The SF K Files is a place for parents who are seeking a school in San Francisco. The site offers up reviews of public, private and charter schools, as well as lots of advice and opinions from the community.
Our top ten (24 schools listed total) Argonne Elementary Alamo Elementary Yu (Alice Fong) Elementary [Chinese] Peabody (George) Elementary New Traditions Elementary Lafayette Elementary Jefferson Elementary Clarendon Alternative Elementary Alvarado Elementary [Spanish] Buena Vista/ Horace Mann K-8 [Spanish]We looked at location, start time, racial diversity (our kid is African American, our neighborhood is not) and test scores. We're pulling for an Independent school, and this is our backup. Didn't LOVE any public school we saw, which was a big disappointment. Also applied to Creative Arts Charter. Now we wait.
Thanks for posting! Which independent schools did you apply to??
SF Friends, Live Oak, and Presidio Hill
It's tough finding a school on the west side of the city with other African American students! What privates are you looking at? SF Day was by far the most racially diverse of the schools I saw. Guesstimating by eyeball, Children's Day seemed like the least racially diverse. Sad to say, a private schools may have more other African American students than a lot of the public schools near you...For what it's worth, here's the 2011-2012 African American enrollment for grades K-2 of the schools you listed. For reference, 1 student per classroom is 4-5%. 1 student per grade is 1-2% is 1 student per grade.Argonne 4%Alamo 1%Yu 3%Peabody 3%New Traditions 15% for K-2(vs 28% for Grades 3-5; marked decrease in African American enrollment from 5th grade --> K)Lafayette 3% Jefferson 1%Clarendon 3%Alvarado 6%Buena Vista 6%Claire Lilienthal was 10% African American and 9% Latino. Rooftop was 14% African American and 23% Latino. SFUSD Enrollment data: http://dq.cde.ca.gov/dataquest/Enrollment/EthnicGrade.aspx?cType=ALL&cGender=B&cYear=2011-12&Level=School&cSelect=ALAMO%5EELEMENTARY%2D%2DSAN%5EFRANCISCO%5EU%2D%2D3868478%2D6040695&cChoice=SchEnrAll
I agree, the independent schools seem to have more diversity, because they can select the students. Crazy, really. We saw SF Day, but didn't like it for our family.
That's too bad that you didn't love any of the publics. Can you point to something in particular you felt was lacking? Also, did you get to check out the Rosa Parks Japanese Bilingual Bicultural Program? Test scores may not be the best, and it's early start time, but I've heard amazing things and it's quite diverse.
It's not that tough finding schools with more African American kids enrolled on the west and more generally central. They just don't happen to be the ones generally favored on this blog. You will find lots of African Americans there: John Muir, Starr King GE, Rosa Parks GE, Cobb. New Traditions actually has a pretty vibrant African American population, in part because it's located in the Western Addition, albeit, rediscovered (and renamed) NOPA.
I'll give you central part of the city, but not the West.
Where are the middle and upper class African American kids in SF schools? Do they prefer private over public or just move out of city as well? The stats on black students in the public schools are rather dismal so do a lot of professional black parents prefer private schools so their kids will get more positive attention and be able to thrive academically with less assumptions made about them? If the assumption that African American kids won't do well, what happens to a bright, motivated black student in the public system?
1. CIS at Deavila2. Alice Fong Yu 3. Clarendon JP4. West Portal CN5. Clarendon Gen6. Alvarado SI7. Lilienthal KI8. Lilienthal GE9. Clarendon GE10. Sherman GE
thx for sharing. can you share anything about why you put cis above alice fong yu? i loved cis, but put afy above b/c of k-8 and established travel to china.
I would be happy with either, but CIS seemed like a more balanced program with more of a focus on social development. That ended up being more important for us than a K-8 or a trip to China. Best of luck!
Our top 10 of 20GrattanGeorge PeabodyClarendonRooftopFeinsteinLafayetteLilienthalNew TraditionsMcKinleyLawtonWe picked schools around us and wanted more progressive and arts focused schools. Really liked Rooftop but concerned about all 3 K teachers leaving. I felt we had decent schools around us, but also didn't love them.
Do you have any more detail on the 3 K teachers leaving?
All the K teachers are retiring together.
Glen ParkGrattanMiralomaSunnyside Rooftop Clarendon West PortalSloatAlvaradoFeinstein Also applied to Creative Arts, TECA, Synergy & SF Day
Are you CTIP1? You seem pretty confident that you'll get one of the schools on your list.
Also, please know CTP1 does not always provide the golden ticket.. Didn't for my kids and we've been in the CTO1 zone for more than a decade. The above list just looks like one of someone with other option.
That's interesting. You have applied from a CTIP1 address in the last two years and did not get one of your top 3 choices. I thought with the new assignment system that you would get one of your top 3 choices. Good to know.
Yes, applied last year. There are lots of factors involved. Essentially there are a limited number of spots (taking into account) at the most highly requested schools. They don't artificially inflate the classes to accommodate hordes of desperate people from CTP1 addresses. What matters first is how many spots are actually available.
Meant to say taking into account siblings. What is true though is that lots of people seem to still get into highly coveted schools in the first three weeks of school, even those from non CTP1 areas.
Alvarado SI Buena Vista/ Horace Mann Alvarado - GE McKinley Fairmount Marshall Grattan Jefferson West Portal Rooftop Harvey Milk Civil Rights Miraloma Clarendon Lilienthal Feinstein Sherman New Traditions Alice Fong Yu Peabody Argonne Sloat
SunnysideSF CommunityGlen ParkMiralomaMonroe SIWebster SIFairmountAlvarado GEGuadalupeMonroe GE
You have a great list. I think you will definitely get one of your choices. Also, curious to know why did you not list Alvarado SI? Let us know what you get!
Well, really, if we got Alvarado, we'd probably go to Round 2 as it's just too far from our house. Spanish Immersion isn't a huge priority to us. I included Monroe and Webster SI only because if we have to go to the schools, it seems like the Spanish programs are better than the GE programs. If we don't get one of out top 3, I'm pretty sure we'll go back for additional rounds. I also had an additional 20 schools on the supplement sheet and I think Alvarado SI was on there but really, anything beyond the first three are probably just for swapping.
Top of a longer list:Clarendon (both pathways)MiralomaRooftopAlvarado (both pathways)GrattanNew TraditionsWest Portal (both pathways)McKinley
Clarendon JBBPRooftopAlvarado SIWest Portal CIClarendon GEMiralomaSloatWest Portal GESunsetAlvarado GEGlen ParkDi FiAlso creative arts charterI would be thrilled to get into any of the above schools. We put the language programs and k-8 at the top since we don't have to compete with neighborhood folks. We looked at schools that had solid academics with a nice balance of enrichment programs. Start time was a factor but we will be flexible if we get the dreaded 7:50 start time. Glen Park was not originally on my radar but once I knew Jean Robertson was there (she taught my brother over 20 years ago) I was excited about GP having a turn around. Good luck to everyone!
Good Luck SF Native x5. Please post where you end up. We are rooting for you!
Thank you! Will do!
Which independents have folks applied to? Here's my list:Live OakSynergyFriendsMarin PrepPresidio Hill
My private list:Marin PrepSF DayBurke'sMCDS
Live OakSF DayBurkesChildren's DayNueva
Adda Clevenger (what a quirky little gem of a school! I don't understand why this one isn't more well-known.)Marin Preparatory School (charming!)We would strongly prefer one of the quality public schools close to home, but concerns about the lottery results made us investigate a few private schools. These two totally fit the bill for us - a high quality education in a location that doesn't require schlepping across town from our Twin Peaks area home. And we really wanted a friendly, unpretentious community that wasn't part of the 'trophy' school mindset.
Oneplusone sfkfiles blogger seemed to really not like Adda, but everything I'd heard from actual families going there is that it is fantastic. I'm really confused why such starkly different views on this school. I'm glad you love Adda - good luck with your results!
