The problem with the Students First initiative


I'm not surprised that there's an initiative in circulation that would set this as city policy:

The proximity of a student’s home to the assigned school should be the highest priority in San Francisco Unified School District’s student assignment system.

For those of you who are new to San Francisco: To enroll a child in a San Francisco public school, parents apply to seven schools and then pray their child gets into one of them. Unless a child has a sibling at a particular school, he or she will be assigned based on a secret algorithm created by monkeys throwing darts (or something like that).

Actually, most people (about 80 percent) get at least one of their school choices. And yeah, the algorithm is a bit complicated. But there's a good reason why:

Many San Francisco neighborhoods are still racially segregated. Which means if everyone goes to his or her neigborhood school, we will have some schools at are 70 percent black, some that are 70 percent white and some that are 70 percent Asian. And that's a bad idea.

San Francisco fought for years to comply with a 1983 consent decree in a lawsuit filed by the NAACP. THe idea was to desegregate the schools; part of the process that was developed involved giving parents a choice (which many want) over where to sent their kids -- and a system for maintaining some degree of ethnic balance in the school. Subsequent litigation has made it almost impossible to use race as a factor in placing kids, so now the district uses a different system. Since we've stopped using race, the federal monitor reported five years ago on

the increasing resegregation prevalent in the District since 1999, and the parameters of an achievement gap that only became apparent over the past few years.


The district's making progress on a lot of fronts, but the achievement gap and segregation are still serious issues in the district. The other serious issue is resources: In an era when there's no public money, kids who go to schools where most of the parents are rich get better educational services. The parents raise money to pay for libraries, special classes, music, art, enrichment programs etc. Schools that have a demographic base that doesn't allow for extensive fundraising can't offer those programs to the students.

So ideally, you'd have a mix -- poor kids and rich kids in the same schools. Some of that has happened at McKinley Elementary, where my daughter is going into third grade and my son just finished fifth. There are better-off families who contribute and raise money, people with financial connections who get grants etc. -- and that benefits the majority of the kids, who come from lower-income families.

Actually, ideally you'd have fair property taxes, and every kid in every school would get enough tax money to thrive. But you get the point.

So this "neighborhood schools" rhetoric sounds good. But until we desegregate the neighborhoods -- and change the distribution of wealth -- it just ain't gonna work. The system we have is imperfect -- but it's certainly better than what it could be if we just send everyone to school where they live.


Parents of children who send their kids to private schools already pay tax - they pay property taxes to public schools - and their children get no benefit from that, they're already taxed for something they don't make use of. Why should they pay more because of some amorphous declaration like "you are educating your kid by hurting the kids who are isolated by class?" WTF does that even mean?

And Brown v. Board of Education had NOTHING to do with class - AT ALL.

The people who keep using Brown V. Board as an excuse for every one of their far-fetched ideas are just giving ammunition to those who want to undo this important decision. SCOTUS has shown an increasing intolerance to these types of plans lately - race-based engineering - so pushing the limits may not be such a good idea.

What we're seeing in the SFUSD is the end result of years of decades of attempts at social engineering in public schools. Which is - parents with the means pull their kids out. And taxing them to the extreme is not going to result in a flood of wealthy white parents putting their kids back in SFUSD schools - it's going to force them out of the city.

Advocates of this policy are exactly the same as white people who advocated "red-lining" major urban areas during desegregation battles. The only difference now is it's whites who are the targets. And it's as disgusting now as it was then.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Jul. 09, 2010 @ 8:07 pm

You mean you don't have to deal with black people. Glad you're in Walnut Creek. It's called White Flight, and it's racist to move so your kids can only go to school with white people, mixed in with a few sellouts of other races. Man, you make me sick. You are so racist.

Posted by Tyrone Brown on Jul. 09, 2010 @ 4:50 pm

Holy smokes! Let me get this straight. You want to tax the tuition on private schools? And this is your strategy for keeping white or upper class folk in the city? So that way they would decide to go to public school instead? It might be a good strategy to lower the value of real estate. What have you been smoking?

Posted by Don on Jul. 09, 2010 @ 7:03 pm

My ass.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 09, 2010 @ 7:36 pm

I went back an reviewed the comments on this article by Tim Redmond and came across these comments from you:

"We of course don't know your real identity, but it taints your entire campaign, which presumably includes some non-liars as well. Sleazy and dishonest campaigning on a community issue -- especially when it involved falsely attacking our schools and our kids as failures -- hardly creates strong and healthy neighborhoods. Shame on you."

And this one:

"Why is it not valid to compare SFUSD to other diverse urban school districts? In fact, the supporters of the so-called Students First measure do it all the time, except that they just make up whatever they want when they do so."

Caroline, as a frequent online writer and commentor, surely you understand that every person that might comment in favor of neighborhood schools and therefore might support a measure for the same, is not sleazy campaigning by the Students First group. We are a small group that comprises Students First. Why are you attributing every crank comment to specific members of our group?

If you were promoting a choice campaign and I came on anonymously and started to say crazy things to support choice, how would you be responsible for that? But that is exactly what you are doing here in reverse.
I am the only one I know of in our group that has made comments on line in support of neighborhood schools.

To attribute as you please any comments from cyberspace as campaigning of Students First is just wrong.

Posted by Don on Jul. 09, 2010 @ 8:56 pm

In schools where parents have resources, the parents will raise the money to pay for smaller classes, language and arts curriculum, etc. Schools where parents can't do that won't get those benefits.

