Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Long, Short-Version - Our School Choice


I originally wrote a four-page first draft of my final post to the SFK Files to declare our school choice. It was TMI and pretty boring. It became a rebuttal to all the critiques we have heard or assume we will hear from friends, family, and blog readers and a long list of all the factors that played into our decision-making. So I am scrapping that draft and taking 20 minutes (ok, it's longer now) to write the basics. However, this might not be my last post. I still have a lot to say about CTIP1.

My husband and I have decided to send our daughter to Hamlin next year.  It was a tough decision complicated by our love of Rooftop and many other public schools (not just the trophy schools) in San Francisco. 
                 
As parents, we want our kids to grow up and do meaningful work that they love and that pays their bills. We want our children to challenge themselves, think critically and creatively, dream big dreams and commit themselves to giving back to the world. We want them to be their authentic selves and to be grounded by their family and community. As a mama of color raising a daughter (and son) in the Bayview, I know there are things that my daughter will have to overcome because of her race, class and gender, obstacles to actualizing her dreams. I know that the disparity between the rich and the poor is growing and that the “middle-class” jobs many of us love and were educated/trained to do are disappearing or the salary is not keeping up with inflation.

Knowing this, we want our daughter to be in an environment that supports her socially and personally, that understands and values diversity, that challenges her to be a leader, that has solid academics, that opens doors to STEM careers in case she might be interested in pursuing them, and that gives her opportunities beyond the limitations of our neighborhood, community and family. During the fall and winter we kept going back to Hamlin events, because it surprised us that this school in Pacific Heights seemed to speak to the realities of our experiences and the hopes we have for our daughter. It wasn’t that Rooftop would not be able to do these things, but they didn't say too much about them.

There were two things Hamlin moms told me that I keep thinking about:
  • I know for sure that in their lifetime my daughters are going to face discrimination because of the color of their skin and their gender. I need them to not only believe in themselves, but also to have the solid academics to back that up. -  She was certain her daughters were getting both at Hamlin.  
  • I need to know that her school makes sure she learns to stand up for herself and for others, and that she feels safe there all the time so that her mind is free to learn. I need to know that she sees women of color in positions of authority, so that when she is older and bumps into a glass ceiling, her idea of who should be in charge is so ingrained that she does not question where she should be.”
There was something special about the leadership at Hamlin, the openness in talking about the school's problems, the critical dialogue that the whole community seemed to be engaged in to make the school better. The mission of the school is so relevant, "The Hamlin School educates girls to meet the challenges of their time and inspires them to become extraordinary thinkers and innovators, courageous leaders, and women of integrity.” The sincerity of the Head of School as she talks about developing leadership in young women and supporting them to become their authentic selves would set just the right tone for our daughter. Our daughter will love it and live it. And, while I want to support public education, a part of me is really relieved to send my daughter to a school where test scores are not directly related to funding and teachers have more support and resources for professional development.

Yes, I have a lot of guilt about choosing private school over public school. The silence after I mentioned our school choices to our pro-public activist friends was more than uncomfortable, but with an offer of admission and financial aid to make it do-able we couldn’t pass up this opportunity. I have no delusions about this being a “perfect school.” There is no such thing. We are interested to see how this "rigor and joy" actually plays out. We will definitely continue to ground our daughter in her community, be vigilant when issues of race/class come up, teach her more about her family history and culture and make sure her world is way bigger than Hamlin. But we would be doing that for her regardless of the school she was at and while we are not money-rich, we are community and family-rich. This is our strength.  We don’t know if our child will later be diagnosed with a learning disability, if our financial aid will go down making Hamlin unaffordable and/or if the school just isn't a good fit, but from what we saw and heard from the people who are there now, we only got the impression that it would be a great opportunity for our daughter. We will be evaluating and reevaluating our decision each year to see if the school continues to fit our mission, vision, goals and budget as a family. We'll take things as they come.

CTIP1 - Was it a golden ticket this year?

