Update: Please read the postscript to this post. Also, last night’s presentation is posted.
Where to start? Tonight’s three-plus hour Committee of the Whole meeting on the student assignment redesign was full of new information and developments. So be warned, because this is a long post. We started with a presentation from our Parent Advisory Council and Parents for Public Schools-San Francisco, partners who have worked very hard over the past few months to conduct community conversations with almost 600 people, recording their reactions to the proposed options for a new student assignment system and their overall aspirations for their children’s education.
This was an incredible effort, and I know the Board is tremendously grateful to the hundreds of volunteer hours that went into doing this outreach — on a very tough timeline, I might add! The conversations were conducted between mid-November and early January, when families are busy with holiday plans and travel. But the PAC and PPS have really nailed community outreach, and the report they gave us tonight was eye-opening, and at times uncomfortable. Some excerpts:
People understood the problems associated with concentrating “under-served” students in the same schools, but they also pointed to the challenges of both achieving and supporting diversity at school sites. Parents noted that schools that are currently academically and ethnically diverse struggle to serve the complex needs of their students. Most participants questioned whether any of the options would achieve this goal and asked why the district’s priorities for student assignment did not address improving schools. (p. 6)
Many students face barriers to their education based on their family’s income, primary language, need for Special Education services, or lack of transportation. These obstacles won’t be resolved just by having a new assignment policy, and need to be specifically addressed within the implementation plan for the new system. (p. 10)
As in previous community engagement initiatives, we found that — even among families who are engaged in their children’s education and happy with their schools — there is not much trust in the SFUSD on the whole. (p. 11)
There was a great effort to reach out to groups we don’t usually hear from — families of color, non-English speaking families, and families who are low-income. At the same time, the district conducted an online survey, which captured responses from over 1,200 people — overwhelmingly English-speaking and parents of elementary-age children or younger. It’s hard to completely characterize the responses from the meetings and the survey, but generally most participants spoke in favor of being able to choose a school. The PAC and PPS collaboration resulted in some very thoughtful recommendations, essentially that none of the six options the Board has been considering quite does the trick.
I think the most important thing to take away, however, is that parents are, in the words of PPS-SF Board President Matt Kelemen, “clamoring screaming for quality schools.” In other words, parents know that student assignment, by itself, will not make every school better. Of course, it may make access to our many high-demand schools more fair, and it may also bring resources to some of our under-enrolled schools. And of course, equitable access and resources are very important, but so are strong principal leadership; well-trained, well-supported teachers; and a rich, rigorous curriculum. When will we start talking about those things?
The next part of the evening was devoted to a discussion of new proposals from the staff, options that will be crafted into a final proposal to be presented to the Board next week. Essentially, district staff pulled out Options 3 and 6 from the original proposals the Board has been working with, and modified them to create Options A and B (the options address elementary and middle school enrollment only; the current thinking is that high school enrollment would remain all choice). Under both options, the district would retain sibling preference, and draw new attendance area boundaries for each school (to allow every address in San Francisco to be located within an attendance area for a public school), with a limited number of citywide schools with no attendance area. Students who live in an attendance area and attend Pre-K at their attendance area school would receive preference for their attendance area school. The district would also introduce a new variable — for now dubbed Census Tract Integration Preference (CTIP).
CTIP is basically a way of predicting whether a student is likely to be academically disadvantaged or not. It is derived by averaging the California Standards Test (CST) scores for all students residing in a particular census tract, and comparing that average score to the range of CST scores posted by all San Francisco students. If the average score is in the top 60% of scores, that census tract is assigned CTIP 1; if the average score is in the lower 40% of scores, the census tract is assigned CTIP 2. Students residing in CTIP 1 tracts would receive preference at schools in CTIP 2 tracts; students residing in CTIP 2 tracts would receive preference at schools in CTIP 1 tracts. Census tracts were chosen because they are large enough to have substantial numbers of students living in them, minimizing the effects of random variation; and because they are small enough to capture variations within larger geographical areas (e.g., zip codes).
