Education in San Francisco

With a now 15-month old daughter, schooling in San Francisco has begun to be a topic of conversation for nearly everone I meet who also has kids in a similar age-range.

The default conventional wisdom is that now I need to start thinking about moving out to the suburbs where the schools are better.

The only alternative, apparently, to a decent education from youngster till they are off to college, is private school. But I’ve heard that the costs of private school are astronomical. This editorial from the SF Chronicle, for example, sites a range of $12-$20k per year, as of 2009:

At random I selected (from a Google search) a school that appears to have pre-school through middle-school:

According to them, the range is $22-24k per year.

I am all for making an investment in my children’s education. This is looking like it’s going to be at minimum a $50k per year investment for two children…for a pretty long time.

The question I have is whether this approach will give me the return that I want for the money, and that is where I want to seriously begin to explore options.

In this case, I am looking at home-schooling.

My sense (but subject to more research), is that home-schooling is no longer only the educational pathway for the strange and extreme. Instead, if the right community and content could be developed, this may be a new, viable option in areas with a meaningful concentration of well-educated professionals.

What are some of the driving trends that I believe will make this happen?

MOOC’s becoming more wide-spread with better content beyond college:

When Coursera announced that they were making courses available designed to education K-12 teachers, I thought that this content could potentially be useful for those wanting to develop home-schooling curriculum:


The challenge isn’t completely solved: part of the reason I (and I am guessing, others), are exploring homeschooling is not just because their options are bad or pricey, but because they fundamentally question the current means of education.

Those sames methods and curricula are probably in these same MOOC courses.

That being said, I think the availability of high-quality content that can be propagated and used digitally and virtually as a component of the home-schooling experience certainly is more possible because of this particular trend.

People are increasingly challenging conventional education

Whether the attack is on the college bubble (ala Peter Thiel’s Fellowship), the call for disruption of education as we know it by Clayton Christiansen, or even people who have found alternative forms of freedom away from the traditional 9-5 job and, as a result, want to bring that to their kids, I believe the momentum will start to grow.

Rising costs

I am particularly a fan of Christiansen’s writing, and so believe there should be a disruption. Extending his model, he sees decentralization and network effects as ways to disrupt traditionally centralized models. And it is this aspect that I think we’ll be able to address the rising costs element.

So those are the three major forces I think are driving this. I will lay it further my thoughts on what this new form of education that is both more affordable and also more practical for children’s success will be later.