We have three children in the Mandarin Immersion program at Starr King and we love it. The Starr King community is awesome! There are challenges, just as there are in any public school in SF, like how to best serve a wide and diverse student body, how to retain teachers in a city with such a high cost of living... But the parents, teachers, and administration actively work together to try to tackle and overcome these challenges. My kids love their school, their teachers, their friends, their community! And as an extra bonus they are learning Mandarin too!
This school has decided to use the Shang Shang text book instead of Zhongwen as the official text book, which is a huge disappointment in the school and program, though the school in recent years have put together their own practice book, which is too little too late. Wiki "chinese language" and you'll see that one requires about 3000 unique characters to read the chinese newspaper while this school teaches at about 811 in 6 years. Additionally, math and science is taught in Mandarin, which was something I strongly oppose along with many parents.
This school feeds into Aptos MI middle school which teaches history in mandarin for 3 years along with chinese language arts. This will be very boring. Why can't mandarin be taught using elective hours instead of teaching mandarin in the hours devoted to history? Both MI at Starr King and Aptos have vacant seats. As for Star King MI, I feel bad for new immigrants who know not a word of english, yet their kids are sent into this program where little time is spent on english while the program can't possibly teach them enough chinese. Since the chinese component sucks anyway, the program should allocate 50% of the time in english in all subjects.
6th graders at Aptos MI uses the 6th book of Mei Zhou.
Research and know what you're getting your kids into before applying for MI, and don't believe what you read online about MI as much of it are false promises with much sacrifice and little to be gained, at least here. If you're really interested in mandarin immersion, check out nanhaibooks.com and visit the store with parents who are native chinese and see what they say regarding the books and standards.
Finally, I'd like to see Starr King be a dedicated MI school without GE, this way, the api score does not mask a bad GE program while at the same time, SKMI can more accurately be compared academically to other immersion schools. Otherwise, it is a crime! However, this is not possible because the MI program is not impacted. Originally, MI was brought to the school to save the GE program / school.
I would not hesitate to ask why are there many empty seats at both skmi and aptos mi. Also ask about the turn over rate of both teachers and students, and why. I wonder, isn't it in the best interest of the students to combine the mi's at jose ortega and starr king into one mi?
Unless your Kid is in the Mandarin Immersion program, this school is a joke. I had both my kids here while Mr. Rosenberg, and Mr. John were the principals.. things were great, then. Since, it got pretty sad ... If your child is GENERAL ED they get the short end of the stick. They seem to gear all the programs and activities to the children in the mandarin immersion program. my child was coming home with no homework, spoke to the principal more than 2x and nothing was done. her efforts are with MI kids, who happen to be white and Chinese. And the proof is in all these reviews of parents raving of how great the MI program is for their kids, and how happy they are. how they hire these great teachers for the MI kids.... My son has had subs come in and out for the past 2 years.....
The school has a dedicated program that teaches such principles and reinforces them constantly. I've heard of several instances where a teacher has stopped class to seize a learning moment to impart these and other behavorial and ethical principles.
The upgraded facility is among one of the best in the city. This school year we see many young and energetic new teachers are hired. It has been a historical problem in San Francisco's Chinese immersion program: people who are highly proficient in Chinese are not qualified to teach in the States because of their limited English proficiency; people who can obtain a California teaching credential are hardly ever a Chinese language expert. However, this year, Starr King has made a big step forward by successfully hiring some credentialed teachers who are also native speakers of Chinese, especially a 3rd grade teacher who majored in Chinese and received her Chinese teaching training in China! This teacher brings in so much innovative approach that we've never seen in Mandarin teaching in America, and this teacher's English teaching skill is surprisingly good and amazing! I really want to thank principal Cheong for hiring such an excellent bilingual biliterate teacher. Now I am confident that our child will be getting solid Mandarin immersion education at Starr King!
Our child is in the Mandarin Immersion program and loves it there. She loves the teachers and has made good friends as well. She has been steadily learning more and more Chinese and it has just about surpassed my own knowledge! There is a very active PTA. The location isn't a draw, but we have never experienced any problems. Child #2 is starting kindergarten next year, so that's the biggest sign of our happiness with Starr King.
We have been a Starr King family for two years. My son is a 1st grader in the MI program. So far, it's been a great experience for our family. He's had great teachers and is really engaged, and our whole family is part of a warm, connected, supportive parent community. I'm also a big fan of principal Wendy Cheong, who joined the school at the same time we did. She is a strong leader who emphasizes teacher training and retention.
We have two daughters enrolled in Starr King and we are pleased with the level of education they are receiving. We also like the community and the new Principal. We are in the Mandarin Immersion program.
Our kindergarten class just listed several more field trips this year--in addition to a great program at Davies Symphony Hall, the classes just went to Chinatown, and will also add Crissy Field, the Academy of Science and Citibank to their trip list in the second half of the school yr. A volunteer task force is putting together a plan to improve classroom technology for the classes... So still a thumbs up for SK If you are debating between Cantonese and Mandarin Immersion, you'll want to know that Mandarin is far more dominant.