Parents under pressure

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Some concerns that came up at a SFUSD forum to solicit parents' feedback at Cesar Chavez Elementary on 11/14.
GUARDIAN PHOTO BY REBECCA BOWE

In recent weeks, the San Francisco Unified School District has held a series of community forums to ask parents what they think kids need in order to thrive in school. The meetings were held as part of a policymaking process leading up to next year’s renewal of two important funds – the Children’s Fund and the Public Education Enrichment Fund, which account for some $100 million in funding combined.

There were huge turnouts – a Chinatown forum, where Mayor Ed Lee was reportedly in attendance, attracted more than 180 participants, while a Nov. 14 meeting at Cesar Chavez Elementary in the Mission District drew a crowd of between 80 and 90.

The parents weren’t exactly asking for more museum field trips for their kids. During breakout sessions where facilitators wrote group members’ concerns on flip pads, a few recurring themes emerged. “Job security for parents,” one read. “Affordable housing,” another stated. “It’s a shame to have to talk about lack of funds given wealth and corporations in SF,” more parent feedback stated.

Maria Su, director of the San Francisco Department of Children, Youth and their Families, thanked parents for coming and told them, “We know how hard it is and how challenging it is to survive in the city. But that doesn’t mean we should give up.”

The event provided a glimpse into just how tough it is for families to get by in a city where a hefty cost of living amounts to serious pressure. “The sacrifices they make is, their children will have access to resources you can’t get anywhere else,” said Mario Paz with the Good Samaritan Family Resource Center, who works with a lot of Latino immigrant families.

A report digesting the findings of stakeholder focus groups distilled the pressures facing families. “Many participants commented on … the extraordinarily high cost of living in San Francisco,” it noted, which “contributes to both financial and emotional strain on the part of our many working class and lower income residents.”

Comments

probably didn't notice or care either way.

But I really don't see why sending my kids to my local school is segregation in any way, except insofar as my neighborhood is mostly chosen by people like me.

But nobody forced me to live there, and yet kids are forced to not be school there (in some cases, anyway).

If i lived in Bayview, I'd want my kids to be school there, because obviously that is a place I like.

I just do not see your argument, even if some people do. It just sounds racist to me.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 16, 2013 @ 10:26 am

Not everyone can live where they like. Wealthy people can pick where they live, they have the money to make choices. Other people sort of have to make do wherever they end up or with whatever they can afford.

The current system lets poor people who live in Bayview send their children to better schools in wealthier neighborhoods. This displaces some of the children of the wealthy in places like Noe Valley and infuriates them. They don't want to share their good schools with others.

Posted by GlenParkDaddy on Nov. 16, 2013 @ 11:11 am

school, and the public system becomes under-funded and crapper.

Great result.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 16, 2013 @ 11:19 am

Except that the system is overfunded.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 16, 2013 @ 11:31 am

The system is well funded in better neighborhoods and poorly funded in poorer neighborhoods. That is not constitutional.

Posted by marcos on Nov. 16, 2013 @ 11:51 am

people better stuff, then I think you will find that everyone already knows that. that's why everyone wants money.

Redistribution of property tax revenues happened as part of Prop 13. Good that you support Prop 13.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 16, 2013 @ 12:15 pm

All schools in SF are part of the SFUSD. If there is some spending issues in SF look no farther than the "progressives" who have used the school board as a springboard to further idiocy.

Posted by Matlock on Nov. 16, 2013 @ 1:43 pm

The school system is ideologically bankrupt.

Posted by anon on Nov. 16, 2013 @ 1:55 pm
Posted by anon on Nov. 16, 2013 @ 2:05 pm

I think it is fine. Everyone I know with kids in the schools here think it is fine. Test scores are going up, it has some of the best High Schools in The State in Lowell and SOTA, it is pretty diverse and does amazingly well with a mostly poor student population. SFUSD does not suck at all, it is actually pretty cool and one of the good reasons to live here.

Posted by GlenParkDaddy on Nov. 16, 2013 @ 2:37 pm

They are in private school.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 16, 2013 @ 2:50 pm

How do you know anything about SFUSD if you don't have any kids in it?

You wealthy elitists always look down your nose at what regular people use without even giving it a try.

Posted by GlenParkDaddy on Nov. 16, 2013 @ 3:04 pm
Posted by Guest on Nov. 16, 2013 @ 5:05 pm

Shout out to SOTA!!!

My daughter went there then got accepted at Stanford and SFAI.

She chose SFAI cause they offered a full scholarship.

My son and I both went to Bessie Carmichael Elementary, South of Market, and we both have fond memories, even a quarter century apart.

SFUSD is a great system!!!

Posted by pete moss on Nov. 16, 2013 @ 5:20 pm

FEWER kids, idiot.

Posted by marcos on Nov. 16, 2013 @ 2:52 pm

In fact, I'm not sure he has a strong suit.,

Posted by Guest on Nov. 16, 2013 @ 5:31 pm

Is the Heritage Foundation as spot on about education policy as they are on Obamacare and health policy?

Posted by marcos on Nov. 16, 2013 @ 2:01 pm

Seems even the President doesn't any more.

Posted by anon on Nov. 16, 2013 @ 2:05 pm

I never supported the Indivudal Mandate, when did you stop supporting politicians like Newt Gingrich who hatched that plan?

Posted by marcos on Nov. 16, 2013 @ 2:25 pm

there. That was my key objection and the Dem's dropped it.

There's a couple of parts of it I even like, like fines for not carrying insurance and the pre-existing condition prohibition.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 16, 2013 @ 2:43 pm

Greg will be furious.

Posted by Matlock on Nov. 16, 2013 @ 2:11 pm

Finland spends 40% less than the US per student and has top PISA scores. Schools in low-income areas have funding only slightly below the US mean, giving them far more resources than Finnish schools.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 16, 2013 @ 1:41 pm

It's amazing how much better schools can be when all the kids are the same culture and speak the same language.

Another reason not to over-diversify schools here.

Posted by anon on Nov. 16, 2013 @ 1:54 pm

several reasons:

The money gets spent on better things. You don't need metal detectors and armed guards in the school in Ross, Marin. It's imperative in East Oakland.

Better teachers are attracted to better schools and better neighborhoods

The parents, who are asked for increasing amounts of money for school this, that and the other are typically able to give far more.

Wealthier kids get more support at home, have smarter friends, latest computers and so on.

There's no way around the fact that having more money is always better than having less money, even if some bureaucrats drive themselves nuts trying to make everything "equitable".

Posted by anon on Nov. 16, 2013 @ 1:50 pm

San Francisco schools keep getting better and better by any objective measure. If reality doesn't match up with what you imagine it, you might want to check your model.

Posted by GlenParkDaddy on Nov. 16, 2013 @ 2:08 pm

Why do you think the schools in wealthier neighborhoods are better?

It's not because they get more money from the state - they don't. As a rule, they actually get less.

Those schools are better because the parents are more involved. Period.

If the Bayview parents want better schools, all they need to do is join their PTA.

Posted by RemyMarathe on Nov. 17, 2013 @ 2:52 pm

You state that wealthy areas get less funding from the state. This might be true, but I think that is more than made up for by local funding. Anecdotally that certainly seems to be true. The school facilities in Orinda and Piedmont are certainly much nicer than the ones in Oakland.

Give me some evidence of your statement and I might change my mind. Bonus points for a reputable peer-reviewed kind of publication, I am not interested in the drivel that The Heritage Org puts out.

Posted by GlenParkDaddy on Nov. 17, 2013 @ 8:21 pm

will be better than those in poor areas, almost regardless of funding.

There will fewer behavoiral issues and more parent support. This is a near universal trend, although there may be odd exceptions here and there. It's true even in Europe despite far more government meddling than takes place here.

In many places, people make sure they buy a home across a city or county line just to get eligibility for a better school - ask any realtor outside a place that practices bussing.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 18, 2013 @ 7:07 am

It is true that most of the kids with behavior problems come from the most dysfunctional parents. I would say that skews to the poorest, but not always. One good kid at my eldest's school started acting out and it turned out his parents were getting a divorce. They were middle class, not poor. But that is the exception.

But it still seems to me that wealthier school districs spend more money on the schools. There is no way you can convince me that Palo Alto spends less money per pupil than East Palo Alto. Just go look at their facilities.

Show me the evidence for this.

Posted by GlenParkDaddy on Nov. 18, 2013 @ 8:36 am

The schools I've visited in wealthy districts just seem to have better facilities, equipment etc.

One factor might be that the parents there donate money and equipment far more than schools in poor districts. For instance, a while back I donated a whole bunch of scientific and engineering equipment that I had, worth several thousands dollars. And the kids use it.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 18, 2013 @ 8:58 am

GPD - here are some simple facts in the local news. No peer-review required.

So, SFUSD gets a $45 *million* dollar grant to improve schools. It can distribute that money in any way it wants.

Care to guess which schools got the money?

http://www.sfusd.edu/en/about-sfusd/initiatives-and-plans/superintendent...

Posted by RemyMarathe on Nov. 25, 2013 @ 12:36 am

Is restaurant segregation wrong? If only Chinese people like to eat at a restaurant, is that wrong?

