francisco. Those two appraisals were thirty percent less than the other two. Luckily, it did not affect us, but two homes that were foreclosed upon on our street in the last two years were purchased by Chinese who gained an inside deal through these appraisal/realestate touring companies.

    After this appraisal encounter, my husband and I looked into the matter and discovered many Chinese websites that cater to potential Chinese home buyers and simultaneously promote the free Mandarin preschool and Mandarin immersion programs which are available to Mandarin speakers. You can read these by using Google translate.

    It is true that perhaps Starr King doesn't cater to this phenomenon, but other schools do.

    Free preschool and easy access to schools: Middle class Americans in San Francisco don't have this. So why do we permit wealthy and middle class Chinese to have this simply because they speak Mandarin?

    ReplyDelete
  126. I should have mentioned that resourced families also need to articulate their need for extended care programs to SFUSD. I could be mistaken, but my understanding is that extended care programs for non-low-income students are run by outside contractors, and they need enough kids to make it economically viable to operate a program at any specific site. Does anyone know more about this?

    ReplyDelete
  127. Resourced families have, time and again, indicated their need for extended care. The SFUSD is not concerned with the needs of resourced families.

    ReplyDelete
  128. This conversation is so stressful because there is an element of truth in what everyone is saying. After a painful K lottery last year, we sent our only child to private for full tuition which we really can't afford (and truly do not understand how we didn't get any aid-warning to those first timers heading out this year who think they will qualify that you will be horrified to see how little aid there is). Anyway, I wanted to say how sorry I am to 11:38 about the whole rooftop thing. It is this stuff that drives what is left of the middle class out of the City and it makes me sad. We have to find a way to make all of our public schools good enough for all of our kids!

    ReplyDelete
  129. 11:52 am -- I found your posting fascinating. I never would have imagined that real estate listing services for immigrants have drilled down to where they tout particular public school's offerings. The English-speaking real estate agents drive me nuts by implicitly claiming that buying a home will get you into a particular school. I keep seeing references to how a particular home is "near the high test-scoring Clarendon" elementary. We all know that the current assignment system makes it quite difficult for Clarendon area residents to get into that school. I wonder if some of these immigrants are being scammed by being told they have some kind of "in" to get into ER Taylor. Of course, I do have to wonder why the one guaranteed ticket to admission to a good school in the assignment system -- residency in a CTIP 1 zone -- is not touted more by real estate agents. I have not seen one listing in the Bayview, for example, noting that fact. That at least would be truthful!

    ReplyDelete
  130. "E R Taylor has three classes of Mandarin immersion. Virtually every kid in those classes is a native Mandarin speaker. . . In a neighborhood that until a few years ago was not at all Chinese."

    There is no Mandarin immersion program at ER Taylor. The ONLY Mandarin immersion programs in the entire district are at Starr King and Jose Ortega. And those two schools traditionally have had trouble recruiting native Mandarin speakers -- let alone filling "three classes" with them.

    ReplyDelete
  131. So many good comments on here. If only everyone could be civil in their discussions and give other posters the benefit of the doubt that we are all sincere in our concerns and ideas. Bashing people as "incessant Neighborhood boosters" isn't fair even if you disagree with the neighborhood idea. There are multiple complicated problems with the school system in this City and intelligent people may disagree on the solution. I most agree with two comments:
    1) the school board/SFUSD doesn't know what problem they're trying to solve with the assignment system--their discussions during the redesign were often abstract and illogical, and I'd expect whatever metrics they eventually report will be equally confused.
    2) The SFUSD/Board do not care at all about the needs or problems of "resourced" families in the city, other than to the extent they need to lure some to prop up the scores at low-performing schools. They don't believe it is their mission to educate everyone and they don't believe they are really losing that many families (because the system's "losers" disappear and only the winners remain.)

    ReplyDelete
  132. Well said, 1:02.

    1:00, tour E R Taylor yourself. As I said in my post, it is not called Mandarin Immersion at E R Taylor. But about 50% of resources at the school are devoted to teaching native Chinese speakers, about 20% to native Spanish speakers and the rest to native english speakers.

    Don't believe me? Go have a look yourself.

    ReplyDelete
  133. Is there anyone out there who can give a sense for what is going on there with the loss of the principal and the, presumably, higher number of neighborhood kids this year? It is so rarely mentioned on these boards, but it is our neighborhood school and while I'm not thrilled with the facility or what seems to be over-emphasis on social justice (promoting respect and compassion is good, but...), I'm curious what its outlook is.

    ReplyDelete
  134. "E R Taylor has three classes of Mandarin immersion."

    ER Taylor has Cantonese and Spanish bilingual classes. (Not immersion, not Mandarin.)

    According to Taylor's 09/10 SARC Highlights info, the student body is about 52% Chinese and 27% Latino... with 70% of all students receiving free or reduced lunch. (Doesn't really sound like a school to which the children of Mandarin speaking millionaires are flocking..)

    http://orb.sfusd.edu/sarcs2/hilights/sahl-513.pdf

    ReplyDelete
  135. 12:58 PM:

    I think most of us have become wise to the promises of realtors regarding schools.

    The situation I am describing is more insidious. These appraiser/trouing companies are deliberately lowering the appraisals so that they or their compatriots can profit from a falsely deflated price. At a minimum, they know who might be putting a house on the market at a depressed price and can swoop in as soon as it lists. They will already have "toured" the home, so to speak.

    In retrospect, I laugh at our experience. We had some uncompleted renovations during this process. They thought they smelled blood. These guys are looking for blood. Anyway, we gave the refinance company hell, got our refi fee back and moved on.

    Others on our street weren't so lucky and really were looking to sell. I think they sold at a falsely depressed price.

    I'll I can say is watch out.

    ReplyDelete
  136. 1:17 PM:

    Does anyone believe those "free lunch" statistics anymore?

    ReplyDelete
  137. 1:10 PM:

    Are you asking about E R Taylor?

