Rosa Parks compared to other NW Zone schools?

We’re currently considering Berkeley's northwest zone schools, especially Rosa Parks. When we recently toured RP, we loved the village feel and indoor/outdoor environment with all the classrooms in their own buildings, and the kindergarten yard tucked away. I've talked with a few parents that love the school and current principal, which is great, but I'm also curious to hear other perspectives. Most of the discussions on BPN are very outdated (pre-2010) or specific to distance learning in 2020. From searching online, it's clear that RP has historically been the underdog and less desirable school but I'd love to learn more about its recent history — and improvements to turn it around.

I don't ask this in a gossip-y or negative way; as a parent who's new to the BUSD, I'm genuinely curious to learn more about RP since it's a front-runner for us. 

Thanks for any insights from current or previous parents or people who are just in-the-know about the district. 

Parent Replies

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We have two kiddos at RP in Kinder and 1st and we love the school! We were happy last year even with a principal whose communication style left something to be desired, and are really liking the new principal this year. It's my understanding that the school went through a big transformation under a principal who left to go to Longfellow a couple of years ago, and I don't think it's currently viewed as any kind of underdog. We found (anecdotally) that many, many of the folks who attend put it as their first choice over the other schools in the zone - it was our second as we are closer to Ruth Acty, but we decided to stay and didn't even consider transferring this year. Both kids are very happy with their teachers, as are we.

The PTA does a lot for the school - we just had a free to all carnival that the kids and community really loved. The school is offering after-school enrichment programming starting in January which we are excited about. What other questions do you have about the school? Happy to answer more questions.

We were a Jefferson/Ruth Acty family, but I will say, I don’t think Rosa Parks suffers from being an underdog. We’ve been in the district many years and know many families who were at RP and loved it. The new principal is a former Ruth Acty teacher, and she is quite capable and all around lovely. RP was our front runner too even back in 2008, but we landed at Jefferson, which we ended up loving. The Northwest zone is blessed with very very good schools. You can’t really go wrong with any of them. 

Rosa Parks is not the underdog. It might have been 15 years ago, but it certainly hasn’t been in a long time. The years we sent our kids, it was the most highly desired elementary school in the zone among folks that we knew - a lot of people we know didn’t get in.

We have friends at all of the northwest zone schools and they’re all fine. There are good and bad teachers at all of them and they all exist within the same district constraints. The primary differences between them are location and start times. And facilities, but I have not met a kid who cares about the facilities - that’s more of an issue for the teachers, staff and parents.

We have had 2 kids at Rosa Parks. One went K-5 and loved it - it was a fabulous fit. The other did not do well at all and left that school. I don’t blame the school for the issues with the child that we had to remove - that child has some learning differences and the whole district is equally painful to deal with for this. Good teachers did compensate, but there is no guarantee of a good teacher, and distance learning made the situation with that child untenable.

Rank the schools based on what you like - you can’t really go wrong. But don’t get your hopes up. Many families that we know did not end up at their first (or even second) choice school and it mostly worked out fine. Unless there was an issue with the kid. But I don’t think a different school would’ve helped in those situations.

My daughter attended Thousand Oaks, in the N school zone, and we were pretty happy with it. I never viewed RP as an underdog- it has a reputation as a great school on my block (the way it worked, half my block went to TO, the others were bused to RP).

I appreciate everyone's responses that paint a more current picture of RP! It's in line with what I've gathered from the tour, info fair, and a few conversations.

Thanks again!