South Bay & Peninsula School Districts

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Questions & Advice  

Schools, progressive education on the Peninsula

Feb 2014

My husband and I have had our hearts set on moving back to the Berkeley area for a few years now, so last year and this year we returned to Berkeley a few times to do a bunch of school tours in the East Bay since our son is starting Kindergarten in the Fall. We really liked some of the charter schools in Oakland and Alameda, fell head over heels in love with Walden and Berkwood Hedge in Berkeley (and applied there), and were pleased to feel happy with the Berkeley and Alameda public school options. Suddenly, though, my husband has been offered an amazing job at Google. We are in a whirlwind about this as it's happened so fast. Of course we considered commuting from the East Bay to Google, but everything we have read on the BPN or heard from friends has discouraged us from making this commute. I am in the dissertation stage of my PhD and am flexible to move anywhere, so we are seriously thinking about moving closer to Google. But now we are totally confused about schools! We did months of research and visits for our return to the East Bay, and don't even know how to begin to think about the huge number of options we would have on the Peninsula. Do you have any advice about how to start?

Let's say we zeroed in on Mountain View, Palo Alto, Los Altos, and Saratoga. It seems enormously expensive to live there, so I think we'd have to consider public schools. Are there good progressive charter schools on the Peninsula? If we moved further north up the Peninsula would we have better opportunities for progressive education? What about the public schools - is there a commitment to smaller class sizes? We would be grateful for any advice you can give us about this! Excited about the possibilities

I currently live in Redwood City. My son is under 2 and we are renting so I haven't spent a significant amount of time looking into schools. However, the public schools in Palo Alto and Los Altos are excellent - one of the reasons those areas are expensive. There is also a wide variety of private schools, although some are quite expensive. I often see posts about the local schools on The Parents' Club of Palo Alto and Menlo Park ( I would suggest that you look there to get more local opinions. Happy on the Peninsula

Congratulations on your husband's new job! I'm not at all familiar with schools on the peninsula so I can't help you out there, but I just wanted to add that Google do run buses from the East Bay, including Berkeley, to Mountain View. The commute does take about 1 1/2 hours each way so it is long, however your husband may be able to work from the bus (they have wi-fi) and the commute time could count towards his work day. My husband does this and as his commute time is factored into his work time he actually gets home from work much earlier than he did when he worked in the Financial District in San Francisco. If you have your heart set on living in Berkeley this could be a solution for you. It works for us Sally

We lived on the Peninsula in Palo Alto. Our child is very bright testing high above average to gifted. Yet at school our child was considered a problem because asking questions and thinking outside the box make more work for the teachers. We researched the Peninsula and could not find a progressive school. We eventually realized that only the East Bay or San Francisco offered the type of schools that would work for us. My husband and I compute to the Peninsula and our child is very happy at school. Since your husband works at Google couldn't he get to SF and take one of their buses to work? In the end it's up to you but in our experience only the East Bay provided the schools that worked for us. Happy Child in the East Bay

Hi there, my family did the opposite move from the South Bay/Peninsula up to the East Bay just after we had our now ten-year-old daughter. When we lived down there we found that the Cupertino school district offered a progressive program at Christa McAuliffe Elementary School--I wonder if it is still there? The atmosphere at Christa McAuliffe was very sweet with no grades, child-centered learning, etc., quite similar to Walden (where our child currently goes). The district offered several special program schools (e.g., Mandarin-immersion, all-year programs, etc.) in addition to good all-purpose elementaries. McAuliffe was then the most progressive of all the schools down there, and it is free! But I think you may need to live in Cupertino. There are nice pockets that aren't all monster homes--the west side of town, which abuts Los Altos, would be an easy commute to Mountain View on 85 or even surface streets. Good luck! Transplant

Relocating to San Jose

Dec 2013

My family needs to relocate to the San Jose area. We currently live in and LOVE Alameda. Does anyone know of good schools (Kindergarten) and childcare (2yr) in the San Jose area? Once we figure that out, we will find a place to live. Thank you!! JCH

We live in the Santa Teresa neighborhood. We moved from Rockridge. It's a huge difference! Pros: no homeless walking by contributing to crime. Cons: little to walk to though we do have library and RiteAid and a few small restaurants and are close to hiking. Our school district, Oak Grove, initially kept class sizes small when most other schools upped the class numbers as they had funds from selling some property. I don't know the current class sizes. As for childcare, we used the corporate-run Bright Horizons and were mostly happy. content in SJ

Contemplating a Move to Palo Alto

June 2013


We are contemplating a move to Palo Alto, but our oldest son, who will be starting kindergarden in the Fall of 2013 might need a more non-standard learning environment than the average kid. Here in Berkeley, the kind of place at which we think he would thrive is the Berkeley school, or Black Pine Circle, for example. Does anyone know whether there are schools on the Peninsula that have a similar style or philosophy? To describe our kid briefly, he is very creative, very bright, curious - but not the most focused, and has a fine motor delay which might present an issue when first starting school. Any advice would be very much appreciated. nervous about move

You may not find any school for your child in Palo Alto or the Peninsula.

We researched and searched for several years to find a school that fit our child's needs and learning style. We did find them in the East Bay but not in Palo Alto where we lived or on the Peninsula.

Really you have to understand that because of the wealth in so many cities, including Palo Alto, on the Peninsula, those rich cities have great school districts and there really isn't a need for alternatives.

Affluent parents just pay for tutors so their kids 'fit' in at school. Or they send their kids to private schools in San Francisco, boarding schools back East, or they move away like we did.

That said the only school that I know of that might fit the bill for you is The Neuva School which is for gifted kids and is very innovative. I don't have any personal experience with it, but heard great things about it.

You should also look into the Parents Club of Palo Alto and Menlo Park and tap into their resources for more up to date info.

Good Luck. Former Peninsula Mom

Reviews of San Lorenzo schools?

Jan 2009

If you are considering moving into an area in or near San Leandro, you might consider the San Lorenzo school district as Arroyo High School has an excellent Health and Medicine Academy for 9-12th graders. My daughter has been in it since the inception, and loves it. They have several other academies, but this one is a pilot program and has won many awards plus caught the attention of educators in Sacto and other states. She is a junior and will have an opportunity to job shadow in a medical environment, plus they have a board of licensed health and medicine practitioners who contribute and oversee curriculum. The parent group is strong and supportive, and the kids have hands-on opps rarely seen in h.s. settings. Good luck! candy