    ReplyDelete
  138. Chinese immigrants save SFUSD and we should thank them for attending schools that no middle class liberals would dream of attending. The Chinese population have boosted test scores throughout the district and are the mainstay of the system. As a home owner in the SE, I'm personally thankful that Chinese immigrants are buying in Vis Valley, Portola, and the Bayview. It only means that schools will get better and that as my child gets older, Vis Valley middle school might actually become an attractive offering. If you look at the Great Schools scores across SF, there are a lot of schools with 9 and 10 ratings, on par with Marin and the suburbs, in terms of test scores with much more economic and cultural diversity. We can thank Chinese immigrants for that as many middle class liberals spent years only applying to Clarendon, Claire Lillienthal, Rooftop, and Miraloma, Chinese immigrants were attending Ulola, Feinstein, Keyes, Sunset, RL Stevenson, etc. Now we have a district that probably has over 1/2 the elementary schools with a Great School score over 7 and I think we can directly attribute that to the presence of Chinese students in the system.

    ReplyDelete
  139. I would agree that ER Taylor offers a lot of support for non-native english speakers, which was a response to the needs of the students. It is indeed bi-literacy/bilingual and not immersion. They are different programs. They also offer a coordinated social support programs for lower SES families. I would have to agree that this school is not for the children of millionaires, but is rather a success story for achievement of lower SES immigrant families.

    ReplyDelete
  140. 1:34 PM

    I hate to tell you this, but you are a racist.

    Chinese immigrants contribute neither more nor less than other immigrant groups.

    What is clear is that because of language immersion, they Chinese immigrants are not integrating.

    Because of immersion programs, they also receive preferential access to San Francisco schools.

    ReplyDelete
  141. @ 1:34 PM

    I live in Crocker Amazon and I feel the same way. As Guadalupe is set to feed into Vis Valley MS...I'm hoping same as you. The Chinese students at Guadalupe score really well, even in English. I'm humbled and inspired by many of my lower SES and immigrant neighbors (both Latino and Chinese) that I never would have understood as well or interacted with as much as I have without living out here. I see that they don't fret over school scores, they don't whine about unfairness of the placement system, or whether their kids might have to interact with kids from the projects.. or anything else. They go, they learn and they do well. I would say the only room for improvement is the PTA. there isn't a very big one. That's the biggest lack at our neighborhood school. And I would second the aftercare issues for resourced families, (not available here) although I do understand that there needs to be a critical mass of paying parents to make a program like GLO sustainable.

    ReplyDelete
  142. @ 1:40
    I guess I'm a racist. I like Chinese immigrants. I have a lot of admiration for their tenacity and vision and willingness to constructively use the resources available to them.

    ReplyDelete
  143. 1:49 PM

    Remember that giving preferential treatment to Chinese immigrants simply tries to put a bandaid on a broken system.

    It doesn't fix the system.

    You're simply swapping one group who has learned to succeed for another.

    Middle class American kids are pushed out of the city while effectively middle class kids from China are swapped in. FYI, most of the Chinese kids coming here would be middle class in China. Their parents have probably had the benefit of a good education.

    It may mean that our schools can say they are helping poor kids, but that's not really true.

    But, it looks good on paper, doesn't?

    However, Latino kids and black kids are still at the bottom and as far as I can see, we've done very little about that.

    And, for what its worth, middle class American families in the city are not served at all by the SFUSD. Of course, they don't care and embrace every policy they can find to kick the middle class in the head.

    ReplyDelete
  144. September 9, 2011 2:06 PM

    The only people pushing white middle class out of the city is the white middle class. What I admire about my neighbors is that they are going to Guadalupe and doing well, whereas none of the white middle class people i know would send their kids there. There is always space at Guadalupe, if you'd like to come, or better yet, or move to Crocker and then you'd get in for sure. But something tells me this neighborhood isn't up to your standards. Which is my point about my neighbors. They live here, go to the school and make the best of it. IWithout whining that someone else. They are not taking anyone's place, to the contrary, they are filling up otherwise unclaimed spots. Judging by the cars, clothes and the fact that the 70-year grandpa across the street painted the house himself, I'm not sure I'd put most people over here in the same category as Bernal parents (the neighborhood I lived in before here.)

    ReplyDelete
  145. "The only people pushing white middle class out of the city is the white middle class."

    Ain't that the truth.

    We toured 25+ schools . The only one I wouldn't send my kid to? The very tony independent school, the only independent we toured. Firstly, because it was too expensive, and secondly, because the people there hashed out the outdated canard of "there's only Rooftop and Clarendon that I'd send my kid to". We toured about 20 public schools, almost all in the SE. And we'd have been happy to send my kid to any of them. (Same with the parochials, except two near the mission that were just too strapped for cash.)

    There are over 150 elementaries in this city, public, parochial and private. You can find one for you.

    ReplyDelete
  146. "the school board/SFUSD doesn't know what problem they're trying to solve with the assignment system--their discussions during the redesign were often abstract and illogical"

    How many of those BoE and consultation sessions did you go to? It doesn't sound like you were in the same room as me. Wynnes & Norton were pretty clear. BoE member Kim was pushing for a solution that would have led to more socioeconomic integration, but that was resisted by staff because it would have led to non-contiguous attendance areas and elimination of choice, which would have been extremely unpopular.

    But it was pretty clear in the discussions that the BoE understood the limited set of levers it had, the physical constraints of transportation and demographics in the city, the disadvantages of the old system, and the strengths and weaknesses of the six alternatives considered.

    ReplyDelete
  147. Back to Lola's question about a plan B.

    Have you tried to look into the demand for various schools? Maybe you can find some that are decent, but not in high demand. Do those exist? You have to decide how much driving you are willing/able to do as well. Maybe there is one less convenient for you, but easier to get in to.

    ReplyDelete
  148. "How many of those BoE and consultation sessions did you go to? It doesn't sound like you were in the same room as me."

