New Enrollment Policy for Ruth Awasa School of the Arts

•July 12, 2015 • Leave a Comment

The San Francisco Unified School District reports that the San Francisco Board of Education unanimously adopted a resolution that enrollment at the Ruth Asawa School of the Arts (RASOTA) be restricted to students who live in the City and County of San Francisco. The Board’s resolution also expressed support for institutionalizing systems and procedures to support middle students in preparing for entry to RASOTA.

For many years, Board of Education policy allowed the school to accept up to ten percent of its student body from outside SFUSD as a way to help broaden the pool for harder-to-find talents or abilities (for example, male dancers or harpists or tuba players); however, actual school enrollment has regularly exceeded that percentage.

In support of determining how to shape a curriculum that attracts a broader auditioning base and culturally diverse demographic, the board committed to partner with community-based organizations to fund and support a summer program for SFUSD students in grades five, six, and seven. These programs – with outreach to under-represented populations – will be designed to enhance artistic skills, competencies, and dispositions to better prepare them for the application and audition process for the school.

The new policy will go into effect for students applying to attend in the fall of 2016. Students who have been accepted to RASOTA or who currently attend will be allowed to continue until their families choose to leave the school or they graduate or are removed from the school as otherwise permitted by law.

Blog by Maria Castro, B.A., UCSD


California’s New Testing Program

•July 12, 2015 • Leave a Comment

Students in grades three through eight and eleven will start taking a new test. Beginning as early as March 10, 2015 districts will administer Smarter Balanced Assessments. These computer-based tests will be aligned with the state’s rigorous new standards for English language arts and math. Smarter Balanced is part of a comprehensive new testing program which replaces the Standardized Testing and Reporting Program that expired in 2013.

The California Department of Education states that these assessments provide important information as to whether students are on track to pursue a college education and/or a career by the time they graduate from high school. The tests provide timely and actionable student information so that teachers and schools can adjust and improve teaching. Parents will receive a report of their child’s scores. But no student, parent or teacher should be discouraged by these scores, which will not be used to determine whether a student moves on to the next grade.

Blog by Maria Castro, B.A., UCSD

It is spring equinox: time to get your head in the game!

•March 25, 2015 • Leave a Comment

Students may still be feeling the after effects of the holiday season from the end of last year. Going back to school after the December holidays may be difficult, even after a couple of months have passed. However, it is now the end of March and hopefully with a new season comes new found motivation for all things school-related.

March 20th marked the first official day of spring, and with it comes not only the possibility of nice weather, but also an important time to focus on your grades. With only a few months left until summer vacation it is time to gear up and finish the academic year strong.

Seniors in high school may be hearing back this month from the colleges to which they applied. Whether the news is good or bad, stay focused on your studies and keep pushing until the end. Colleges do not want to see students lose interest in school after receiving acceptance letters; so make sure to maintain your focus, stay involved in all your extracurricular activities, and always aim to get the best grades possible. Do not throw in the towel so close to the end of the school year!

Recent news about the California Community College System might interest those students looking to pursue a college education after high school. Under a pilot program signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown, certain community colleges in the state of California will be able to offer bachelor’s degrees. This idea comes after an increasing need for more skilled workers in specific fields such as health, science and technology. Providing bachelor’s degrees at junior colleges would make education, and later employment, much more accessible to people who may not have been able to afford it before.

Out of 112 city colleges in California, 34 applied to be part of this initiative. Education officials made their decision this past January on which 15 colleges would be able to participate in the pilot program. Happily for the Bay Area, Foothill College in Los Altos Hills and Skyline College in San Bruno made the cut, and were chosen to offer degrees in dental hygiene and respiratory care, respectively. The 15 chosen colleges will start offering bachelor’s degrees sometime before the fall of 2017, and the program will run until 2023. The programs are expected to be highly competitive and have high rates of applicants; but they will be limited to a small number of students. Those students who are accepted into the programs will be able to obtain a bachelor’s degree for about $10,000. It’s a great opportunity to access higher education for lower prices than colleges in the California State Universities or the University of California systems. CSU and UC colleges need to review the pilot program to make sure that the junior colleges will not be offering anything already being offered by CSU or UC colleges. After that step is completed, the pilot program is free to start. You can see a list of the 15 community colleges that were picked, the programs they will offer, and more details about this pilot program at

Blog by Maria Castro, B.A., UCSD

What Your Local School District is Up To

•September 12, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Another academic year starts out without a whole lot of change,despite
all the rant about Common Core State Standards. Parents and teachers may have chosen which side they’re on. TV newscasters are fond of calling it a big breaking story.

Not so much.

Still it’s worth the time to take a look at There’s a noticeable shift in math and in life science.

It’s true that, since the millennium, the United States has found for certain that, at least in math and science, our kids can’t do stuff that kids in Japan and in Western Europe handle easily. It’s also true that our high-tech companies find themselves having to scratch for competent professional staff — and yes, in some specialties, even India is more competitive than we are. One positive spin-off is that more corporate money is flowing in grants to US. universities.

In ten years’ time, the economy may reflect positive results.

In the here and now, funding for the two-year college system is what would give the fastest relief to the unemployment figures.There, funding is low and getting lower. Go figure………

So why bother to see what the state is up to with Common Core?

Well, for example, in its own words:

– In grades K-2: Concepts, skills and problem solving related to
addition and subtraction.
– In grades 3-5: Concepts, skills and problem solving related to
multiplication and division of whole numbers and fractions.
– In grade 6: Ratios and proportional relationships, and early algebraic
expressions and equations
– In grade 7: Ratios and proportional relationships, and arithmetic of
rational numbers
– In grade 8: Linear algebra and linear functions

This focus will help students gain strong foundations, including a solid understanding of concepts, a high degree of procedural skill and fluency, and the ability to apply the math they know to solve problems inside and outside the classroom.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, San Francisco Unified School District is doing something really smart:  it’s applying for a waiver of No Child Left Behind, the law passed but not funded that was mostly a photo-op for GW.  Instead they’re suggesting their own CORE program, which makes more sense.  Search San Francisco Unified School District and see for yourself.