You are out of the loop. Title One schools tend to have smaller class sizes than non T1 schools. Get the facts on education in SFUSD before you make these unsupportable statements.

Posted by Don on Jul. 09, 2010 @ 10:15 pm

I've thought about that and I don't think anyone would leave the City over that. If you move, and you own, property tax probably goes up a few thousand. If you drive to Daly City, gas costs a couple thousand a year. The tax would be 8.75% of 12k, maybe 1,000 per year, per child. I think if you tell someone to drive 80 minutes 176 times a year, that comes to more than $2000, assuming most people have two kids. Most of the rich are well off, meaning 2k won't make them leave or stay. Many of those given the 2k bill or more to drive across town aren't rich, but merely make enough to not qualify for public pre-school, which may mean they make 40 or 50k. Also, if you read it, you'll see I favor an exemption for those without high incomes in private schools, so that it wouldn't truly hurt anyone and put them in poverty.

There is no doubt that when successful people put their kids in schools, they help that school, and when kids who have behavioral problems or poor concentration and academic skills are added to a school, they hurt that school. Not all poor kids have such problems, but many do. Rich parents volunteer, donate, and their kids do well. Now I know there are rich parents with horrible kids who disrupt and vice versa, but on average, if the poor are isolated, it hurts them. Putting all San Franciscans in schools together helps the poor. It's why some private schools have scholarships, because it helps those children from poor backgrounds allowed in. They wouldn't do it if it hurt them. This is a small and affordable tax that merely closes the loophole that private school tuition is technically a service and not a good, that's it, nothing out of the ordinary.

The idea that kids should go to school only with mostly other rich people if their parents are rich is anathema to what our City is about, diversity and inclusiveness. Now I'm all for neighborhood schools only because i think it would actually make schools more diverse because more people would stay in SF and go to them, but the idea that rich kids should all go to school together and not associate with middle and lower class kids is extremely conservative in my view and not reflective of San Francisco values. It's a limousine liberal thing to do, not a genuine, honest liberal thing to do. It does hurt the kids at the public school nearby.

This tax wouldn't cause many to go public, but for those it did, it would help the kids in that community. However, the money could really make a difference in the lives of the poor kids in the struggling schools, something which the current SAS has failed to do, factually. There has been no decrease in the achievement gap. Put together millions for tutors and Sylvian and Kumon, and you will see progress on the achievement gap, paid by those who can most afford it and who are doing things which are hurting these poor children by segregating their kids from them. Don't forget, there's an exemption or reduction for anyone with a family income under 150k under my plan. It would really help the poor tremendously with actual skills. More poor kids will go to college, paid for by people who only looking out for their own kids at the expense of poor kids.

And yes, they pay tax in general, but we all do, including people with no kids. They cost the district money from Sacramento, so San Francisco loses a lot of money due to private schools. We send way more to San Francisco for education than we back, due to private schools, white flight and many never having kids here, so this is a constant trade deficit in our local economy.

Posted by Robert Mendohlson on Jul. 09, 2010 @ 10:31 pm

First of all - driving to Daly City does not cost "several thousand" a year because of the cost of gas, particularly if you drive a hybrid, or even not. I drive a Saab and I doubt I put more than one tank per month in my car - which means I pay $700 a year MAX for gas.

Secondly - you forgot to address the main point of my argument which is people who send their kids to private school ALREADY PAY TAXES, for a system in which they do not participate. Why should they pay again? On my home I pay additional levies above and beyond the normal rate of property tax assessment in San Francisco and I don't send my kids to the SFUSD. So please tell me - in addition to what my property taxes pay for and what the additional SFUSD levies on my assessment pay for - why should I pay an ADDITIONAL tax for a system which I do not use, which I won't use and which my children won't use?

This statement makes no sense: "They cost the district money from Sacramento, so San Francisco loses a lot of money due to private schools." San Francisco also loses a lot of money by subsidizing the rent in SROs, the rent in public housing projects, healthcare for the homeless, job assistance, advocate's payments, Healthy San Francisco and more. And those are direct costs - money we pay out. So why is the choice of parents to send their kids to private schools, reducing the burden on the SFUSD to pay for and educate their kids, are worthy target of taxation when the users of these services are not?

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Jul. 09, 2010 @ 11:29 pm

I meant to say we send way more to Sacramento than we get sent back to San Francisco. It would be fair because the most priveleged would pay and it would actually help people. Currently, the middle class pays, and leaves, and the benefit to others is nonexistent and fictional.

Posted by Robert Mendohlson on Jul. 09, 2010 @ 10:40 pm

You have every right to use the public school system and by sending your kids to private school you are contributing to class segregation, to an idea that different races and classes shouldn't interact. It contributes to an achievement gap that isn't even measured. In America, we like to say all have the same opportunity, but you put a knife in the back of the American Way. You educate your kids at the expense of innocent children not fortunate enough to have rich parents. You don't feel you're a part of a community, you try to shield your children from the community. Most people wish you would go to public school as 96% of Americans do. If you choose to spend your money in a way that hurts and isolates poor children, you should pay an additional tax to help those children you are hurting. When you choose private school, you are saying your kids are too good to go to school with the masses, and if you feel your kids are inherently above said masses, you should pay a tax to help the worst off of those masses improve to the point where your kids will be more equal.

