Monday, November 7, 2011

Daniel Webster Tour Notes

Hi All
I've added my tour notes for Daniel Webster our attendance area school here

My Impressions
I loved my visit to Daniel Webster. The parents here are hugely committed to the school, as is the local community. The PTA is pretty new (maybe 2 years?) but are already getting some great funding and resources into the school, there is a school site council which votes on how the funds are allocated.
The children all appeared to me to be kind and respectful to one another and adults

I've been impressed with all of the public schools I've visited so far regardless of their API scores, which in fact I'm pretty much disregarding at this point.

Even my original three criteria might need to be more flexible
* A great GE program with additional art, music, sport
All of the GE K classes (and higher grades) that I have been in seem to be working in the same way. They all have lots of art on the walls. Most tours are in the morning which is more advantageous to learning so children have always been doing numbers or letters at that time. But I don't doubt that they are getting art in their day. Sport is pretty much PE and is the same everywhere. Some schools have Playworks for recess which is a more co-ordinated play time.
* a guaranteed spot in an after school program which isn't outrageously expensive
There is a CDC onsite and they charge $460 per month for fee paying. There are also Parks & Rec which walk the children to Jackson park, Recess which is offsite and Active Kids which is offsite. There is an Excel program starting in January 2012
* thirdly we would like the school to be easily accessible by public transportation or walking so that either of us can do pick ups.
Location: 10 minutes to drive - but I would feel pretty guilty adding to the pollution and traffic for a one mile school trip. The school is not walkable in a reasonable time. Bus and walking would be around 35-40 minutes door to door.

Something I did not add to my criteria but I'm finding it impacting my choice is the Middle School Feeder program. e.g. I'm not touring Starr King because it feeds into Aptos which is a geographically difficult commute from SOMA.
Daniel Webster feeds into ISA a 6-12 school. On paper (API) it looks better (marginally) than Everett but I can't get past the 6-12 part. I went to their table at the SFUSD school fair this weekend and asked for information on their Middle School program. They had a little stack of High school info and handed me a pamphlet and told me that they are a a High School though they are the only 6-12 in San Francisco. Well I know they are, but if they don't seem to care about the Middle School why should we send our children there? I do know that the parents at Daniel Webster are meeting with SFUSD tonight to discuss the Feeder Program and I am on tenterhooks waiting to find out how it went. Please let us know DW parents.

So yet another public school that I would be happy to send my child to, the middle school feeder school not so much.



  1. I wouldn't necessarily rule out a trip to Aptos from SOMA, depending on how close you are to MUNI.

    The K (or M) goes within blocks, and coming from Van Ness Station it's about 25 minutes all told. I know when you're looking at a 5 year old it's hard to imagine that one day they'll be on MUNI, but they do grow up! (I have a 4 year old and an 11 year old). The drive is, in fact, daunting, but it really is to most of the MSs. My daughter goes to Hoover, and I work in SOMA. Getting there by MUNI is a breeze -- but if I ever have to drive from work to get there, it's a serious pain. None of the middle schools are really an easy commute from SOMA, unfortunately.

    ISA is a bigger question mark for me. I don't think I've met anyone whose child goes there for MS and the 6-12 model does not seem like a great fit.

    Just some thoughts...

  2. MJ,
    Thanks for the review. Just to clarify, all public and charter schools have school site councils. The school site council has seats for parents, administrators, and teachers. They are a very important part of the school as they allocate Prop H funds and determine the "vision" or mission of a school. For instance, the school site council can decide to fund a full time librarian or PE teacher. School site councils can be just as important as PTA/PTOs especially in schools that do not have large PTA/PTO groups. I encourage all parents to join or at least go to the school site council meeting at their schools to get a sense of the school's priorities.

  3. @10:40 Thank you for that information. It is impossible for me to picture my almost 5 year old being 11/12 and getting on Muni and travelling across the city. I may reconsider my options:) I also have to take into consideration my younger child who will be entering 3rd grade when his brother is starting MS. Logistics:)

    @8:41 I did not know that the councils existed at each school. DW was the only tour that talked about it in detail. Other schools did mention voting on how to spend funds. Thanks for that information.

  4. RE: MUNI -- also remember there will be other parents in the same situation, and carpools are extremely common. We participate in a lop-sided one, where we don't actually do any of the driving, and it all works out.

  5. Last year, many in the SE were not in favor of the MS feeder pattern as many parents felt that the K-8 "pathways" were not fair because all middle schools are not created equal in terms of class offerings, honors, band, etc. This might make K-8 citywide schools and charters in the SE more desirable, especially for those with 2 or more children who want to postpone 2 commutes as long as possible. Even with the K-8 pathways as a reality, I still feel that parents should choose the best elementary school fit as many things - schools, families, living situations - can change in that 6 year period. If you best fit also happens to be a K-8 school - citywide, parochial, private, charter - then you might not have to look at middle schools. Of course, depending on your child, you might want a larger middle school experience than a K-8 school can provide. You can not predict your child's need nor your family's needs until the time comes.

  6. DW parent of a 2nd grade student here. Glad you enjoyed your tour! A number of DW parents are directly addressing the concerns you raise about our middle school feeder with the district. If you are interested in DW, I would urge you to keep it on your list and stay tuned for updates. A lot can happen in 6 years - we have faith there will be changes.

  7. glad you liked Webster, Happy GE K parent here. There is serious effort underway by some very committed, inventive and hard working individuals re middle school.

  8. DW MS Feeder K-8 proposal Update:
    In December 2012, DW Principal and parents presented a proposal to the SFUSD to make DW into a K-8 School, with two campuses, K-3 at the current school at Missouri and 20th, and 4-8th grade at Enola Maxwell, (currently called ISA at Enola Maxwell a 6-12 school at 18th and De Haro).
    With DW’s attendance area including all of South of Market, and the 2010 census proving a huge and growing population of families in the Southeast sector of SF,
    the well-researched and documented proposal showed that such a plan is the best way to meet the needs of our growing community, while eliminating a very unpopular and unsuccessful 6-12 configuration at ISA.

    The SFUSD has responded positively to the proposal and there is now a taskforce meeting monthly to vet the feasibility. The district has committed to giving DW an answer to our the school’s K-8 proposal by the end of the 2011-2012 school year.

    So please don’t rule DW out and off your list just because of the MS Feeder. It ain’t over yet! As the parents and community that support Daniel Webster have proven, it takes all of us working together to solve the issues facing our families and children, and to get the best education for all the families in our community.

    You can learn more by attending either of the final tours, offered January 13th and 20th.

  9. Hi there!
    My name is Jane and I'm with Dwellable.
    I was looking for blogs about Aptos to share on our site and I came across your post...If you're open to it, shoot me an email at jane(at)dwellable(dot)com.
    Hope to hear from you :)