There have been some questions about why we are using the academic diversity scheme over, say, income diversity. There are, in my opinion, very good reasons for doing this, even though I have a few doubts about how valid, ultimately, the CST is as a stand-in for economic disadvantage and race. The biggest reason to use test scores over income is that they are far more easily verified than an income declaration, if only because verifying a person’s income is much more intrusive than simply looking up the test scores in the district’s computer system. How would we gather and verify information about the income levels of incoming kindergarteners, or students coming from other districts? The CTIP scheme does have the advantage of relying on verifiable data that we already maintain, without relying on a family to produce records of income in order to receive a particular preference.
Essentially, Option A would work like the current system, where families would submit an application listing school choices. After siblings and Pre-K students, CTIP preference would be considered, and after that, local preference (preference to those living in the newly-drawn attendance area of a particular school). Under Option B, local preference would be considered before CTIP but after siblings and Pre-K students.
Though these options are pretty much what I was expecting, I was somewhat underwhelmed after hearing them. For one thing, the PAC and PPS are right: why have we spent a year talking about student assignment when what we really need to be talking about is improving schools? For another, after spending so much time — more than a year, really, more like 20 years — on student assignment, shouldn’t we have come up with something more exciting than local preference and CTIP?
I had other reactions, too — the special education part of the proposal is basically a big placeholder that says, “we’ll eventually get to this, twisting whatever we come up with for general education so we can make it look like we’re being equitable to special education students.” Though I believe it’s meant as an honest attempt at being even-handed, that’s not the right approach. What we need to do is finally acknowledge that special education placements should be driven by the individual needs of the child, and decided by IEP teams at IEP meetings.
I hated the idea that we would move back the date we notify parents of assignments to April or May, because that’s basically a gift to the parochial or private schools — you’re far less likely to attend public school if you don’t get your placement letter until two months after your hefty deposit check has cleared. People who think public school letters should come before or at the same time as private school letters, you need to make your voices heard! Even our Stanford researchers told us back in October that moving the date would make little difference in terms of participation.
But I like the simplicity of both systems, since all we’d need to ask parents to do is provide a (verifiable!) home address and a list of choices. I like that Option B gives parents the predictability many have been asking for, and I think that making parent effort voluntary might ease the burden on parents who simply don’t have the time or the resources to take advantage of a choice system. Option B also has the potential of increasing enrollment at under-enrolled schools, which is a big deal at small schools. (A school with 100 students can’t possibly offer the resources of a school with 400 students, even if we were to double the per student dollars at the smaller school. More students = more money!) But Option A, based on the simulations presented by researchers from Stanford late last month, would probably give students from low CST census tracts a bit more access to high-performing schools and more likelihood of receiving their first choice in a lottery. In the end, I marginally prefer Option B, but there are big tradeoffs with either option.
What happens next? The staff will somehow pull together all of tonight’s feedback into a “framework” that will be presented to the Board on Feb. 9. We’ll discuss a fleshed out version of the framework at a Committee of the Whole on Feb. 17, and vote on a final policy on March 9. Things are going to start moving very fast from here on out, so pay attention!
Dear Bernal Dad,
In regards to the PPSSF/PAC survey on what African American and Hispanic parents want, I stand corrected.
My follow-up inquiry is: would the Mission and Bayview be interested in more, a lot more, after school care? If yes, that is going to take voter approval for public school funding. Voter approval to tax themselves will require responding to frustration over lack of neighborhood schools.
“In regards to zones, I was aiming at escaping the folly of single school areas and addresses. ”
I just see it as more complication. Any zone system is going to obviate a guaranteed placement in a local school, but also restrict choice. Zones sound good, but they’re neither fish nor fowl.
“In regards to what parents want, I was looking for the concerns of African American, Hispanic, and Pacific Islander parents, in particular, not parents in general.”
