Saturday, November 16, 2013


As pressure mounts to do away with tracking in SFUSD middle schools, it seems only a matter of time before the Board of Education decides to apply their "equity"  standards to Lowell.  Granted, the college admissions process makes high school an entirely different animal than middle school. High schools without rigorous honors and AP classes put students at a distinct disadvantage when it comes to college applications and  testing. Spreading out high achievers from Lowell would likely increase the total number of district students in advanced classes due to the upsurge in interest, leaving SFUSD better positioned financially to increase the quality and number of advanced classes at every high school.  High schools would likely see a boost in their scores according to whatever the new standard will be now that API no longer exists, an achievement District leaders see as the holy grail in their quest to lower the achievement gap as a function of statistics, even if those average performance numbers belie real academic progress.  Spreading out student as well as teacher talent would have a leveling effect, no doubt,  but would it raise real achievement across socio-economic lines?

At present Lowell creams off 2,700 students out of the approximately 13,000  high school students.  The district effect of this concentration of high-performing students at Lowell  is a no-brainer - all the other schools have a much lower percentage of high performing students than they would otherwise.  For a district obsessed with diversity above even student achievement, a lack of academic diversity at SFUSD high schools - the result of Lowell's creaming process - makes Lowell's status as a merit-based school a political football.  If SFUSD could spread the top performers around, the District would look much better on paper and it would provide certain financial advantages in staffing and economies of scale. But it's unlikely that greater academic diversity will be a tonic for overall improvement across ethnic lines, partially because the loss of middle school honors does little to prepare students for rigorous high school classes, but also because separate honors and AP high school classrooms would still function as a brick and mortar barrier that separates  honors students from  general ed students within schools. That is to say, achievement gap statistics are fairly consistent across racial lines within diversified schools as compared to overall district achievement statistics.  The benefits of diversification  aren't entirely refuted by the disturbing prevalence of the achievement gap because there are social gains associated multiculturalism,  a more open and tolerant society. However, as schooling and achievement are concerned, diversity isn't all it's cracked up to be as a tool of cross-cultural academic progress.

The idea of diversity as achievement is a scam of politicians perpetrated on a trusting and radicalized SF school public that accepts all liberal tenants as appropriate policy objectives even when they aren't. Education experts have never substantiated  diversity is an educationally beneficial school reform, but that hasn't stop the social justice zealots on the BOE from applying it as policy and squelching lack of diversity also called elitism and its bastard child, Lowell High School. Lowell represents  a smoking gun to this failure of policy - the living proof that low socioeconomic status is not a perfect predictor of student outcome (far from it) - that poor students not only can outperform, but excel. That inconvenient truth exposes SFUSD's skeleton in the closet - the strategic plan uses diversity as a political tool, not an educational tool.  This is true for the student assignment system and for the district's funding policies. Lowell is SFUSD's fly in the ointment, that ointment being  a magical balm with which SFUSD soothes lingering racial fears and promotes its social justice agenda - diversity - propaganda as panacea for the achievement gap  which remains SFUSD's own illegitimate child. 

Common sense tells us schools are about student achievement, not redistributing communities for a social good that has little to do with education. And the high courts have ruled that racial diversity is not the purpose of public education when it is not part of a court ordered desegregation plan. But to the extent that SFUSD can hype the idea that diversity increases achievement even when it doesn't, the district can continue down the path to remove "inequities" like honors classes and honors schools (read: lower achievement gap), thereby promoting a mediocrity that is analogous with lower overall performance but smaller differences between performance. (It just isn't fair that some students do better than others, even if they work their asses off and any school that does better will be punished with less funding. Lowell was the only school  I know of that had a per pupil decrease in funding for the current 2013-14 school year. (That's sarcasm just in case you weren't sure.)
Predicting what a Lowell-no-more scenario would do to enrollment is tricky as the current SAS has proven. No doubt some higher performers would bolt the district, but it is also possible that more students would attend city high schools with each school providing greater academic opportunity. Given Lowell's stringent Band 1 entry requirements, many high caliber students who didn't quite make the grade would be encouraged by the citywide expansion of honors and AP classes and the increased number of high performing students, as would high-performing students who chose not to apply to Lowell for any number of reasons. It is likely that private middle school applicants to public high school would drop, at least initially, due to the loss of the exclusivity and overall cache that is Lowell's mantle currently.  But it's also possible that public middle school applicants to public high school could rise.  Cost of private school and pressure on the middle class has spurred an increase in public school admissions and that phenomenon could drive greater high school enrollment as well, particularly if high schools provide more attractive prerequisites and college bound opportunities. 

I would be remiss if I didn't add that Lowell is a school with a very long and very proud tradition. It has many influential backers and I suspect that this has prevented (think political clout) the BOE from making any changes despite its predilection  to do so.  My older son attends Lowell and loves it, so I'm not an impartial observer.  For my part I would not be inclined to want to see Lowell closed unless SFUSD went to some extraordinary lengths to provide the kind of quality education for high performers districtwide that Lowell, despite lacking in equitable district support,  provides now. What I see is SFUSD going to extraordinary lengths to help certain low-performing schools,  and the rest, including a majority of low-performing students at better schools, have to make due with less - hence the small class sizes at the so-called underserved schools while most other district schools burst  at the seams, particularly Lowell, even at a plus-950 API. 
I agree with many who say Lowell's creaming effect on the rest of San Francisco high schools is not a good thing. But until SFUSD can come up with a way to honor its honors students, to nurture excellence while tackling failure, and to give every child a fair share of the services he or she deserves, let's celebrate Lowell's real year-over-year successes.

One thing is for sure: Cardinals kick ass!



Anonymous said...

Lowell has made me a better parent and my kids better kids. Studies show that the big mistake many parents make is not focusing in an intense manner on their kids' education before high school. While I agree it would probably help other schools, I think a lot of Lowell would go private, though perhaps more who go private would consider Washington, Lincoln and Mission if they had the top 15-20% which are now leaving. It is sad that some solid but not quite Lowell students go to SI and SH and Lick Wilmerding over Washington and Lincoln, which hurts those schools.

I know I've praised Asian parenting before, but it's not Tiger Parenting or obsession but awareness of holistic development. For instance, the earlier you start focusing on academics with kids, the better, kind of like how someone who starts saving in an IRA at 24 and stops at 35 will accumulate more than someone who starts at 35 and goes until 70, so for a fifth or quarter the effort, you get more. 16% of whites and 60% of Asians teach their children reading and math BEFORE starting kindergarten, which corresponds to the percentage reaching UCs, a nearly 4x better achievement ratio.

Anonymous said...

Lowell forces parents to step up and focus on academics in 6th and 7th grade. KIPP believes 5th grade is good, but really the earlier the better.

Lowell provides a world class school which has 40% free and reduced lunch and is better than any private school. If Lowell is eliminated, the top private schools will be better than Lowell, which will reduce respect for public schools.

The biggest problem in SF education is we have a divided city, 2 San Franciscos so to speak. Getting more kids into public schools helps give all kids an opportunity, and the pride in SFUSD that a public school is the best really gives pride to SF and leads parents to be better parents.

I support Lowell staying. I bought in SF due to Lowell, knowing my kids could go to a better high school than in any suburb. If we get rid of Lowell, or make it a district school, Fremont Union, Palo Alto and 10 other high schools will be better than Lowell.

I don't think it will happen. Dennis Kelly would love it, and a significant chunk of the far left would.

However, Emily Murase has a kid at Lowell, Eric Mar will next year, Ed Lee has a kid who graduated, a runner up to Miss America, a Supreme Court Justice, a dot com millionaire, authors, actors (Benjamin Bratt), and other famous graduates give it a great rep. It's the oldest high school west of the Mississippi (1856). They wouldn't get rid of it, but making it non-competitive or lottery would essentially be the same thing. If you have people there with under a 3.00 in high school and bad test scores, it becomes just another high school.

It's an amazing school now despite the lack of money. Over 800 kids come from private so the PTA donations add a lot, big donors. It has AP psychology, Latin, Hebrew, Italian, photography, AP Euro History, architecture, just to name a few, courses you can't get anywhere else. The tradition and quality are amazing. I think it would be a big mistake to change it and doubt it will happen.

I've heard they're leaning towards giving everyone the test to keep it solid. The school board, led by Murase with a kid there, wants to get as high as possible in Newsweek.

Not to mention that many elites would prefer Boston or New York over San Francisco to raise a family due to their magnet schools, so some startups would move to those cities, taking with them jobs and investment and peripheral income.

Property values, job creations, reputation, and an education would be hurt. At most schools, a kid studying 12 hours feels good. At Lowell, at 20 you feel inadequate. If you have no extracurricular, you feel inadequate. It makes you a better person. No other school will do that. The kids pushing to 30 hours now at Lowell will study 15 if Lowell becomes average, so we'll have fewer perfect SAT scores, Ivy League, etc. It will reduce our outstanding numbers. Upper class people will prefer Burlingame and Palo Alto to SF.

It would be a huge mistake!

Anonymous said...

Don, usually I disagree with you but you hit the nail right on the head with this one. Having Lowell makes kids too narrow in middle school and is hard on middle school teachers, many of whom are my friends. Some are horrified by the narrow, simplistic, selfish attitude of many parents. I won't mention the race, but it is usually one and it is very problematic.

The truth is, you are your brother's keeper. All this greed is ruining this country. It's not enough to do well if your peers are doing poorly. We're all in this together. We need a new kind of society, a cooperative one.

I think the best students should play an active role in helping the worst. Instead of racistly running off to elite private schools or moving, families of wealth should to go every school in equal numbers and volunteer, help poor children do better, spend as much time helping poor African American and Latino children in class with their children as they do helping their own children, loan them money with a clear heart and without ever expecting to be paid back except in appreciation for their common humanity, common love. Help them with their problems, poverty, stress, violence, molestation, torture, abuse, humiliation. Rich parents, high-achieving immigrant parents, should not be paternalistic but sit down with them as equals and help them solve their problems, for so long as any American has a problem, we all have that problem.

So spreading out all the Lowell students and requiring the parents of the best test takers and their parents to play an active and equal role in helping the children who are deeply struggling, having a new credo of working together to solve the problems of the disadvantaged, would be a wonderful start. We are all comrades and as long as one San Franciscan is suffering, every San Franciscan is suffering.

This is only a start but a good one to a more equitable and caring San Franciscan. Too many people in this town are selfish and narrow and don't care about their fellow man. There are people making tons of money who don't do anything for the disadvantaged. Inequality in this City is horrendous! Closing Lowell and having a ceremony would be a terrific first step.

I think we should have a citywide party and burn it to the ground, cheer and party and hoot like wild Indians, and burn every private school with no minorities down while you're at it, have a huge party, celebrate a new San Franciscan in which our priority is those who are hurting, in which we focus all the energy we once focused on greedy goals on common goals, run the City as a commune, and work as a team. No more self-obsession. Love for all.

This is what I dreamed of in the '60s and I am so sad we failed to bring about a better world. This is a great first step Don! You are wonderful to suggest it!

