Feedback on the middle school plan

It’s been an exceptionally long day, and tonight’s meeting was packed with information I haven’t fully processed yet, so these are my preliminary reactions. I will probably update these observations in the next day or so.

Parents for Public Schools and the Parent Advisory Council presented extensive findings and recommendations from their two-month public engagement and outreach project around the district’s plan to implement feeder patterns as a strategy for creating quality programs at every middle school.  Hundreds of parents and staff in neighborhoods across the city attended meetings; notes were taken from each discussion and the transcripts of those notes were analyzed to cull the findings from the meetings.

The overarching recommendation was for the district not to implement the feeder plan, and instead retain the choice system for middle school enrollment, while strengthening the quality at all schools. It’s an oversimplification of the groups’ work to focus just on this recommendation, but it’s definitely the biggest “takeaway” from the evening pending further reflection and more time to digest the 24-page report.

For their part, district staff articulated the various initiatives underway to ensure quality programs at every middle school. The work has focused on the findings of the “Gaining Ground in the Middle Grades” study of high-performing middle schools published by EdSource last year. Still, it’s simply a fact that some middle schools offer more robust programs than others, and that enrollment and parent involvement have a lot to do with the ability to offer a wide range of electives and other programming parents and students want.  According to a draft FAQ on the district’s quality middle schools program:

There is a link between robust enrollment and a school’s ability to provide equitable access to an enriched learning environment. Under-enrolled middle schools have fewer teachers, fewer parents, smaller budgets and therefore less opportunity to make sure all of the students enrolled at the middle school have access to electives, athletics and enrichment programs available to children enrolled in middle schools that are five times as large.

And so staff is continuing to recommend that the district continue with the implementation of feeder patterns, but now says the proposal should be phased in over five years: the feeder pattern would become a tie-breaker after younger siblings but before CTIP in determining assignments. Starting in 2015-16, students entering 6th grade would receive an initial placement offer based on feeder patterns, then have the option to participate in a choice process in later rounds.

The problem with the feeder program is that it is a “push” strategy — at its worst, it pushes families into schools they’d rather not choose in order to enlist their help in building up the program. On the other hand, the “pull” strategy only works if you can somehow build up the program without the kids there in the first place.   Clearly, the hope is that by phasing in the preference, the push will become more of a pull over time.

Of course, one could argue that the choice-based system is also a version of the “push” strategy: it works great if you get one of your choices but not so much if you are pushed, through supply and demand, into a school you didn’t choose. The projections for coming middle school enrollment in the next few years, if they come true, would mean that regardless of the assignment mechanism we use,  more families in coming years will feel pushed into schools they didn’t choose.

The Board’s reaction to all of this was, to my mind, somewhat unclear. Commissioner Wynns and Commissioner Maufas were probably the least equivocal in their comments — Commissioner Wynns pronounced her mind changed on feeder patterns and said she was disinclined to support the staff’s proposal; Commissioner Maufas expressed disappointment with the report’s findings and said she believed it would be short-sighted of the board to abandon its feeder policy because the current choice-based system has been found not to create the outcomes we want for our students (she also reminded us of the many people who came before the board last year and expressed a desire for predictability).  Commissioners Yee and Murase expressed cautious support for the direction outlined in the staff proposal. Commissioner Mendoza and I are both deeply undecided.

I need to spend some time mulling all of this over. After attending one forum and hearing reports from many others, as well as getting an earful from a number of constituents, going into tonight’s meeting I had provisionally decided that perhaps we had rushed into the feeder program without really evaluating its budget and program placement implications.  Now we’ve had a chance to look at those things more deeply, and perhaps feeders are a great idea whose time has not yet come.  In addition, the PAC/PPS findings underscore that parents don’t really feel inclined to take another leap of faith on programs that aren’t yet built.

But there are still the nagging quality and program differences between schools. Now that we’ve acknowledged that some programs are more robust than others, what are we going to do about it? The staff’s answer is that if the bodies (students) are there, the program offerings at all middle schools will expand and become more robust.  Combined with other important steps already underway, like common planning time for all middle school staffs, frequent use of data from our formative assessments to guide and differentiate instruction, and additional professional development for principals and teachers, the staff argues that all schools will be where we want them to be.

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24 responses to “Feedback on the middle school plan

  1. I went to one of the quality middle school forums (which I found well-run and useful) and shared that I am a strong proponent of community in middle schools, as well as neighborhood proximity. It is a tough enough time for children without them being forced to attend a school where they know no one, and to watch while almost all their friends go to the same school. And isn’t San Francisco a green city? Why are we no longer giving any weight at all to attendance area?