I was talking about what the PPSSF/PAC survey said specifically for those populations.
vicky: the pre-k things are offered at (linked to?) only some schools. you can find them by looking on the sfusd website. they’re also called cdc’s or child development centers. i don’t know if this is true for all of them, but at least some of them have to fill a quota of low-income slots. i called one today and was told they aren’t taking any tuition kids right now b/c they don’t have enough low-income slots filled to fulfill their contract with the state. not sure if this is the case everywhere, and, frankly, i don’t know how these pre-k’s measure up to the private pre-k’s. (i’m wondering, to take this all to a perverse level, do i have to put my child in a “lesser” pre-k than she is in now in order to secure her place in a better k-5? but, we can’t get into the pre-k of the school we want anyway, so i guess it doesn’t matter!)
Dear Bernal Dad,
In regards to what parents want, I was looking for the concerns of African American, Hispanic, and Pacific Islander parents, in particular, not parents in general.
If there were a great demand for after school care in the Mission and the Bayview, that means more money from taxpayers, and that means some movement toward neighborhood schools to win support in westside areas. That is the inquiry I was aiming at.
In regards to zones, I was aiming at escaping the folly of single school areas and addresses. We have a dedicated Board of Education and a dedicated school staff that only wants the best for San Francisco. Our job as citizens is to share ideas with them and with each other. No one can claim to have all the answers. I certainly do not.
Draft Memo to FaceBook and MySpace
Hey kids and parents, there’s a new game in town. It’s called CTIP–the Race To The Bottom.
CTIP1 are winners, and CTIP2 are losers. Your census tract is your team. To win, you have to flunk the standardized exams the schools give. With all transparency, in simple English, those are the rules. SFUSD is actually make this game real in the school assignment redesign.
Your team could be close to getting into CTIP1. So spread the word and flunk the exams. It is a race to the bottom.
“What is it that they want changed in SFUSD? That is where I would begin.”
They want good schools in their neighborhoods. If the schools aren’t good in their neighborhoods, some want the option of choosing where their kids go.
This was all covered in the PPSSF/PAC presentation, Leslie. Weren’t you there?
” lastly, i just want to say that it’s clear that no matter what system is offered, there are always going to be massive numbers of complaints b/c everyone wants the predictability of going to their local school, particularly when they can afford to live in a nice neighborhoods with like-minded individuals.”
Very true. There’s a lot of people who like the ability to choose their school, and this came out in the PPSSF/PAC consultations.
“Zones–An Alternative. Instead of an unwise reliance on addresses, divide the city into zones the size of high school attendance areas and let everyone pick their own zone, regardless of where they live. ”
Leslie, what happens if more people pick a zone than there is capacity in that zone? Your idea is, essentially, the same as a lottery but with less precision.
What are the pre-k programs? Does every school have them?
The Board will continue to oversee the implementation of a new policy in the months following the March 9 vote; the maps will probably come out shortly before the new system “debuts” sometime in the Fall of 2010. The current plan is to keep the Student Assignment Redesign committee active so that it can oversee the staff work to get the new system in place and then monitor the outcomes of the new system going forward. The idea is that the new system will be flexible, with “dials” the board can adjust going forward to get us as close as possible to our three stated goals for a new system (ending racial isolation, creating equitable access, and maintaining a transparent system at every stage of the process).
is it a definite that on 3/9 one of these options will be voted into place, or is there any real chance that we’ll linger in limbo longer? (i just want to know FINALLY how it’s going to work!!!) do you have any sense when, post 3/9 decision, the new maps and CTIP information will be made available to us? lastly, i just want to say that it’s clear that no matter what system is offered, there are always going to be massive numbers of complaints b/c everyone wants the predictability of going to their local school, particularly when they can afford to live in a nice neighborhoods with like-minded individuals. speaking as someone who does not have that luxury, i am very excited that my child is not necessarily going to be penalized for my lack of focus on finances- and that we still have some say in where our child goes to school even in the public school system.