RemyMarathe said...

I hope an pray that Anonymous 1:39 is being sarcastic.

Anonymous said...

"I think we should have a citywide party and burn it to the ground, cheer and party and hoot like wild Indians, and burn every private school with no minorities down while you're at it, have a huge party, celebrate a new San Franciscan..."

Have our own Krystalnacht. You're insane, lady. I can't believe you said that. How old are you?

Anonymous said...

Noteacher is clearly at least 60, maybe older, she references CTBS tests. I'm 42 and took those as a kid. She still thinks she gives them. Other references are old too. I have suspicions who she is. Lowell is probably the best thing about San Francisco. It's #2 in the world in the number/variety of AP classes offered. It may be #1 within a couple years as it is adding courses, good courses. It's amazing. You won't come out a stronger person anywhere. Closing it would be a horrible mistake. I think Noteacher is among maybe 20% of the educational establishment that thinks this way. I doubt it will happen while a school board member has kids there and Emily Murasi was a the first PTSA meeting with a Freshman. Even after, it would reduce credit for recent grads. Mar starts next year. I doubt it will even seriously be considered.

Don Krause said...

To be clear, I'm not at all suggesting that there's any imminent proposal to close Lowell and I changed the title of the post to avoid any misunderstanding. I'm just extrapolating given the trajectory of the District's policies over time. (Plenty of people were surprised when SFUSD started to eliminate middle schools honors which is picking up steam now.) Nor am I saying it would be a good thing to close Lowell. What I am saying is that it is clear (at least to me) that the existence of an academic magnet school is contrary to the District diversity objectives and doesn't help the other high schools to excel. However, if SFUSD was so concerned about all the other schools it wouldn't have a funding scheme that plays heavy favorites to a select few underperforming schools, to the detriment of the others (zero sum budget game). Also, the District has had a policy of magnet schools for some time.

Until such time that SFUSD decides it wants to focus its attentions on all segments of the student population, what I would be in favor of is turning Lowell into a charter school and freeing it from all but the most minimal District oversight.

Responding to previous comments, 1:39's comments are ridiculous as usual - really just childish utopianism - though I can appreciate certain humanistic sentiments expressed by her if I could believe they were real and not just dogma-. But I would like to comment on some of the other responses that I believe are merely cheerleading for Lowell and unsupportable.

That commenter repeatedly claims that Lowell is the best based upon API and programmatic offerings. Regarding API, what does he expect when one of the wealthiest, most educated and highly Asian cities in the western world concentrates the vast bulk of its highest achievers together in one school? Of course it is going to excel, but does that speak to the quality of the student experience? There's far more to excellence than staying up late and doing homework. And with all the data available that contradicts the validity of narrowly-focused high stakes testing, it is amazing to hear anyone claim these tests are the last word on student achievement.

As for the course offerings and after school activities, there's much to be said for that and they certainly look good in a brochuire, but having a great variety is not a measure of quality.

His view can be summed up as such: he believes the more you study the better, period. I certainly wouldn't refute the benefits of hard work and study, he views academic progress as a function of time spent. The problem is that few education researchers agree. The focus nowadays is on quality, the experiential aspects of schooling. Bean counters will add up time invested and make assumptions as to the input versus output, a 19th Century industrial model of production capacity versus labor costs.


Don Krause said...


Nowadays most colleges are looking for kids that are well-rounded and a school's academic culture contributes significantly to the capacity for a student to spread his or her wings and to develop as an individual and citizen. To that point, he's right that Lowell does provide tremendous extracurricular and co-curricular opportunities, but given the level of homework demanded by teachers, the amount of time students have to participate in these activities creates an unnecessary and unfortunate competition between school and afterschool(the rest of their lives). When you have the best and brightest, you don't need to load them up to the extreme on homework. Teachers that over-rely on homework are suspect of under-teaching, as they should be. Lowell needs to take a good hard look at more recent research on student achievement because I believe it is behind the curve in developing a healthy school and student culture. It really needs to ask itself whether all the academic and extracurricular programs available represent real opportunities for students. Can high-performing students who demand 'A'-level work of themselves (after all that's how they got into Lowell in the first place), be able to continue to function at that academic level, participate in sports or other physical activities, join clubs, involve themselves in student government, do community service, help tutor other students, do all the homework to the best of their ability, eat a healthy breakfast, lunch and dinner, go to their church, etc., and most importantly, still have a personal life with healthy with friend and family relationships , while getting enough sleep so they don't stunt their growth and impair their general health and well-being?

Can Lowell leaders really expect students to juggle these responsibilities? Should they? I believe Lowell has many strong points, but it is way behind the curve on developing a 21st Century culture that honors academic growth as well as personal growth, as do most private high schools. And it doesn't surprise me that the closest Ivy League school didn't accept a single Lowell student. That is a red-flag, but the school is so immersed in its culture of academic excellence that it cannot see itself clearly. In the same way that SFUSD doesn't "feel" the added burden it puts on families, so Lowell can't see how its academic extremism and competitiveness weighs on its students.

But then, my own son seems to be handling it pretty well, so many it's just me.

Anonymous said...

I agree the homework is excessive, but part of it is that teachers don't coordinate because each kid has a different combination of classes. A parent group should discuss this with the principal. The grading is too harsh, they teachers need to use bad grades as a way to pressure kids to work hard, but they need to realize that the punishment these grades inflict on kids is often unwarrented. I believe parents should meet with the principal, Ishibashi, on this issue.

You're referring to Stanford. It's not Ivy League but it's basically at that level along with Duke, MIT, maybe a couple other such schools.

