A post-private school city?

In this month’s San Francisco magazine, local writer and parent Diana Kapp has written an article profiling the popular SFKfiles blog and noting a turnaround in San Francisco public schools in recent years (if you can get a copy, the print version is more complete than the online version). My friend Caroline Grannan, a longtime public school parent, activist and education blogger, got a bit breathless at the positive coverage — entirely forgivable after what seems like decades of negative and unfair media coverage that seemed to convince many middle and upper-class families to steer away from San Francisco public schools. (I keep a file of the most egregious examples, so I share her enthusiasm over Ms. Kapp’s article — also, full disclosure: both Caroline and I were interviewed for the piece).

So is this the tipping point? Is “going public” cool and relevant again for middle class urban dwellers?  I hope so, and yet we also need to remember that attracting middle-class families back to our schools is only part of what we need to do here in San Francisco. We need to remember that our African-American students, our Latino students, our low-income students, our special education students and our  English Learner students are all lagging behind where they should be in academic achievement and graduation rates. My middle-class child is doing well in her public school, but other children are not.  And all children in San Francisco would be better served by schools that are adequately-funded.

Remedying this situation will take a community effort – reaching out to parents, policymakers and other community members to make sure that everyone understands the goal and is working together to achieve it.

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