My daughter took a summer performance camp at Adda and we were really impressed with the school, teachers and families. The performance at the end of the summer was also quite amazing.
Part of a longer list:1. Clarendon gen2. Clarendon jbbp3. Miraloma4. Alvarado gen5. Rooftop6. Grattan7. McKinley8. Sloat9. West Portal10. JeffersonAlso already in a private we'd be very happy to stay in, if nothing works out in the lottery.
Which private are you currently in, anon @ 8:16 pm?
If you get one of the above schools, would you transfer to public? Just curious. We are in a similar situation and I'm wondering how other people are looking at the choices. It's tough for us to think about making the switch, but economically private might be unsustainable over the long run.
Honestly, not necessarily. My child is SO happy with where he is now. I almost wish I get a public school that would never work for us, just so I don't have to make that decision.I go back and forth regarding the costs of staying private. I've run into a few people whose kids have moved back to private in third or fourth grade ... if we are unhappy and end up wanting to go back to private in a few years, is the re-application process and transaction costs (financial but especially emotional and sheer time involved) worth saving money for a few years? Possibly, but just not convinced. The fact that we can afford to stay private obviously is an important factor, too. Not that it's not nice to save money if we are still happy with what we are getting. But education is one area where I want to get the best quality, not just save money in the short term.
Those are my same thoughts. I have also talked with people who make a switch around 4/5 grade and I'm not convinced the savings would be worth the disruption. Also, I can imagine with the economic boom that seems to be happening in SF right now that it might be more difficult to secure a spot in a private school. Our current school is close to our house and is a great fit for our child and our family. I almost wish that we were just starting a from scratch and weren't already enrolled in our school. I think it would be a lot easier to go public if we didn't already have the good experience of our current school.
I didn't tour, I am going for the trophies and hoping for the best. I will try to talk my way into tours for round 2 if it doesn't work out.ClarendonLilienthalGrattanPeabodyArgonneRooftopAlvarado genNew TraditionsWest PortalShermanAlamoAlice Fong YuCantonese Immersion School at Avila
I didn't tour either! Just did a lot of research.
i can totally relate to not having time to deal with touring, but as a note of caution, one school that i felt very confident would be top on our list b/c of their geography and scores, and b/c i feel good about public school in general... the moment i toured, i thought- no way! i didn't like the principal, didn't like the vibe... i mean, it'd be fine if we actually went there, but what a difference a tour makes if you are able to do it! (for the record, in general i loved all schools i went to- this was the only one that i didn't like. nobody on here even talks about it, so i won't bother defaming it when it could just be my quirkiness that didn't like it.)
I only toured 2 schools. I'm amazed by people who toured 20+ schools.
ArgonneNew TraditionsPeabodyLilienthal GE Lafayette Jefferson SunsetAlamo Rooftop Clarendon JBBP Parks JBBPGrattanClarendon GE Key LawtonWest Portal SutroSF Public MontessoriOrder based on the schools I really liked and proximity to home, as well as the feeling got from school. Looked at diversity and test scores as well. Saw most, not all, so read reviews and got input from friends on ones couldn't visit. Saw Rooftop after I submitted choices so would have put it lower on the list. Too far and too early, plus didn't like the space.
Our list:SunnysideAlvarado SIFairmountMiralomaWest PortalAlvarado GEBuena Vista HMGlen ParkRooftopSloatAlso applied to Live Oak and Children's Day School. Plus TECA. Fingers crossed for public!
Buena Vista Horrace Mann SIFairmount SI
Did you list more schools than this or are there private salter natives? Just that the odds are rather slim with so little choices.
We're in CTIP-1 so hope that works for us. But really, they're the only schools we want so not sure what we'll do if we don't get one of those.