    In the past week several 5th grade parents at our elementary school have called this year’s student assignment system “cruel”. Most of them are personally happy, as they received placement into the middle school we would have fed into, which is just a few blocks away from our elementary school. But they still think of it as cruel because of the totally random nature of the lottery and the effect it has on the rest of us. Through the past two placement rounds, it looks like 75-85% of the 5th graders were assigned to this school. Granted, I am one of those frustrated parents whose child did not get in, but for the system to affect the children the way it does IS cruel.

    I have had to watch my daughter come home in tears several times the past couple of months because her classmates and even many teachers are just focused on the local middle school that the majority of kids are going to. Of her 9 closest friends, only she and one other girl are left out, even though both live within walking distance of this local school – making it extra frustrating. She has had to listen to the kids excitedly talk about the orientation meeting, she has had to listen to the librarian talk to the kids about how great the library is at the middle school down the street, she has listened to teachers talk about the “wonderful” school most of her classmates will be attending, and she has had to listen to other kids taunting the ones who received placement to the “undesirable” schools far away. What about that old birthday party rule, if you invite over 50% you have to invite them all? All the children I know who did not receive a placement at this local middle school put it down as first choice… but because of a random lottery they are left out while 4/5 of their classmates have a slot… how do you explain that to a kid?

    I support feeder schools because children should not be made pawns in this whole assignment process, and the fairest thing is for them to be treated equally. They will be assigned to the same school, and if their families choose to opt out they can. But it will keep communities together which I think it important for both children and parents. Our elementary school happens to feed into one of the more desirable middle schools, but many parents at our school have said that if we went as a community to a less popular school, that would be okay because we could affect change together.

  2. Does someone have the statistics showing the increase in middle school enrollment predictions? I keep hearing this,but then question why the District would take a nearly empty middle school (Horace Mann) which had a capacity of about 600 (and 200 or so students enrolled), and turn it into a K-8 by moving in Buena Vista (at around 300 K-5 slots) which could have been used for middle school seats. Many SIP immersion parents wanted an all immersion middle school and either Horace Mann or Everett could have been that. I would like to see these numbers and see what the current enrollment is for those kids in 2nd (which I have a child in). I have seen a decrease in my child’s classroom over the years so I wonder if we are ansering a problem that isn’t happening since people seem to be both leaving the district after kinder and enrolling in kinder instead of privates?

    If there are going to be too few “popular” seats, why not work to improve the quality of programs at the middle school level during the next three years so parents are happier with the choices. This would lead to parents who have OPTED into schools instead of being FORCED, which is always a better situation. The district states it is the students who make it attractive, but this isn’t just the case, it is also the program offerings and those can be put in place now – starting magnet strands, increasing honors, etc.

  3. Bernal Dad

    “If the Board and staff chooses to ignore the PPS and PAC findings or only pays lip service – parents will yet again be left feeling as though the district doesn’t truly want to partner with parents and all this outreach is really just to placate and buy time. ”

    The problem is that the choice system works well at the MS level because there’s still a lot of slack capacity there: the choice system needs slack capacity to work adequately. So there’s not a sense of urgency at the MS level yet, ‘cos the assignment system is working well at the 6th grade level, or at least better than at K and 9th grade level. But in 3 years time, when the increased numbers of elementary school student in SFUSD hit the middle school level, there’ll be less slack capacity and more disappointed families.

  4. Thanks to all for the thoughtful commentary. I’m really left with this: If the Board and staff chooses to ignore the PPS and PAC findings or only pays lip service – parents will yet again be left feeling as though the district doesn’t truly want to partner with parents and all this outreach is really just to placate and buy time. The primary research on what makes great middle school outcomes shows at best only a tenuous link between creating a ‘smooth’ transition path and outcomes. This process has elicited so many great ideas from parents as to how to rejuvenate middle schools. I would hope that the BOE and staff are listening and rethinking.

  5. Diane Rosen

    Rachel,
    Thank you for this informative and detailed summary of the meeting.
    I have a great idea!
    How about giving folks who chose Denman an automatic priority acceptance into the increasingly popular Balboa High School after middle school? Now that might attract a whole lot of folks to Denman! Maybe promising folks who populate the unpopular middle schools an automatic in to popular High Schools might work well to change the population at less desirable schools!

  6. Diane Rosen

    Rachel,
    Thank you for this informative and detailed summary of the meeting.
    I have a great idea!
    How about giving folks who chose Denman an automatic priority acceptance into the increasingly popular Balboa High School after middle school? Now that might attract a whole lot of folks to Denman! Maybe promising folks who populate the unpopular middle schools an automatic in to popular High Schools might work well to change the population at less desirable schools! schools!!

  7. John Huang

    “Push” is not inherently bad. Neighborhood-based assignment (like 99% of the districts in the nation does) is “push”, so is K-8. If K-8 works, there is no reason “virtual K-8” doesn’t.

    The issue is that the whole mentality has to change. Under “pull” system, the principals have their own educational philosophy and run the school. Parents, as customers, pick what they want. Although we know the choice system won’t work in a few years when the student population peaks, at least the parents have the perceived “choice”.

    Under the “push” system, the principals and teachers must adapt to what the parents want within budget constraint, even if they don’t agree. If the parents want honor programs, the school must offer it. The parents and administrators must negotiate on how to run the school. Parents get “pushed” into the school, so they deserve the right to have much more weight on how the school is run.

    Using elizabethweise’s example, “don’t believe in honors” may be OK under “pull” system but completely unacceptable under “push”.

    If the district and principals make it clear that they will adjust and adapt to the need of feeding students, I am sure the parents will accept the system.

  8. Rachel –

    It seems that the SFUSD is interested in expanding language programs, and that intuitively seems like a good policy to me. We’re entering a very global age where the ability to speak, read and write in another language will be very beneficial. In addition, language programs are very popular with a large number of parents – there is a demand. And the District has smartly used this demand to it’s advantage to “pull” families into under-enrolled elementary schools. Starr King Elementary and it’s Mandarin Immersion is a classic example.

    The problem is that the District is dropping the ball when it comes to immersion programs in the upper grades. Generally, those parents who went to the effort to enroll their child in an immersion program – and dedicate their child and themselves to the extra work of being in such a program – have high expectations for their child’s education. Many want honors programs (like what Beth described below), and/or electives – they want their child to get the maximum out of school and exit with a well-rounded education (not simply acquire a second language). And yet, this isn’t what the District is providing. When BP, below, talks about significant drop-off in immersion enrollment at MS, you don’t have to look far to know why.

    I know the topic of a 7th period seems unrealistic at this time, with budgets the way they are. But so is”improving all schools first” as some parents like to repeat. It seems to me, the phase-in approach makes sense, not only for the feeder program, but also for other ideas and programs throughout the district, including a phase in of a 7th period at ALL middle schools, starting with those hosting small immersion programs which run the most risk of becoming “economically unfeasible”. Start by ensuring the smaller language programs remain successful and continue to “pull” families in the right direction. If not, I fear that future generations of prospective kindergarten parents will not be as inclined to enroll into an immersion program which either a.) fails to continue in the upper grades (which is essential for language retention) or b.) feeds into a middle school without much in the way of electives and honors options for their child.

    Phasing in an adequately funded, full-school 7th period (as opposed to a extra period only for language students) also offers potential benefits to the rest of the school, such as an introductory language instruction elective in the same language as the immersion program. If done right, a small immersion program could be placed in a small/under-enrolled middle school along with the 7th period and Aptos-style honors program. This, I believe would not only help stop the attrition of those immersion families, but also “pull” other parents into that middle school because they see the opportunity for expanded electives including, perhaps, a language elective with that 7th period and honors opportunities for their child(ren). It is an equitable solution: when large middle schools have the benefit of size to provide robust elective offerings, something extra should be give to the smaller middle schools to help balance the equation. A fully funded 7th period is the answer, and District funding is critical. It can’t be some under-funded shadow of a 7th period. It needs to be the real deal for this to work.

    The District could, at first, just phase this in as a test model at a couple small Middle schools, where the cost would be less than trying to do it all at once, or at some larger schools. If it works, expand the model as the budget improves (and it will, eventually) and new immersion programs ‘graduate’ out of elementary schools and into other small middle schools. This could be a way to gradually improve those small/under-enrolled middle schools and strengthen the small immersion programs at the same time.

    Just a thought.

  9. Heather World

    Thank you, Rachel, for your quick and informative report on last night’s meeting. I hope I am wrong and the district can point to its own track record of improving schools, but it seems to me the most successful elementary and middle schools in the district “pulled” in families who are lucky enough to have time and resources to build better schools.