I heard the argument 30 years ago that the public schools were in a state of trouble, but that for one generation people should use private school. Now there are 3 generations in the same school who have never associated with others. In SF, one of the most liberal cities around, many times rich people know no one who is poor, look at the Marina, it's all rich people together. One thing I cherish in my years in public school is that even though I was well off, lived in an expensive house in Noe Valley, I had friends who were from projects, immigrants, and rich. The discussions between different groups were great. In private school, you separate your kids from the real world, don't help kids interact across class lines.

Besides, Lowell, public, has a better average SAT score and entrance to college, and AP average than any private school in the City.

I am sorry, I don't feel sorry for you because you pay the tax and an additional $32 or something in parcel tax and don't use public schools, I feel you should use them. People with no kids pay that tax too. You don't do anyone a favor going to private school, you isolate your kids and cause the poor to be isolated from the upper class in an England or India-like caste way. This is immoral, and you are snooty and racist for doing so.

I find you annoying, you say you won't use it even if you get into a good school, then why are you on this board, to try to brag and tell everyone how much better you and your children are than others? You aren't a victim not participating, you take pride in it and brag about it in a snooty way. I hope it works out for your family but anything your kids achieve they did by hurting poor children, remember that. If a kid graduates from Lowell and goes to UC, they did it on their own, without damaging the poor like you did. You should give something back to them. We are a village.

Posted by Robert Mendohlson on Jul. 10, 2010 @ 10:03 am

I couldn't agree with you more, right on Robert. I see Lucretia thinks Oscar Grant deserved to be tased, hates those who need housing vouchers, and has a lot of other weird and snobbish opinions. You obviously have no concern for struggling, poor, African American Students, only think of your own. I know you're Arab, right, so you're going to say you're AA, whatever. You are snobbish, a hater, and Robert has you dead to right. I also see you're a lesbian which means you orgasm looking down on someone, or looking up, but never looking someone right in the eye at an equal level the way I do when I and my lady orgasm. Therefore you get off on looking down on people, both literally and figuratively, which is why you have no concern whatsoever for the poor and have the gall to say you're a victim rather than the kids you segregate away from your own. You're about as racist as Strom Thurmond. And I ain't got a thing against lesbians, my sister is a lesbian, only against snobbish ones.

Posted by Tyrone Brown on Jul. 10, 2010 @ 11:20 am

OK. I couldn't make any sense of that tirade but the "I also see you're a lesbian which means you orgasm looking down on someone, or looking up, but never looking someone right in the eye at an equal level the way I do when I and my lady orgasm" was, in a sense, quite poetic if physiologically inaccurate.

So I think I'll end my involvement in this comment thread because, as Don said, it seems to have outlived its usefulness.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Jul. 10, 2010 @ 12:37 pm

Looks like this commentary has come well past the point of useful discussion.

Posted by Don on Jul. 10, 2010 @ 11:53 am

People like Lucretia are why I moved back to Minnesota. San Francisco is so full of phony liberals, people who spend college writing against the machine then do whatever it takes to make money, try to maintain a semblance of progressivity for a few years, right up to when their kid turns five, then show their true colors by moving or sending their kids to private school. I couldn't stand the phoniness anymore. I lived in North Beach, so maybe not all in SF are like that, but at least half the self-proclaimed liberals are. People like Lucretia make me want to vomit. It's just a disgusting attitude of superiority, it's certainly nothing about us all being one people and love your brother and let's fix our problems as a village. She actually feels proud of selling out and putting her kids in private school and spends money to shield her kids from the less fortunate.

The saddest thing is when riots happen, the first one the African Americans attack is Reginald Denny, a noble Christian who forgave his attackers and donated all the money from his book deal to disadvantaged minority children in Los Angeles. Lucretia is the type of person who deserves to be attacked when there are race riots, you are the selfish cause of inequality. Disgusting.

And before you stereotype Minnesota, my kids go to a school that's less than half white and public, and I volunteer and tutor kids there.

Posted by Leila Goldberg on Jul. 10, 2010 @ 1:44 pm

I hope you didn't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Jul. 10, 2010 @ 5:46 pm

The biggest phony on this comment page is you - Leila. Who do you think you're fooling? Your comments are truly despicable.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 10, 2010 @ 5:36 pm

You all are some of the most insane people whoever lived! Both sides, for and against this initiative I couldn't see by googling that ever was approved for any ballot. Seriously, everyone who posted, including me for even reading it, is totally wacko! Order a double martini, like I'm about to. Get laid, watch porn, flick the bean, wack off, take a valium, smoke a joint, something, seriously, you are all seriously nuts! None of you makes any sense or is thinking about what's best for all children. This is spiraling into greater and greater insanity. I'd rather share a cell with Manson than be on this board!

Posted by Seth Davidson on Jul. 10, 2010 @ 5:43 pm

Seth, you have a point though I prefer scotch rocks. I think the bigger point made by this bizarre interchange is that the neighborhood schools issue evokes a great deal of emotional baggage that cuts to the heart of culture war issues. If this thing is on the ballot it will be interesting.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 10, 2010 @ 10:08 pm

She's a bit extreme but she does make some good points. Many liberals don't live up to their standards as their kids get older and become hypocrites. Some write essays in college about how great a decision Brown v. Topeka was, then go for rich only racist private schools like Hamlin as their kids get older.

Sad, I wish San Francisco was made up of true liberals. It sure used to be. I'd rather live near a conservative who's honest about it than a phony liberal like Lucretia.

