As reported in yesterday’s Chronicle, Board President Sandra Lee Fewer and I are working on a proposal to change the student assignment system — really, to tweak it — by reordering the preferences for Kindergarten admissions.
After reading and absorbing the 3rd Annual Report on Student Assignment outcomes last month, I became more convinced than ever that the relatively high power the current system gives the CTIP (Census Tract Integration Preference) was not having the effect we’d hoped in terms of desegregating schools. In addition, putting CTIP so high in the hierarchy of preferences (coming just after siblings and children enrolled in and attending an SFUSD Pre-K program in the same attendance area) is clearly having an effect on some specific attendance area programs, to the disadvantage of residents of those attendance areas.
The board continues to believe strongly that diverse schools are better for everyone, and President Fewer and I have not abandoned the idea that we should continue to work on desegregating our schools where students are “racially isolated.” (Read this post from 2010 about academic outcomes in our schools where more than 60 percent of students are either African American, Latino or Samoan for more discussion on this issue.)
It’s important also to say that at the time I said I didn’t think CTIP would affect attendance area residents’ ability to attend their local schools. Now, I obviously think I was wrong, at least in a few cases like Clarendon and perhaps Grattan. (I just read back over a number of my posts from January – March 2010 and it’s interesting to do if you would like to know more about how we got to where we are today). Anyway, I’m increasingly uneasy when people tell me that they plan to “rent in a CTIP zone” for K admissions, then move to a different neighborhood (this has happened to me a number of times); when I hear from homeowners in CTIP zones that they have received calls from real estate agents who say they can cash in on their “golden ticket” status; when I see the data showing that residents of the Clarendon attendance area have pretty terrible odds of attending their local school because of demand from siblings and CTIP. It’s clear that it’s time to make a modest adjustment that will still preserve some expanded choices for areas where there are concentrations of lower-achieving children.
The fact is, no neighborhood in San Francisco is very affordable anymore for either middle-class home buyers or renters. All over the City, there are people who — thanks to either rent control or getting in to the real estate market early — can afford to live here but can’t afford to move (I’m one of them!). Any system that offers its primarly benefit to people who can afford to choose whatever San Francisco neighborhood they live in or move at will is not one that benefits the neediest and most struggling San Franciscans.
Anyway – there will be plenty of time to debate, dissect and discuss this issue this summer – our proposal will be submitted for first reading on June 24 and will not be discussed in any detail by the Board until the August meeting of the Student Assignment committee. I expect the proposal to come back for a final vote in late August and — if it passes — to take effect for enrollment for the 2015-16 school year.
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Tuesday night the Board will consider the 2014-15 budget proposal and Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP) detailing how we will spend our new Local Control Funding Formula dollars from the state. The draft budget books and draft LCAP are available for download on the district’s web site, here, here and here (warning: the budget books are a big download – don’t click on the first two links from your phone).
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School’s out, happy summer! President Fewer wrangled the Board and senior district staff and created this goofy fan version of the hit “Happy” by Pharrell. It’s a little embarassing, but it’s cute: