We submitted our application to sfusd schools back in early december, mainly because I was so *done* with school analysis. We submitted one application to a charter school - Creative Arts Charter School.
We toured McKinley, Rooftop, New Traditions, and Clarendon.
I'm not going to go into the nitty gritty on each one but I will be frank as to what my takeaway on each was for the ranking decision.
Rooftop and McKinley, early start, which was an unnecessary hardship as well as an undesirable one for this mom. Otherwise as is evidence by the reviews on this blog, have a great deal to offer. I leaned more toward Rooftop than McKinley; it being a K-8 and offering a more attractive setting/building/extracurricular offerings than McKinley. Both had a vibrant and active parent community. McKinley struck me as more focused on a traditional education... reading, writing and arithmetic. Not bad just not what I was looking for.
New Traditions and Clarendon, late start time (someone in this world understands me)...both project based and strong art strands which I value highly. Both had a very strong sense of identity and community. Both made me feel like ALL my kids would be well-served at these two schools.
Didn't rank as highly as I thought I would and this surprised me... K-8s.
Ranked much higher than I thought I would and this surprised me... New Traditions (second on my list).
All in all. I think that the process is a good one because it forces you to drill down on what sort of *education* you want for your child. What environment? What sort of people? What kind of learning do you value most highly?
It also magnifies the needs that your family has that have to be accommodated... We are a family of six and we move... s.....l.....o....w....l....y.... when you have four under four years old, you take your time.
and if forced to move too fast, well we end up with a man, woman, girl, or boy down. So late start time turned out to be very very important.
arts focused surprised me as being more important to me and my husband than language immersion.
... a dear friend wrote me an email that helped me to realize what I believe an arts emphasis offers over a language immersion program...
"You want to be yourself, idiosyncratic; the collective (school, rules, jobs, technology) wants you generic to the point of castration" Nassim Nicholas Taleb
I feel art helps one be idiosyncratic more than a dual language education focus. Less memorizing, more individual expression and discovery.
"the imagination of the genius vastly surpasses his intellect; the intellect of the academic vastly surpasses his imagination" I feel art nourishes the imagination. This nourishes an idiosyncratic self.
"art is a one-sided conversation with the unobserved" - this may be the highest compliment Nassim can give. His focus is on rare events that are both unpredicted by an observer and carry massive consequences. This is called The Black Swan - when we make errors outside our field of observation. Time spent in this realm builds creativity, thinking out of the box.
Finally, one of my favorites by Nassim
"what I learned on my own I still remember" Art almost defines self directed discovery.
That said, I chose schools that I felt had strong art strands.
Even so, both my husband and I are fluent in another language. We picked them up overseas when we were living abroad in our twenties. Each of us first took language classes in middle school. I value language immersion but as it turned out, not as much as a strong art focus in elementary school. I feel like if you love a people you will learn their language. I don't know what language-specific groups of people each of my kids will love but I feel like we'll expose them to a lot of people in this city (to begin with). And from there... it was given its accorded weight but not as much as I would have thought in choosing or not choosing an elementary school.
That. Was a surprise.
Besides late start, art and languages...
I looked at CST test scores on the SFUSD site under the highlights tab for each school I was seriously considering.
I looked at them segmented out for subgroups. I looked at how kids tested year after year (trying to *follow a class*, because I attributed those increases, decreases or plateaus to the influence of instruction and not to other factors outside of a school's purview).
I listened to some friends who are teachers tell me that they have to teach to where the majority of the class is... and that influenced my decision to not send my kids to schools that have large subgroup populations that are testing much lower than the subgroup I hope we fall into (white) and schools that don't have the capacity to fund smaller class sizes...
Finally the distance to school was a factor that was HEAVILY weighted in as was our understanding of the strength of having a CTIP tiebreaker address.
Here was the list we turned in... and it may not make sense to you how I weighted everything I just discussed but I'll tell you what... when SFUSD publishes its algorithm... I'll publish mine.
1. Clarendon (gen)
2. New Traditions
5. Lilienthal (gen)
7. Rosa Parks JBBP
8. Grattan - GEN
9. Alvarado - IMMS
11. CIS Avila
12. Alvarado Gen
13. Alice Fong Yu (K-8)