Daniel Golden wrote a book about how these schools claim to be judging kids in a holistic way as a cover for letting in children like Bill Frist and Al Gore's sons, lazy people inferior to a far below average Lowell student, due to wealth and fame, as well as kids of the famous, legacy, kids of faculty and people from private schools which pressure them. Also, from elite sports. A girl got in from SI last year as a rower with a 1950 SAT Score (below average) and A 3.4 GPA, which would translate to about a 2.7 at Lowell. 99% of American girls have no opportunity to participate in this sport. Softball, cheerleading, soccer, track, basketball, these would be fair, but rowing? Golf, polo, lacrosse, etc.

Read Daniel Golden's book. These schools can justify anti-Asian discrimination with vague statements from a brochure, but if you look in deeply, they want to look diverse by letting in African American and Latino and Native American kids, but if you are white or Asian and middle class you are judged by a much harsher standard than anyone else.

They will make a cause of reviewing a legacy application or child of faculty "fairly" or anyone with some pull. They won't make a cause of a middle class Asian or white kid. Average income kids with 4.00 GPAs and high SATs are routinely rejected in favor of boarding school wealthy kids with lower GPAs who pay someone $8500 to write their essay and whose parents wouldn't let them go to a public school or take a bus but pretend to be real down to earth by going, with security guards paid for by their parents, to a 3d world country to start a health clinic.

Trust me Don, that no Lowell kids were let into Stanford after all the hard work they do is more of an indictment of Stanford than it is of Lowell.

Anonymous said...

"Nowadays most colleges are looking for kids that are well-rounded and a school's academic culture contributes significantly to the capacity for a student to spread his or her wings and to develop as an individual and citizen."

Don, you have no idea how much unfairness and corruption this is a cover for. Read Daniel Golden's 'The Price of Admission'.

Why do you think the U.S., which obsessively focuses on every rags to riches story, in which the Republican Convention had every speaker bragging about being poor in an apartment eating tuna fish despite being from rich backgrounds like Romney (Cranbrook), which loves to talk about merit and mobility, actually has less economic mobility than any nation in Western Europe, Canada, Japan, New Zealand and Australia? Yes, less than England, that's correct!

Our legal culture can justify anything. There are multiple forms of discrimination for top schools.

If you read the book, I'll bet six two and even that you will agree with me on this issue. It's not a long book but very thorough and persuasive. It provides the facts, and they are undisputed.

Or they are disputed by fallacious, vague logic not subject to any form of statistical scrutiny. You can cover up a lot with vague language. These people are experts at it.

Anonymous said...

Don, it's not just racism. White kids who aren't elite have very little chance, Pat Buchanan wrote a chapter on this very subject. It's more classism. I don't trust holistic vision because I believe it is not used properly.

I believe in holistic standards if applied fairly or even honestly attempted to be applied fairly.

Just using SAT/GPA would be more fair than the current system and lead more lower income kids of merit to get in, but it isn't the ideal method. The ideal method is holistic, but fairly applied, so I agree in theory. We just have to call out those who don't apply the theory.

Progress is being made on this issue. It is convenient there's a racist element to it to pressure for change, but it's much deeper than that.

You should let kids in and then if they can't afford it, they don't go, if you wish to be fair. Admissions should be separate from cost or political considerations.

Sports 99.5% of kids don't have a chance to play is not fair.

I agree with you 100% on teachers being judged by multiple measures. The Economist this week discusses this trend. It's going in the right direction. California is one of 11 states that go purely on seniority, and only Vermont is a liberal state. It's very random but needs to change.

Don Krause said...

"Trust me" is not an argument and who cares whether Stanford is technically not an Ivy league? Why get into a meaningless distinction if you have something important to say?

Anyway, when you say it is more an indictment of Stanford than Lowell, I say your assertion is baseless. How do you know that to be the case? I know you want to it to be the case. As for the example of the rower, so what? Are you telling me that universities should drop scholarships for athletes? - Like that's ever going to happen. That is the same utopian nonsense that we had earlier on this thread. Did you see that Chron article about UC's two-tiered grading policy? Shocking, gambling in Casablanca? I mean, do we really have to discuss how unfair admissions is? We might as well talk about why some people get a brain tumor and others don't. I'm all for getting rid of sports in college admissions. Maybe you can get them to do that in your parallel universe.

You can cite a book to make a case for any point, practically. There's always someone out there who will right a book to make a new case for racism. It's the left's absolute most favorite cause-celebre because it plays to people's weakest emotions.

There is no one answer that would apply to all Ivy League-type school admissions processes. But it doesn't take a lot of mental energy to come to the conclusion that non-profit private colleges are going to have to enroll legacy families or raise tuition or cut services or some combination. But that isn't discrimination. It's favoritism based on financial considerations. Those are two very different things and be careful using them interchangeably. I doubt many professors would prefer to teach to underperforming rich kids if they had a choice.

This whole line of argument about Ivy Leagues and racism is an overt attempt to use the race card and is really deplorable in my opinion. That does not in any way mean that it isn't unfair that higher performing students get overlooked or that there aren't examples of racism in certain individuals at some of these schools. No doubt Asians bear the brunt. No argument there.

Don Krause said...

As for legacy students, I know some refute the importance of that money in the school's overall budget. That probably right sometimes, but what college is going to deny entrance to a student whose family will donate large sums?

If the principle is to accept only the highest performers on a test, then schools should not accept any students who don't meet that standard, but diversity trumps standards. You can't hold to principles and simultaneously maintain hat only the highest performing students should gain entrance while accepting lower performing students who are underrepresented.

