This is tough because some of the teachers are so extraordinary committed and effective, and just like anywhere there are the lazy teachers who just don't seem to care about the kids. Overall I imagine the teachers at Vista Verde are better than at most schools and it just makes the poor ones stand out.
I do think there's a lot of homework but it doesn't seem inappropriate to review what they have done in class. For some kids it takes a few minutes each day and others can spend hours. I have both kinds of kids and can see the big picture.
There is a strong and positive culture of honesty and integrity here. I would trust the staff to handle a bullying problem if it were to arise and I believe kids are held accountable for mistakes in a positive way... until it gets to the vice principal who I sincerely hope is replaced after this year. She has no balance or control of her anger.
After initially being thrilled to have been admitted, now after almost two years I am realizing that there are certainly some problems with the school culture. The school heavily relies on parent volunteers and even goes so far as to expect parent helpers to come in at certain times to fulfill their duty. However, what most scares me are two things. For one, I have heard from several parents now about a really mean 5th grade teacher, knowing who she is and knowing she is tenured and parents have pulled out their children because of her meanness scares me - no matter the fact that we have to teach our children to deal with difficult matters in life, no 10 year old deserves to be so roughly treated. The fundamental issue I have, and am strongly considering this to be our last year here, is that there seems something fundamentally ill with the school culture. I understand that there is a great number of spoiled children at this school, for which the parents are to be blamed by the way, however, that does not justify the ill mannered way that I am noticing a significantly large number of staff members using toward students. They are unnecessarily strict, taking away childhood by not allowing any slight deviation from what is expected. We noticed this in first grade, we notice it with staff during recess. My 7 year old son complains that he is not allowed to do anything with being reprimanded...for unstructured games, for playing in the grass, for running, you name it. And it is first and foremost the tone. Interestingly the staff is extremely friendly to the parents - I am guessing because we contribute so much financially and spoil the teachers with $200 gift cards - but constantly snap at the children. I have not noticed such unreasonable strictness toward the children at other IUSD schools. Again, this bothers me to a degree that we are considering changing.
I have twins and they both go to Vista Verde. This is their 6th year @ Vista Verde and we did'nt have one single problem within the last 5-6 years. We love the teachers, staff and their approach. We have moved to another neighborhood in Irvine far away from Vista Verde but still and rather to drive 20-30 minutes each way and my kids stay @ Vista Verde
Do not be swayed by the lunatic parents who say they "visit their kids during break" or "come into class to watch how the teachers treat the kids" because those are the types of parents that will never be satisfied, no matter where their kids go to school. The truth is that Vista Verde has a long waiting list and it is for a reason. Every teacher is not perfect. Every employee is not perfect. BUT, if you find yourself complaining about any FREE school in Irvine, then you need to double-think what you are doing. Go try San Bernardino or Los Angeles and then come back and complain about the best free education system in the United States. 97% of the students at Vista Verde love the school and so do their parents. There will always be the nutburger fringe of parents who don't get what they want and then obsessively scour the internet to find ways to get revenge for how they have been "wronged". Vista Verde is in the upper 1% of all schools in the U.S. and people flock to this area for that reason. They prepare the students wonderfully for Uni and any other high-level high school in the area. The biggest problem at the school is BY FAR the few borderline-insane parents who think the rules don't apply to them and think that their child should get more attention than everyone else's. Again, not every teacher is wonderful. This is true at EVERY school in the country. 90% of the teachers are wonderful and I can promise your child will thrive here. My children have gone here for a cumulative 14 years and, yes, they have had a few issues with teachers, but that is life. There are tough events in all facets of life. If you are a helicopter parent who tries to guide your children away from any tiny bit of strife or anything challenging, then you are not preparing your child for the real world in any way. Learning to deal with when things are not perfect is one of the best lessons you can teach them. No school is perfect but you will find Vista Verde is close to it. If you are a "normal", non-insane parent, you will love Vista Verde and so will your children.
We drive across Irvine to have our kids attend Vista Verde. Our kids have varying degrees of special needs. The staff is really trying to help my kids succeed, which has not been the case at other schools private and public in multiple school districts. We have great relationships with the principal, school psychologist, teachers, nurse, health clerk, and speech teacher. The other staff is also very nice and supportive. With the high standards of education at this school I don't worry as much about extra academics, and focus on extra curricular activities to target other areas. The main suggestion for this school is to reprogram language arts to be accessible to the dyslexic population at the school. We are so pleased with Vista Verde.