Lucretia's attitude does unspeakable damage to the most vulnerable and disadvantaged children in our City. It's no wonder it will take 179 years to close the achievement gap with people like her in our City. If the community doesn't care to fight against the problem and only looks out for number one, it sure will take a long time to fix it.

I consider myself very lucky to have been able to go to Lowell and UC Berkeley, as I had parents who raised me very well and pushed academics. However, I plan to give something back to the community and the disadvantaged. I know many agree with me, but it's sad so many don't.

I'm not sure which idea is best, but something has to change and we should make this our most important mission, to raise up the test scores and achievement of our most disadvantaged. It's certainly more important than the comfort of those who are already lucky enough to have parents well-off enough to go to private school, and it's really more important than any problem in SF because educated people are not poor, if we can all be educated, we can eliminate poverty in this City.

Lucretia probably thinks it's more important her children be able to never spend time with poor kids, but I think it's far more important that we find a way to reach our struggling students who ren't lucky enough to have parents who teach and push them. I don't agree with the lesbian comment but Tyrone and Seth and Robert all had good points Lucretia's attitude is unacceptable and mean, short-sighted and cruel, and incredibly selfish. No progress can be made if the majority feel this way. I hope she's outnumbered..

Posted by Raymond Kim on Jul. 10, 2010 @ 10:23 pm

I am a supporter of challenging orthodoxy, no matter where it rears its head.

What I want for my children is the best education possible - education built around strong neighborhood schools in a strong district that welcomes the input of parents. I don't feel SFUSD reflects what I want for my own children, and the major reason for that is the lottery heralded by people like Jane Kim - who proclaims that they never wanted to go into politics but who has spent their entire adult life running for one office or another. And in Kim's case - someone who never attended any public school at all until she was an adult, but who feels entirely within their right to ignore and malign the wishes of San Francisco voters. That attitude reeks. And that smell starts at the Board of Supervisors all the way down to the school board.

So - hate me if you will. Wish ill on me if you will. But in the end the people of San Francisco will have the last say on the issue of school choice, and the hysterical reaction here to that possibility is clearly indicative of the fear of allowing the people to make that choice engenders in many.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Jul. 11, 2010 @ 6:24 am

I think she has her head screwed on right. Is sending your child to private school some kind of crime against humanity? There are many reasons that parents choose private school for their children. One being that public school has turned into a churning factory. There's no alternative pedagogy. Test and test and test. Who are you to say what is best for Lucretia and her family? Just because you have some demented socialist view that everybody should act for the common good and go to public school. So high and mighty. For someone who "doesn't know what is best" you still want to tell everyone what to do. I'll test you this: raising test scores is not the holy grail. I don't want to be mean spirited, Raymond, but just take a good look at yourself! You're a boring insufferable fool.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 11, 2010 @ 12:07 am

Well I'm sorry you find it boring but I still feel Brown v. Topeka was a brilliant legal decision and the priveleged looking for loopholes to get out of it, such as private schools which hardly existed before busing started and white flight, is the reason progress towards racial equality has been so slow. I'm sorry I can't spice it up for you, maybe if I wrote a rap song and danced for you like a good minority for massa Guest, who won't even publish his name, you'd be happier. You are an oppressor and justifying privelege. Any complaint Lucretia or you have about schools and testing being too much, your kids would suffer far less in public school with motivated, priveleged parents to help them, than would the poor kids going there now. I suffered not at all, actually finished with a 3.98 from UC Berkeley in a tough major, so I am very greatful, and I was always in public school. Complaining about the kids of people as priveleged as Lucretia misses the point. The real victims are the children in the Bayview whose lives are made that much worst by the selfish decisions of Lucretia and yourself. They face far more challenges than the kids of the priveleged, in or out of public school. Your focus is the kids of the priveleged, not the kids of the poor. That should be our focus. When the priveleged seek out loopholes to evade integration, which are only available to the most priveleged and least in need of our concern, they really do hurt the poor. That's not socialist, people should make different money, I even think teachers should make different incomes based on the test scores of their pupils (compared to last year's, not to the average, to gauge improvement). That's just following honestly a brilliant Supreme Court Decision instead of finding hook and crook to evade it. Sorry that bores you.

Posted by Raymond Kim on Jul. 11, 2010 @ 1:31 am

If Caroline truly respected our democratic institutions, she would not make a mockery of Students First's efforts to engage in them. According to her, every crackpot that writes in, even if they are shilling for the other side, is the responsibility of Students First because we, by her logic, we are the one's organizing this protest/ exercise in democracy.

She claims this measure is too complex for the electorate. By that logic, we ought to simply cancel any future elections and allow the complex issues of society be decided by others more knowledgeable than ourselves, the people.

Posted by Don on Jul. 11, 2010 @ 7:27 am

I think what he's saying is that it is troublesome from a fairness perspective. Think about it, everyone is held equally responsible for success, but it is damaging to our social fabric if we have two systems of education, one for those with excess money to ensure their future status at the top, and one for the masses. Sure you have the right to send your kids there, but that doesn't make it moral because many have no money, and thus no such right, so what your kid achieves isn't necessarily based on merit at that point, but privelege.

Also, it is troubling to, say, an African American kid told to work hard and succeed at say, Galileo, to notice the school is 5% white but the surrounding neighborhood is 75% white. He must think society wants him to fail. In fairness, many Chinese at Galileo do great and he can succeed. But it is a double standard, it's the same as saying men who sleep around are studs and women who do the same thing are sluts. However this is even more important as it deals with our place in society.

