Monday, December 30, 2013

Don't confuse investment on housing with education.

People confuse two things: investment on house and investment on education. These are two different things. 

It is true in general that for relatively expensive neighborhood, the school is relatively better  in USA. As the public schools money is from property taxes.

Bayarea is a special case due to California Proposition 13. The current housing price is exceptional high. The recently homeowners pay high housing price and high property tax, but the real tax 
collected city wise is not really high due to california proprosition 13. Comparing to the public schools on east coast, it doesn't have that much money at all. 

Like what I have explained in another blog, the motivated students accounts for the goodness of the public schools, not the teachers in bayarea.

People definitely can get better reward for the housing investment from the view of the money, but not for the education. 

Some kids are just good as long as the environment is not destructive. However, it doesn't mean they really develop their full potential. 

There is an inspiring book related to education:

Monday, December 23, 2013

Icebreaker: keep you warm in the winter

As it becomes colder, I was looking for nice legging made of wool. I tried a few stores like Nordstrom, macys, but none carries wool legging. Then I did a search on amazon and found this product: icebreaker everyday legging that is made of marino wool 100%. I ordered it immediately after reading those reviews. When I got them and tried on, I don't want to get off it. It is so comfortable and light. After having it, I start to wear more skirts and dresses in winter as this legging keeps me warm all the time. Really love it. It depends the weather. If it is really cold, using the 250 one. If it is cool, using the 150 one. If it is in between, 200 is a good choice.

I did a little search online. It is a good brand that carries marino wool products mostly. It offers kids clothing too. I ever tried to buy marino wool clothes for our son as he doesn't seem to like multiple layers. It has a great kid section too.

I found a local store on santana row and had a visit.  It doesn't carry everyday which is the cheapest line. I asked the sales if it has annual sale or something like that. He said only on black Friday or off the season it has some sales. Later I found out that REI carries some icebreaker stuff too.  When it is on sale or there is a promotion from REI, it is a good time to stock some for the next year for the kid.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Review bayarea housing and public schools

As a first time buyer, it is worthwhile to read some books considering how much time one needs to work to pay off the house:。

Doesn't matter which agent you talked to, the top school districts on the list are:
Mission San Jose in Fremont, Monta Visa in Cupertino, Gunn Hign and Palo Alto high in Palo Alto.

But mine is a little different:
Palo Alto high, Los Altos, Homestead high, Laurelwood district, then Irvington district.

If money is not the problem, Palo Alto high district is nice and not too far to most of companies.

For the same price in Los Altos, one may have a bigger house, similar commute as in Palo Alto. People may argue that the Los Altos school is not as good as schools in Palo Alto. It is true today, but it is changing. After google co-founder Sergey moved to this area, it spends more money in the community to foster the education systems. You can see the news to find more details: and It has very good potential.

Homestead high in 94087 area is very convenient for commute, easy access to freeway and caltrain. The school is becoming better and better.  It is very close to target, and wholefood. There are a few parks in the area.

Same for Laurelwood district, it is just so convenient both for working people and old people. It has a lot of preschools and after schools in the area. Both the elementary school and middle school are in walking distance. One can easily walk to chinese grocery store, korean store, indian store, safeway. Millinkin is around the area too. Once Millinkin becomes a neighborhood school, Peterson middle school will jump to better, same to the high school.

If one wants to save money and sacrifice for a little commute, Irvington is a better choice. The house price is much cheaper and the school district becomes better. It has bart station too.

How to select school for kids

Education is important for everyone. As parents, we all want to give the children the best education we can provide. In United States, it has a strange education system that the rich neighborhood has better schools. The schools' budges come from the local towns' property taxes. The towns with more expensive houses have more money, have more teachers, and better facilities. But don't be fooled by that. Some schools are better not because their teachers are better or teaching methods are better. They just have more motivated students.

There are two factors that have important impacts on kids:

1. The ratio of teacher to student and the teaching method. The nicer neighborhood have more money, so public schools there have the luxury to give higher salary or hire more teachers. It may have higher ratio of teacher to student too. Private schools in general have even more money comparing to public schools, so it has even better teacher to student ratio. Most public schools have a fixed curriculum and don't have much flexibility to fit individual needs. Private schools are designed for special purposes. Some emphasizes on arts, some pay more attention to science, some do more field trips, etc. One can put the kid in a special school to fit the kid's personality and interest. Teaching methods in private schools varies too. Some are really structured classroom teaching, some may use democratic teaching method.

2. The peers in school. If most of the kids do homework on time, love reading, study hard, it affects the envirnment of the school. This explains why the high correlation the of percentage of asians in school and the outcome scores. Even without putting a teacher there, they are just good kids. Kids like to do what their friends do, and are motivated by their friends too just like adults.

While selecting schools for my kid, I want him to have more fun and enjoy life as much as he can. Either he can get into ivory or not is not that important. As I remember clearly, how bored I was when I was in the classroom. My precious time was wasted for not much good.  Harker looks attractive to us, as it offers 60 clubs instead of a few that most public schools have. The kids must find something interesting I hope :P. Also I talked to a few students who had studied there. They said they really enjoyed as they had a lot of activities to do. Remember the kids have a lot of energy and they need to burn them to get a sound sleep at night. Otherwise, they may be funky. One nice comment I got from a parent that if the kid forgets to turn in the homework, the teacher will notify the parent the next day. In public school, it is quite different. One of my colleagues' kid went to Monta Visa. She got to know that her kid got ZERO point on all his homework on Chemistry at the end of the semester. It is too late to make up anything. The kid failed on that class and he was sophomore already. Due to that, he could not get into 4 year college at all. Also he could not major in Chemistry, Biology, and anything prepared for medical school. It was so sad.

New Year Resolution: Being healthy and joining a fitness club!!!

At the end of year, it is time to set up the next year's plans or goals. Most people put the health at low priority. It is just so wrong! Remember, it is you that is the most important in your life. After some researching and trying, I just decided to join the Decathlon club to get into fit and be more healthier.

Being healthier is priceless!

I always feel relaxed and regain energy after visiting Decathlon Club. Decathlon club is the first club I used in bay area. I joined it back in 2007. Those time, I went there mostly for zumba classes. It has a terrific zumba class teacher that no one can be on her right in all zumba classes I have been too. I always love the indoor Jacuzzi, sauna room, and stream room too.

I had been to other fitness center in between, like 24 fitness and YMCA. They are really not in the same category as Decathlon at all. Recently I started swimming and were looking for a nice swimming pool. So I revisited Decathlon again. It built a new lap swimming pool and a kids' swimming pool. I just fell in love with it right away. At the current weather, one still feels nice in the water as it sets at 82 degrees. It feels terrific inside the water! Not cold at all, just freshness! After long time being in the water, one also can bath in the outdoor Jacuzzi. It is really like being at a resort, blue clear sky, nice cool water.