Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Muppets Take San Francisco

We just moved our family of six to the city this summer.  When we were looking for a place to live we were considering a lot of things: square footage, number of bedrooms, number of bathrooms, outdoor area or deck, proximity to a park, proximity to some fun neighborhoods/streets/restaurants, not too far from public transportation or the freeway on-ramp...

I'd done some research on SFUSD and I clicked on <Discover Your School Options> and started reading.  Really confused, because where I grew up you went to the school in your neighborhood.

So when we found condos we were interested in, I got into the habit of plugging the address into the Address and School Locator Map to see if that address was a CTIP1 zone and what the attendance area school was...

We found a place we liked and we bought it.  It's in a CTIP1 zone.

We have four kids and one of them is going to be starting kindergarten next fall.  And here I am again at the SFUSD website again clicking on Discover Your School Options and reading:

Find which schools fit your criteria

Criteria? OK, I definitely need to put one of those together.

I admit to playing with the Interactive School Selector and wishing that the Before and After School Programs boxes would have broken out further to show price ranges and an Amazon-like rating system.

So here's what I have so far with my, ahem, criteria:

I'm not restricted by specific hours or before/after school programs (although I would appreciate one/both if its not cost prohibitive). I don't NEED anything because I stay at home with the kids so I'm available.

Anyways, I'm dismissing these aforementioned factors from my criteria until further notice.

Zip code and neighborhood location will certainly be on the list to minimize time spent en route to and from school.  So I'll have to figure out how far is too far for me.  I'm a terrible parallel parker and I have a minor anxiety attack every time I back our car out of the garage so walking to school or taking a bus would be preferred.

Languages - I suppose if I had them go to a language program I would choose a Spanish or Mandarin program, mainly because I've been told that both languages are very useful.  I'm not convinced that language immersion would be that (fill in the blank). Is it?  

Special Education Services, my first and second kids won't need these and I'm not sure about three and four yet.  Too soon to know so that isn't in the criteria either.

One SF Lottery veteran mentioned that I should consider some K-8 schools, so I've included 2 at the outset to look at and see what I think of them.  I've always liked the K-5 breakout of elementary and then on to bigger and brighter things at angst-filled middle school so I'll have to be sold on this.

Schools I'll tour:

Rosa Parks
Creative Arts Charter School
Claire Lilienthal

Also, I'd like to visit Everett, I know it's a middle school but it's the feeder for McKinley, Muir, Marshall and Sanchez so I'd like to check it out.

Mama Muppet.


  1. Big plug for Marshall. Tour it and you will fall in love. See Mr. Tobar (K) in action. See Mss Judy. One of the best Spanish immersion schools in the district and a smaller alternative to Buena Vista or some of the others. Good luck!

  2. Don't worry about Everett yet.

    The entire population of a middle school changes every 3 years, so Everett will be a very different place before you're ready for it.

    And frankly, the assignment/feeder system will very likely change several times too before you're ready for middle school.

  3. Mama Muppet,
    It might be helpful if you give some general coordinates on where you live. With four children, I'd imagine you would want to cut down on your commute times. People might be able to suggest schools near your location. If you are in the Mission, you might want to check out Edison Charter, Mission Prepartory - Public Charter, Buena Vista/Horace Mann (all K-8). With 4 children, I support the idea of k-8 just from a pragmatic aspect. Shuttling kids around town can be exhausting.

  4. We're north of Alamo Square. Creative Arts is only 2 blocks away. Loving the feedback, keep it coming! *Mama Muppet*

  5. Rosa Parks has both a GE Program and Japanese Bi-Cultural/Bilingual program. You might want to take a look at both. One thing to note is that when a school has two programs you need to apply for each one separately on your lottery application. Since Creative Arts Charter is only two blocks from you, you should definitely check it out.
    Claire Lilienthal is a very sought after public school that is K-8. It also has a GE program and a Korean Language program.

  6. Question: I have the CTIP1 tie-breaker so I feel like I need to make good use of that NOW (especially if the assignment/feeder system changes and say I lose the CTIP1 tie-breaker before my eldest goes on to middle school). How do the middle schools compare to the K-8 schools?

  7. It probably doesn't seem in the realm of possibility to you now, but many if not most, middle schoolers take public transit to school. It's unclear how the new feeder system will play out as yet. I imagine it will have a few tweaks before your oldest gets there, so I would not rule a school in or out based on its yet-to-be-implemented feeder. K-8's have certain advantages in continuity, etc. But larger middle schools offer more specialized subject instruction, electives like art, drama or band, and daily PE instruction.

  8. If you're two blocks North of Alamo Square, you might want to throw in New Traditions as well. Lovely school, lovely community. My kids are at McKinley, doing really well there. Lots of energy. And not far from McKinley is Harvey Milk Community School. Might be worth adding to your list. Also lots of energy at Creative Arts School. That school is on a sharp uphill tack. Would know, have lived across the street from it for years. Energetic population. If you're interested in private, and can swing it, SFDAY is nearby and is really good.