    You wrote: the “pull” strategy only works if you can somehow build up the program without the kids there in the first place.

    I disagree. From what I’ve seen, the district implements a program. The school community builds it up, building up the school at the same time. (Alvarado Spanish Immersion, for example.) Implement a science/math magnet program at Denman or Vis Valley and see how hard it will be to get in there a couple of years from now.

    And later: The staff’s answer is that if the bodies (students) are there, the program offerings at all middle schools will expand and become more robust.

    Really? I see plenty of overcrowded schools in big cities that offer little more than six hours of babysitting. I do not believe total school population has anything to do with a quality school. What does? Money and parents. Not just parents with money. Not just money. Not just parents. Money and parents support teachers; money and parents offer a safer school environment; money and parents expand and make robust program offerings.

    What is created is the social justice the district spends a lot of time talking about and no time creating: children of all backgrounds attending school together with access to the same resources during the school day.

    The parents from all economic classes who make the schools better are the same parents who will be pulled in by the implementation of programs that challenge their children. Without the carrot of good programs, the parents who can afford to contribute financially to build those programs will swing private school for three years. They will leave, just as parents who cannot afford to leave would leave if they could, rather than subject their children to a low quality education. What is left? A “socially unjust,” segregated school system.

    I support a feeder plan, but the offerings are not balanced. To get a school with “robust programs,” children who live in the southeast side of town—many of whom are the children the district purports to help—will have to navigate the obstacle course of the feeder system and pray for a better assignment, then sit on a MUNI for an hour or so to get to the other side of town. (I notice the district has finally dropped talk of the pie-in-the-sky seventh period. Any wagers on how long it will be before they admit they will have to cut yellow bus service for students older than elementary school age?)

    We need carrots and a balance of students from underperforming and performing (?) schools at each MS or at least in each quadrant of the city.

  10. They did, they did the whole thing a year ago, now everyone is acting surprised and rushed at the end. They had a whole extra 365 days and still delayed. Not cool. This doesn’t help keep families here.

  11. elizabethweise

    If the District did not seem to feel that honors classes are at heart a bad idea, you could put honors in one of the under-enrolled middle schools and fill it up in a year.
    I’ve had teachers at poorly enrolled schools tell me that they don’t believe in honors and that children who are performing at or above grade level (for whatever reason that might be) need to be models for student who aren’t doing so well. But what, then, is in it for students who would be in honors elsewhere?
    And teachers and staff at highly enrolled schools (which all have honors) say that it’s unfair to ask teachers to try to do differentiated learning across a spread that can reach as wide as four years of material and that it doesn’t serve the needs of those students.
    So what’s the answer?
    From what I’ve heard, Aptos does it best – honors is open to all and it’s not all or nothing, students can do honors in subjects they excel in and be in a regular class in subjects they don’t excel in.
    Also, there aren’t honors-only teachers at Aptos — everyone teaches everybody so you don’t get all the most tenured teachers teaching the most advanced kids and others getting those who need more help.
    It’s a chicken and the egg issue. If you don’t meet the needs of families with children who are excelling, they won’t want to go to schools where they don’t have a strong signal that their children will get instruction that’s appropriate for them.
    I’m not saying that less desired schools can’t do that without honors, but it’s got to be difficult for the teachers. And again, it’s chicken and the egg. Those students don’t tend to chose schools without honors because parents try like heck to get them into schools where there are honors classes.
    I with the District would acknowledge that kids come in in different places and deal with it. Don’t just say “oh, the teachers can deal with it in class” when overall that’s a huge and demanding thing to be asking. And frankly it often doesn’t work.
    My guess is you’d have a lot of parents who would choose honors over music and arts if it came to it. Not everyone, but enough to ‘pull’ families to a school that otherwise had empty classrooms.

  12. Rachel, thank you so much for staying up late and posting this helpful summary. My concerns with the feeders are three-fold, and haven’t been addressed at any of the PPS outreach events or in response to email inquiries.

    First, there are about 600 more students than spaces available projected for 2018, and that is with Horace Mann listed as a middle school and without the new elementary school at Mission Bay (which we heard about for the first time last night) included in the numbers. Is there no way a new school can be opened to accommodate the nearly 1000 student’s that technically won’t have spaces available for them? Even without this capacity issue, how can feeders reasonably be drawn without taking the new elementary school into consideration? And the reopening of Willie Brown?

