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James and I met Sunset Sup and Candidate Carmen Chu on the street today, and when I put a word in her ear about reforming the lottery system (so that my daughter's chances of going to one of my top 7 picks in the City are better than 55%) she pointed out that the Board of Supervisors doesn't have ultimate control of that problem.*  The school board does -- so it's pretty vital that we pay attention to those candidates this fall. If you want to know what the current school board candidates think about the school issues, there's a meeting at Lincoln High School on Thursdays at 6:30.

Here's the info, taken from www.planc.org:

Supervisor Sean Elsbernd and Supervisor Carmen Chu invite you to a School Board Candidates Forum, Thursday September 25.

You will have a chance to hear from those running for school board and have the opportunity to ask them questions directly. Information tables will be provided where you can talk further with the candidates and pick up their campaign information

Translation services will be provided and if you would like to bring your kids, we'll provide coloring tools and other fun stuff to play with in the auditorium!

Please join us for what is sure to be an informational evening.

School Board Candidate Forum
Thursday, September 25th
Lincoln High School Auditorium
2162 24th Avenue @ Quintara
6:30-8:30 pm

* To Chu's credit, she said that the Sups have been looking at this problem -- and that they want to find some solution that improves the problem without screwing children in neighborhoods with terrible schools.  So we're all on the same page here, because I don't want those kids hurt, either.  :)

I'm biased, but..

Date: 2008-09-22 07:50 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] bitterflower.livejournal.com
The whole system sounds like a mess!
We have one public preschool here, and that's where we took Sonya and will take Lucian. Sure there are church ones, but no thanks. Plus, the basics of preschool are basically taught the same way anywhere, be it pricey private schools or public ones. The important buckle down time is Kindergarten.

Re: I'm biased, but..

Date: 2008-09-22 08:38 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] eac.livejournal.com
This is the elementary school system, actually -- and it is a mess...

Re: I'm biased, but..

Date: 2008-09-22 08:40 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] eac.livejournal.com
It is the single thing that will drive me out of San Francisco.

Everything else I can cope with, but if I have to drive Katie all the way across town to an elementary school I don't like -- or I'm facing 12K + private school tuitions -- I will leave.

Re: I'm biased, but..

Date: 2008-09-22 09:00 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mstinkerbell.livejournal.com
I think the problem is it might take years to reform. And like we've discussed before, these are test scores that the schools are being rated on. It'll be interesting to see what the schools are actually like when you tour. Of course, by the time the school lottery system changes and Katie is starting K. You never know what the schools will be like.

Re: I'm biased, but..

Date: 2008-09-22 09:16 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] eac.livejournal.com
Of course it might take years to reform -- but in addition to academic quality and resources, there IS, concretely, the difference between Kat attending schools in her neighborhood with children who live near her, vs attending schools in the Mission or Potrero or Excelsior or Hunters Point or whatever...

Date: 2008-09-23 01:28 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] http://users.livejournal.com/christopher_/

It's so good that you're thinking ahead; I hope that you'll get to know people who will both listen and lead, and not just make easy compromises and dress it up as reform.

Big cities need thoughtful, involved people. It'll be a shame if SF has to find someone to replace you.

Date: 2008-09-23 02:39 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] eac.livejournal.com
I'm a little jaundiced about this, and I'm not sure that 3 years ahead is good enough. But I'm not going down without trying.

Date: 2008-09-23 02:31 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kmhoofnagle.livejournal.com
My brain cramps wildly at the idea of this situation. On the one hand I completely understand how the problem arises. You have to let the kids in bad schools get out. On the other hand, that's outrageous. There *has* to be a better answer than such a dire crapshoot.

I can also only barely imagine the firestorm *any* decision will bring down on the heads of the deciders, because there's going to be some winners and losers and the losers are going to have a fit.

Anyhow, good luck with this. I don't envy you.

Date: 2008-09-23 02:38 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] eac.livejournal.com
I'm not sure it can be fixed, but I'm not going to preemptively define it as failed.

If I were in change (ha) I'd systematically close the worst schools and rebuild them - perhaps focusing on magnet programs in their places as a way to combat their urban blight problems. Then I'd reopen the lottery with a greater emphasis on letting people go to schools in their region of the city. But of course a school, however bad, is a cultural asset to a neighborhood that needs it, so that's a really unpopular idea, too.

So we'll try, and if we have to, we'll do something else.

Date: 2008-09-23 07:48 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] megasus4.livejournal.com
So San Francisco has a voucher system? And not only that, but a voucher system based on luck of the draw???

Vouchers are stupid. If a school's bad, fix the school.

Date: 2008-09-23 09:29 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] eac.livejournal.com
There are no vouchers.

It's a lottery for the public schools, with no financial incentives to send your kids to private schools. Parents fill out paperwork to indicate their preferred 7 schools across the whole city. Theoretically the SFUSD makes a good faith effort to place your kid in one of them, but they're also trying to balance socio-economic class and languages (and race, though I don't think race is actually an official criterion for placement). All your younger children then get automatically placed in the school their elder sib is going to, unless you make an effort to change that.

I think this system is dreadful, but the worst thing about it is that - because of the current mix of residents and the number of poor schools - only 55% of eldest children in families get one of their 7 picks. And that's just unacceptable.

So we'll see what happens, and if we don't get a school I can get behind, we'll move. I should say, here, that I don't think the kids in neighborhoods with poor schools should get screwed, and I don't think my daughter is a beautiful snowflake is owed the single best education in the country. Just a decent, solid school would be fine. But we do have to get that.


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