Elizabeth Weise

What can parents and communities do to create socioeconomically integrated schools?

I’ve moved to Elizabethweise.com

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I’ve upgraded to my own URL and am moving this blog to Elizabethweise.com.

Please click here to go there.

Better functionality and you can subscribe, so you’ll get notices every time I post something.

And thanks to the amazingly talented Mary Szczepanik for her work helping me set up the new site. You can see her work here: www.sfwebfactory.com





Written by Elizabeth Weise

December 20, 2016 at 4:16 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

San Francisco considers changes to its school assignment system

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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:

A School Assignment System for 2016 or the 1960s?






Written by Elizabeth Weise

December 9, 2016 at 9:25 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

SF responds to parents in algebra dispute

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I realize this was from a while ago, but I missed pointing it out when it was first published.

From the San Francisco Chronicle

Updated 7:35 am, Thursday, October 27, 2016

San Francisco’s mayor, spurred by city supervisors, has sided with parents in a math war waged against the school district, setting aside city money to help motivated students accelerate through Algebra 1, officials said Wednesday.

The school district’s current sequence of math courses makes Algebra 1 a ninth-grade course, even though private schools and many other public school districts offer students the option of taking algebra in middle school, putting them on a track to take calculus senior year.

Please read more here.

Written by Elizabeth Weise

December 7, 2016 at 2:55 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Now this is something that will bring families to SFUSD for decades to come!

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SFUSD Arts Center will be a legacy landmark

The San Francisco Unified School District plans to develop a new Arts Center that includes an historic city buidling at 135 Van Ness Ave. (Ekevara Kitpowsong/ Special to S.F. Examiner)

The San Francisco Examiner
The San Francisco Unified School District plans to develop a new Arts Center that includes an historic city buidling at 135 Van Ness Ave. (Ekevara Kitpowsong/ Special to S.F. Examiner)

When talking with someone who doesn’t have kids in our city’s public schools, I’m sometimes reminded that some people assume we don’t offer arts and music education. We do, at every grade level, in multiple disciplines.

In fact, we’ve been growing our arts programs for years. And we recently received a huge boost in our plans to further develop arts and music offerings to all students in the San Francisco Unified School District.

On Nov. 8, San Francisco voters approved $100 million to kickstart development of a new SFUSD Arts Center, including a new home for the Ruth Asawa School of the Arts, to preserve and promote music and art. That will be added to the tens of millions already raised, with plans for more private and public investments to come.

Please read more here.

Written by Elizabeth Weise

December 5, 2016 at 11:18 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

More Middle-Class Families Choose Charters

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An interesting article about charters. It appears that in at least some suburban school districts, charters are offering a rigor families want but also are reaching out to a broad range of students, as part of the “intentionally diverse” school movement. In an era in which charters are likely to play a larger role in education, keeping schools diverse and integrated will be only more important. Thus, a potentially useful model to study.

More Middle-Class Families Choose Charters

Education Next Issue Cover

A political game changer for public school choice?



SUMMER 2015 / VOL. 15, NO. 3

There didn’t appear to be anything extraordinary about this December morning gathering of about 40 middle-school parents in the multipurpose room at BASIS San Antonio North charter school. The topic: a “charters 101” presentation about Texas charter-school politics.

ednext_XV_3_whitmire_img01Then came the pitch: Are you willing to write a letter to state officials asking permission for BASIS to open up K–5 schools to feed into their existing middle schools? Sure, many of the parents answered.

Parents lobbying on behalf of charter schools is nothing new. Who doesn’t remember the massive march in New York City—thousands of children and parents trudging across the Brooklyn Bridge wearing T-shirts with slogans such as “My Child, My Choice,” all to protest the crackdown on charters by New York’s new mayor?

But there’s more to this story. The two BASIS charter schools in San Antonio, along with a Great Hearts Academies charter, are part of an effort to lure top charter schools into the city, and not just into the low-income neighborhoods where charters are traditionally found. San Antonio and the surrounding Bexar County are served by 17 independent school districts, ranging from high-poverty San Antonio Independent School District to the wealthy districts on the north side of the city. Some parents in the higher-income districts are disenchanted with the local schools, and they are looking for options. These “soccer moms and dads,” who typically opt for more academically rigorous schools, lend political heft to the broader charter movement in that city. In a political battle, who doesn’t want them on their side?

Please read more here.

Written by Elizabeth Weise

December 2, 2016 at 5:29 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Gentrification and Public Schools: It’s Complicated

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A thoughtful article about some of the issues raised when middle class families stay in urban school districts rather than leave when their children hit school age. We see this in San Francisco a great deal. I certainly don’t want these families to leave the public schools, but it’s useful to stop and think about what can happen when we’re suddenly there in larger numbers.

I very much like that Ms. Naimark offers suggestions on things families can do to make such socio-economically integrated schools work .


Gentrification and Public Schools: It’s Complicated

An influx of more affluent families and their resources and advocacy is just what every struggling school needs, right? Well …

By Susan Naimark Posted on February 4, 2016

(Credit: Tim Lauer via flickr, CC BY-NC 2.0)

The return of white, middle-class families to big-city public schools seemed like a pipe dream for many decades. In Boston, it has been a slow, steady march for a number of years. In other cities, including Washington, D.C., New York, and Chicago, it has more recently picked up steam. For families and educators who have been in these schools all along, it sometimes feels more like a steamroller. A school that for decades was made up of lower-income black and Latino students can shift within a few years to a majority of white, middle-class students. The new parents get involved in ways that the school hasn’t seen in a number of years, welcomed by many as a breath of fresh air.

Following a generation of white flight, a new set of realities has come into play. White, middle-class young adults who grew up in the suburbs are increasingly seeing the value of city living, and settling into urban neighborhoods. Sometimes this is with the active support and encouragement of community developers seeking to stabilize and improve lower-income neighborhoods.


Please read more here.

Written by Elizabeth Weise

November 15, 2016 at 3:21 am

Posted in Uncategorized

If you don’t vote, you can’t complain about our schools

Who we elect to the school board is crucial to the kind of public schools we have. But few parents seem to pay a great deal of attention to exactly what school board candidates believe in.

Because of my day ob, I’m constrained from making any recommendations.

That said, I welcome people making reasoned, calm and informed recommendations on this site. I.e. no name calling, but if there’s someone you think would be good on a the school board and you want to share with other parents why you feel that way, go for it.
And once you’ve got a good list and a few reasons why you like who you like, pass it on. People seem to know almost nothing about school board candidates and yet I would argue they impact our city in multiple ways many people don’t realize. So please share your research.

Other places you can go for information:

A nice, non-partisan chart of the candidates from a local school’s PTA


SF Chron: (middle of the road)


SF Parent Watch 

(A Yahoo group of public school parents focused on what they feel is SFUSD’s issues with “the false choice between equity and excellence” and pushing for access to more advanced math. The list includes (and I mean lots) of discussion of school board candidates)

To subscribe:


SF Parent PAC (I think pretty middle of the road, but could be wrong)


SF Bay Guardian, extremely progressive


Stan Goldberg, aka Senior Dad – mostly just the facts

An SFUSD parent with a podcast about school issues who usually interviews all the candidates. I don’t think he’s started posting his interview yet but they should come soon


Written by Elizabeth Weise

October 27, 2016 at 4:02 pm

Posted in Uncategorized