Posted by Guest on Nov. 16, 2013 @ 11:35 am

Clearly it is segregation.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 16, 2013 @ 12:16 pm

A non-binding measure that lost by about 100 votes, it is clearly a contentious issue.

Posted by GlenParkDaddy on Nov. 16, 2013 @ 2:59 pm

we'd have neighborhood schools now

Posted by Guest on Nov. 16, 2013 @ 5:03 pm

then you'd get everything you want.

Posted by Greg on Nov. 17, 2013 @ 10:01 am

kids to be bussed somewhere crappy, because you don't have any kids.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 17, 2013 @ 10:17 am

You're always making assumptions about me, and none of them have any basis in fact. Let's just say I defy many of your stereotypes. I've resisted the urge to use my own personal situation to win arguments here, because keeping my family situation private is more important to me than scoring political points on a chatboard.

In any case, your argument is demonstrably bogus because I can point to others who are more open than I am, like GlenParkDaddy, who admits to having kids in SFUSD.

But it shouldn't matter anyway. Arguments should stand on their merits. The point I'm making is that you don't get to decide who gets to vote. Why should you have more right to vote on education policy than marcos, who pays taxes to support your kids and gets nothing in return? For that matter why should taxpayers have more say than non-taxpayers? We all live here. In a democracy, all votes are equally valid, and I find it insulting to insinuate that your vote is somehow more valid than someone else's.

Posted by Greg on Nov. 17, 2013 @ 10:41 pm

You need to develop a better memory.

But it doesn't affect my point either way. If you poll actual parents, they want neighborhood schools. It's the larger bloc of non-parents who get all ideological about these things. Parents are too busy trying to cope with myriad conflicting demands, and shipping kids miles across school really doesn't help.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 18, 2013 @ 7:03 am

I know for fact that I've said no such thing.

But you're right. It doesn't matter either way. So why bring it up? It's the ideas that matter. I think that people with more detachment probably do look at it differently, in the sense that their thinking isn't blinded by what's personally good for them. Although many parents do support the lottery. But we all have a stake in this, kids or no kids, so I don't think it's helpful to insinuate that some people have more of a right to their opinion than others.

Posted by Greg on Nov. 18, 2013 @ 10:02 pm

It means you have no skin in the game, and so care less about the outcome.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 25, 2013 @ 7:07 am

Those who are more detached (and again, not necessarily talking about my own situation) are more able to look at things in an unbiased manner. Not saying that everyone with a personal stake is going to let that be the overriding factor, but certainly they'll be more biased on average. Clearly there are people on both sides. For every kid who gets put into a nice school, one will be taken out of that nice school. I'm glad that people who don't have a dog in the fight get to have their voices heard in how to determine that fairly.

Posted by Greg on Nov. 25, 2013 @ 8:45 am

1) It's all very well saying that being "detached" makes you more objective. But it also means that you are less affected by the outcome. For you, this is just an ideological issue but to me it's my kids' future.

So it may be that 90% of SF'ers agree with you ideologically but aren't really affected, but 10% are very very personally affected. It's a bit like these meetings about taking out parking. Everyone in the city might gain a little by it, by the people in that neighborhood lose a lot. There's an asymmetry there.

2) You can bypass this whole "putting one kid in a nice school takes another kid out of a nice school" dilemma by simply not having an allocation process at all, and letting kids go to their closest school.

And then let neighborhoods fight and work to make their local school as nice as possible. I can make my local school better without making another school worse.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 25, 2013 @ 10:32 am

of trolls consistently railing against "activists" who bother to show up at City Hall. Aren't you one of those who says they prefer the "silent majority" to decide rather than activists who have a strong opinion about something?

Posted by Greg on Nov. 25, 2013 @ 6:41 pm

they tend to have no life outside politics.

Anyway, the silent majority really didn't decide anything here - it was effectively a dead heat.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 25, 2013 @ 7:08 pm

It was Prop H:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/San_Francisco_general_elections,_November_2011

and it lost by 115 votes.

The turkey is far from done.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 25, 2013 @ 12:30 am
Posted by Guest on Nov. 25, 2013 @ 7:08 am

The votes on public power were extremely close, but we trolls always like to bleat about how the people of San Francisco rejected public power, and that proves that progressive ideas are unpopular. I've taken my meds this morning, so I'm going to be consistent for a change. A win is a win. The majority of the voters have rejected neighborhood schools, so that proves this idea is dead. Time to move on.

Posted by anon on Nov. 25, 2013 @ 8:49 am

And I'm not denying that local schools lost (if I were a progressive, no doubt I'd claim the election was "bought" or "fixed" or "rigged") but rather it is wrong to infer from that that there is any clear opinion about the matter either way.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 25, 2013 @ 10:34 am

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