Last year when I asked families about how they did in the lottery, anyone that was in a CTIP1 location overwhelming reported that they got their first choice.  This year, I have heard many CTIP1 families that have gotten their first choice, but most I have talked to got their 2nd or 3rd choice.  What are you hearing?

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Sunrise, Sunset, Sunnyside?

So. My daughter was assigned to Sunnyside, #12 on our list of 45 schools. Waitlisted at CACS and TECA. At first, I felt a little deflated. After all of the research and tours and all the information I learned about how to play the lottery, I didn’t do any better for her than #12? Plus, I couldn't remember much about my Sunnyside tour!

We also got a surprise: my daughter, who won't turn five until September, was accepted at Brandeis Hillel Day School, a Jewish school out near Park Merced (the only independent we applied to). That was flattering and the school is...wow. The academics seem amazing, the resources are beyond incredible, the community sounds wonderful, but the real kicker is how they focus on character education and Jewish education through the exploration of core Jewish values. One of the values the school talks about a lot is tikkun olam, or the principle that we all have a responsibility to do our part to heal what’s broken in the world. This has become a trendy concept in American Judaism lately, but the way Brandeis talks about it feels authentic to me. I want that kind of values education for my children.

But as we crunched the numbers, we realized we couldn't accept the offer. Our situation is a little complicated but while we can do tuition for one child for the next couple of years, we just can’t commit ourselves to so many years of $26,000 and then $52,000 a year (we have two kids), plus tuition increases, plus all of the expenses of aftercare, summer care, etc (which we will have at any school, but still, those costs are real). Plus, we only have one car and getting to Brandeis would probably require us to buy a second car. (They have a bus but it doesn’t stop in the Sunset). We are sensible people and we know we need to save for high school, college, retirement, taking care of aging parents, maybe buying a house someday, etc. It’s just...too much.

We agonized over the decision and I know it’s right but I still feel some twinges of regret. My immigrant forebears sacrificed everything for education. Am I not willing to do the same for my kids? Am I now so soft that my need for a little money in the bank (and my fear of Sunset traffic) will keep my kids from a great education? Or am I making a rational decision that will lead to a calmer, less stressed out family life for everyone? And don’t my Jewish values require me to be present in this world, too? If we commit to an up and coming public school and spend some fraction of the money we would spend on Brandeis there, could we in some way contribute to our community as a whole and actually practice a little bit of tikkun olam? Or would we just be serving ourselves and patting ourselves on the back while doing it?

Meanwhile, big questions aside, Sunnyside was looking sunnier and sunnier. This whole lottery system can seem to pit families against one another but I am amazed by how our network of friends went to work for us. A friend from the neighborhood immediately emailed the parents in her child’s class to see if anyone knew families at Sunnyside. Another friend remembered an acquaintance who has kids at Sunnyside and connected us. I realized looking at the school’s website that I went to grad school with a current parent--I sent him a message via Linked In and got an immediate (and very positive) response. And as we actually talked to people and pored over school data (thanks SFGeekMom!), we couldn’t believe it. It feels like we’re having the classic SF experience--assigned to a school you know barely anything about and you discover it's a hidden gem. Or maybe it was only hidden to us?

So what’s going on at Sunnyside? First and foremost, it sounds like the teachers are solid--I talked to three different sets of 2nd grade parents who gushed over every teacher their children had had. Second, to be honest, probably one of the most important things has to do with money: A huge demographic shift over the past few years means more parents able to contribute time and money to the school (as my husband says, this is the generation that was raised on Seinfeld and doesn't want to move to the suburbs). Last year, the PTA raised more than $140K, which seems impressive for a small school (360 students). The parents have worked collaboratively with the teachers to hire an instructor to do project-based math activities, and starting in 2nd grade, students will be exposed to basic computer programming. My daughter has already received a welcome postcard hand-drawn by a current student (cute!) and we got an invitation from the PTA for Coffee with the Principal and a Family Craft Night where kids and parents will make stop-motion picture books. Everybody we have talked to has only good things to say about the welcoming, interesting, down to earth parents who are giving their all to the school. Some of them recently recruited the afterschool folks from Miraloma to create a new afterschool program at Sunnyside to complement the existing options. A parent who is a choreographer coordinates dance instruction for multiple grades, and a parent who used to be a History professor arranged for fifth graders to participate in California History Day, where students research a historical topic of their choosing and present at the San Francisco History Day fair (five of Sunnyside's students are going on to present their projects in Sacramento at a statewide event). Another parent who is a web designer created a very engaging website for the school (http://www.sunnysidek5.org/). The PTA pays for schoolyard monitors for recess, art and music programs, and more, and has started multiple garden projects, including a native plant garden.