Seriously?Not exactly a diverse list and very low performing schools. Although Revere SI has its enthusiasts but heard some parents not happy with principle.
alice fong yu-cantonesestarr king-mandarinjose ortega-mandaringarfield-cantonesecis-cantonesebuena vista-spanishmarshall-spanisha neighborhood english school i didn't toura bunch of "trophies" for swapping purposes
We have a three year old who speaks Mandarin and will be considering Mandarin immersion elementary school when we apply next year. As far as I can tell, you are the only one posting this blog who has applied to Starr King and Jose Ortega. It leads me to wonder why these programs aren't very popular, especially given the enthusiasm displayed on this blog for other private Mandarin immersion schools and public Cantonese immersion schools.
This is such a limited group responding to the blog this year. Relatively few responses. Look at earlier years and you will find lots and lots of people talking about Starr King and Ortega. This year seems to have a different geographic bent too, with fewer people looking at a lot of good schools, public and private. In earlier years, there was far more talk about certain top privates which barely get mentioned here. This year Town, MCDS, Stuart Hall, Convent, even Hamlin get very little discussion whereas Synergy, Alta Vista get far more discussion than they did before.
I have a friend with a daughter in Starr King. They do have challenges (as in all schools). They also have a very dedicated parent group and raised a good amount of money for the PTA.Keep an open mind. If you live close to it, I don't see why you shouldn't consider it.
maybe the lack of chatter is b/c people thought the site was shut down? i actually didn't know it was up and running again until one day before i submitted my public application. i've also noticed that the mandarin community doesn't seem to be talking on here (maybe nobody is?), and wondered if it was specific to them... like, someone knows some big secret and doesn't want to spill it??? i don't know! but, i did tour king and thought the parents and principal were solid and honest and open. i loved just having people tell it like it is, versus the sales pitch you get at the privates where i am left wondering what the reality is.
I think your first instinct is right. Kate closed the site for what seemed like the end after a period of strain. Then it was down and the community left. Then, a new group took over the site. It's still like the old site, but not quite the same, maybe because there's not one person behind it people can identify with. I also think most people who used to be here assumed it was done for good.
From their posts, it seems the bloggers this year, except for Muppet, live in Bernal, Glen Park, Inner Sunset, Bayview and Twin Peaks. Most were interested in public. So there is a geographic focus on the central, more southern schools. This year's parents seemed less interested in driving across town and more focused on finding good, schools that are relatively close to their houses. I think that changed the reviews and the focus of the blog. Of course, Town, Burkes, SF Day, Hamlin are good schools but they are private and tend to draw on families living on the northern and central neighborhoods of San Francisco. With traffic in the city increasing, the twice daily commute across town is not that alluring when there are schools that are more accessible from the southern, central, and eastern neighborhoods. It seems that a geographical balancing out is taking place. More publics over the entire city look attractive and there are more privates like SF Friends, Marin Prep, The San Francisco School, Children's Day, Alta Vista that are accessible for families living in the south and central neighborhoods. Marin Country Day School (MCDS) is in Marin (as the name states) which is a long commute from Glen Park or Bayview.
West Portal GEGrattanSloatMiralomaFeinsteinSunnysideSF Public Montessori
CISAlice Fong YuGrattanMcKinleyWest Portal CNWest PortalArgonneRosa Parks - JBBPLillenthal - KoreanClarendonJeffersonClarendon - JBBPPeabodyNew TraditionsLillenthalAlamoLawton+11 more that we put on for swap value, though honestly if we go below Lawton, we will probably end up in round 2. We also minimized our tours and my husband only ended up seeing 4 schools to help us decide whether to include them and what order to rank them on our list. The schools we didn't tour were ranked based on our desire for language immersion and availability of after school programs balanced with proximity to our home/commute routes.
I would love to know where people live (i.e. neighborhood) to see if people are putting down their neighborhood schools at the top of their list (or not). Especially if they live in so-called trophy neighborhoods (i.e miraloma).
i do not live in a trophy area, but i live in a dense area where there are 3-5 schools that are pretty close. i didn't apply to the one closest (our AA), but did apply at 2 schools that i consider to be in my neighborhood. they were not top on my list though. however, i am prioritizing immersion, so that trumped geography for my family.
We had been within the Miraloma attendance area but found it was redrawn and we were now Sunnyside. Geographically we are equidistant to Sunnyside & Glen Park but listed Glen Park as our #1.