I think Robert's point was that the burden of making things equal falls on the parents who believe in equal opportunity and go to public school, rather than upon those who really cause the segregation of children by their parents' caste level.

As far as taxing services, I believe it is illegal, but it is a good idea. Maybe we should just have a 1% sales tax go to our worst 30% of public schools for tutoring. In some ways it's unfair because it doesn't tax people who don't even bother to have and raise kids, and they're also not contributing to education.

Part of the problem is someone like Lucretia, if in a public school, would make it better. You can just tell, she'd be all up in someone's grill if the school weren't functioning well, fighting for donations, for volunteerism from parents, making sure public schools were getting more resources with her influence. When she opts out, the public school nearby loses a passionate crusader, as well as a child who would help and be a good influence. The rich wouldn't let schools be treated this way if their kids had to go to them, they wouldn't let us pay more for prisons than schools and waste 2 trillion invading Iraq for no reason. Sure, Lucretia has the right to do whatever she wants, but it doesn't make it the ethical thing to do.

Posted by Stephanie DeVaurs on Jul. 11, 2010 @ 9:20 am

is not the subject of this article about neighborhood schools. Sure it is related, but you seem to forget, Stephanie, that the history of private schools is intimately connected to religious instruction, which is proscribed in public school. So the idea that you espouse is to rid America of religious instruction. To this day most private schools are still linked to faith based organizations.

Posted by Don on Jul. 11, 2010 @ 12:21 pm

I would add to "public Vs. Private" discussion that public schools do not meet the needs of everyone. Let's say I want my child with a disability to attend a school with very small classes. I cannot do that in public. Would you deprive me of option? Even SFUSD send some kids to private school for this and other reasons.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 11, 2010 @ 4:38 pm

And let's not forget that almost half the kids in the state can't read or write at a proficient level. But I should send me kids to public school? Charterize them all.

Posted by walnutcreekdude on Jul. 11, 2010 @ 4:58 pm

Did I get that right? It's immoral to go to private school?

Is it also immoral to go to a high achieving school versus a low one? The better schools often outperform private. By your thinking it would be wrong not to send your child to the worst school in the district.

I don't get it. Perhaps you can explain the DeVaurs Dictum of Mental Redistribution.

Posted by GUEST on Jul. 11, 2010 @ 5:53 pm

I agree in limited situations it might make sense, like a child with a disability who has special needs. And I never said it was wrong to have a good public school and go to it. I agree there are some exceptions, as noted, just in general I think most going to private school are doing it in a kind of snooty way that belies their prior claims, and their goal is to sheild their kids from the poor. Lucretia, for instance, is a lesbian, so clearly she is not religious. I'm atheist myself and see nothing wrong with being a lesbian, but suffice it to say she isn't trying to get her kids to grow up Catholic. She's doing it in a snooty way, she brags and looks down on people in public schools and wants rich neighborhoods to have public schools with no poor kids, wants this whole neighborhood snobbism thing with kids in the ghetto all never meeting her kids, etc. She believes in the English class separation thing, class walls, clearly she isn't religious or she wouldn't be lesbian, for the bible, which I believe is complete and total fiction, claims it's wrong to be lesbian or gay. So I don't think she did it for the right reasons. Maybe others do, in the case of serious disabilities. That's one woman's opinion. Maybe San Francisco isn't as progressive as I think it is if that's somehow wrong according to you guys. It's just what I believe. Only every parent individually knows what's in their heart and how much they care about the kids in the ghetto when they make their decision, and it is justified if you have a kid with a disability, for that makes your kid underpriveleged, not overpriveleged.

I do believe charter schools are a good idea. We do need to shake up the unions and the current status quo, often change is elusive. I agree with all that, not a problem.

Posted by Stephanie DeVaurs on Jul. 11, 2010 @ 7:10 pm

Man Stephanie, Lucretia is just a snooty white bitch, Marina is full of them, better than anyone else, won't condescend to talk to anyone who didn't go to an Ivy League college like her, cheers the cops when they kill Oscar Grant, can't wait till there are no more black people in SF. Typical white bitch. Owns the world, everyone gotta do what she says. No morals whatsoever, just self. Thinks she came over on the Mayflower and Scarlett O'Hara's her grandma and black people liked being slaves. Don't even think about her Stephanie, you're better people than her, you're down to earth and keep it real and respect other races. Most people here do but it's amazing how many clearly don't, especially when it comes time for their kids to go to school. Thinks being a lesbian gives her carte blanche to be right wing on everything else and still be respected as a liberal in SF, even believe in apartheid in our private and public schools. Whatever, she's not consistent, move on, she's a tiny minority of this City.

Posted by Tyrone Brown on Jul. 11, 2010 @ 7:21 pm


Your whole dictum is predicated on the basis of value added by mixing of races. But some public schools are very racially segregated. You have no problem sending your kids to those schools, but suggest that they shouldn't go to private schools for the same reasons? And some of those private schools that you so despise are more racially and socioeconomically mixed than upper achieving schools in high rent areas.

I don't believe that diversity is the solution to the lag in achievement. More public school children are failing to be proficient in RRR and we have never been more diverse in general. Diversity has not been the key that unlocks the minds of the less fortunate. It really truly has to do with commitment, energy, motivation, good teachers and most of all good parenting. Telling your snobs that it is their fault that the less fortunate are continuing to fail is a misplaced and utterly unsupportable contention.