Even with these demographic changes, the school still has ethnic diversity and a principal committed to equity for all students. The whole package just seems like it has a ton of potential. The school is getting a huge renovation, which could be disruptive for a year or more, but sounds like it will have a great outcome, including a new library and media center. And the teachers do some things that seem very smart that I saw at a few other schools: They invite new families in for a morning so the incoming K students can be observed and teachers can build classes that are balanced. Fourth and fifth grade teachers are also working now to take on some subject matter specialties just as the teachers do at Commmodore Sloat, to better prepare the students for middle school.

So it looks like our daughter is headed to Sunnyside and we’re thrilled. Our only question is one of logistics. We love our neighborhood (the Inner Sunset) and we love how connected we’ve become to other people here. We often run into preschool friends at the playground and the farmer’s market. It’s easy for my daughter to play at friends’ house nearby. Ideally, we would get to school on public transportation. So right now we’re trying to figure out if it would make sense to enter Round 2 to try for a school closer to us (Clarendon, West Portal, Jefferson and Grattan are all easily accessible via walking or public transportation). But we’re also kind of in love with Sunnyside at this point! Any insights?

I guess there is one more question and that’s an existential one about the lottery. Although I can see some of the benefits of this system, right now I mostly see the bad. All of the time parents spend touring and agonizing seems like a shame--especially for those parents who put down 15 or 20 options and get shut out!! I am also really taken with that recent notion from economic research that sometimes too much choice isn’t good for us. I think when it comes to SF elementary schools, I might know too much. I don’t just want a school for my children, I want the best. I want everything I just learned about at Sunnyside, plus the gardens from Rooftop and Lakeshore and Sunset, the art room from Clarendon and that gorgeous building from New Traditions, the library from Sloat, the Kindergarten yard from Jefferson, the music teacher from West Portal, the inspiring principals from Grattan and Glen Park, the classroom work I saw displayed so energetically at Alvarado, the science kits they send home at Peabody, and the extended schedule from Argonne. I want my kids to speak Spanish (and Chinese and Japanese) fluently but I also want them in a school committed to diversity. And I want it all right near my house and with a start time that works for me and an afterschool program I can get my kid into. Is that too much to ask? I don’t know, maybe it is. In any case, I hope we'll feel like what's great at Sunnyside (or wherever) is enough. I'll let you know how it turns out. In the meantime, thanks to the other bloggers, to those running the site, and to all of the commenters--and good luck to everyone, wherever your kids are in school!!



Round 2

At the request of a reader.

Will you go for round 2? What's been people's experience with round 2 in the past?  If you got into a "trophy" school and are planning not to register, please let us know!

Trading In One Dream For Another

We didn't get into language immersion. Specifically, we didn't get KIP at Claire Lilienthal, the program I'd been preparing for since before my child was out of newborn diapers.

I hired a bilingual nanny when I went back to work.  Only TV shows and movies in Korean were allowed in our home. We read a book in Korean every night. I chose a language immersion daycare and stayed there, opting out of preschool, with the goal of passing the SFUSD language proficiency test.  It worked. My child passed the SFUSD proficiency test with flying colors, scoring in the advanced proficient range.

And we didn't get in.

This year, an unprecedented number of kindergarten applicants took the Korean proficiency test.  I heard that over 50 children took the test, many of them native speakers. So we didn't get a spot, which is as it should be. I agree that when there are more language-proficient applicants than spots, the spots should go to the native speakers the program was designed for.