Anyway, my view is simple. Private is private. If you don't like it go somewhere else. Why are we demanding that private institutions meet the same standards as public, as though they have higher standards?

And, yes, I'm sure that holistic assessments are used as an excuse, but it is illogical to conclude that means tests are the only true measures of a man (or a student)- so to speak. The political left asserts that teachers cannot be judged by a test and that holistic, value-added parameters are better than achievement scores,(but not as good as none at all.) Then they turn around and assert the opposite when it comes to college applicants- that holistic assessments are nonsense and that tests alone should drive the admissions process. It's ridiculous and I don't see why more people don't see through this hypocrisy. Certainly you don't. But then you tend to make judgments first and use research to back up your views afterwards, as opposed to the traditional approach to intellectual inquiry of deciding after you get the facts.

And you missed the whole point about using holistic standards. You think it is OK for teachers but not for students. Besides, there is no such thing as fair. Standardized tests are not fair unless you believe that everyone has equal educational opportunity.

But the Ivy League topic, which you never fail to raise over and over and over and over, is only a minor point of the post, to which I'd like to get back.

I noticed that you had almost nothing to say about the points I raised except to agree that homework is excessive. Anything else or are you just going to brow beat me with cries of racism over the Ivy League issue, your favorite non-starter?

Anonymous said...

You are saying the kids aren't well rounded enough, and I think they are more so than you think. I think there is a jealousy of Lowell which leads to some of the criticisms. For instance, parents say the Lowell kids are too narrow, but upon learning Lowell kids do more, not less, extracurricular activities, clubs, etc., they way well that's just because they want to get into a good college, assuming all kids at most schools do it purely for love of the sport or art? It's silly. Lowell kids show themselves good in other areas, sports, arts, etc. I agree the homework is overkill. I'd like to see my kids have more time to study for tests in groups, which would be more like college. Some of the homework is good but some is pointless. I am disappointed with this aspect. I think it's silly they have a no-stress day with a few games and don't instead try to limit homework enough to allow school attendence, a school activity which any kid needs to get into college (2.5 hours), travel time, and 8 hours sleep. Not even the 9 they say teens should get but they are in school about 7, sleep about 8, have to self-maintain and travel about 2, and have to do an activity for 2.5. Allowing an hour for lunch and dinner and an hour to talk to friends, we're up to 21.5. So maybe 2.5 hours of homework would be enough, plus maybe 10 each weekend including Friday, which most kids don't do homework on. Maybe at an extreme cap it at 4, ask them to cut the hour talking to friends and sleep 7.5, but when you get kids sleeping 4 and 5, that's unhealthy and is too extreme. I think they need to do more about this.

Don Krause said...

I didn't say they weren't well-rounded. I don't know where you got that from. I said that they have too many stresses due to the typically long daily homework at the school. But after all your disagreeing, you apparently do agree that it's overkill. Which is not the same as what you usually say which is that the more you study the better.

I don't want to over step my bounds, but don't you think it is presumptuous on your part to assume that all your kids will be best suited for Lowell?

Anonymous said...

Personally, I believe it's going to make you a stronger person, more likely-to-succeed, harder-working, to go to Lowell. At most high schools, you can study 2 hours Sunday night. At Lowell, you have to organize your weekend to make sure you get at least 8 and maybe 10-12 in. At most, 15 hours a week everyone will pat you on the back. At Lowell, you'll be doing terrible with 15 and be pressured to work harder.

The work ethic and additional knowledge accumulated over an additional 10-15 hours a week over 4 years is compounded. I don't want them to make Lowell easy, I'd like to see more time for studying in groups, less dull homework. Some of the homework is good, but some is monotonous. Math, you need it, you just do, but in French, I think each kid learns differently and they need to spend more time memorizing and less doing homework.

Don, you are white, and so am I.

This is a fundamental difference between white and Asian parenting. 60% of Asians teach their children basic reading and math before starting kindergarten, don't just hope the pre-school does, and pre-schools usually don't get beyond letters, sounds, colors, painting, counting and playing, but do it themselves to make sure it's been done. 16% of whites do the same. This is ironically about the ratio of entrance to UC or better, 8.7% for non-Hispanic white kids (based on 12.5 on target) vs. 35 for Asians.

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Don Krause said...

Please don't fill the comments up with writings you copy. If you have something you want me to read send the link. You are making it very difficult to discuss anything other than what you want. I have removed your comments because they are completely off-topic.

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Don Krause said...

It is impossible to run a blog if the moderator allows the conversation to be hijacked.

If you call people racist I will delete the comment. If you post off topic I will delete the comment. I don't want to but you people don't listen or follow the rules, yet you tell everyone else the rules to success. But mostly I'm just tired of being bored to death with the same repetitive commentary. I got the point already - long ago.

One person is clinging to behaviorism. He molds his children to become who he wants them to become. The other person let's them be whomever they are and makes no attempt to help them to fulfill their potential.

Does anyone have anything else to say that hey haven't already said?

Anonymous said...

Don, Democrats will win every election and become more and more liberal. Clawing, with fingernails? Yes, this is apt. I see kids scratched and beaten by parents. I have kids who start shaking and become physically afraid when they get a B. This is worse in middle school. Beating kids to make them "smarter" is not the kind of America I want to live in. That's not parenting. That's abuse! It is a scourge, all this competitive obsessive hatred. Clawing children because they get a B. I don't tolerate it. And children don't need to be pressured. All children should develop at their own pace.

Anonymous said...

Don, I'm sorry I have a basic philosophy. I think if you analyze it closely you do to. I don't have a new thing to say about each issue, my IQ isn't 170, I'm not Bill Clinton. Every issue will come down to a few beliefs, children are capable of a lot more than most Americans give them credit for, we should have neighborhood schools, we need to think outside the box and have more tutoring, we need to encourage kids to study more, you get out what you put in. I may have a few more thoughts, but expecting me to never talk about what I think the crux of the problem is because I said it before is just going to make it impossible for me to comment on this blow due to a fear of censorship. I think most people have a few opinions and repeat themself, you, me, AB, Moggy, Laurie, Fred, Sandra Fewer, Noteacher, Eric Mar, Geoffrey Canada, Michelle Rhee, etc. There were school board candidates with thousands of signs up who said nothing more than "I'm a parent running for school board." I think you're too hard on me expecting a new opinion. I read 5 education books a year, I try, but I don't always have a new, well thought-out opinion on every subject. Most philosophies repeat themself over time. If you want it to get broader, we need to get more people on here.

Anonymous said...

Too many deletions! It was getting interesting. Some were not violating rules.

Anonymous said...

Your basic philosophy is greed is good and so is Don's. I say phooey on the two of you and all of you.

Don Krause said...

Lady, I find your insults kind of charming. But I'm a little confused. First you said I was spot on with the post. Now I'm greedy? Didn't quite catch on to how greed applies.

As for Pavlov, I would say this - if you can only say the same things over and over maybe it's time to stop talking.

And as for Lowell, it's a great school in many ways, but it's not for every kid. Some kids will do much better outside of such a cutthroat environment. Some kids need the nurturing. Others have the independence to make it at Lowell. And you do need to be independent because no one is going to hold your hand. But my kid wanted to go there. I actually encouraged him to look around more at other options.

Just because a critical mass of high performing students attend doesn't mean that you can't get at least as good an education elsewhere. What really makes any school great is a critical mass of inspired teachers. Being surrounded by good students is important but teachers are the key. And from what I understand Lowell has both the inspired and the uninspired as does any public school.

Anonymous said...

Lowell is a great school for a public school. I believe there to be several better private high schools in the city.

AB said...

Changing Lowell admissions to suit a diversity or equity agenda will lower achievement in the District, in my opinion.

All the discussion about student pressure, different ways of learning, etc. are separate issues and not exclusive to Lowell.

Instead of diluting top achievers to other schools (and, in my opinion, losing a fair number to Private or other districts) I would suggest we look to narrow the gap between Lowell and other SFUSD highschools by improving the other schools. Call me radical.

Yes, I am beating the drum for instilling a mandate for greater academic proficiency, but it's all I've got for this topic right now. Oh, and maybe sprinkle in some specialty classes to capture student interests, expand horizons, and address different ways of learning.

Don, I appreciate that you post on a variety topics - I am becoming better informed. And I appreciate that you have given wide latitude in the comments, it sharpens my thinking and keeps me vigilant when I see radical comments. I say accept it, moderate it, but don't waste your time responding to it.

Anonymous said...

Lowell is bigger and has way more offerings of AP classes. Also, you have more pride there, people will think you are a smart and hard working student. At private high schools, some are hard to get into, but none are as hard as Lowell. They all have some kids with a 3.25 or 3.5. That doesn't get you into Lowell unless you are in public housing or a victim of society in some way. You can barely get a B in 3 semesters. You have to think ahead. You have to work super hard. You are seen as priveleged more than smart to go to Marin Day, University, Lick or Urban. All have lower standards.

I agree they are better in terms of class size and forcing students to participate. You know people better though have less chance to choose your friends or clique due to low populations. I think Lowell is better overall because you're seen as self-made, they have way better sports and broader arts and they have more clubs and more of a variety of AP Classes. You can't predict what your child will be interested at 13 or 14. Lowell is in the top 2 high schools in the world in the number and variety of AP classes offered.

If you know 100% you want the standard classes and don't mind being viewed as a silver spoon/priveleged type, something which ends up mattering in very liberal Universities, go for the privates.

These are the opinions. And they are disputed.

Anonymous said...

Lowell kids are some of the most greedy, self-centered, self-obsessed, unaware, stressed out, rude, and arrogant kids anywhere who could care less about anyone else. They're worse than private school kids because they think they earned it. They're pushed into a life of extreme depravation and most get good grades but become so anti-social they never marry. Enjoy bragging about your perfect Lowell brats while it lasts, they won't be giving you any grandchildren because they are so narrow they have no social skills and will never go on a date. They're unaware of kids suffering they were often in school with a few months before, oblivious, think the world is perfect, and need a good slap. I would close it down. What is it about black and Chicano children you people are so afraid of? White guilt? Knowing who you enslaved and robbed? It seems the last thing in the world any of you snobs want is for your kids to go to, say, Mission, or Lincoln, or anywhere that isn't a mix of white rulers and fawning Asian wannabes! The parents worried about Lowell are just evil, I can't stand them. Some of them ask for conferences even though their kid has straight As. What a waste of resources! You have no idea how little time I have and spending an hour with a 4th grader's mom asking if little Choo Ling Fok Yoo is on track for Lowell is about the most ridiculous thing I've ever done. They don't count 4th grade Chung Fang, take a chill pill! Ask your child if they are happy. Look at their paintings, get them a psychiatrist, theyr'e going to need it. I pity your son if he wanted to go there but based on your right wing rants I'm not at all surprised. Greed is good, let's all go to Lowell and oppress the poor! It's good for them, oh so good! Ludicrous!

Don Krause said...

The point of this post was to highlight the fact that removing the best and brightest is not helpful to the rest of public high school education in San Francisco. (As I pointed out that doesn't mean I advocate closing Lowell. A lot of circumstances would have to change.)

If you put all the highest achieving computer engineers at one computer company how would that affect the rest of the industry? Just saying. Lowell is a great school, but it is hard to make a case for creaming off the prize animals from the rest of the livestock if you want to a healthy gene pool. Public education, I believe, should be egalitarian in philosophy and in practice. (That's fodder for our resident socialist commenter.) Privates do not have to be because they aren't publicly funded ( the public research grant issues withstanding).

Response to BF Skinner: How do you know Lowell has more pride and what if it does? Have you conducted a study on school pride in San Francisco? Does it really matter? And how do you measure pride? For a person who loves to assign a number to assess an individual, you might want to come up with a pride index.

More class offerings is fine but hardly the best measure of a school's quality. You fault privates for having some lower GPA students, but so does Lowell and you have already made a case that grades are a dubious metric given their subjectivity. You fault those privates for academic diversity, but give Lowell Band 2 and 3 a pass for the same. That's called bias.

I don't get your point about how people viewing private school students as privileged. Does that matter? Why is that important?

Do you know anything about what is actually happening at Lick, UHS, and other private high schools? My sense is that you don't. We toured and researched these schools so at least I have a first hand knowledge. We had a choice between those schools and Lowell and had it not cost about $40K a year I would have leaned to private. The amount of individual attention is something that Lowell can't compete with. And in the end, because my son happens to be a self-starter, it worked out fine. But what you fail to grasp, IMHO, is that not all kids have the specific traits that make for success at a school of the size and character of Lowell.

One last afterthought - I've attended several cross country track meets where Lowell absolutely dominates, and I have nothing but the utmost respect for the team. But I also look at the other teams and I feel a great sense of community pride the way some of these ragtag and diminutive teams compete against a far more dominant opponent. Those kids are winners in my mind and they are the stronger for their efforts in the face of the odds. I think it is metaphor in general for their experiences at some of these lesser-prized high schools.

Anonymous said...

Think about the effect this has on society, if it had not cost end up creaming off the richest people, which is class segregation, which I believe is wrong.

As for bands 2 and 3 I would get rid of them and not consider grades either. I would base it all on testing with maybe a small nod to extracurriculars and true adversity, but not as much as now. I think a 3.5 GPA should be a minimum.

I think Bands 2 and 3 the way they do them now are just silly. How does a principal decide who to let in? Someone who donates to PTSA and goes to meetings? Someone who is like them somehow? Underrepresented is sillier, with Hamlin and Burke alongside Visitacion Valley and MLK as underrepresented, implying disadvantaged, and Roosevelt and Aptos, schools with significant public housing and free and reduced lunch populations, as advantaged.

Don Krause said...

How can you make this case about creaming off the richest when you advocate creaming off the best? Are you really going to look me in the proverbial eye and tell me about the negative effects of private school on society when you encourage and continually beat the drum to increase academic segregation at Lowell which results in removing the highest performers from San Francisco high school society, the very idea of which you claim high-mindedly to be appalling and racist?

I know you will say that creaming off rich people is different than creaming high performers, but if you had those wealthy patrons do you think they'd be donating to SFUSD? No, they'd be donating to Lowell. How is that suppose to help public education other than your one preferred school?

Anonymous said...

I think it's OK to segregate by merit if you give a chance to all, but not by income.

Do you propose we pool all PTA funds? Or a percentage thereof? A share tax?

I'd love to see every elementary and middle school have a balance.

We are a misanthropic society. Most people fear the unknown. I think by integrating, you get to know them, but not with a gun to their head, as people with their own rights and values. When you have a few scholarship cases, they are afraid.

Burke is a perfect example, 4% black and Latino combined and half those adopted by white parents. All horrified if they offend the rich white rulers they'll be expelled. It's not a place of equality.

So your idea is to close Lowell, but I'd guess half the kids there would move or go private. I wish that weren't the case.

If all parents agreed before the lottery to stick it out, it would cause integration, but they don't, and they wouldn't. So it would add to segregation. If everyone at Lowell did fan out, it could help, but maybe some leave, and maybe even some Lincoln, Washington and SOTA kids whose parents hoped they'd be able to get into Lowell would leave. It's all very hard to predict.

They may just drive all but the ruling class out of SF soon anyways. The Pacific Heights crowd really loves the view and the restaurants but they consider the poor or even middle class an inconvenience to avoid.

Don Krause said...

Sometimes I wonder if you bother to read the comments. I NEVER said to close Lowell. The district has developed too far in one direction to allow that to happen all these years later. It would have been better had they never opted to have an academic magnet school, in my opinion. But that doesn't mean we should close it now. Nor do I think that donations should be districtwide. Just because I said wealthy parents are going to donate to the school just like the others, doesn't mean I am advocating a districtwide donation policy. Absolutely not. It is an infringement on a person's rights to limit donations in that manner.

I've never met anyone who can misconstrue ideas as you can. You talk about "the good of society", but how does Lowell help the rest of San Francisco public school society? You talk about society in meaningless platitudes. If you really wanted to help our local society, our SFUSD kids, you would send your own children to schools where they would provide the kinds of influence you claim makes for a more diverse and tolerant community. But you don't.

I wanted my son to go to Wash or LIncoln if not private. He wanted Lowell, not me. My other son goes to a very diverse school that is kind of far from my house. There's a lot of behavioral issues and classroom disruptions which makes it hard on him due to ADHD. There are a lot of kids with major issues, but he's surviving and doing well and I think it will make him a better and stronger person. And my son , who is a hardworking dedicated student, provides the kind of influence that some of the other kids need to have modeled for them. But there's no way that he will be going to Lowell because it is absolutely the wrong kind of school for him.

