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  1. #1

    Middle school feeder plan: pros and cons

    Latest update from the ad hoc meeting by Rachel Norton:
    This is a tough one, because in some sense, everyone is right. We’ve heard strong objections from the Parent Advisory Council and Parents for Public Schools, objections that are centered around equity and the feedback from many parents that they would rather choose a school that works for their child than have that school chosen for them. At the same time, we’ve heard increasingly more logical arguments from staff that there are good systemic reasons to curtail choice and instead work on building up programs that parents all over the City say they want. Quite honestly, from my perspective it’s a little like trying to put together a puzzle where all the pieces are the same size and shape, but make a very different picture depending on how they are strung together.

    It sounds a little simplistic, but I’m thinking the best way to approach this decision is to make a pro and con list to consider.

    Predictability. Some parents have long argued for predictability in school assignments, and predictability was one of the factors I pledged to uphold when I ran for the Board. However, predictability for parents is just one puzzle piece, and the PPS/PAC reports have argued that it is not as high on the list for parents as other priorities for school assignment.

    Equalizing enrollment. I think the boldest statement in tonight’s staff presentation was “with enrollment comes resources.” The biggest capacity, highest enrollment middle schools are all on the West side of the city. Equalizing the enrollment of our middle schools will make a big difference for under-enrolled schools’ ability to offer the courses that parents and students say they want.

    A storm’s a comin’. Based on several different models created by our demographers, we’re looking at a significant increase in middle school enrollment over the next decade (33 percent between 2010 and 2020).

    Inequities. It’s not even debatable — there are clear inequities between programs at some middle schools compared to others.

    Broken promises. Students in language programs were promised pathways through high school. Can the district really deliver on that promise given the budget situation?

    Why is curtailing parent choice the only way to build quality middle schools? Many parents don’t understand why they have to give up something (having an equal chance to attend a school of choice) in order to help the district build quality middle schools. Why should parents trust that the district will build quality middle schools in every part of the City when that has not happened up till now?

    read more>>

    See: SFUSD Presentation on feeder pattern plan

    Below: Latest iteration of the proposal

  2. #2
    Having been frustrated with the new elementary school assignment system, I really don't know where to begin with the middle school feeder pattern proposal. I really wish that SFUSD and the board would stop worrying about assignment systems and put more their resources on improving schools.

    I understand to a certain extent the social experiment that the board is trying to undertake but I'm not sure many parents want to buy in. The feeder pattern is really scary to me because that means getting assigned to a less than desirable K essentially dooms us to a path of bad schools all the way through eighth grade, unless SFUSD can magically turn around the middle schools. In the old system, I at least feel like there's hope coming out of 5th grade for a better middle school.

    I really would like to know how the majority of parents feel about the feeder pattern and the student assignment system for elementary school. Is the board really implementing policies that benefit most or simply a small minority? If the latter, there's got to be alternatives that still satisfy what the majority wants.

  3. #3
    I couldn't agree more with what you said jekkosf! I actually think the transition period is a weak offering to appease the parents opposed to feeder patterns. I don't want feeder patterns but if the board is going to do it, then do it already. Why create uncertainty when it wants 'predictability'?

  4. #4
    There will always be some who are happy and some who are angry with whatever the SFUSD puts forth. After a one year delay in implementing the middle school feeder patterns, all we've seen from SFUSD are slight adjustments in the feeder map and the idea of phased transition. It seems a foregone conclusion the board will vote for it so let's just take the medicine now. I'm so tired of hearing the debate over and over again only to go nowhere. Let's just assume the feeder plan is a go and figure out what the next steps should be.

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