Blogging Bayport Alameda

January 23, 2023

“Like going to private school”

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:03 am

Getting ahead of tomorrow’s School Board meeting to discuss the newest deck with more information regarding the possible winding down of Bay Farm Middle School. There is a marathon thread about the topic on Alameda Peeps so you can kind of get the feel for what the arguments will be to keep BFMS open in spite of the trends which show the attrition of cohort groups away from BFMS as they get closer to high school age. Those arguments usually center around how BFMS is “outperforming” other middle schools in Alameda. Now we can probably guess why kids who go to BFMS are outperforming and it has a lot to do with the accessibility of BFMS and who can actually get their students there. But I’m willing to entertain the discussion around the argument that not all students are built the same and we need a variety of options for those kids and one of those options should be a smaller middle school like BFMS. I think there may be two classes per grade and, at the enrollment rates for the past few years, they’ve had the benefit of smaller class sizes 2020-21: 25/class, 2021-22: 26/class, 2022-23: 24/class.

There are two main questions that we should be discussing in this conversation, but here are some basics about middle schools in Alameda for those without kids at AUSD. There are four public middle schools in Alameda: Lincoln, Wood, Jr Jets, and BF. That’s in order of size by the way. Here are the boundaries (I think this was adopted, but it’s going to be close to this):

BFMS is the smallest and attached to an elementary school. Jr Jets is the next smallest and is attached to a high school. In the West End there are three other charter school options for middle school.

With that information here are the questions that need addressing:

  1. Is it important for AUSD to have a small middle school to serve students who would not thrive in a large school environment?
  2. If yes, then is it properly sited at Bay Farm?

For ease of argument I’m going to say that we determine that the answer to question 1 is yes. But I would argue that Bay Farm is not the appropriate place for this type of school. First of all, we know that currently the cohort of children currently struggling demographically have been located on the West End. Without access to a private vehicle it would take a West End child 45 minutes (on a good day) to get to BFMS on time:

AC Transit is not going to run a special bus for, at most, a handful of kids and running school buses is prohibitively expensive.

Which is why I would argue that the best place to site a smaller middle school would be Ruby Bridges. RB was, originally, supposed to be a K-8 school until the district faced declining enrollment and decided to close three West End elementary schools and consolidate them all at RB. RB is also home to a lot students who are struggling and it probably has the most neighborhood diversions to alternative schools than any other school in the district. Because of the Title 1 status, there is an additional administrator at RB and access to more LCFF funding. If the BFMS model is so superior then it should be moved to an area which would serve a population who keep getting left behind somehow.

If it’s the program that is successful it should be fine replicated anywhere. If it’s the site that makes it successful then perhaps there should be an examination about whether the program is successful or if the population of students are already predisposed to doing well on our standards of measuring what and how kids are learning.

Anyway, here are the BFMS slides, staff is recommending the the program be wound down by not enrolling a 6th grade class for 2023-24.

Oh and before someone waves around a report about how many Asian kids are at the BFMS I want to remind folks that Asians are not a monolith and Bay Farm Asian kids are VERY different from West End Asian kids.


  1. On New Year’s everything is propitious. That’s why the shooting in Monterey Park Asian community is especially tragic. The timing of AUSD wanting to close this school is also poor.

    In summary: High performing predominantly Asian -American school to be closed because students performing poorly at similar schools in different part of town.

    Happy New Years from AUSD!

    Comment by Good Swimmer — January 23, 2023 @ 8:29 am

    • Please review this and figure out what your logical fallacy is, certainly your time would be better spent here than crafting crazy ass shit in your head.

      Comment by Lauren Do — January 23, 2023 @ 8:39 am

      • @Lauren, is there an option to configure your blog to require sign in to comment? And then maybe that allows me/others to mute/block users?

        Comment by bjsvec — January 23, 2023 @ 9:32 am

        • There is such an option in North Korea, the PRC and Cuba if you’re looking to relocate.

          Comment by Spin Diesel — January 23, 2023 @ 11:52 am

        • Yeah, Spin Dipshit, because filtering out people who you don’t want to hear from is somehow communist? Also, I’m kind of disappointed in you for not including Venezuela in your irrelevant list of boogeyman countries that have nothing to do with how people choose to handle blog comments.

          Comment by Rod — January 23, 2023 @ 1:40 pm

        • Spin Diesel – or on your friend’s Bob Sullwold’s blog. You won’t believe the amount of censoring he does there.

          Comment by Really — January 23, 2023 @ 4:39 pm

    • The stereotypical “Asian” parent is likely to prefer Lincoln because it has a more robust set of elective classes, particularly in the areas of STEM and leadership. Some prefer the Chinese Christian Schools on Bay Farm over either of the other two. Also, while Bay Farm is 44% Asian, the city is 31%, still far above the US 6% . Finally, your use of “Monterey Park Asian community” represents an ignorant, stereotypical view of Asia. The US census percentages of our city and Bay Farm to which you incorrectly refer, includes all of Asia, such as India and many other countries that don’t fit your oversimplified version.

      Comment by Monterey Park Asian community? — January 23, 2023 @ 12:24 pm

    • This is ghoulish, even for you, Carol.