Anonymous said...

Wash and Lincoln are terrible compared to Lowell, your son would study 10-15 fewer hours a week and get 2-300 points lower on the SAT. Anything else is a fantasy and you know it, he wouldn't be as good a person at 18 if he'd done that. And every school I ever sent my kids to had 30% free and reduced lunch vs. 10-15% nationwide, so I did do that, you just don't recognize it, I'm forever wrong because I didn't drive to Hunter's Point twice a day even though you didn't either, I can never talk about equality unless I send them to a school in Hunter's Point or the Tenderloin, that's an all or nothing slippery slope approach I don't buy.

If you have a disability it's a different matter.

Stuyvesant in NYC lets in purely on test scores, is as big as Lowell, and geta 1408 as an average SAT score, 2112 on the new scale. That's phenomenal, even better than Lowell. Lowell could reach that if they used testing:

Stuyvesant's foreign language offerings include Mandarin Chinese, French, German, Hebrew, Italian, Latin, Japanese, Korean, and Spanish. The school's Muslim Student Association raised funds to support courses in Arabic, which began in 2005.[45] Stuyvesant's Biology and Geo-science department offers courses in molecular biology (a course sequence composed of a molecular science class in the Fall and a molecular genetics class in the Spring), human physiology, medical ethics, medical and veterinary diagnosis, human disease, anthropology and sociobiology, vertebrate zoology, laboratory techniques, medical human genetics, botany, the molecular basis of cancer, nutrition science, and psychology. The Chemistry and Physics department offers organic chemistry, physical chemistry, astronomy, engineering mechanics, and electronics.[42]

Although Stuyvesant is primarily known for its math and science focus, the school also has a comprehensive humanities program, offering students courses in British and classical literature, Shakespearean literature, science fiction, philosophy, existentialism, debate, acting, journalism, creative writing, and poetry. The history core requires two years of global history (or one year of global followed by one year of European history), one year of American history, as well as a semester each of economics and government. Humanities electives include American foreign policy, civil and criminal law, prejudice and persecution, race, ethnicity and gender issues, small business management, and Wall Street.

Stuyvesant entered into an agreement with City College of New York in 2004, in which the college funds advanced after-school courses that are taken for college credit but taught by Stuyvesant teachers. Some of these courses include physical chemistry, linear algebra, advanced Euclidean geometry, and women's history.[46][47] Before the 2005 revision of the SAT, Stuyvesant graduates had an average score of 1408 out of 1600 (685 verbal, 723 math).[20] In 2010, the average score on the SAT for Stuyvesant students was 2087 out of 2400, or 674, 735, and 678 on the Reading, Math and Writing sections, respectively.[48] Stuyvesant also was the high school with the highest number of Advanced Placement exams taken, and also the highest number of students reaching the mastery level.[49]

Don Krause said...

No, I don't know Wash and Lincoln honors and AP courses are worse than Lowell and neither do you. This is entirely presumptive on your part to say otherwise. If you think you can based such an assertion on the API of the school then you are even more clueless than you seem. Neither of us have any idea at all about the quality of the honors programs at those two schools. All you know is your beloved API score.

I really feel that your kind of commentary is dragging down this blog. I didn't start this blog so I could spend my time correcting the responses of people who put words in my mouth because they can't read or think clearly.

Wash and LIncoln for all we know may have much better teachers in their honors courses. Certainly you grasp the idea that API just tells you how kids do on average. It's pretty meaningless when it comes to individual stories.

Be careful not to speak on my behalf. And I don't want to read a 1000 word essay on Stuyvesant. That has not one thing to do with the topic of this thread. WTF? I told you before. Go to your own blog if you can't follow the simple rules that even a child would understand.

Anonymous said...

What if your child gets a pefect SAT score, what does that do to a child of a single parent who barely can eat, barely can read, has no prospects. You see where I'm going with this? What about racism? Poverty?

Oh that doesn't matter, my precious son passed an AP Exam, and will be rich, whoopeeee!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Don Krause said...

4:16 -- I don't get your point. A student shouldn't do well, if another student can't do well? Is that your beef? No one can do well if everyone can't do well? How is that going to work? Explain what system you'd like to see rather than complaining about people who are only trying to do their best.

Anonymous said...

The point, Don, is that she's a crackpot.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to see a system where if a kid is at 90-95%, they spend time volunteering to tutor kids in the' '60s and '70s before they spend more time studying to get an even higher score. Less greed, more cooperation, more altruism, more love. Maybe they could come up with a formula for how we can convince people to be less greedy and raise minimum wage instead of say I got mine, keep minimum wage low as we can! And cut my taxes on 200k so we can cut food stamps for people on a tenth that. It's disgusting!

As for you people, when I die, when my time in this world is over, please bury me upside down so the people who wanted to fire me for caring about the poor can kiss my ass!

Phooey on you people who want to make the rich even richer and the poor even poorer.

Anonymous said...

Listen, no doubt we aren't doing a good enough job educating our lowest performers, but the solution is not penalizing the high performers. It could create resentment and cause disincentives and negative attentions. I think we need to convince parents from a young age to arrange their life around their children's education ahead of all else. Many of these kids in the '60s and '70s could simply pay more attention and study more and take advantage of resources available to them they are ignoring. These kids who say math is too hard often spend 1500 hours a year watching TV and playing video games. Cry me a river lady! Take some responsibility!