I hear RWC school system isn't good. What are best options for private elementary schools/locations.?

Asked by Carmz, San Mateo, CA Sat Oct 27, 2007

And anyone with feedback on average tuition prices ( realize they could be all over the map..but just some general idea). Thinking about Mt Carmel area.

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Ed Gory, Agent, San Carlos, CA
Sat Oct 27, 2007
NOT TRUE at all that the RC school system "isn't good". If you're comparing strictly on test scores alone, there are schools that excel (i.e. Clifford and Roy Cloud), and schools that come in a close 3rd or 4th place in test scores (schools like Henry Ford, or John Gill), which are also good schools and have great educational programs. What skews the test scores is demographics and geographics, but that does not imply a school is not good. In Redwood City, like much of California, you have kids where English was not the first language of their parents, nor were those parents as educated as "most" parents whose kids attend these schools. You have that at John Gill, as an example, but you also have other parents there who have PhDs. What I find personally, now as a parent of a grade schooler, is that the success of any child is hugely dependent on the involvement of their parents, and that if kids have that combined with a good learning program, they're going to succeed. It's unfortunate for many of the English-as-a-second-language kids, because education might not have been a priority for some of their parents, so consequently the parents don't get as involved and then those kids don't see it as a priority either (this is not 100% across the board, just a gross generalization). What I've also seen, is that there's kids at Clifford
or Roy Cloud who graduate with very mediocre grades (C average), so sending your kid to a "good" school never fully guarantees their success. A lot of parents obviously want the best for their kids, no doubt, but these days a lot of parents feel it necessary for "prestige" purposes to want their kids to only go to the best (heck, my 12 year old niece goes to Clifford, and she's about a B- student). Redwood City district is also a "magnet school" district, so even if you're not in the same region as your desired school, you can apply, if there's room, to go to your 1st choice school.

To answer your question on tuitions, I currently send my daughter to Mt. Carmel -- even though my home is in the Clifford School region. Tuition there runs about $4500/year, and in my opinion is totally worth it, in terms of the quality of education and the values of charity and volunteerism it imbues into the students.
3 votes
Bob Bredel, Agent, San Carlos, CA
Sat Oct 27, 2007
You are correct. On the elementary school level, Roy Cloud and Clifford are the only high ranking Redwood City Schools. If you move into a home that is covered by the boundaries of one of these two schools, you will be fine. The Sequoia Union High School District covers Redwood City. Most of the residences in Redwood City will be assigned to either Sequoia or Woodside. Both leave a lot to be desired, but are making improvements. You also have the ability to transfer to any of the Sequoia Union High Schools if space permits and the district grants the transfer. Carlmont and Menlo Atherton have decent reputations as public high schools.

For private elementary schools, St. Pius and Mt Carmel are the most notable choices in Redwood City. St. Charles in San Carlos also has many students who are Redwood City residents.
Web Reference:  http://sancarlosblog.com
2 votes
Ed Gory, Agent, San Carlos, CA
Tue Jan 1, 2008
Thanks for the perspectives, Baggins. While we’re straying a bit from the original topic, I do sincerely enjoy the discourse. I’m curious, are your perspectives/models/probabilities based on experience with the educational system here, and where your kids currently attend school? I don’t think I was downplaying the value of a top school – hey, if you can afford a home in Palo Alto, Los Altos, or San Carlos because you want your kids in those schools, more power to you. Top schools are top schools for a good reason, and you’re absolutely right that kids will get a good education there.

Yes you’re right in that it’s safe to assume that going to a top school gives one a good education, but I think my original point was simply that going to a lower-ranking school doesn’t necessarily guarantee a low quality education. To me, it’s not a binary assumption (i.e. high API=high value education, therefore low API=low value education). Yes, we agree that every student, their family situation, economic status, how hardwired they are to succeed, and myriad other factors are different from one child to the next, even in the same family -- predicting a child’s educational success in the context of a model and probabilities, to me, doesn’t make sense. Averages are just averages, and I just feel that one can’t generalize or predict one student’s future outcome based on a historical average. Yes, lower API schools have lower performing students, but will every student that goes there learn less? Will every student at a high API school be more successful in the real world than their lower API school peers? I just don’t think it’s a black and white yes or no answer on that. In my 17 years in the corporate world I’ve worked with brilliant people, some with a Stanford MBA pedigree and some with just a BA from Chico, and I’ve also worked with complete boneheads that had Stanford degrees. Just my opinion.

Someone who excels and does well at a lower ranking school – would they have done even better at a “better” school? You can make a speculation, and it might be logical on paper, but I haven’t seen any empirical study yet that proves that. Hence, I don’t buy that argument right now – I’m certainly open to changing my opinion, though, especially if you’re a teacher, or researcher in education and can prove that theory.

I also don’t believe educators denigrate the testing – remember, though, these are weighted averages. A school with an API of 800 might have some students scoring at 1000 and some at 600. I don’t believe teachers blame socio-economic factors, but those factors sure do seem deeply rooted in the lower scoring demographic and schools. Check out this article for some interesting reading: http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/la-op-dustup28nov28,0,813168…

As to where a parent will encourage their child to go, I just don’t think anyone can assume how a decision like that is likely to go – some parents would recommend a Hayward State because they can’t afford the tuition costs of a UND or Stanford. Or, a student may choose a state school over a private one because the state school offers a better program for their major, or because their older sibling went to the state school, or their girlfriend is going there. Every student’s situation is different. Again, I’m not claiming to be any kind of expert – these are merely my opinions based on firsthand experience that I mentioned earlier, and in talking with clients daily/weekly/yearly about school district decisions. Happy New Year!
1 vote
Ed Gory, Agent, San Carlos, CA
Sun Dec 30, 2007
Good point -- lest I be admonished as hypocritical, I'll repeat and amend. "I currently send my daughter to Mt. Carmel -- even though my home is in the Clifford School region". Clifford is one of the highest API schools in the RC district, and immensely desirable -- yet I send my own child to a school as ethnically diverse as John Gill, and a school generally not thought of as on the same academic level as Clifford, nor with the same amount of extracurricular programs, sports, or funding. It's a "Catholic school thing", I guess (having been through it myself). Why would some parents in the homogeneous San Carlos school district -- which is probably as desirable and with as much cachet as the Palo Alto School District -- send their kids to the more expensive St. Charles then? Again, could be a Catholic school thing. Maybe that's why Tom Brady's parents sent him to St. Gregory's and Serra (my alma mater) instead of Baywood and Aragon (highest scoring high schools in San Mateo)?
I guess to reiterate, my original point was that you really can't generalize on a whole district based on hearsay about the poor performing ones (i.e. "Fair Oaks and Hoover aren't good schools, therefore all RC schools must not be good"). There are kids that have come out of John Gill that have gone on to Stanford, and there are kids that have come out of Clifford that are mechanics (nothing against mechanics, just an example). Like any major decision, do plenty of homework so you can come to your own conclusion.
1 vote
Baggins, , 94070
Sun Dec 30, 2007
Accorfing to the State of Calif "An Academic Performance Index (API) score of 800 is the statewide performance target." RWC elementary came in at 759 and its two middle schools were below 700.

Its interesting that the agent who disagreed with what you had hear, in ALL CAPS no less,sends his kids to private school in RWC.

The other agent is more frank about RWC schools.

If your kid is sharp, he may be able to qualify for North Star Academy in RWC, which requires competitive admission including an IQ test. It covers grades 3-8 I do hear that there is a lot of homework at that school, which may or may not be to your liking for your kids.
1 vote
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0 votes
Tonysakie, , Redwood City, CA
Sat Jul 20, 2013
Short answer, you heard right. Private Catholic schools rocks
0 votes
Athena Chili…, Agent, Pembroke Pines, FL
Sun May 30, 2010
Great Question and it is one that my cients present - regardless of the city of choice.

As a mother of 2 boys and a Realtor in the mid-Peninsula, I personally struggled with this very question. My answer is simple, there are opportunities in every choice. Yes, API and STAR testing scores rank the school and the more affluent the school, the greater the opportunity for non-academic exposure.

