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Tuesday, February 9, 2010

SFUSD to Change School Placement - Some Happy, Some Grumpy

As the atmosphere of our city changes, so does our schools. The San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) is proposing to modify the school choice program so families have a better opportunity to attend the schools they want.

From the Chronicle, it says the family only needs to provide some basic information: The student's name, address, and school preferences.

Sure, sounds simple enough. It's likely that one of the schools on the list the family provided will let them in. For many, it's an opportunity to send their student to a neighborhood school, instead of being hauled on the school bus or riding Muni all the way across town.

Some of the traditions are still being followed, like if you have a sibling in that same school, the odds the student can get admitted is much better. An interesting one offered is if you attend preschool in an area where a school is nearby, you get priority on that particular school.

But it does have its own weaknesses... it would place more competition for admissions to the best schools in the city, and the worst schools will turn out to be much more worse because of low demand, but also the grumpy students and parents who are forced to attend that school because that's the only options left.


The article still does not address the other issues with the system. I'm assuming "alternative" schools (e.g. Wallenberg, Clarendon, Lowell) are not really considered that keyword anymore because everyone can now choose any school in the district.

Also interesting to note, what's going to be the policy for the magnet high schools like School of the Arts (SOTA) and Lowell? Their admissions policies are very different versus the standard one or the upcoming revised one from the school district.

I remember when I was in middle school in the SFUSD, the district told the 8th graders what our options were. We could go to the neighborhood school (which they promoted heavily), pick an alternative school if you wanted to roll the dice, or pick Lowell.

Lowell's admission policy before 2002 was totally weird. They told students that if you were of a certain ethnicity, you had to have a certain level of test scores and GPA to get admitted. They went on to say that other ethnic groups had lower test scores and GPA, but you still had to be a smart kid to get in there. The school district claims that in order to maintain diversity from the consent decree, this GPA/test policy based on ethnicity had to be enforced. That's why a lot of Chinese Americans were very pissed-off at the school district.

What's your thoughts? Do you think this new restructuring of the system will solve the problems or make it worse?

1 comment:

murphstahoe said...


Turns out a lot of people would rather go to a "worse" school that is next door than a "great" school 2 miles away. This could become a much more important factor if they cut the MUNI line from your home to the "great school". Given that, the distribution may not be so bad.

If SF went to true neighborhood schools - where you just go to the school closest to where you live - there is a much more ugly problem that occurs. The competition then becomes one for a house in the area for the school you want. The money all flows into those neighborhoods, and none flows into neighborhoods with "bad" schools. This is what happens in the suburbs where you *can* choose your school based on where you live because you won't get shipped across district lines.

One positive effect of this, if the kids of Noe Valley can actually have a very good chance of getting Alvarado or Rooftop, the neighborhood won't be a revolving door of 1-4 year old kids, whose families move to the burbs when they turn 5. The city (definitely Noe Valley anyway) needs some teenagers.