SFUSD schools have been becoming more racially segregated, an outcome that concerns both the District and parents.
The District has been exploring different assignment systems that might make schools more racially and socioeconomically diverse.
A report looking at some options was presented at the Ad Hoc Student Assignment System Committee meeting November 29, 2016.
You can find an audio recording of the meeting here.
A presentation made to the committee is available here, and is highly worth looking at.
The elephant in the room here is that if the 27% of students in San Francisco who attend private schools were in the public school system, all of the presumptions would change. The District as a whole would be much less racially segregated, as 22% of school-aged children in the city are white but they make up only 12% of public school students.
The question is then how one can entice those families into the public schools.
According to the District’s 4th Annual Report: 2014-15 School Year, 18% of students who are assigned an SFUSD school leave the District before taking the seat offered to them. Bringing these students in the District would be a net positive, both to increase funding (each student brings somewhere between $8,000 and $10,000 to the school) and to increase diversity.
The presentation addresses the negative impact of tracking on school diversity. However at least anecdotally, de-tracking is one reason many families have left the public schools because they feel that without GATE, honors or other advanced classes, their children are not being challenged academically.
Note, they specifically don’t want racially or socioeconomically segregated classrooms or schools, but they do want academic challenge.
So how can we achieve that within a de-tracked system? SFUSD says it is accomplished through in-class differentiation. However many families report that differentiation is spotty at best and often doesn’t exist at all in their children’s classrooms.
In San Francisco, where the public/private divide is one of the largest in the country, dealing head-on with why families don’t chose to educate their children within the district and then addressing their concerns could at least help the issues of re-segregation by increasing the diversity of the district overall.
Other thoughts on the proposals: