Just Fantastic. Great teachers, great environment, couldn't be happier. The classes are difficult, but extremely rewarding. The school creates a fantastic environment to speak openly about world issues and prejudice. I would highly recommend joining clubs.
My three daughters attended Urban over the last 7 years. They received a superior education from passionate teachers who challenged them at every step. In fact, they have been far ahead of their classmates at well-regarded liberal arts colleges, in their areas of interest: math, science and languages. We chose Urban because we felt that teachers were accessible and concerned with each student individually, and we were never disappointed. The school's art, music, math, science, writing, foreign language and college counselling are all exceptional. When one of my kids became seriously ill, the school was extraordinarily helpful in helping her thrive, despite severe limitations for 18 months. While she might not have been able to continue attending some schools, Urban helped her continue her studies and remain part of the community. To address one previous criticism, Urban's policies on drugs and alcohol are relatively strict. One of my kids' classmates had a substance problem that the school addressed very proactively, providing counselling and setting limits that turned the student's life around. I don't believe this would have happened in many other SF schools.
My family has had a very poor experience at Urban. It has been disappointing except for the performing arts. The parent body is wonderful and try their best to support the students and the school. The teachers are rigid, teaching to a format without considering the needs of the kids and loading them up with endless hours of busy work that teaches them nothing about the world. There is no effort from the teachers to get to know the kids unless your kid happens to have the ability to pander to the teachers' personality and needs. This is not a school for boys. There is no effort from the school to understand the nature of the boy brain and how to teach teenage boys. They focus entirely on verbal communication, essay after essay on every subject, with mind numbing regularity. There is no flexibility. If your child's personality fits, the teachers will help you. If they have any differences, with learning skills, learning style, cultural differences or in differences in personality, the teachers do not have the resources or the inclination to help. This is a great school for girls but boys should look elsewhere.
Don't let their progressive philosophy fool you, this is a rigorous academic school, but how it differs from others is that the students leave passionate about learning and are self-directed on a path.
Outstanding school. Our child is a strong student academically, and is consistently challenged in all of her classes. The diversity of the student body is one of the key elements in the success of the school. There are many varied talents and passions among the students, adding an important element to the education our child is receiving. This is a 'real world' environment, and excellent preparation for college. Students must be motivated to succeed and take charge of their own successes; that being said, support is readily available for anyone who needs it. No one falls through the cracks at Urban.
Because Urban is located in the Haight, it may not come as a surprise that many kids et into drugs, even as early as freshmen year. I know they say this happens at all high schools, but Urban seems to have a bigger problem with it than most. I would not send my child to this school.
An excellent school, particularly for students with an artistic passion of some kind, such as writing, music, dance or photography. The extracurriculars are treated more like regular classes, ie, the theatrical productions are all classes, not after school activities. Sports players can expect excellent boys baseball, basketball and soccer teams, as well as exceptional girls basketball, volleyball and softball. Parents seem to be quite involved. This school is very, very, liberal, left wing leaning. Extremely politically correct. Would not recommend it if you or your child have even one bone of conservativism. Our child id quite happy in this unique, albeit, competitive, intellectual environment.
I attended this school from '96 to 2000. I can't speak highly enough of it. The commitment of the teachers, the emphasis on community service, and the overall quality of the curriculum make this school a very special place.
Our daughter graduated from Urban June of 2003. She still proudly wears her Urban Sweatshirt. The teaching staff and the administrative staff are all wonderful and caring people. The kids are challenged, but with warmth. It was a great experience for us all. I agree about the math and history departments. They are exceptional. I would recommend The Urban School without qualification.