    I was at 90% of them. I heard them say "equity" a lot and "diversity" a lot (with much head-nodding) and then they would say things in direct contradiction with each other and never attempt to specify what equity or diversity actually meant and how they would know they had succeeded and what the impact would be of pursuing such things. Yes, Norton has a better grasp than most, but all of them seemed to lose the thread. They talked a lot about reducing racial isolation without specifying what number of schools would signify the system was working versus not, acknowledged that their stats under choice showed that various groups self-selected into the same schools and were unlikely to accept assignments to other schools yet kept that method as a cornerstone to reducing racial isolation. They talked about closing the achievement gap without being able to draw much of a line to connect how the assignment system would do that. They never seemed to produce the data on how the achievement gap varied by school or program--a pretty useful and informative piece of info if you are trying to improve it. The school system will probably benefit from the economic conditions that keep people from moving out or paying tuition, but that doesn't mean the board figured it out.
    We were in the same room. I left that 2-year process disillusioned and disheartened, not just by the result but more by the process and the lack of critical thinking and inability to effectively grapple with a complex problem in a way that was both compassionate and pragmatic.

    ReplyDelete
  149. Thank you 4:31 PM, for your pragmatic and hard won thoughts.

    ReplyDelete
  150. "They talked a lot about reducing racial isolation without specifying what number of schools would signify the system was working versus not, acknowledged that their stats under choice showed that various groups self-selected into the same schools and were unlikely to accept assignments to other schools yet kept that method as a cornerstone to reducing racial isolation"

    If you were at the meetings, then you'd remember that the Stanford consultants pointed out that while there was self-segregation under choice, that if the Board moved to a neighborhood system, there'd be more racial and SES segregation, and that because of the income diversity within racial , the income proxies used in the old system didn't guarantee racial diversity - it was perfectly possible to get a income diversified schools that was 90% Of one ethnicity (e.g. AFY). You needed to hear the background data as well as listen to the presentations. Using census tracts as a proxy for race and SES was, in my view, a stroke of genius by Orla O'Keefe.

    ReplyDelete
  151. " They talked about closing the achievement gap without being able to draw much of a line to connect how the assignment system would do that."

    There's a limit to what the assignment system can do. And the impact appears to be most significant in the early years (didn't that feature in the presentation by Goodwin Liu on the achievement gap and teacher experience presented to the Board on the PPSSF website on the SAS redesign.) But we know there's a correlation with extremely high percentages of low SES, and we also know there's a correlation between the teacher's level of experience and the, and we know that the most inexperienced teachers tend to be assigned in the roughest schools.

    On metrics for success - for God's sake. There's a four year lag between one lottery and the first CSTs of that cohort. To get a decent longitudinal picture, you'd need to wait until that cohort reached 8th grade, and probably a few more years to even out inter-year variability. So to do a rigorous test on the achievement gap you're talking about a decade. While I don't see us changing the SAS significantly in the next few years, I can guarantee it won't be the same in 10 years time.

    So I'm not going to fault the BoE for not deciding on a metric to assess the SAS's success right then and there. The one they appeared to be most concerned with was the most immediately relevant one - how many got their first choice or one of their choices.

    ReplyDelete
  152. "E R Taylor has three classes of Mandarin immersion."

    This is, needless to say, hugely wrong. E.R. Taylor has one bilingual class per year (not immersion) for Cantonese and Spanish, and two GE classes. It has been nationally recognized as being AWESOME at educating low-SES kids, to the extent a local entreprenuer kicks in $100K/year.

    It is wrong of you to spread disinformation about this school, and other schools, because of your xenophobic dislike of immigrants and immersion programs. You've done nothing but post incorrect information since you arrived on this board. Please stop.

    ReplyDelete
  153. "Bashing people as "incessant Neighborhood boosters" isn't fair even if you disagree with the neighborhood idea."

    Err, but they are. Having some yahoo wonder why people in the SE didn't move closer to good schools is (1) insulting (2) unaware of demographics and capacity limits in the SE,(3) unaware of the history of the SAS that they're commenting on. These folks are hopelessly parochial (no insult meant to the Catholic schools, BTW.)

    ReplyDelete
  154. The use of census tracks was no stroke of genius. Berkeley had already done that for its integration. The stroke of genius would be to limit CTIP1 to the public housing projects within the CTIP1 areas. As it is now, CTIP1 is overbroad.

    ReplyDelete
  155. "It is wrong of you to spread disinformation about this school, and other schools,"

    Anyone can tour E R Taylor. There are more than two classes per grade that are Chinese only. Not that it matters. The fact is that the demographic of the school doesn't match the neighborhood, not at all. That's the fundamental problem, especially in an area (Excelsior/Bayview) which is mostly black, Filipino and Latino.

    "because of your xenophobic dislike of immigrants and immersion programs."

    I wouldn't have any problem with these programs if there were infinite resources and we all had access to good aftercare and good schools. But, we don't.

    The program at E R Taylor and others like it act as magnets for Chinese people to come to San Francisco. That's clear from reading the press and looking at Chinese websites that promote immigration for Chinese immigrants. Many of these people are not poor but still gain access to our free aftercare and free preschool programs. Preferential treatment using language and preschool designation in school admissions allows this to happen.

    Believe it or not, the middle class, of all races, *ARE* worried about the cost of preschool and the cost of aftercare. It's not like they don't feel the pain of not being able to access these programs.

    "You've done nothing but post incorrect information since you arrived on this board."

    Uh, no. I may be wrong in some of the terminology, but I am dead on accurate with respect to how the language immersion programs of the SFUSD penalize and exclude native speakers of English, of all races, in this city.

    As to being xenophobic, you can say what you want, but I don't think you'll find too many, when push comes to shove, that think it's a great idea to be forking over our limited resources to not poor foreigners, while American women struggle, without help, to raise their families and keep their jobs.

    I too am quite tired of hearing the same old rhetoric. You can try to say over and over that immersion solves all, and that anyone who points it out is unfair and a xenophobic monster.

    We don't live in a Utopia. There are historic responsibilities to be honored, laws to be upheld, social norms to be understood, and geographic boundaries to be respected. All of this must be honored within a framework of limited resources. We can't throw it all up in the air just because Beth Weise and her ilk want free Mandarin immersion for their kids.

    Want Mandarin immersion? Go pay for it. Last time I checked, the going price was about $20,000+ per year per kid at CAIS. I hear it's a great program. Rather than brow beating San Francisco tax payers into paying for it, perhaps you should sign your kids up for CAIS.

    ReplyDelete
  156. She's baack. Her position is that illegal immigration is the source of our problems. All the educational and national issues go back to immigration.

    If you would like to discuss immigration, please start a different thread. If you want to keep immigration issues separate from other issues, discuss immigration only on that other thread. Do not hijack or feed the hijackers.

    I am not debating the merits of the immigration issue. I am only saying, a place for everything and everything in its place.

    ReplyDelete
  157. ER Taylor has no Mandarin immersion program.
    http://www.sfusd.edu/en/schools/school-information/e-r-taylor.html
    The school does have a large percentage of students who happen to be Chinese. Chinese students are over 30% of the students enrolled in SFUSD.
    http://www.sfusd.edu/en/assets/sfusd-staff/about-SFUSD/files/progress-report-2010.pdf
    They also have the highest graduation rate from SFUSD high schools.
    http://gardnercenter.stanford.edu/docs/100810_SF_IssueBrief.pdf
    Just FYI, 10% of the students enrolled in SFUSD are white and 12% are African American. The majority are Chinese making up 32% and the next majority of the students are Latino making up 23%. The district is doing an amazing job trying to integrate these two large immigrant populations and trying to create programs that can work for so many different populations with different economic and educational resources. Granted, many of the Chinese are Chinese American and maybe 2nd or 3rd generation but at the very least, the system is working with many different types of students, family households, and language experiences. 10 students out of 100 are white. 30 or more students out of 100 are Chinese. The chances are that if you go into a SFUSD classroom, the majority will be Chinese or Latino. Probably 30-40 students out of 100 qualify for some sort of assistance.
    Preschool through SFUSD is available. They have a lot of Child Development Centers and Preschool programs throughout San Francisco. There are wait-lists. So apply if you're interested and wait for a spot.
    If you want more resources, talk to your supervisor about increased sales tax on coffee or other disposal income expenses. A five cent tax on every cup of coffee toward public schools, universal child care, and after-school programs would certainly go a long way in this town. If a latte cost $2.45 or $2.50, it probably wouldn't stop a purchase. Or maybe people in their rent controlled apartments should have to pay a public amenity fee. They have rent control, the owner of the building has Prop 13; everyone expects services to be top notch, accessible, and free but no one wants to pay for it.

    ReplyDelete
  158. Bottom line:

    SFUSD Immersion programs stipulate that half of the participants are native language speakers of the chosen target languages.

    That means that only half of these immersion slots are available to non-native speakers.

    There are many more students in San Francisco who aren't fluent native speakers of Spanish, Mandarin, and Cantonese, etc.

    Changing these programs to allow any who apply would make these programs fair. At the moment, huge numbers apply to these programs but can't get in.

    That's the issue that's at stake here, so let's not head off into the weeds accusing people of being xenophobes, etc.

    ReplyDelete
  159. The statistics have shown that test scores of immersion students in English are even with GE kids by 4th grade, i believe.
    -----

    Statistics in *other* places ,maybe. SFUSD has NO data that shows non-English speaking kids are doing better - or even doing OK - in SFUSD immersion programs. A few years ago, in fact, the worst schools for ELL kids were the immersion schools. (I know, I know - they take longer to show the results etc. But exactly do we KNOW a kid is off track or not if we have to wait until 4th grade? Let's not forget kids not reading by 3rd grade are way more likely to not graduate, end up in prison,etc.)

    These programs are certainly great for attracting the middle class English speakers - and that's fine as it has kept many schools open by increasing enrollment.

    But let's not fool ourselves that these programs are helping to close the achievement gap in any way shape or form in SFUSD.

    ReplyDelete
  160. The immersion programs at Alice Fong Yu and CIS at DeSilva does have statistics that those immersion students have some of the highest test scoes in the SFUSD.

    ReplyDelete
  161. The achievement gap refers to the low performance of blacks, Latinos and a few other groups such as South Pacific Islanders. Asians perform with whites and hence are in no need of attention as a class that needs assistance to improve their achievement.

    So all those statistics at AFY and CIS do is confirm what the SFUSD already knows: There is no achievement gap for Asians.

    They know that because there was a highly paid consultant commissioned to find out which groups are behind. It was more than clear, FIVE YEARS AGO, that Asians do not suffer from an achievement gap.

    So all that AFY, CIS, de Avila, E R Taylor and other Chinese immersion/language programs do is to allow for self segregation of the Chinese community while doing nothing about the achievement gap. The Board and Garcia know that.

    The comment from 4:31 PM yesterday evening hits the nail on the head. The Board has willfully done *nothing* to address the achievement gap of Latinos and blacks. It has done *nothing* to address the capacity issue in the southeast of the city.

    The entire lot of them, including Rachel Norton, are willfully incompetent and grappling for political influence.

    ReplyDelete
  162. If you want to discuss the pros and cons of immersion programs, can you start another thread?

    ReplyDelete
  163. Lola,

    SF K files can be a source of information but I wouldn't limit your inquiries only to SF Kfiles. Like any blog it is chock full of varying opinions mixed with facts. There is heated discussion between proponents for one assignment system or another and a lot of inofrmation is thrown out there. It' hard to separate out what is sensible and what is just political posturing.

    For example some one said that SFUSD isn't doing anything to address the achievement gap. That's a pretty difficult position to take if you ever looked at the District budget or read the newspaper. Whether such interventions are effective is another matter. But my point is that you have to get information through your own research and not rely exclusively on what you hear here.

    It is daunting and your efforts probably would be better spent helping out at your school. That's one reason why so many people leave SFUSD. This assignment system just is too labor intensive for what time people have to put out. When it comes to changing the system, all those that threw in the towel are gone and don't express themselves either at the polls or in their school communities.

    ReplyDelete
  164. "On metrics for success - for God's sake. There's a four year lag between one lottery and the first CSTs of that cohort."
    I'm not just talking about achievement gap metrics, and you should have targets even if you don't have data yet. How about other metrics to understand the tradeoffs between the various system goals? Goals of the redesign in addition to achievement gap were: equitable, simple, predictable, maybe some others. So, equitable (definition: fair and impartial) would be an unweighted lottery at each school (based on who chose it) or a completely random lottery of all students across all schools (we would all hate that but talk about diversity). Simple and predictable would lead to a neighborhood system or some sort of zone system. So obviously equitable and predictable are not the primary goals. So then the question is, how much equity are you willing to give up for what percentage bump in either reduction of isolation or improvement of achievement? Sure, they couldn't know how much change in achievement they would get or even change in racial isolation the first year, but they should have had a target and a band of improvement where they would say, if we can reduce racially isolated schools down to x% of the district then it is worth it to have an inequitable system? Is the goal to get all schools below 60% of one race or is it better to get 90% of the schools below 40%? Similarly, what is the percentage of kids unable to receive any choices (or unable to get into their closest 3 schools or choosing not ot matriculate) that would be deemed unacceptable? Or is there an acceptable/unacceptable number for how many kids get assigned to a API 1 or 2 school and does it matter what the demographic of those kids is? Without thinking through measures and targets, we all have a lot of vague conversations--no way to set policy and no way to evaluate it. These targets and tradeoffs should be made public and would form the basis of a very meaningful discussion in the community. In many ways, it doesn't matter if this data is actually trackable or not, but talking about how you would measure the system and what you would deem a success brings more clarity and forces people to really understand the implications and tradeoffs of one ideal over another. It is also politically messy and not sexy or exciting at all.

    ReplyDelete
  165. There's so much misunderstanding about the metrics of achievement. For example, API was never intended to be used as a year over year indicator of long term achievement. Every year it is recalibrated with new metrics. It was designed to be used primarily for AYP, Annual Yearly Progress, to give schools in T1, Part A School Improvement a goal to leave SI.

    STAR tests are raw scores and don't adjust for changes in demographics, teaching staff, class size, etc. Therefore, they have only limited value as a long term indicator of actual school quality.

    On top of that, API scores across the scale are not equally weighted. It is easier to rise 20 points below 800 than it is to rise 20 points above. This was suspossedly designed to reward efforts to gain proficiency. It creates bias and confusion because a 20 point change means something else depending upon the scale score. You can't say one school went up 20 points, but the other only went up 10 so the first is doing better.

    Actually, API is a real mess and there is a bill on the table right now by Steinberg to institute another system. I forgot what they call it but you can google it and find out. It sound like a better system off hand. But I have yet to take a closer look.

    At this timne there exists no good indicator of achievement as far as standardized testing goes. Making comparisons between schools is the height of folly.

    ReplyDelete
  166. Different subject but relevant for all parents comparing scores of schools: here is a great article (at Forbes) on how our public schools have gotten lost by focusing on the tests (APIs/STAR/whatever).
    http://www.forbes.com/sites/stevedenning/2011/09/01/the-single-best-idea-for-reforming-k-12-education/
    Can't follow the link? Google Steve Denning and education.

    ReplyDelete
  167. "equitable (definition: fair and impartial)"

    Disagree with this definition--and surely the folks at SFUSD do as well. Equitable implies that you are taking into account the profound disadvantages that some children are faced with and take measures to level the playing field--of course it will never truly be level--but to make that effort. In that sense, neighborhood schools would be a step backward from equitability. "Impartial" implies that those disadvantages would never be taken into account. This would force us to be blind to reality.

    I'm not saying that SFUSD's solutions always work, or are the right ones, but it would be wrong to ignore the wide range of kids we have on the scale of privilege to profound poverty.

    ReplyDelete
  168. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  169. "The stroke of genius would be to limit CTIP1 to the public housing projects within the CTIP1 areas. As it is now, CTIP1 is overbroad."

    Don't disagree that it may be overbroad, but housing projects would be way too narrow as it would exclude the many folks who live in privately-owned tenement housing in the Mission, or in small rentals or even long-owned homes in the Bayview. I liked the old system of using a variety of factors, such as CalWorks, free/reduced lunch, Section 8 / public housing, and the like .... but parents argued that it was too complex and rife with fraud (I'm not sure it was) and they argued for simplicity. CTIP1 only means just one verification to make, which is address, and SFUSD has employed some folks to verify addresses.

    So--simple, less outright fraud, but about a hundred families who are not poor and at risk for underachieving got CTIP1 status at the K level. Not so much in the overall scheme of things, but it drives some people crazy that they did. Problem is, there is no perfect system, and there never will be in a diverse urban district.

    ReplyDelete
  170. The previous post started out by citing another comment about the lag between assignment and the first STAR scores. API and STAR come up all the time in the course of these conversations and people sometimes don't understand the limitations of these metrics. They are often misused, more often than not I would say. That's why it is necessary to discuss it in the course of this thread.

    Achievement and how it relates to assignment is often measured and analysized incorrectly due to the incorrect apllication of API. It is really only designed to measure improvement from the base to the growth within a single year cycle for purposes of Annual Yearly Progress.

    Now that California is using the California Modified Assessment (CMA) and the CAPA for special education, many low performing schools with higher than average #s of SPED students will see a relative bump up simply because the CMA yields higher scores. That test might be a better indicator of achievement for the individual, but it is only further complicating long term analysis. As I said API, CMA and CAPA were never intended for long term.