Curious why you preferred GP over Sunnyside? I think Sunnyside generally has higher demand.
We're in the AA for Hillcrest. We did not include it on our list.
We chose Glen Park over Sunnyside as #1 for a few reasons. I went on the tour thinking the opposite since GP is still 'up & coming'. First, the principal at GP really impressed me, later found she was at Grattan for years. Second, they have so much space! They had a major renovation last year. Also, the PTO is new but strong. Sunnyside is small and had that neighborhood school vibe. I'm not a fan of having 1st graders in the 'bungalows', which leads to the main negative for Sunnyside - it is supposed to have a major renovation next year, which could go on during the school year. I'm not sure how I feel about that since I'm surrounded by construction at work and know how disruptive it can be. Regardless, we will be happy to get into either school.
I see. Yeah, I had basically all the same observations although being in bungalows didn't seem like a big deal to me. GP really does seem like it has a lot going for it and I think it's really poised to make great strides.
The reason why there's less chatter is because the blog has returned to its roots, i.e. school reviews and assignment issues. Before there were more subjects to comment on and there wasn't much filtering (censoring). People were free to say what they wanted and sometimes it got a little bloody. But it attracted crowds.
Although it's not one of the most requested schools, a lot of people I know have listed New Traditions in their top 5. Never really noticed it until this year and spoke to the principal at the school fair. Very impressed and lots of parents on the tour practically swooning. Another thing noticed on tours in general were lots of question about art, how to accommodate their child's "unique" learning style (eye roll), but not as many questions about core academics.
Our list:1. Lillienthal2. Grattan3. Rooftop4. Clarendon Gen5. Clarendon JBBP6. McKinley7. Alvarado8. Sherman9. New Traditions10. Can't remember....FWIW, we are CTIP1 and live in the central part of the city, making it fairly easy to get anywhere but the far avenues. We are very much hoping this works in our favor. We also applied to the French American School, SF Day, and Alta Vista. We very much loved Alta Vista, but the expense and the commute would be difficult for us to justify.We loved Lillienthal and Grattan, but K-8 wins out for us right now. We will probably go to a second round with any school but those two...yes, I know. We're crazy.
Our top choice is Creative Arts Charter. For our daughter and her interests/personality, it can't be beat. I was super impressed when I visited (e.g., the innovation lab teacher has 2 degrees from MIT?! Sign me up!)For SFUSD's lottery, we went with:1. Daniel Webster Spanish Immersion (our AA school)2. Lillienthal Korean Immersion3. Grattan4. Clarendon5. Rooftop6. Alvarado7. Miraloma8. Sloat9. McKinley10. SunnysideOur criteria was balancing quality of the school with commute from work and/or home (we live in Dogpatch and work in SOMA). The outlier is Lillienthal which is on there as somewhat of a lark since I'm Korean, but it's way out of our way commute-wise.We didn't apply to any private schools. Just a personal preference.
Our choices:FeinsteinRooftopClarendon GEClarendon JBBPMiralomaGlen ParkSloatAlvarado SIWe also applied to Alta Vista. We are in CTIP1 and did not choose our attendance area school, Dr. Charles Drew. It was a toss-up between Feinstein and Rooftop for top choice. We loved both schools, but dread the early start time and long drive from our home in Bayview. Ultimately Feinstein won out as the drop-off/pick-up at Feinstein seems immensely better than at Rooftop. Plus there are more amenities near and on the route between Feinstein and home than Rooftop and home (grocery stores, parks, restaurants to pick up dinner when I'm running late...) Unlike Rooftop, Feinstein gets zero CTIP1 applicants, so I'm 99.9% sure we will be assigned there.We absolutely loved Alta Vista and in some small way I hope we don't get in because I would have a VERY hard time turning it down. It is 5 minutes from our house and starts at 8:30 versus Feinstein at 7:50 and 25 minutes away. The cost would be very difficult for us, but possible. I can't imagine any thing else more worthy of spending my money on than my child's education.
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