Posted by GUEST on Jul. 11, 2010 @ 7:31 pm

I think there is some value to mixing, and especially class mixing. I make a lot but wouldn't put my kids in private, but who's to say, maybe I would in an emergency, I did get very lucky in getting good public schools in SF. I do think it's important to learn to deal with all races and classes of people. Lowell sure beats any private school and has the benefit kids are respected as self-made when they go there, don't have the stigma in college kids have from private schools of being seen as being born with a silver spoon in their mouth..

I am disappointed sometimes in that black kids do have a great opportunity to learn from Asian kids, but usually don't. Asians prove there's no racism at the individual level, now sure history set blacks back and has a psychological role, but an individual of any race can work hard and succeed. The Chinese and Indians were treated horribly in the past, as were Jews, and all 3 do far better than WASPs on average. I'm not Jewish by the way, common mistake.

I do think it helps poor kids to see rich kids with them in school. It makes you feel you are in a place the rich feel is good enough for their kids too, so you have a chance. I grew up dirt poor in Boston and many rich people went to the same public schools I did, and I'm successful now. I really was lucky that there are a lot of liberal people in Boston, I was almost the only poor white in my school, though many black and other kids were poor. The rich really donated a lot, bought computers, did fundraisers. It made a difference. I went to worse public elementary and middle schools but also went to High School at Boston Latin which is very similar to Lowell, except they do admissions by a test instead of a point system.

I have studied caste systems such as India's and they just aren't good, separating people in all walks of life from each other at all levels. I just don't think it creates a feeling of community. Neighborhood schools may or may not be the answer, maybe they should guarantee you a school within 1 mile or 2 for high school but at the same time bus in kids from bad areas so all the schools are at least 5% black. Right now some have nearly 0 blacks. I think it would be better for them to have a low % at each school, because when there is a big percenage, the ebonics come in, the n word, discouraging each other, you're acting white if you get As, etc. If it's 5% of each school as it's 5% of SF, or maybe 8 or whatever it is, they will make friends with white and Asian and Latin kids and probably do much better, especially if they make friends with Asian kids.

That being said, some of the Asian kids don't want to be friends with white or black kids. My son had trouble with that at his first school here. I chose Hoover over Giannini because I thought he'd have more friends if it was more mixed.

If you go to private school, by University only priveleged will go, private health club, work, socializing. You'll probably never interact with poor people as equals, the way I did playing varsity basketball. You just have a shallower, narrower perspective, and it does do some harm to those children as well.

Posted by Kurt Linman on Jul. 12, 2010 @ 12:49 am

Really, I would like someone how it is that diversity is a tool to raise academic performance. How does this work? Is it like a contact high or something? Is the very act of being around other kids make low underperformers up their game. This isn't soccer. And if the very act of mixing is in itself a tool to redistribute mental wealth as someone suggested, doesn't it also work the other way around, too?

This is not to make the case against diversity and integration, it is to say that we cannot raise achievement looking for answers under rocks. What have to sort out what works from the remnants of counterintuitive pedagogical theories from the Sixties. Look what happened after the 1998 reversal of Bilingual education. Hispanic students made steady progress through strengthening of English language skills.

Bureaucracies cannot cook up results by monkeying with classroom demographics. Some things in life come to to effort and hard work.

Posted by GUEST on Jul. 12, 2010 @ 4:56 am


School is for learning. Everything else comes in a distant second place. Being the most popular kid, the one with the most friends, has little to do with school.

Posted by walnutcreekdude on Jul. 12, 2010 @ 7:02 am

I agree with this to a degree, and hard work is key, but not all parents push this and peers play a role. Peer pressure and peer culture do have some impact, unfortunateley. Kids do what their friends are doing. If their friends brag about As, they strive for them; if they tease the kid with As, they figure it's a mixed bag, you get As and you are smart, but you could get teased too, it's easier to justify not getting them. If they ridicule them, few have the wherewithal to stay a straight A student.

I do think schools should have way more events where they teach parents how bad TV is, how key studying is, how your future success is linked to academic performance, how key reading is, etc. I told my daughter's counsellor in 6th grade I had her studying 4 hours a day to ensure straight As and she told me that was way too much. When I said she got a B, she said I shouldn't worry about that, Bs are OK and As are OK. I told her Lowell was our goal, and she said Gateway and Washington are as good as Lowell, which is absolutely false but something you hear from quite a few teachers and counsellors at Hoover. She got one B, which would have kept her out of Lowell if in 7th grade, so obviously I can't listen to her, but counsellors should encourage kids to study more hours and let them know how much better Lowell is than the 2d best high school in the City, which is a huge difference. Counsellors encourage the good students to study less, and the bad students to study a little, maybe an hour or two, but they should be pushing all to work harder.

Charter schools have proven that for many kids, you need to add 4 hours to their day to achieve at a high level (getting into a good college).

It's obvious putting school at the top is the best idea when you look at Asians and their average income and how much they study. It's indisputable, and it's why I actually think the best public schools in SF are better than private schools. For instance, based on future income, future college admissions and test scores (SAT), it's clear Presidio outperforms Star of the Sea and Hoover outperforms St. Cecilia. Those private schools won't even publish their tests, but what few they did came in way behind.

Posted by Christine Randler on Jul. 12, 2010 @ 11:03 am

Of course the Catholic schools would not perform as well on the CST. They have a different curriculum. Your reliance on testing and your lack of knowledge on information relevant to testing is a metaphor for the intellectual void that the whole testing regime has imposed upon the thinking of what schooling and education is all about. You know, the world does not end at the horizon. Critical thinkers don't care about your standardized testing nonsense or the need to be straight A student. They are too busy in their quest to absorb knowledge to much care about those trivialities.