School Assignments

•August 31, 2011 • Leave a Comment

If you’re a parent with a sixth-grader not in school (although school started August 15th), you’re not happy: you’re one of thousands stuck in the third-round of school-assignments in our fair city.  That’s because SF Unified School District improved its procedures this year for school assignment. Uh-huh: you heard it first from StudyBuddy in the March newsletter at

The system was buggy.  Families complained.  The system changed.  It’s now buggier (that may not be an actual word: sorry).  If you missed the article, here’s an excerpt:  If you applied on time and, when you open your placement offer, you find you got none of your seven choices, here are the steps you need to take.

—  Keep the assignment you’re offered, even though you plan to change it.

—  Submit an Amended Choice Form.

—  Attend a counseling session at the Educational Placement Center at the555 Franklin Street address where you enrolled your student.  They’re open 8 – 4:30 Monday through Friday.  Phone 241-6085 for a choice of dates and times.  At the counseling session, staff will provide you with detailed information about the schools with available space.

—  Request an assignment to a school that has openings. To do so guarantees your inclusion in a priority group for Round Two.

—  Make a request to be placed in the waiting pool for the school you really want.  Each student can be placed in only one waiting pool.

—  If you can document that the assignment you’re unhappy with has caused genuine hardship, you can turn in an Appeal.  It will be considered.  If your appeal is granted, a more appropriate placement will be made.

Your next move opens up during March 21 – 24.  That’s your first chance to register at a particular school to accept a placement you have been offered.  Alternately, you can hope your issues are resolvable and wait until the second registration period, April 4 – 15, to go and register your student for a placement you have been offered. Or do nothing.  Then, when June 1 arrives, you’re part of Open Enrollment, a period in which anybody can register for any available places that are left.  This doesn’t mean all choice is gone:  there’s still August 1, when Waiting-Pool Notifications are mailed.  (That’s why you requested your application be put in one, remember?)  It’s still just possible the school you wanted most has had an offer turned down, and you’ve jumped to the top of the list


But how about the charter school option I mentioned earlier?  Well, you have two choices.  One is Edison Charter Academy http:///

Telephone 415 970 3330.  It’s at 3531 22nd Street (at Dolores) SF 94114

Their site says they’re still accepting applications.  Tours are available Tuesday and Thursday from 9 to 10.  e other option is Creative Arts Charter School  It’s at 1601 Turk Street, SF 94115.  415 749 3509.

What now? Wait.  If you can’t get the school you want, your kid goes anywhere assigned, even if you drive an hour to get there.  Next semester you apply for a transfer.

Recent college grads not yet employed, consider these options:  the Orthotics & Prosthetics program at Northwestern University.  It consists of six months of online courses plus 11 weeks in a clinical setting.  You can go on to serve returning veterans and earn well.See

Consider Urban Planning at Portland State University with a focus on green building projects and features a summer internship in China. See:

Consider the Cybersecurity program at the University of Maryland, which includes online classes: you’ll learn how to trace electronic threats and block hackers.  See

Finances for Recent Graduates

•July 31, 2011 • Leave a Comment

A recent SF Chronicle article by Kathleen Pender holds some good tips for recent grads.

She starts with her congratulations; then points out that all of that hard work has not given them a clue how to make note of when the first student-loan payment is due, calculate how much rent they can afford, or estimate probable take-home pay.

StudyBuddy has written many times of the importance of avoiding default on Student Loan payments, so be sure to pay attention to doing that first.  For Perkins loans, repayment begins after nine months. For Stafford or Parents Plus loans payment begins after six months or anytime you drop to half-time status. After 12 months you are in default and your credit-rating is ruined beyond help; so before that, make sure your lender knows where to send you a bill.  For more, go to and search on Repayment.

A ball-park estimate on sustainable rent is a quarter of your gross pay.  Landlords can ask for an advance of one month’s rent and a security-deposit equivalent to rent for two months.  Some utilities may also require a deposit.

Take any health insurance offered.  If that’s none, go to to compare prices and get quotes.

Take good financial care of yourself!

For Pender’s complete text, see:

Hello World: June 2011 Brings to Life my San Francisco Study Buddy Blog, New on the planet.

•June 20, 2011 • 2 Comments

Some Good Words from SFUSD

There are some warm words coming from Superintendent Garcia and the chair of the Board of Education. On a recent page in the SF Examiner called School Times Superintendent Carols Garcia said: “I love being a part of San Francisco public schools. However, working in public education is also particularly challenging. Our state cut more from public education over the past five years than any other major program area, including higher education, health and human services, and corrections….The endless cycle of budget cuts takes away more than just the people and programs that disappear; it takes away from our ability to solve our most pressing problems.”

Board of Education President Hydra Mendoza says; “It is a privilege and honor to serve as your 2011 President. We have implemented the new student assignment process, audited our special education services, participated in the School Improvement Grants, set up Superintendent Zones in our Bayview and Mission communities, passed a parcel tax to support our teachers, been more intentional about building stronger community buy-in throughout the city and reached out across all sectors to strengthen partnerships…..Thank you for your dedication and commitment to our students, families, staff and schools!”

StudyBuddy News

We had a nice compliment on our site, and the gift of new math resources.

There are some changes happening here. With the end of this academic year (the June 2011 issue) StudyBuddy will discontinue its free online newsletter and launch the StudyBuddy blog.