Meanwhile, I was touring private schools as "backup" and seeing the kind of education that $25k buys you.  My experience is a lesson in not going by tour impressions. When I toured Friends, I was turned off by how few Asian children I saw compared to the public schools. A parent told an anecdote about kindergarteners learning responsibility by bringing their milk cups to the playground, and I thought of the epic battles that have raged in our home trying to get my Asian child to drink milk. Then the admissions director talked about not having grades and not releasing students' ERB scores to parents, and I thought "You're going to deny me cold, hard data on my child?"

I left not planning to apply. Then I thought, I can't write off this school; it's the one that on paper reflects my values the most. Learning more about the Friends Community Scholars, after first hearing about it in a K-Files review of Friends (thanks, 1+1+1!) reinforced this.  So I went through the process, and surprisingly, Friends turned into one of my top choices. A great parent interview alleviated my concerns around the number of Asian students and diversity overall and confirmed that this was the place that shared my values, but the clincher was the kindergarten playdate.

After most kindergarten playdates, I'd heard, "That was not fun."  At this one, I watched my child come in from the playground with the other kids, unself-consciously skipping in line. Even from 10 yards away, I could see how happy my child was. Afterward, I heard, "I liked that place," "I liked the boy teacher," and "I built a big rocket there. If I go back, I'm going to build an even bigger one!"

Academically, Friends seemed to balance not being bored and being overly stressed, hitting the sweet spot where learning would stay fun, and my child stay motivated to learn. I wanted my child to be challenged, but not to be overly stressed about grades or burn out in middle school. At another school, a parent had hired a tutor for their child in kindergarten before any problems showed up, and advised prospective parents to do the same. The admissions director there had a tutor for their own child.  I didn't want that kind of pressure for my child.

Socially, I hoped that being with a group of families who bought into Quaker values might temper any envy of the "lifestyles of the rich and famous" and reduce social stratification by income. The school professed a commitment to including a broader socioeconomic segment. Since budgets reflect organizational priorities, I checked out the financial data in the IRS Form 990s for Friends and several other schools to confirm this.

I thought about my experience coming from an unknown daycare and applying for private kindergartens.  I didn't know what schools were most prestigious or coveted. I didn't have a preschool director calling schools, nor a session to explain the application process, how to prepare your child, what to emphasize or what not to say at the parent interview. My child never knew any of the other children at the kindergarten playdates. How much harder would it be to do it blindly for high school?  There's no SFHighSchoolFiles; I don't even know what the private high schools are.

All this to say, even before the SFUSD letter arrived, I was thinking that Friends would be a better match for my child than KIP.  Still, the teacher at our language immersion program brought tears to my eyes the next morning as she expressed her disappointment.  I didn't understand a lot of the words, but the gist was clear: "After speaking so well and doing so well on the test, they didn't get in, what a shame."

In an ideal world, I'd like my child to go to KIP for K-3 while I save up for a few years, then to Friends starting in 4th or 5th grade. That would be the best blend of language, culture, academics and finances. But that's not one of my choices. If I turn this down now, I don't know if we'll get in again later on. Plus, I'm aware of how difficult it is to break into the social scene after the first few years, especially if you're not one of the rich kids.

So we are trading in one dream for another, and heading to Friends. Thinking of giving up KIP still sometimes brings tears to my eyes, but in the end, I feel very, very fortunate in this crazy search for a kindergarten that we San Francisco parents go through, with its unexpected happy endings.

An 2015 update is here.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Strong Leadership, Rigor & Joy: The Hamlin School Review


This past week we learned that our daughter was placed at Rooftop and offered admission to Hamlin, two amazing but very different choices of schools in San Francisco.  As this Kindergarten search is coming to and end for us, I figured it is a good time to post my review of The Hamlin School as requested by a commenter or two. Hopefully, it'll be useful to parents going through the process next year.