Posted by Don on Jul. 12, 2010 @ 12:34 pm

The SAT score is a universal measure of quality of an individual, academically, at a certain point in time. I'm sure the Catholic Schools wouldn't like to brag about Lincoln, Washington and Lowell beating SI, SH, Riordan and Mercy on SAT Scores. I'm sure parents wouldn't like to hear that. It's kept secret for a reason. SAT Scores matter. Grades can be manipulated, but SAT Scores are universal.

The losers in any fact always want to come up with something which can't be measured. The winners want measurement. There is always obfucscation. Tests cut through the BS. You come up with something vague one can't measure. Critical thinking can be measured. Our educational system is competitive, and the rewards huge. Lowell has sent more kids to Harvard, MIT, Yale, Stanford and Princeton than those 4 private schools combined over the past 10 years. That matters.

Posted by Christine Randler on Jul. 12, 2010 @ 1:01 pm

This conversation has drifted. Let kids go to school in their neighborhood. It's better for traffic and the environment. It's greener. Kids are more accountable when they're in a neighborhood where people know their parents. Kids are safer. And kids and families have more time together. Deal with the equity issue some other way, taxes and funding for the worst schools, Robert's idea maybe or something, but don't disrupt communities for it. Kids do better when they feel pride in achievement. Neighborhood pride adds to that.

Posted by Vincent Parry on Jul. 13, 2010 @ 6:56 pm

Good God I'm glad to see this discussion die.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 15, 2010 @ 9:06 pm

and some excellent points were made, some creative ideas, and many who didn't ever think about it learned how damaging it is to poor children when parents only think about their kids, not about our community as a whole, such as Lucretia. Let's all work together to solve our problems, not be at each other's throats. Let's not high five each other in Pacific Heights that we found a solution for our rich kid, not considering all the poor innocent children we hurt by said decision. And most importantly, let the voters decide. There is no chance in hell this will pass. I can't wait until the voters decide in November!

Posted by Jane Park on Jul. 16, 2010 @ 2:24 pm

The measure is not on the ballot for this November. It will be on for Nov. 2011.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 16, 2010 @ 3:03 pm

Oh it will pass whenever it's voted on, 70-30. Especially if it's a year from now. People want their kids in the neighborhood, and it'll help all kids because people will stop being forced into private school who don't belive in it but also don't believe in being fired from important jobs because they're spending 10 hours a week extra driving instead of focusing on providing for their children. Any time you increase study time, ability of parents to provide for their children, neighborhood pride and community at one time, you'll increase scores. I'll be a lot of money the average test score will go way up when this passes in 2011.

Posted by Jessie McMullen on Jul. 16, 2010 @ 3:10 pm

I hope the opposition to neighborhood schools is responsible for some of the imbecilic support of the proposed measure. I like the idea of strong communities, strong schools. But unless the supporters can keep the idiots of the blogs, they are going to lose. They have an uphill battle as it is.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 16, 2010 @ 6:10 pm

I heard that with the new student assignment policy you get to keep your neighborhood school and apply to other ones. Isn't that a problem? Why wouldn't lots of people see what the lottery gives them while holding their regular school? Which would result in oversize applications numbers and undersize lottery winners. Why not propose a measure that solves this problem instead of ignoring it?

Posted by Manny N. on Jul. 16, 2010 @ 8:33 pm

You can satisfy all because most aren't asking to go across town. You need to be able to say to people, you can move to a neighborhood and know 100% where your kids can go to school. People with money, whose kids do the best on standardized tests and whom we want to attract to SF, won't move to the Sunset if they have a 50% chance of being sent across town whey they can simply buy in Burlingame or Marin and have a guarantee, so we need a guarantee to them to compete and attract people to our City who will help, and keep them in public schools. However, we need to bus in the kids who really want to do well and put pressure on them to perform, and we also need to have increased taxes and charter schools for the schools where parents don't care, because you can only help these kids by having year-round 9-6 schooling to overcome bad parenting, have 3 hour study halls with teachers there to help since parents won't or, in some cases, can't. We need to make schools a priority, not bombs, not prisons, not the homeless who are already gone, and not other boondoggles and assorted wastes, including invasions, tax cuts for billionaires, etc. The kids in the ghetto won't do well because they sit next to kids who study hard, they'll laugh at them, but they will do better in year-round, 9-6 charter schools where you can fire a teacher who doesn't perform well and the people really believe in kids' potential. Another thing they can do is guarantee a decent alternative school for those who want them, create more Rooftops. They should also add language schools that will attract families into SF, such as a public French School. I know people at the private one and they say they wish they could have a public one, they'd join SFUSD so fast if we offered one. Hindi, Arabic, Portuguese, German, Hebrew...would all be good additions. We have to tax everyone to fix these problems, and cut other programs, not just choose 10,000 random parents and make them drive across town and drive people out of SF who would help our community in the process. It's time to stop being PC and focus on the real problem. Charter and language schools are the only way to guarantee anyone who wants it a good school. Also, forget this nonsense about you can't suspend kids, if a kid is violent or disruptive, they're gone, they need to go to a school for troublemakers but they almost have no chance, they're screwed up, but at least you can make sure they don't damage the education of 20 other kids who want to learn every day.

