San Francisco Create Placement System to Force Diversity in Public Schools

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San Francisco Create Placement System to Force Diversity in Public Schools

PENNY STARR10 Dec 20203502:16

The San Francisco school board voted earlier this week on a plan for assigning students to elementary schools that limit parents’ choices in order to make campuses “diverse.”

The “zone system” is “designed to generally reflect the diversity of the city as a whole, and student assignments should ensure each school is equally diverse,” the San Francisco Chronicle reported. “In addition, for the first time, students living in public housing — who are some of the city’s most vulnerable — will have priority in the selection process within their zone.

The Chronicle’s reporting noted that this is the eighth time the school selection process has been changed in the last five decades, and this latest plan will cost $2.5 million over the next 18 months:

The goal, officials said, is less segregation as well as a system that makes it easier for families to prioritize preferences and apply, knowing their choices are limited.

The district’s renewed focus on diversifying schools comes amid a national reckoning over race, with San Francisco schools engaged in various efforts to address historic racism and inequities. That includes a proposal to rename 44 school sites honoring former slave owners and others associated with oppression or colonization as well as support to end selective enrollment at the academically elite Lowell High School.

The renewed effort to desegregate schools, something largely abandoned in many parts of the country, “should be commended,” said Jamel Donnor, associate professor of education at the College of William & Mary in Virginia.

In a separate Chronicle story, some of the nuts and bolts of the new policy are highlighted, including:

  • Families are not guaranteed to get placement in any of the schools they choose.
  • Families cannot appeal the decision or request a transfer to a different school.
  • Students living in public housing would have priority in the selection process.                                                                                          

The kindergarten class of 2023 will be the first group assigned under the new policy. Middle and high school placement will not be affected.

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