The Chronicle reports that the Marin Community Foundation will donate $35 million over three years, or $19,000 per student, to struggling Marin County school districts:
The organization is making grants to schools in the San Rafael, Sausalito Marin City, Novato and Shoreline school districts, which are attended by the highest percentage of low-achieving students in Marin County. About 19 percent of the 9,970 students in those districts fall below or far below basic performance levels on the state’s standardized tests.
The five districts mentioned in the article as receiving this bounty have the following API scores:
- San Rafael High School: 743
- San Rafael Elementary (K-8): 788
- Shoreline Unified: 788
- Marin City-Sausalito Unified: 796
- Novato Unified: 822
These scores are reasonably lower than the API results for Mill Valley Elementary and its companion, Tamalpais Union High School District — 924 and 862 (probably the high water mark for Marin public schools), but above the combined API score for San Francisco Unified — 777 (note that every one of Marin’s “troubled” districts except the San Rafael High School District scored higher than SFUSD).
What I think is particularly interesting (well, other than the fact that there don’t seem to be very many black people in affluent parts of Marin!) is the state of the achievement gap in each of these districts. (Aside: at this weekend’s Parent Engagement Summit one person suggested that the gap between Whites/Asians and African American/Latino/Pacific Islander students should be called the “opportunity gap” to put the onus of solving the problem back on adults.) Our gap, whether you look at White-African American, White-Latino, Asian-Latino, Asian-African American etc., etc., is wider than any of those we can see in Marin (I have summarized it all in a spreadsheet on Google docs, for those who want to wade more deeply into the data).
Seriously, what we could do with that money! I commend the Marin Community Foundation for stepping up and working to make sure that every student throughout the county has high quality academic opportunities. There is a lot of money in Marin, but there is also a lot of money here in San Francisco. Not enough of it has gone to improving opportunities in our public schools.
Sigh — well, there’s always the question of finding the greatest need and filling that, vs. contributing in one’s own community, or to whoever makes the most effective pitch in the application, or whatever.
If you went by greatest need, of course that money should be going to Richmond schools or a similar district. It’s a tough one. Presumably the small percentage of low-income kids in an otherwise wealthy community makes the situation look more manageable and the solution more achievable.
But it would be great if the various foundations that are working to raise money and resources for SFUSD schools could be that effective.
I loved this post because it speaks to what is REALLY required for a school system to be great: community involvement.
Of course, parents need to be involved, and yes, teachers matter, but if the community is not 120% behind a successful public school system, then greatness is not possible.
Whether or not you have children and regardless of where your children go to school, every San Franciscan must care deeply about the public school system.
Fact: Public schools are the backbone of our common community!