Our priority has to be the kids. Right now our priorities are bombs we'll never need, imprisoning pot users, not offending bad parents, guaranteeing even awful teachers a job no matter how poorly they perform, and not shaking things up. We need to shake them up. We need rebels out there to run for the school board, not the pathetic apologists we are getting. They are kiss asses every last one of them. Pathetic thoughtless fools.

Posted by Jasmine Fuentes on Jul. 17, 2010 @ 12:54 am

SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP ALL OF YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! You're not thinking of the children. You're TEARING ME APART! I CAN'T TAKE IT ANYMORE! Go do something, stop all this rambunctious nonsense, it makes me feel like James Dean in 'Rebel without a Cause'. Just please all of you SHUT UP and go do something productive, go help kids get better grades instead of yapping on here and driving me CRAZY! Just please SHUT UP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

Posted by Jim Stark on Jul. 17, 2010 @ 12:02 pm

A question for neighborhood schools supporters:

If a live near a crappy school and I have no chance of getting into a better one, I am going to send my child to private school or pick up and leave. How is this going to increase the number of children going to public schools, like someone said earlier?

Can you explain this to me?

And Jim, you're scary.

Posted by Manny N. on Jul. 17, 2010 @ 4:21 pm

Anyone who thinks you can satisfy all has no grasp of the real life issues at stake.

If I live down the street from a school it stands to reason that I ought to be able to go to that school. If it is a good school I 'll say I deserve to go because of my proximity to the school.

If I live down the street from a not so good school I will say - why do I have to go to this school only due to my proximity to the school? This isn't fair. My child deserves a good school just as much as the next child. Why should my address determine whether or not I get into a good school?

There is only one solution to this conundrum. More good schools. Schools in not-so-good neighborhoods have to get better. The problem is this: making schools better isn't simply an equity issue. Low performing schools outspend higher performing schools. The communities define what kinds of students walk through the door. And the district doesn't create the communities. In fact the district is splitting up the communities through diversity BECAUSE they cannot do anything about them.

The neighborhood schools people think that exposing the diversity agenda is a form of school improvement which it is not. Making more good schools is not about not busing or not diversifying. Fixing schools cannot happen by default. Schools don't improve by the absence of anything. You have to do something - have a program to make them better.

Neighborhood schools supporters think that SFUSD will have to make them better if they cannot rely on diversity to increase achievement in the post consent decree era. That is a shallow idea. They should offer concrete reforms to make better schools before insisting that everyone should go to the school down the street.

Saying that choice will still exist is a ghost argument. With neighborhood school choice will evaporate by design.

Why do neighborhood schools supporters say over and over that there should be more language schools and charter school - all schools that would be assigned through choice? They want to increase the amount of choice and simultaneously say that proximity should be the goal. Makes no sense.

I am a proponent of neighborhood schools, but only as part of a concerted effort of long term change that will involve several proactive measures, the most important of which is creating a stable and experienced teaching staff at all schools. Easier said than done. And that is one big reason we have yet to solve the problem. But I would be remiss not to mention that unless we do a much better job of getting the parents to take greater responsibility in inculcating positive habits towards increasing the potential of their children- until then we will be swimming uphill.

Posted by Don Krause on Jul. 17, 2010 @ 5:07 pm


There's a button called delete. Use it and you'll live longer.

Posted by Don Krause on Jul. 17, 2010 @ 5:14 pm

The only reason it's possible to satisfy all is that most parents wouldn't bother to apply to other schools, but if they did it would be impossible. I think the reason there should be more alternative schools is so that SFUSD can simultaneously guarantee everyone who wants to go to their neighborhood school a chance to do so, which will keep famlies here and in public schools, while offering everyone who really doesn't want to go to their neighborhood school at least a decent alternative, which will also help keep people here and in public, and which probably can be done only due to the sad fact most parents won't complain. Any alternative school that's not neighborhood based will be decent not because we are improving education for all, but simply because the population will be self-selected, made up only of parents who care enough to want to drive there and even apply to an alternative. We have to find a way to help parents help their kids, to care more. It's a great idea, make the teachers equal. Make good teachers go to the troubled schools. Rotate teachers so they have an open mind and don't write off students. How do you inculcate positive habits though? Many with bad habits have parents who don't help them, even in some cases encourage bad habits. I'm from Oklahoma and am amazed at the good habits most kids here have. I went to Stanford, but in my town I was one of the only people who studied a lot, here most parents seem to be like mine were, and I considered my parents incredibly focused on my education. I don't know how I could go back home and convince people to raise their kids the way I see here, they're just focused on other things. Or often nothing at all. It sounds like we really need year-round, full day and afternoon education which will cost much more, run by teachers who are highly motivated. I'm all for it, but get ready to pay more taxes or dramatically slash other programs, no more of this weird California crap about no new taxes, 2/3 majority to raise taxes, Prop 13, etc., then you see people on Union Street buying $800 boots and throwing $100,000 weddings and eating $300 meals. We need to decide where our priorities lie. We get what we pay for. I know the economy sucks now, but when it improves, let's see where our priorities lie. My guess is people will continue to be selfish and vote against taxes with a vengeance, then whine about the schools not being good enough. I'm not saying money's everything, but it can do a lot. Oklahoma pays more per student to educate them than California, and we have about 2/3 the income there per person, so you figure it out. It's not rocket science.

Posted by John Bingham on Jul. 17, 2010 @ 9:42 pm