How to resurrect a public school in San Francisco
What’s interesting about DeAvila is that the District made it a 100% immersion school, so it wasn’t several strands in a struggling school. All-immersion schools have done very well in SF (Alice Fong Yu, Fairmount, Buena Vista/Mann) because they don’t have the built-in issues of dealing with multiple strands. Which isn’t to say that dual-strand schools don’t work, but they’re harder to make work. And the District offers parents at those schools little support in how to navigate the difficulties.
DeAvila also got a very capable principal, which makes a tremendous difference.
And of course it got a very powerful parent body that hit the ground running. It’s an excellent example of what the District could do, and the tremendous amount of blood, sweat and tears parents are willing to put into a school if they’re just given a little encouragement and a platform that’s going to work for a broad range of kids, including the middle class.
I could guarantee that if the District were to decide to create 100% French immersion school, it would fill up in a heartbeat and be a thriving, sold-out program from day one. But the only way to make that happen would be to come up with a plan that could convince the District that such a school would help close the achievement gap.
My 2 cents.
How to resurrect a public school in SF
By Joel Engardio
Elementary school graduations are cute, yet they hardly match the hat tossing euphoria of the U.S. Naval Academy or the pomp of an Ivy League procession. But don’t tell that to the first-ever fifth-grade class graduating from the Chinese Immersion School at De Avila Elementary this month.
With the mythological phoenix as their mascot, they deserve a celebration fit for rising from the ashes of public education in San Francisco.
De Avila is in the heart of the Haight-Ashbury and it symbolized the vicious cycle that destroys a school: low test scores, a lackluster PTA, a rough neighborhood that scares prospective families away. Eventually De Avila closed and became a shuttered eyesore.
Then in 2009, an over-enrollment of kindergarteners sent the school district scrambling to find space. Re-opening De Avila was a quick solution for families who hadn’t won any of their choices in the school assignment lottery.
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