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How to Enroll Your Kid in Public School in San Francisco

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Enrolling your kid in a public school in San Francisco can be as easy as the ABCs.

Of course some parts take serious time and thought-- much like spelling beyond ABC. So think of this Instructable as your handy, pocket dictionary.

And remember, you can't spell School Success with Parental Involvement. At least not in the language of education.

To do this Instructable, you will need:

-a kid of school age
-to live in San Francisco
-pen and paper

This is an item on the Neighbors Project Checklist.

See more stuff by me, Casey, at my website: www.telephoneandsoup.com

 
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Step 1: RESEARCH


In San Francisco, kids don't automatically go to their neighborhood school. The education system is set up to try to create diverse and equally excellent schools.

The Student Assignment System is a ranked lottery system that allows you to PICK YOUR TOP SEVEN SCHOOLS. According to statistics collected by the San Francisco Unified School District (which you can access yourself at sfusd.edu) 82% of children are assigned to one of the schools of their choosing, and 63% of those are assigned to their first choice.

It used to be that placements were partially determined by race in order to fill quotas for each school, but now it's only parents' choice and school capacity that are considered. (As well as Sibling Priority, and Medical and Family Hardship Appeals, which will be addressed in a later step.) Some activists within the city have called for the reinstatement of race-related policies in order to stop rapidly increasing self-segregation, which, among other things, may increase the presence of structural violence and neglect to certain communities. But for now, race is out of the Assignment picture.

With all that said, your new freedom to choose could feel overwhelming at first. Don't fret! Here are a few easy ways to go about narrowing down your choices:

1. LOOK AROUND YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD. As San Francisco parent Peter Cohen says, "Neighborhood schools are no longer really part of the neighborhood." Let's change that! Start with you local schools. Aside from being perhaps the most easily accessible to you (don't underestimate the importance of this!), sending your children to your community's school will further invest you in your neighborhood. Now imagine if everyone did that. It's a great place to start.

2. TALK TO YOUR NEIGHBORS AND FRIENDS. Where do they send their kids to school? Are they satisfied with their choice? These people will have a lot to tell you about specific schools as well as the process of Assignment in general. It's also worth considering where your neighbors and friends send their kids if you're looking to share transportation responsibilities or start your child with a built-in network of friends.

3. GET IN TOUCH WITH THE DISTRICT. Start with the District's Official website and move along from there. Their Enrollment Guide is packed with official information. The website also lists addresses and contact info for every single school and you can search by grade level or by special program (like Alternative Grade Span, Charter, and County). Each school then lists a downloadable PDF that packs a lot of info about current enrollment and curriculum, a general Profile, the Academic Plan, as well as Historical Data so you can see how each school has changed. Some of it is rather dense and table-heavy, but you can't complain about the District not making their statistics public. These listings may be most helpful once you've narrowed down your choices to a handful or so.

The District's Education Placement Center can provide counseling and can, as they say, "help you with the entire enrollment process whether your child is new to SFUSD or already attending an SFUSD school". They're at 555 Franklin Street, Room 100.

The District also has an annual Enrollment Fair once a year where you can talk to someone from every single San Francisco public school all in one place if you really want to.

4. CHECK OUT SOME WEBSITES. Parents for Public Schools has an extremely informative site and offers all kinds of support from their own list of tips, to counseling, to information sessions, to translations (in Spanish and Chinese) of important literature. Their Parent Ambassadors can also offer their thoughts on specific schools as current parents.

Here's a list of a few more to get you started:

www.greatschools.net
www.thebeehive.org
www.sfkids.org
www.commonsensemedia.org

5. TALK TO YOUR CHILD. Maybe your three year old won't have that much to say about their preference for hands-on experiences that best suit their tactile learning personality, but listening to them talk about what they like and dislike will give you a good idea about what to keep in mind when choosing for them. Do they like to draw a lot? Look for a school with a strong art program. Do they want to read a hundred books every night? Look for a school with a strong reading program. Don't forget that it's THEY who will be going to this school five days a week for the next handful of years, not you.
soullesskid5 years ago
I disagree withmonkey666, saludabear and 8bit. having studied in both public and private schools in two different countries ( including SF) I have to say that studying in a public school is a awesome opportunity to meet people from different backgrounds and personal history. Besides, from a personal experience, it’s a good chance to understand how the world works, and how to adapt live peacefully with other people (quite tricky I must say). San Francisco is such a diverse city that it is just a shame not to enjoy the different type of people that live there. Overall I just think homeschooling makes you miss a lot of interesting situations.
"Interesting situations" and "how the world works". Hmmmm........ The world is mostly governed by tyrants, thugs and various socialist governments. Most unfriendly to freedom. We home school and we don't get interesting situations with, lice, theft, bullys, athiest teachers, crazy textbooks, tattoos on rearends, saggy pants, dope, attitude, global warming fanatics, noserings, gender-benders, need i go on? I work for a phone co. and walk through public schools time to time. All taxpayers need to go and actually look or sit through your kids classes. It makes me ill. it takes very little time homeschooling to do a full days public school work. They seem to waste a lot of time and money.
Remember folks, "atheist teachers" and "crazy textbooks" is fundie speak for anyone who teaches uncomfortable facts like evolution, that the earth is billions of years old, that there was no global flood, and that the USA wasn't founded by Christians as a Christian nation. Homeschooling children CAN be an alternative to public schools but only if the parents are certified teachers who teach LEGITIMATE scientific and historical curriculum, and not setup as the Christian version of the Muslim madras, existing only to brainwash and indoctrinate children into a skewed and faulty version of reality.
dude, you got a long way to go
LOL A long way to go? I'm pretty sure I've been there and back again, sparky. Truth hurts, I know.
sorry, didn't want to offend any athiest, solcialist/communist, global warming, blame america first, scientology, progressive, leftist types. if you fall into any of these, please unread everything i said.
“The world is mostly governed by tyrants, thugs (...)” yes, can’t argue with that. “We home school and we don't get interesting situations with, lice, theft, bullies, atheist teachers(...)” ah, but you see, this kind of people make up part of the world population. These are some of the types of people with which we must live with everyday, we must learn how to live with them even if we don’t like them… (Besides, most of them aren’t just exercising their right to freedom of speech?) I just think that when you homeschool a child your raising him/her inside a protective bubble that doesn’t reflect the reality outside of it.
How understanding and compassionate. There is no right or wrong, just different points of view. Everything is a gray area. They have a right to drag their buttocks across the carpet to express their freedom of speech. good thing Texas doesn't border "Kalifornia"
wow i know, dont u just love angry teachers and being stressed out. that sure does make me ready for the world!
Oh dear, those scary "socialist governments." So much more frightening than the thieving capitalist government that we have here in the US that wants us to give another 700 BILLION dollars to their good buddies. And "atheist teachers" -- gasp! You mean they don't have a religious meter at the door to check that? Would agnostic teachers be okay with you? Jewish teachers? If they are not teaching religion, then who cares what their religious beliefs are? And if the subject is NOT religion, then they should not be prostheletizing to kids. Talking about your religious beliefs is fine, in context, but only if the children are allowed to have different views.
Well said, I could not agree more.
Yeah.. and... and... and.... legless chihuahuas should also have a shot at life! Hooray for diversity!!! Long live them entertainingly walking chihuahuas!
and if your home schooled your missing out on that good old peer pressure and anti-creativity!
Way too many opinions.
DIYDragon5 years ago
I found it pretty interesting, and I don't live anywhere near San Francisco. The idea of 'choosing' a public school is a new thing for me. I live in a small town; and we have one public elementary school. If you didn't go there then you paid to go to a private school. As for the 'thugs, tattooed people, saggy pants, ect." If you don't ever teach your child how to deal with people that are slightly different then they are what will they do for the rest of their life? Those same people you didn't like at school are not going to disappear suddenly because you graduated.
noxvox5 years ago
Wow, there's obviously a lot of hate against public schools. I went to a public high school in a upper-middle class suburban setting. I know I'm one of the lucky ones, as there was plenty of funding to give my school lots of resources and amazing teachers. There may be better education out there (with a hefty price tag) but I wouldn't trade my experience for anything. Was I "crushed by the public school system"? Hardly. This fall I'll be attending Dartmouth. The reason there are a lot of crappy public schools out there is because we Americans are too myopic to see the benefits of education and pay for it in taxes. I may sound socialist, but more distribution of resources in this country (when it comes to education, at least) would do us good. Public school taught me to deal with adversity, it taught me patience, and most importantly tolerance. The education I've received has restored some of my faith in America, and I hope someday that my work will return the favor. Sorry for the political tirade, Casey. Great job, I honestly think this type of Instructable is the most valuable out there.
awebster noxvox5 years ago
I agree with you, and I had almost the opposite type of public school experience. I went to the historically black high school in Kansas City, surrounded by the projects, and still over 95% black. And I learned much more about life and the inequities in our society than most white folks ever learn. I even learned that being white actually is a color, not just that we are just people and everyone else is hyphenated. I think homeschooling and unschooling are great! But not if what you are trying to do is shield your children from the world, and especially not if you are trying to shield your children from "heresy" or other diverse opinions. I'm a librarian and had a homeschooling parent come in looking for a book on dinosaurs that didn't talk about evolution! So what happens then when the child discovers all that you have hidden from them? It seems far better to me to explain differing points of view and then explain to your children that "in our family we believe this, and this is why." And yeah, I graduated cum laude from a highly regarded liberal arts college and went on to get a Master's.
monkey6665 years ago
well i hope you feel like a good parent when your kid is being crushed by the pressure of the public education system. do you just want to shove your child into the public shools and take the easy way out?
>IF< your child is crushed by the pressure of the public education system, then I totally agree that homeschooling (or perhaps just a different school) would be better. But NOT all kids are even remotely crushed. And suggesting that all children in public schools are "shoved" there by parents who "take the easy way out" is unfair and unkind. Many children thrive in school. Many parents work. Almost no parents "shove" their kids.
saludabear5 years ago
My question is WHY would you want to enroll them in school in SF? Its better to home school if you can. I agree with 8bit.
xACIDITYx5 years ago
How about Cyberschool.
Good But i live in Australia so it's not much use to me
8bit5 years ago
Homeschool 'em. Remember: if YOU're not raising your kids, someone else is! So don't act suprised when they become rebellious teenagers once they're old enough to realize that it wasn't you who raised them. You let the chaotic society at large do it.
darkmuskrat5 years ago
this is such an interesting instructable(if you live in San Fran) but its also unique which i like.
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