    SFUSD has higher average numbers of SPED students at many lower performing schools. These schools will look better from an API perspective due simply to the inclusion of the CMA. But that doed not represent an actual achievement gain. SFUSD can parade these results as if they have had school improvement when there might be none at all. You see how the scores can be manipulated for political gain? If you look at a school like Everett, for example, they have very high numbers of students with IEPs. With last year's inclusion of CMA the whole school appears to go up.

    Also, the USDE does not recognize CMA and CAPA scores in excess of 3%of 3% of the total number of scores. Any above that number are calculated as simply below proficient. That is not included in the results posted on the CDE website.

    ReplyDelete
  171. Those CTIP1 families that do not live in housing projects, live mayoral candidate Bevan Dufty, demote their golden ticket to a lower priority tie-breaker. The assignment system can be fine tuned. That leaves out some low income people who do not live in the housing projects? That is correct. SFUSD has a very difficult time administering anything other than addresses. We can reasonable rely on the Housing Authority to house only the low income. So spot zone those residents for the golden ticket.

    ReplyDelete
  172. Among the comments, some anonymous people mentionned on several occasions Edison Charter Academy.
    I don't understand the fuss that is around this number API 782, I don't understand what it means. I understand however that it has regained stability after years of chaos and being considered as a sinking boat. I am a parent for a Grade 2 and grade 8 and that would fit perfectly for me. I see the strong arts activities as well as the uniform. Some people mentionned it is a gem to be, I want this to happen as well and I hope I can be part of this success. Anyone can speak more of this school please ? Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  173. Hey 5:07,

    Glad to hear you have your eyes on Edison. I agree, it's in an amazing location.

    I hope there are a group of parents that lobby behind this school as they will need a lobby to fight the anti Charter voices in the city.

    If you are involved with this school, it would be great if you could keep us updated on your efforts to organize.

    ReplyDelete
  174. 5:07-- as I said in an earlier post, we looked at it for middle school. Found the new principal impressive, the location incredible, and thus the potential is there. But this all depends on what your odd of getting into a good public are. I have the hypo of a resident in the Clarendon area. Statistics from last year confirm that there are few k slots open to Clarendon area residents because CTIP 1 parents favoring it and getting priority. I live in that area and the two families I knew got Muir last year, a school with incredibly low scores. Both have now moved to the East Bay. If I was in that situation, and I'm sure there are probably 10 families in such a situation, I would be seriously considering Edison. It all depends on your odds under the SAS. If you live in CTIP, I'd say, no way Edison.

    ReplyDelete
  175. Also, MMAKGinthecity, I've glanced at your comments on the forum regarding "Parlez vous francais."

    AA est Africain-Americain et L est Latino. Les deux groupes ont les difficulties academique en comparaison des autres groupes.

    Je parle un peu de francais et j'ai quelque suggestion.

    Si Lycee Francais La Perouse ou Lycee Franco-Americain ne sont pas possible, il y a les ecole en San Francisco. Quelques-uns des programmes immersion espagnol sont populaire avec des familles francais a San Francisco.

    Aussi, quelques familles francais restent en la peninsule ver San Mateo ou Burlingame. Je sais qu'il y a un programme Montesorri (ecole publique) a San Mateo.

    Aussi, il y a une tres bonne programme apres l'ecole:

    http://www.efba.us/

    Je te souhaite le meilleur dans ton aventure de passer a San Francisco.


    (S'il te plaît excuse les erreurs parce que je ne suis pas couramment.)

    ReplyDelete
  176. "all that AFY, CIS, de Avila, E R Taylor and other Chinese immersion/language programs do is to allow for self segregation of the Chinese community" I don't see self-segregation of the Chinese community in SF schools. Yet another myth? Two-way immersion programs NEED one third of English-only speakers to work. AFY was originally designed as a one-way-immersion program. When I toured it, the PTA person showing us around was a Caucasian individual. AFY is at the top of the wishlist for many Chinese families, due to the stellar test scores and its K-8 structure and all-AP middle school classes, but the same is true for many non-Chinese families.

    At CIS, non-Chinese and Chinese-American parents passionately work together to enable their children to get the best education possible. Wherever I look here, I see integration not self-segregation.

    This reminds me of remarks I keep hearing about the Chinese community self-segregating in Chinatown. Do you know that Chinatown was originally created by white folks who didn't want (seemingly "dirty") Chinese immigrants around their own pristine housing? Chinese kids who ventured out of Chinatown were pelted with stones by non-Chinese. Chinese communities did NOT choose to self segregate, they were forced to do so. Granted, all of that was centuries ago, and things have gotten a lot more subtle now... I took an Asian-American History class at City College, which was very informative and which I recommend to anybody interested.

    Chinese families do NOT keep non-Chinese families out of CIS, the exact opposite, the vast majority of them are happy about the diversity. Many non-Chinese families choose not to apply, because they don't feel Cantonese is useful enough to warrant the effort. How is that self segregation?

    Sorry, Lola, for all the thread hiking, but when I read comments like that I feel nauseous. Good luck in your K search. May you find the perfect school for your family!

    ReplyDelete
  177. "Do you know that Chinatown was originally created by white folks who didn't want (seemingly "dirty") Chinese immigrants around their own pristine housing?"

    Get off your high horse.

    When the Japanese, Jews, Italians, Greeks, Irish and Germans came here, they were also somewhat segregated and experienced discrimination. Additionally, they also chose to self-segregate to preserve their culture.

    However, today, you don't see a Hebrew, Italian, Greek, Gaelic or German immersion programs in the city.

    There are several Japanese programs (they are not immersion), but they are far more diverse and open than all the Chinese immersions and Chinese language programs we have.

    The reality today is that the Chinese community continues to self segregrate.

    From the standpoint of closing the achievement gap, there is no reason for an AFY. This school, and others like it, are private schools which cater largely to the Chinese community and native speakers, and are funded by precious and limited American tax payer dollars.

    ReplyDelete
  178. Demographic at AFY:

    66% Asian

    10% white

    5% Latino

    4% African American

    ReplyDelete
  179. Demographic at West Portal:

    68% Asian
    14% White
    3% Filipino
    3% Latino
    2% African American

    ReplyDelete
  180. Demographic at E R Taylor:

    Asian: 60%
    Latino: 27%
    African American: 5%
    Filipino: 3%
    White: 2%

    ReplyDelete
  181. As to the notion that whites are not interested in schools like AFY, West Portal, CIS, and E R Taylor, and are not applying, that is incorrect.

    Our family, white, listed both West Portal and E R Taylor and were refused.

    We also applied to several non immersion programs with very high concentrations of Asian students. Again, no go.

    So that underlines to me that whatever they Board is doing, they are allowing the Chinese community to self segregate.

    They are in fact, not interested in "diversity".

    The recent decision to create CIS at de Avila, in a neighborhood that is not Asian, further emphasizes that the Board has an agenda to allow the Chinese community to create their own exclusive immersion schools at tax payer expense, while displacing whites, Latinos, blacks, Filipinos and South Pacific Islanders from these schools.

    ReplyDelete
  182. @MMAKGinthecity
    As you are arriving mid-year, I would contact the EPC , the Educational Placement Center, and see what spots are available at SFUSD and then tour the schools before moving into the City. If you like the schools where you would be placed, then definitely take the spots. I would not move into San Francisco without looking at what is available first. If you don't like what you see, then I would look at schools in areas close to your husband's work and see what you think. You should live where you like the schools. In San Francisco, you might love your neighborhood but you might not love or even like the school to which are assigned, especially this late in the game.

    ReplyDelete
  183. @MAKGintheCity
    You should contact Edison to see if they have spots available. If they do, then tour it. Then decide where you want to live. Edison might have a waiting list and might not be able to give you the placement you seek.
    you can find their website online and also on the noeschools website

    ReplyDelete
  184. @MAKGintheCity
    I've been reading your other posts. If you don't have a car, you don't want Clarendon if you live in Noe. It would be a long commute for you. If you get spots at Edison for both children, take them. It will be okay or even great for year. If they don't have spots at Edison, then, look for convenient combinations for your son and daughter. If your daughter gets into Alvarado for 2nd grade, you could probably get an 8th grade spot at St. Philips. If Edison has a spot for one of your children, you might find another spot at St. Pauls. Look for schools within 6-7 blocks of your house or very close to a Muni line.
    Apologies to Lola for responding to another thread on her post.

    ReplyDelete
  185. MAKGintheCity: Please look at the archives of this blog. More recently, and especially over in the forum, several individuals have taken over the discussion to push political or personal/ideological agendas and the accuracy of the information varies widely. Most of us who used this blog in the past have left or are silent. Make sure that you are looking at other sources of information, also (including PFPSSF, which has helped some here).

    ReplyDelete
  186. 2:41 PM:

    There is no political or personal agenda in play.

    I post frequently on this blog because I feel it is important for people who live Noe, Clarendon, Bernal, Glen Park, the Mission, the Excelsior and the Bayview to know that there are not enough public schools here to serve the population.

    It is also important to know that on top of the lack of capacity, immersion programs, which strongly favor native speakers of target languages, have especially exacerbated the situation here in the SE for those who don't speak one of these small number of languages.

    Furthermore, SE parents should know that there are a number of good parochial schools here to serve them, especially since public schools are not.

    For those that can afford it, there are also a number of new private schools picking up the slack.

    That's it in a nutshell. No political agenda, just a concerned neighbor, taxpayer and fellow parent.

    ReplyDelete
  187. 4:03 PM: I'm not talking about you, or about specific respondents in good faith to this particular post or to MMAKGinthecity, but advising her about the general trend here over the past six months, and also (especially) about the forum. With that, I'll take my leave again.

    ReplyDelete
  188. You can list both West Portal and ER Taylor, but unless you have some tie-breaker, such as local residence, you are way down the totem polem, no matter what your ethnic background is. And even if you live in the assignment area, that is no guarantee (ask Clarendon and Miraloma parents).

    If you feel that there are not enough GE slots in your area, maybe your assignment area should shrink. I advocate that for Clarendon and Miraloma. Make the case for your area.

    ReplyDelete
  189. Charlie,

    The whole "make the case for your area thing" is ridiculous.

    It's up to the SFUSD to provide an appropriate number of slots for the kids in the city, not me. I'm tired of having to lobby the city for everything from sidewalk repair, to potholes, to school admission. These guys get a pension and it's time for them to earn it.

    It's not like SFUSD doesn't know where there is a shortfall of spots. Or maybe they really don't know, which is pretty amazing, given all of their highly paid staff and endless statistics.

    So ...

    I'm voting for every strict neighborhood assignment ballot that comes my way. That's the only way there will ever be any honesty. A kid lives in a particular neighborhood, he or she gets a spot and that's it. They'll have to get portables, etc., until they adjust to the demand in each neighborhood.

    They can spend the money they have wasted on EPC assignment staff instead on teachers and social workers who are actually in the classroom.

    And it's too bad about the loss of diversity that will cause, but it doesn't look like there is much of an effort on the diversity front anyway. All we've done is turn many parts of the Bayview from Black to Asian and ship the Black middle class out of the city.

    ReplyDelete
  190. "I liked the old system of using a variety of factors, such as CalWorks, free/reduced lunch, Section 8 / public housing, and the like .... but parents argued that it was too complex and rife with fraud (I'm not sure it was) and they argued for simplicity."

    Realistically, we'll have to go back to some form of that in about 3-4 years when CTIP1 gets gamed. I still think it was a good way for the district to get over the and to counterbalance any tendency of a more neighborhood based system to increase economic segregation. But one year's rental of a two bedroom in the Mission costs about the same as one year in an independent, and then you move the next year once you've secured your place.