Review of The Hamlin School (written before we got our letter in the mail)

When we started the elementary school search, I wanted to at least see some private schools. Truth is the Hamlin School almost got crossed off the list before we even set foot on campus. It is very far from our home, way too expensive ($27+K/year!), and, at the time, still represented all the stereotypes I had for private schools. But after attending a few events, my husband and I found it refreshing, honest and an amazing option for our daughter (if she is offered admission, of course). 

I was unable to attend the Learn About Hamlin Event, but my husband went. He was a little intimidated by the valet parking, but left the event thoroughly impressed. Having attended public schools in the Southeast he has some frustrations with the lack of resources at schools, inequity of resources among public schools, experiences of other students misbehaving in class, and the limitations of his educational experiences. And at Hamlin, he saw opportunity! He saw articulate young women giving the tours. He saw a school that was very open an honest about the vision they had. And, he was completely wowed by the head-of-school…

When I went on the tour of the school, I saw the same things. But, before I get into why this school is a school I would consider schlepping my daughter across town for every day and pay tuition for (although I have to be honest, there is no way we could afford this school without a very generous financial aid package), let’s get some basics aside:
·      K-8 Independent all girls school
·      Approximately 400 girls.
·      40% students of color.
·      Spanish taught starting in Kindergarten
·      Catered lunches sound delicious
·      2 full-time art teachers
·      Science labs and an emphasis in STEM
·      Drama, PE, Music, Art and Dance
·      Various Service-Learning Opportunities

Beyond this kind of checklist of things that the school has, we were more impressed with the things that fill the space between academics and the topics of conversation introduced by parents and administrators. The parents were friendly and frank about their experiences with the school.
  • Girls are encouraged to be their authentic selves.
  • Diversity is beyond just getting pictures for their brochure, but the belief that the conversation gets better when there is more diversity. There is more creativity and innovation with diversity and cultural competency for leadership is considered necessary.
  • The school is unapologetically rigorous, but they say there is “rigor and joy” simultaneously.
  • They want to foster an environment where girls are intellectually curious.
  • They want to create an environment where girls can love STEM.
  • There is an emphasis on developing leadership.
  • Parents and administrators acknowledge that there are issues of race and class, but they attempt to lean into the problems vs. stepping back. 
  • Women of color are administrators at the school! Wanda Greene, the Head of School, is inspirational! 
  • They have a girls of color group that includes staff, faculty, students and parents to offer the little girls the support they need. 
  • They take opportunities to speak about the strength of women and have curriculum for the girls to learn about women in history. 
We have attended the Open House, Families of Color Night, School Tour, Winter Social, Affording Hamlin Workshop and Diversity Dialogue. It was crazy to check out so many events, but we wanted to see if we would really send our daughter there. And, we were just so surprised that we liked it so much.   We weren't seriously thinking about privates until we saw this school.  In the end, we believe The Hamlin School has the resources and thoughtful leadership needed to provide an unbelievable educational experience for the girls who attend.

Of course, we are still talking through whether or not we would/could do private school over public school. The tuition is way beyond our means. Hamlin would be a very different environment and community for our child and there are other problems that could arise. But as we think through this all... we HAD to at least apply. Hamlin is definitely a school worth looking into.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Advice from Successful College Students


Months ago when I was touring schools, I sent a Facebook message to some college students who participated in a youth program I coordinated in Oakland a few years ago. They were amazing youth leaders, critical thinkers and great students. They all went to some great colleges (including some ivy leagues) and attended a mix of public and private/parochial schools for their K-12 education. I asked them for advice on what they think I should do about choosing schools for my daughter. Here were my questions: “With your diverse experiences in public and private schools, what do you think are the benefits and disadvantages of each?
 How did going to a private school influence your self-identity being that y'all are people of color, generally working class/middle class, and, sometimes, from immigrant families?
 Do you think we should prioritize sending our daughter to private or public school? 
How has private school helped or hindered your experiences in college? 
What else? What do you think I should know about choosing schools? How did y'all become such awesome high schoolers?"

Here are some excerpts of their responses.  I’ve been thinking about their advice a lot this past week and thought they might be helpful to others:
o   I can't deny that I learned a lot in private school and there were a lot more opportunities but something must be said for the fact that I do feel that it made me a little socially awkward. I can't really explain it but public school immerses you more in reality.” – Attended public school for K-8 and then a Catholic high school
o   “I would maybe send her to public school for Kindergarten through elementary and then private school in middle school or even a really good charter school but definitely private school for high school. 
Private school definitely provided me with more attention and a better understanding of the college process. But it is really expensive I was able to get a large scholarship every year so that helped some. I feel my high school helped with my confidence and allowed me to ask and answer questions with little intimidation, which are good things to have once at college. 
But not all private schools are the same. 
Check class size, curriculum and diversity of student body.
 Do students and faculty at school look like me?
 At many private universities, diversity is a problem, but some schools are better than others so try to find those schools.” – Student who attended public school until she went to a prestigious independent high school on full scholarship
o   "I went to a diverse private school from K-8 (i.e. almost all the students were low income and on financial aid). I went to mid-level private high school. As far as K-12, I can only speak to Catholic private education. In short, it was well worth it. Going to the same K-8 school built a strong sense of community among me and my peers—especially the people I had known since Kindergarten. It’s really hard to hate on or make fun of someone you’ve known since you were 4! In both K-8 and high school, the populations were both really diverse; however, I found that the Catholic education foundation and belief among me and my peers served as a phenomenal shared background. The mandatory retreats and reflections, something you don’t really get in public school, encourage introspection and self-discovery—something that helped me to define my values and goals. Naysayers will say that private school at a young age leaves you sheltered—but to be honest, I think I turned out well adjusted because of it! I found K-8 to be incredibly nurturing, which really allowed me to be MYSELF in a safe and supportive environment. That’s how I ended up so confident, flamboyant, and extroverted in Catholic school—even despite being low income and of color." - Student who attended Catholic school from K-12

Decisions...

Live Oak vs. San Francisco School, Creative Arts Charter vs. Dianne Feinstein....
Congratulations to those of you that are blessed with multiple assignments or blessed with a round I assignment and trying to decide on participation in round II.

Are you deciding between a charter school and a public?  A private and a public?  Multiple acceptances?  Twins at different schools?

Post here if are looking for community input or additional information on your assigned school.
Also - Please continue to post to the waitlist thread.  I know many are waiting for private school movement would like to keep that thread fresh....

Monday, March 18, 2013

Waitlists

Hi.  Congrats to all of you who won the public and charter lottery and a big 'yaaay' to all of you who got into a private. For everyone else, I am right there with you.

I am wondering if anyone can speak about how waitlists work? Do schools release spots ongoing this week as they become available? Do they do so throughout the week or in one group at the end of the week? Also, if you are offered a waitlist spot to you have to decide immediately or do you get time?

Lastly, are you releasing a spot at a private school? Where? Boy or Girl?

Public School Letters Have Started To Arrive

It's on for real now.  Please post.  What did you get?  Where did it rank?  Will you keep your spot?
Also - Please post your AA school and the # of schools on your list!  Thanks!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Public school letters

Let's do this.  Please share your decision and where it ranked for you.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Independent school letters

Please share - acceptances? wait lists? denials?

What are you going to accept and what, if any, are you going to release?  Did you also apply to publics?

Monday, March 11, 2013

Private School, Public School: What Will It Cost?

As we wait for the letters, I wonder if I'll be able to afford private school even if my child's accepted.

What's the "minimum" cost of year-round care for a school-aged child? 
I'm a working parent. I need full-time afterschool care and summer childcare.  My guesstimate is $10k/year if my child attends public school: $4-5k for afterschool care + $5k for summer camps + childcare for school vacations and furlough days. That hurts, cos that's about what I pay for year-round childcare now.

Here's a few examples of public after-school care:
CIS (GLO) $375/mon;
Rooftop (CASA) $400/mon;
Claire Lilienthal $450/mon;
Jefferson $510/mon - and ends at 5:45. I need 6PM.