    Second, how will the language immersion pathways work if there is significant drop off in enrollment in language programs at the middle school level? My understanding is that a minimum number of students are necessary to make the program economically feasible. What if, as has been the case in years past, a substantial proportion (looks to be about 50% judging by 2010 5 year demand data) of families prioritize honors and/or electives over immersion and opt out. Or if families find the commute to the assigned middle school too difficult. If either of these factors cause there to be low enrollment into the language immersion programs, how can they be established? It seems like the only way to sustain the immersion programs may be to have designated feeders for these students and choice for everyone else during the phase in period. Also, it seems pretty clear that the district is trying to keep immersion families by placing the programs in the currently most desirable middle schools. From last night’s presentation, it looks like all talk of a 7th period has been dropped – in the current financial climate it seems very questionable that we can afford it. So, my understanding is that immersion students will be giving up their elective to continue language study. In this scenario, many slots at Hoover and Aptos, that could be used to Gen Ed students with aspirations of going to SOTA will be taken up by immersion students, who won’t be participating in the visual and performing arts electives. Is this really fair?

    Finally, once feeders are fully established the CTIP1 population in Vis Valley, many of which appear to be going to and doing well at Denman and Aptos won’t have any option but Vis Valley. It may be that the increased population will turn Vis Valley around, or it may be that the challenges of the neighborhood will be limiting. The feeder plan is certainly a huge gamble for this population and they stand to be the biggest losers of this experiment. At the last night’s comments session I heard requests from Daniel Webster and Monroe parents to make them both K-8 schools, by feeding each one exclusively into low performing or closed middle schools. I suspect other schools would welcome such an opportunity too (for example, the 7th and Judah site could be repurposed as a middle school for CIS in 3 years, when the first fifth graders graduate). Would such a plan relieve the pressure of the bubble enough that the popular choice system could be maintained?

  13. Hi Rachel,

    From what I understand a lot of the program offerings are left up to the principal and teachers at a given site and that seems to be a big reason why there is such a difference in program offerings at the different middle schools. It seems that now with the proposed feeder pattern people are very upset about these discrepancies and are clamoring for all schools to have equal offerings.

    Is there going to be a push from the district to make the leadership at all middle school sites adopt standard program offerings even if they have not done so or wanted to to do so in the past? Or will it continue to to be left to the discretion of the middle school site leadership? Would there be a downside to standardizing program offerings at all sites?

  14. Put it in now, too many people suffered this year. The people at the top elementary schools will benefit SF by staying, because they test well. The kids at the bad schools will hurt SF by staying, because they test poorly and end up costing the city prison costs, welfare, food stamps, and generally don’t contribute. You may think if you spend some more money, they’ll become better students and people, but this isn’t happening. We spend 3 times as much at John Muir and schools like this and still no one wants to go to school with these kids in middle school. All that money should make the kids equal or decent, but it doesn’t. Some kids don’t want to learn or care. They spend 30k per kid in DC and get no better results than Detroit or other cities that spend 9-10k. Some kids and parents just don’t study hard. Don’t make another year or two of parents suffer and in some cases leave. It hurts us. You can tell by 5th grade which kids will become positives for San Francisco and make us proud and which will become embarassments and costs.
    Parents need certainty. We need more good kids in middle school. And high school. Driving people out like this is a huge problem with this district.
    Also, ironically, many of the people who get into a good school from afar in the lottery are upper middle class, good students, exactly the type of person who would make their own school more integrated by going there. By getting into Presidio from Bernal Heights and driving a family out, they are not increasing diversity at Presidio one iota and are reducing it at Horace Mann or Denman. I know several upper middle class white families who did this. Think about that.

  15. The feeder system does provide predictability an essential ingredient for future planning. The schools will quickly gain the character of it’s feeder schools.

  16. When the first draft was revealed, immersion parents visited the proposed schools, met the principals and teachers. It shows what will get the parents comfortable. Not some PowerPoint presentations. We need to know the facility and people, know the program.

    For example, Denman is causing a lot of concern. If you look at the proposal, Denman will have higher % students coming from quality ES’s than Aptos, but parents are not buying it because it does not have the programs (honor programs, for example) for those kids. The detail matters.

    At this point, I would have expected that each MS principal having a detailed plan tailored toward the incoming students according to the feeder plan, and host their own community meetings to address parent concerns, whether it is honors, GATE, electives, sports etc. Budget is an issue but it is anyway regardless of assignment system. Actually, having determined source of students can only mean more efficient use of limited funds.