With that said, RDW has a variety of magnet school programs at the Elementary Level. For example, Adelante is a spanish immersion school that offers native and non-native spanish speakers an educaton that results in full fluency in English and Spanish (reading, writing, cultural understanding of Latin America) by the third grade! As the U.S. continues to globalize and is no longer an entity standing on its own GDP merit, perhpas and bi-lingual education has a higher long-term payout??? I don't know- yet.

In looking at high schools, take a look at Sequoia High School and the International Baccalaureate Program that rivals that of Serra High School and the private High Schools.

My advice is to look at the totoal picture of your purchase option. Is the home one you want to buy beause it feels good, is the neighborhood desirable, are your friends and family close-by and most importantly, can you afford the home without impacting your life.
0 votes
Baggins, , 94070
Mon Dec 31, 2007

Here is my view. A students edcational outcome is dependent on 3 factors:

1) the students basic inborn ability and makeup
2) the parents involvement
3) the school and peers at school

1) Student is fixed, the kid is who he is
2) Parent - we will do the best we can, regardless of school
3) The school and the kids peers in the schools is the only one that is variable

Number 1 and 2 are separate from the school, so while they are the major factors in success, they arent really part of the discussion about the value of a top school. Its external to the model, if you will.

Certainly one can find examples of people at top schools who lag, and kids at lower performing schools who excel. But we are talking probabilities. not anecdotes.

Analogy to a car wreck: You can find people who die in a wreck in a Mercedes, and people who wreck in a Geo Metro and live. Every case is different. But on average, which car is safer across the spectrum of possible events?

Now I would agree that some kids could be turned off by the hypercompetitive nature of some 950+ API schools, and actually do worse because they get intimidated or rebel. I am less convinved a kid is better served at a sub 700 API performing school. I think the people who come out of there and excel are just really strong in areas 1 and 2. If they went to a better school, they might have done even better.

I am sure that educators you talk to have denigrated the testing as mainly a measure of socio-conomic status and not their teaching skills. That may be, but it doesnt change what the scores tell us about how much the kids have learned in that school - for whatever the reason. I really dont care why, I just know that the kids have learned more on average and those will be my kids peers. I think we know how strong peer pressure is.

If your kid gets into Univeristy of Notre Dame and CSU Hayward - where are you going to encourage him to go? Maybe he will become a bank VP in either case, but which is more likely?
0 votes
Ed Gory, Agent, San Carlos, CA
Sun Dec 30, 2007
Don't disagree at all that a majority of RC schools are not high performing. And yes, higher API schools tend to be in more affluent areas, which tend to then have some sort of unseen pressure to make sure that those schools continue to excel and which tend to offer more advanced extracurricular programs than their lower API brethren. There's just so many variables when trying to figure out if a child will learn more or less at a lower-API school, that I personally just don't think one can generalize, because it's no shock that every child is a unique individual, different in experience, perspective, priorities, parental involvement, peer influence, economic status, values, etc.
I'm no educational system expert -- not at all -- but I'm just relating my perspective based on being a grade-schooler parent, having nieces and nephews in public and private schools, having clients who have taught for 25 years in the RC district, and having a good friend who's a principal in the RC district. A student's success is not solely based on the educators, but also the parents too (just my humble opinion), so when parents instill the importance of learning -- reading to them frequently, asking them daily what they learned, etc -- that's when students will usually do well, whether they go to a high API school or not.
Take Dani Gasparini, former mayor of Redwood City and now Vice President of Bay Area Bank. She didn't go to Roy Cloud, or White Oaks, or Stanford. She went to Kennedy School (current API of 691) and Hayward State. Is it fair to generalize that she was less educated because she didn't go to higher-scoring schools? Just my opinion, but I don't think so.
0 votes
Baggins, , 94070
Sun Dec 30, 2007
Fair Points Ed. There are Catholic School families even in Palo Alto School District.

Still, on the whole, I dont think its unfair to categorize the RWC school district as a whole as low scoring. This year only Cloud exceeded the state target of 800.

The API is not just the result of some single test, its a fairly comprehensive system of noting how much the students have learned across a bunch of subjects. I dont think low scoring schools are "bad", they may be doing a great job with the students they have ir they may not be. Hard to say from afar.

But I do think that if a kid goes to a school with lower average scores, ***all other things equal***, they are likely to learn less than at a school with higher scores. Do you disagree.
0 votes
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