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Heather Fern…, Home Owner in San Francisco, CA

SF public schools - insight into the 2011 student assignment redesign?

Asked by Heather Fernandez, San Francisco, CA Sun Jan 3, 2010

And while you are at it, please feel free to explain how diversity is defined in this tidbit that I read from the SFUSD site: Q: Will my child be guaranteed placement in the school nearest to my home? A: "...Applications from non-attendance area students are only considered when applicants from the attendance area no longer contribute to diversity." Found here: http://portal.sfusd.edu/template/default.cfm?page=policy.pla…

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I am actually surprised when any Realtor working in this City states that they don’t know how the school admissions are done. It seems to me that a professional should know and it really isn’t that difficult to find out. A few years ago I put on FYI seminars at the SFAR with a member of the school board, Hydra Mendoza, and the public relations spokesperson of SFUSD Gentle Blythe. Zephyr like the information and hosted a series of information seminars around the City with the same format.
Anyway, your first questions “will my child be admitted to the local school”? Yes if there are 60 spots and 50 kids apply yours will be admitted. If there are 60 spots and 100 apply then it gets a bit more complicated. In reality this is the situation in the higher performing schools, there are more applicants than spots. SFUSD policy has been to promote diversity. Since the 1970s they have tried to create diverse school environments. It still is the primary goal (which I argue the primary goal should be to provide every child a quality education) but they can’t use race as a deciding factor so they created a “diversity index”.
Each parent chooses 7 schools that are acceptable for their child. Assume it’s you and the neighborhood school is one of them. If the child adds to the diversity they have a better chance of being admitted because they live close and add diversity. Being in the neighborhood does factor in but only if there are open spots and the child adds to the diversity.
The factors that add diversity are extreme poverty, socioeconomic status, English proficiency, Academic Performance Index (API) of the sending school, and Academic Achievements Status.
There is movement at the Board of Education on a new system. There is talk of allowing neighborhood schools again. The best source of information about what is going on at the Board is Rachael Norton’s Blog posted below. She is a mom and a member of the Board. She writes well and is open with the information that is under discussion.
One other aspect of the system to remember is that the Board years ago started to make each school create a reason for people to go to them. It takes the form of language immersion programs, academic focus, arts, etc. So in many ways parents don’t want the neighborhood school because they want them to learn Japanese or Spanish so they choose to go to a school outside their neighborhood.
One last thing because I’ve seen it when my kids were in public schools and in my own neighborhood Miraloma Park, a school needs three legs to be a good school; an active, interested principal, dedicated teachers and involved parents. If any one of those three legs is not in place the school fails the kids.
Web Reference: http://rachelnorton.com/
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sun Jan 3, 2010
Jed Lane, Real Estate Pro in San Francisco, CA
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Without any equivocation YES!
Just staying on schools SFUSD has some of the best schools in the state and some that are ranked amongst the best in the nation. My own experience is not atypical. We are parents that value knowledge and academic performance. We read to our kids when they were little and we always expected them to finish college. We worked with what we had and we paid attention to each child. I say that because during the middle school years one of them would not have done well in the large public environment so we paid for three years of middle school. Both are graduates of Lowell HS and the oldest has now finished her BA at Boston University in 3 ½ years. She was able to do that because of the superior education she received and the AP classes she was able to take in HS. The youngest is in her freshman year at Denver University. Both received good scholastic scholarships from their SFUSD educations.
Now let’s talk about socialization. I was raised here, in a fairly suburban neighborhood on the Westside of town, but in the City. I could go downtown at a pretty young age. So when raising my daughters I knew the benefits of freedom in the City. My guiding principle was “if you want freedom you take responsibility”. My youngest loves a good live band. She’s been going to shows since she was 14. Some people will say I’m crazy but she was sophisticated enough and very responsible. She has never given us any trouble and was able to travel to Chicago and Denver at 16, on her own dime to see Fall Out Boy. She is actually part of an international community based on the band.
I’m bragging so let me get to the point. Kids raised in San Francisco, acknowledging that SF is unique, have a level of sophistication and an opportunity to self-actualize than kids raised anywhere else. If you think that San Mateo or Orinda or San Rafael because they are in the Bay Area are equivalent you’d be wrong. I’ve watched this for a few decades now. The peer pressure is much stronger in the suburbs. The kids have more time on their hands, Mom and Dad are working somewhere else and can’t be as involved because they are gone all day and they have to commute. The kids have access to more cars and empty houses (trouble with a Capital T) and the communities are much more homogeneous (be like the dominant or we shun you). A kid raised in SF will always find someone like them. No matter what form of personality they want to put out there, someone will be their like them. They will also learn how to deal with the MUNI and crowds and the homeless and crazies. Some might, say OMG not the crazies! But imagine if you raise your child in a place where they can’t deal with the crazies, and they have an opportunity they want to take, but they don’t know how to deal with the crazies. Unfortunately this is our society. As their parent, you can teach them all the SF values that drive the others crazy –acceptance – social responsibility – acceptance of different lifestyle choices – artistic endeavors – etc. Cutting edge stuff but it will equip your child with levels of knowledge and expectations that are also cutting edge.

This is not just now but throughout SF history we’ve accepted and welcomed the new and the unusual. None of this is to remove responsibility of the parents in the raising of the child. It is only a recommendation of how to succeed.
So if you have an opportunity to raise your kids here, don’t blow it for them. Find a way to make it happen.
On an aside, when I was a young adult I left the City for a short time. I tried to make it someplace else. I watched as my siblings succeeded in Atlanta and Wisconsin. I decided that I had to make it here, in San Francisco. Not just because it’s where I grew up but because it is one of the best cities in the world and I wanted to give my kids the opportunity to be fourth generation San Franciscans (OK we breed slow – we’ve been here since the 1860’s)
2 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Jan 5, 2010
Jed Lane, Real Estate Pro in San Francisco, CA
MVP'08
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Jed - I've read a few of your other answers on SF schools and want to thank you for being so thorough.

The question I'm forced to ask myself -- is it worth it to stay in SF? Higher cost of living, less home for your $, and to get into a good public school seems far more hassle than it should be. Remind me why we stay?

Also - I saw that the city is holding town halls to discuss the 2011 change. Is it worth attending, or a waste of time and energy?

Trulia hearts Jed Lane :)
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Jan 5, 2010
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