      Comment by Rod — January 23, 2023 @ 1:34 pm

  2. Thanks @laurendo for shifting this conversation away from the preposterous idea that keeping Bay Farm open is a good idea to really considering a small school model that would make sense for the larger AUSD population.
    I hope you’ve crafted this into an email and sent it to the AUSD school board ahead of the January 24 meeting where it’s guaranteed that they will have to listen to a shit storm of outrage about a sound, but difficult decision. I’m guessing the board doesn’t have the backbone to actually approve the Superintendent’s proposal because the BF voting block is strong and is it really about the kids – ALL the kids – or is it about re-election.
    A K-8 model is a fantastic idea and anyone who is looking for that model after BF closes should consider Nea – which is closing it’s HS due to under enrollment but has an amazing K-8 program. Or would it be too far for BF families to travel to go to Nea. or would it just be ‘the wrong side of town’ or too far to travel?…

    Comment by activelyAntiracist — January 23, 2023 @ 9:47 am

    • Shifting to NEA is potentially good for kids but lousy for the district, which loses revenue with every kid who leave a district school and moves to a charter. Charter schools cannot be the answer for AUSD. That’s a fiscal death spiral.

      Comment by Anon — January 23, 2023 @ 4:28 pm

      • This is true if preserving AUSD in its current form is the end game. If providing excellent options to kids is the end game, charters (or even more student-centered funding options) may be good.

        Comment by RJS — January 23, 2023 @ 8:13 pm

  3. I’ll accept that a small school might be better for some children. However, as a Bay Farm parent, I wonder how many of the middle school students attending Bay Farm are there because the child wants or needs a small school.

    My guess is very few. Most probably attend because (1) Lincoln would be fine except the closest is simply the default, (2) the parents feel getting to/from is slightly safer/quicker/convenient for their child than the longer bike ride over the bridge, (3) in bad weather, driving their kids to Lincoln will be much less convenient (4) the PARENTS like the smaller community of fellow neighborhood parents while the child might actually not care or even prefer a larger school.

    Given the number of middle school kids I have seen riding over the bridge from Lincoln to Bay Farm, apparently a lot of parents see it as better in spite of the above list.

    Comment by Real reasons for Bay Farm Middle? — January 23, 2023 @ 11:29 am

    • I think that for most kids at BFMS, Lincoln is the preferred option. Lincoln is the default. Those kids who stay at BFMS tend to need a smaller environment, have social/emotional issues that mean that they are going to do better in a smaller school, or have other reasons to want to stay local. I think parent convenience has very little to do with it. Kids give up a lot to go to BFMS and my sense is that most of them who do specifically want the smaller environment that BFMS offers.

      In addition, you can’t underestimate the impact of school culture here. Lincoln has excellent test scores and electives but it also has dealt with racism, bullying, vaping, sexual harassment, and a long list of typical middle school challenges. I don’t think parents are being elitist jerks when they worry about putting their kids into a large middle school environment. But it also doesn’t make sense to keep funding a school that has the attrition that BFMS does.

      Comment by Anon — January 23, 2023 @ 7:16 pm

      • Lincoln has very, very (very) real problems. I have no developed view on what that should or should not mean for the ongoing existence of BF middle school.

        Comment by RjS — January 23, 2023 @ 7:36 pm

      • Okay, thanks for the insights. You seem more knowledgable than me and managed to swing my view a lot, though not fully 100%.

        Comment by Real reasons for Bay Farm Middle? — January 24, 2023 @ 3:29 pm

  4. They seem to want more people walking or biking and they want to build 500 – 1000 more housing units on Bay farm. If that is what they want they should keep the school open. If Bayfarm doesn’t want any more housing and it not viable to keep it open close it. Build additional Schools or enlarge the ones we have where the new housing is going to be. If they close the neighborhood schools they need to quit reformating the streets and make them more car friendly so people can drive their kids to school. The changes need to be made considering the big picture or the whole picture. That is just my opinion, but I don’t have kids, I just pay for those who do, so I am sort of neutral.

    Comment by Gage — January 23, 2023 @ 6:55 pm

    • Will the new housing be attractive to families? More housing units doesn’t necessarily mean more kids. We’ve traditionally been a family-friendly city but not at all sure that’s the future.

      Comment by RJS — January 23, 2023 @ 7:57 pm

      • If that is the case we should just continue to close schools, but one of the only things that make Bay Farm attractive is the schools, if you take those away your just moving to the noisiest section of Alameda, which has the nice parks but will always be hammered by the Airport noise. I think if you build more units on Bayfarm it will be families that buy there. Again, just my opinion.

        Comment by Gage — January 24, 2023 @ 3:28 pm

  5. Can you comment on how much of the overall AUSD ongoing budget this closure would save? And how much it is per student? From all the data I’ve seen, BF is very low costs per student than Ruby Bridges.

    This is a drop in the bucket. AUSD is going to target other schools next because someone or someones on the board is subscribing to the big school=low costs and the performance will not suffer approach.

    I also find it odd that many of the pro housing ppl here tell us that public transit will be built if there is demand so go ahead and build the housing. Now when we talk about kids going to a school, which requires 1 ac transit line to run at a specific time like we already have, it’s the opposite.

    Comment by Flawed — January 25, 2023 @ 3:25 pm

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