  17. I honestly don’t know how anyone can support the feeder proposal. Rachel Norton – Please, next time you speak with a constituent that likes the feeder program, can you please ask them to explain how the feeder program serves all children when many of the middle schools don’t have music programs or advanced programing for GATE, or special ed or ESL programs? I would be very interested in the response.

    How can you take seriously “support” of the program, if the only basis for supporting the program is that “it serves my child well” (i.e., we like the school our family would feed to). That seems absolutely ridiculous. It is up to the board to implement programs that would be good for the “whole” not the “few”. If you scrap the feeder program, at least all families would have a shot, a lottery chance, of getting a school that would work well for their child.

    I think we all know it is tough out there – but taking away our “shot” our “chance” by implementing the feeder program is abhorrent and shameful.

  18. Every parent I know feels that ALL schools must offer the same programs as any other, regardless of parent involvement, before the board even considers feeder patterns. How is it equitable to have some children forced into a school where there are no additional programs? It isn’t and won’t be until each school is given the funding and support it needs to compete with any other school in the district (and better yet, include private schools in there as well).

    Until those who are in government and/or well off are willing to send their kids to the “worst” school in the district, the board is wasting time and money on this issue. FIx the schools first.

  19. @john yes – agreed. I personally think the presentation last night on the steps informed by “Gaining Ground” were a good example of district staff trying to articulate what they are doing at the middle schools. I encourage people to watch the meeting and I also will try to get an electronic copy of the presentation to post.

  20. No surprise here.

    Any kind of systems creates winners and losers, and this kind of meetings attracts people who are against the proposal. If the district does a random survey, or propose several alternatives (“total choice”, “neighborhood”, “feeder”) equally and let the community discuss, then it can get a better idea about parent opinions.

    I support the feeder pattern. However, I also think there are valid questions. Other than the feeder pattern, the district has not communicated any proposal on how to improve the middle schools. I do believe having the feeder pattern is a critical part as it enables the schools to design the teaching accordingly. However, it can not work by itself. The district has to propose how to improve the middle schools as a whole package.

  21. Hi Michelle – there are actually a lot of people who liked the proposed feeder patterns: essentially, those who liked the middle school their elementary would have fed into. I would say on balance I heard more comments from people who oppose the current feeder plan. Anyway, this decision can’t be made by totaling up how many are in favor/how many are against: it has to be made by thinking through the long-term implications for middle schools in the district.

  22. Thank you Rachel, for posting this summary.

    I’m a little surprised as to how “tone deaf” the board has been regarding what families want for their children in education. I’m new to SF, but from reading around on blogs and talking to a handful of parents I know well, even I could tell NO ONE liked the feeder plan.

    PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE implement some programs for G&T kids at all middle schools. We would have considered a wider variety of schools if they all had G&T support of some kind. Ditto a music/orchestra/band program. It equalizes the playing field for HS — kids who get parent provided music classes 1x a week do not fare as well for SOTA as kids who get 5 days a week classes in middle school.

    -parent of a very fortunate 5th grader who “won” the lottery with a school with both for next year.

  23. CarolineSF

    Has this strategy ever worked anywhere in the history of education?

    “…it pushes families into schools they’d rather not choose in order to enlist their help in building up the program. ”

    (Of course even if it worked in some more placid and docile locale, SF is different…)

  24. Thank you Rachel for such a balanced (and immediate) summary of a long evening of commentary. Your efforts on the BOE and transparency are truly appreciated.

    As the parent of a 3rd grader, I hope that they postpone K-8 feeders until they can improve the quality of the under-enrolled middle schools, especially with respect to elective offerings, GATE/honors programs, Special Ed (inclusive schools), faculty/staff resources, and $$$$ for these upgrades. I am a strong supporter of the “pull” rather than “push” model.

    That being said, it was nice to hear that there will be consideration to changing the pattern of feeder schools (i.e., a new map) if the District continues to pursue the concept of feeders. Also, in tonight’s slide deck, younger siblings were given highest priority for tie breakers in the lottery (over MS feeder assignments), a much appreciated update.

    PPS and PAC deserve a round of applause for their tireless efforts to give parents a voice. I hope that BOE members and SFUSD personnel read their 24-page report. One wonders why the District didn’t conduct this sort of outreach a year ago, BEFORE designing the first (August 2010) or even the second (February 2011) K-8 feeder maps. At this point in time, it feels like we are trying to change the tires while the bus is moving.