Does this sound about right to you, SFUSD parents?

What's the cost of full-time care with private school? 

Synergy - $16.5k tuition + about $2.4k/aftercare ($240/month x 10m) = $18.9k/year ($23.9k w childcare when school closed, including summer camps)

San Francisco School - $22.5k tuition + $1.7k aftercare = $24.2k ($29.2k w/ childcare when school closed, including summer camps)
Afterschool classes: many are free. Others are $10-25/hour, usu $16/hr

Live Oak - $23.5k tuition + $1.5k deposit + $2.2k/year aftercare = $27.2k ($32.2k w/ childcare when school closed, including summer camps)
Childcare when school closed: $62/day
Weekly afterschool classes: $20/half hour

San Francisco Day - $26.5k tuition + $6.1k/year  afterschool = $32.6k ($37.6k with childcare when school closed)
Afterschool is $9/hour prepaid, no bulk discounts.  $36/day x about 170 days= $6100 for K; $4.6k for grades 1 and up.
Childcare when school closed: $90/day
Afterschool classes: $20/hour

San Francisco Friends - $25k tuition, afterschool program fees not listed online.
Afterschool classes: $15-20/hour

Private school parents, is this about right? How much does afterschool care and summer camp add to your total "educational" bill? 

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Questions

Hi all~

I feel like an expectant first time mother, one week past her due date...a combination of excitement and anxiousness but just overall readiness.

I was wondering:

Can we tour the public school we get assigned? I put a few down that I didnt tour and there were definitely some my husband didnt tour?

For privates, I know there is wait-list and then there is "wait-list". Its pretty rare to get a flat our "no" and most schools only rank the first 5 waitlist spots. So, how do you know if you are a true "wait-list" or you were just wait-listed as a nice way to say "no". I am guessing if you get a waitlist, you immediately call the admissions director and ask?

Also, I've heard of people paying a private deposit while they try and work out public school stuff. I can see the rationale but ugh - not only are you out the money but you are reserving a spot and have given you word. Thoughts?

I hope people start posting when they hear. I am curious what people get and even more so how it ranked in their orders. And, if privates were involved, what spot you are taking and as important what spot are you giving up!

Thanks!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

T Minus 10 Days

SFUSD Round I placement offers are mailed on March 15... ten days from today.  They arrive on Saturday and freaked out parents rush home from swim lessons, grocery shopping or a walk to the park with fear and excitement to check the mail.

As I walked back my house a few years ago, there it was.  The mail had arrived and there was the letter from SFUSD.  I grabbed it, rushed upstairs and opened it privately.  We got our third choice school.  I cried.  Yes - I was supposed to be happy, but I cried because I had imagined what life would be like if we got school #1.  I tried to be happy and relieved.  So many other people didn't get anything, nothing, nada, zip.  And here I was crying over getting my third choice.  I spent the rest of the weekend checking-in with friends, neighbors and the preschool community.  I checked K Files blog constantly.

As the weeks went by I became more comfortable with the assignment.  As the years went by I realized how lucky we were to receive our 3rd choice assignment.  But I won't lie, the first couple of nights, in the beginning, I would wake up in the middle of the night and remember my "dream school" and I would feel so sad.

It's hard not to idealize life at one school.  Part of having a choice system leads people to feel like they "lost" even when they get a spot at a great school.

I am here to say that believe me, the grass is always greener.  As you spend year 1, year 2 at your school and check-in with friends at other schools, you realize that none of the schools are perfect.  My friends at my "dream" school?  They are bummed they missed out on immersion.  They complain about the early start time.  Friends with very active PTAs complain about the drama.  Friends at their "dream" private complain about tuition and commute.

Parents of Kinders-to-be, hang in there.  It will all work out and there are a heck of a lot of great choices.  Veterans - Share your stories

And if you are in Bernal, there is a bar [Lucky Horseshoe] has created SFUS-D-Day and special drinks just for you 

Good luck!