    This year, maybe 10-12% of CTIP1 were upper middle class folks living in CTIP1 who got lucky. When it gets up to 30%, the clamor to change will be highly vocal, and we'll have to go back to some system with an income component like there was in the old system.

    ReplyDelete
  191. "Our family, white, listed both West Portal and E R Taylor and were refused."

    West Portal is one of the most heavily requested schools in the district. E.R. Taylor is also in the top 12 in popularity. Longfellow is also

    ReplyDelete
  192. "It's up to the SFUSD to provide an appropriate number of slots for the kids in the city, not me."

    There is sufficient capacity in the city. Just 20% of it is in schools that (sometimes justifiably, sometimes not) middle-class families don't want to go to.

    Also, choice/predictability are in opposition: the district can't provide one and the other, but has to trade one off against each other. Me, I prefer choice.

    "It's not like SFUSD doesn't know where there is a shortfall of spots."

    Actually, some things were unexpected. Clarendon went from being an alternative (citywide back under the assignment system before the old assignment system) school to a neighborhood school: it had a lot of kids from all over the city, not just in the attendance area. Those kids had sibs. Those sibs had the highest priority. Miraloma wasn't a citywide school, but was one of the first "hidden gem-turned-trophy" schools, and also had a lot of out-of-AA kids. So sibs were the issue there, not CTP1. The differing impact of out-of-AA-sibs was something hard to see before, but can be seen in retrospect.

    ReplyDelete
  193. "fact is that the demographic of the school [E.R. Taylor] doesn't match the neighborhood, not at all."

    E.R. Taylor is in Portola, which is Census Tract 257. In the 2000 Census, the population in that census tract is 54% Asian. Greatschools gives E.R. Taylor's Asian percentage as 60%. Which means it's pretty much representative of its neighborhood. It took me 45 seconds to find this information.

    Again, I'm going to say it: You have done nothing but post disinformation here.
    Asians are 41% of the SFUSD population. They stuck with the district while the white middle class fled it for the private schools and the 'burbs. They helped built the flagship schools in the district to what they are, and are the backbone of the SFUSD population. They deserve your respect, not your contempt.

    ReplyDelete
  194. Lola -- we are in a very similar situation. Serra is also our neighborhood school, and I joined the PTA a year and a half ago to get a sense for what parent involvement was like. I have been very impressed with the commitment, resourcefulness, and energy of the parents there, and the PTA has expanded during that time. We are still (delusionally) hoping for immersion, but I'm not so discouraged about Serra anymore, and I would expect to get a spot there unless all of Bernal puts it as a first choice.

    Thanks to all for the good advice!

    ReplyDelete
  195. "I post frequently on this blog because I feel it is important for people who live Noe, Clarendon, Bernal, Glen Park, the Mission, the Excelsior and the Bayview to know that there are not enough public schools here to serve the population."

    Actually, Noe, Bernal, Glen Park are OK in terms of demand and capacity. [I'm glad there's been discussion on Serra, Glen Park ES, and Flynn GE.] The neighborhoods that are short on capacity are Excelsior, Mission, and BV/HP. Some of that demand will have to spill over to other neighborhoods.

    ReplyDelete
  196. What 8:18 said.

    Also, while we might imagine the Bernal and Noe are Ground Zero for breeding in SF, the big numbers for kids in the SE are in the Mission, Excelsior, Vis Valley, and BV/HP. I'm going from memory from a presentation on the SAS redesign that's unfortunately no longer on the SFUSD website, but Bernal had less than half the K-12 kids (about 1,400) in SFUSD compared to the Excelsior (about 3,300). Overall, Bernal has an excess of school slots relative to its K-5 population. Check Orla O'Keefe's Sept 14 2009 presentation on the PPSSF website.

    Potero and Noe Valley have much smaller numbers of kids in SFUSD (~400 and ~700 respectively).

    ReplyDelete
  197. "Asians are 41% of the SFUSD population. They stuck with the district while the white middle class fled it for the private schools and the 'burbs. They helped built the flagship schools in the district to what they are, and are the backbone of the SFUSD population. They deserve your respect, not your contempt."

    I have no contempt against the Asian community in the city. However, given that the stated objective of the Board is "diversity", it is interesting that so many schools in the city have a demographic of upwards of 70% Asian students.

    The stated objective of "diversity" is at odds with the effect of language immersion.

    Your over-the-top response to my comments indicates to me that you are not willing to discuss this matter objectively.

    By the way, I wasn't involved in the white flight years ago from the city. Our family attempted to apply to diverse schools. No spots were available.

    The collective guilt thing might have been popular 20 years ago, but it is increasingly unpopular now.

    I'm a tax payer just like you. I have a right to have access to a reasonably good school within walking distance of my house. That's it.

    ReplyDelete
  198. "I'm a tax payer just like you. I have a right to have access to a reasonably good school within walking distance of my house. That's it."

    I'm in agreement, but to be clear -the school district is not obligated to give you a school near home. You have no right except in the loose context of what you think is right and wrong. That's why we need to pressure the Board to adopt a full neighborhood system.

    Immersion should be charter only.

    ReplyDelete
  199. "to be clear -the school district is not obligated to give you a school near home."

    Hey, Don, I'm aware that I don't have a legal right, at least for now, to have access to a school near my home.

    But it is a little unrealistic to expect a five year old to walk or take the bus from Bernal to Visitacion Valley, as would have been required for the assignment we were given.

    Anyway, all this SFUSD forced communiting is hard on the time and financial resources of families and hard on the environment.

    So it isn't a right now, but it should be. As I mentioned, I'll be voting for neighborhood schools on the November ballot, and in the future.

    ReplyDelete
  200. Since I wrote most of Measure H I want to thank you personally for the support of it.

    ReplyDelete