Thank-you, Betsy, for asking point blank,what the penalty for lying would be.
Thank-you, Ex-Noe Dad, for imagining the scenario of getting bumped out of CTIP1.
CTIP, the Race To The Bottom
My census tract should just deliberately flunk the standardized tests the school district will be looking at, or even might be looking at, in order to get into CTIP1. Then we should continue flunking the exams to stay in CTIP1. And my census tracts gets rewarded with our choice of schools. Is the school district willing to risk the integrity of standardized exams? Thank-you, again, Ex-Noe Dad.
Address Fraud. What are the penalties for lying and what is the likelihood of getting caught? Would lying be worth the risk to get the school that you want?
Games. Even without lying, the strategic thing to do is to move into the favored census tracts prior to asking for a school assignment. Residence is a mutable characteristic. Addresses will change to get the reward of the school that you want.
Zones–An Alternative. Instead of an unwise reliance on addresses, divide the city into zones the size of high school attendance areas and let everyone pick their own zone, regardless of where they live. If you pick the Washington Area, you also get to go to school in the Mission High School Attendance Area. If you pick the Lincoln Area, you also get to go to school in the Balboa Area. If you pick the McAteer Area, you also get to go to school in the Galileo Area.
And visa versa so that picking Mission adds Washington, picking Balboa adds Lincoln, picking the Galileo area adds the McAteer area. Every zone has its distant, partner neighborhood.
We want some diversity of students. We must provide some choice of schools. We must accept our limitations in dealing with address fraud and in dealing with the ingenuity of parents to work the system for the best interest of their children.
Thanks for all your comments Leslie! Think you do indeed bring up great points! Appreciate you letting me know about the blog and all the good info!
It is ok if we have less racial integration in the schools today than we had 20 years ago.
I can say that because the desegregation the school district was able to achieve, in terms of reducing over concentration of African Americans and Hispanic groups, was accomplished by discrimination against Chinese Americans in San Francisco. I can make that statement because that was the argument of Chinese American parents in Brian Ho vs. SFUSD. When the parents asked, “What business was it of the school what the race or ethnicity of the student was and what business was it of the school how many students of one race or ethnicity made up the student body?” the response of the school district was that it was not prepared to defend itself in a court of law.
The judge told the the school district that he advised the school district to settle. We got the Consent Decree. We have resegregated ever since. But that earlier desegregation was false. It was done with illegal means. It was like cheating with steroids in baseball.
I do not know what to do about the achievement gap. The people most affected are the parents in the African American, Hispanic, and Pacific Islander communities. What is it that they want changed in SFUSD? That is where I would begin.
” My attendance area school, an up-and-comer, was looking good. Now, since the new system will even further limit our choices, and with the budget cuts and even fewer bus options, I’m sorry to say that I am leaning back toward private or leaving the city if we don’t get an aid package.”
Sally, you need to make your voice heard. Option A is still a choice system. The political pressure on the board is coming from neighborhood school advocates who want to restrict choice: the board doesn’t hear much from those who look see being able to choose amongst 70-odd schools as a bonus, not a negative.
If Rachel and other board members hear from enough parents who want choice over “you’re getting your neighborhood school”, then we’ll get Option A. If not, we get Option B.
Despite having gone through a prolonged phase when we were dedicated to staying in the City, we ultimately left the winter before our son entered kindergarten — and SFUSD’s absurd school assignment system (and the obsession with it) was at least half of the reason for leaving.
With that said: neither of these alternatives would have changed our decision. Both alternatives show that San Francisco still has not learned what we who grew up under busing figured out as kids: you cannot make up for segregated neighborhoods with superficially integrated schools. And worse than simply providing a distraction to education, attempts to use busing to make up for segregated neighborhoods also chew up the neighborhoods themselves as a side-effect. (In our new neighborhood, the school is a nexus for everything — the Scout troops, the play-dates, the neighborhood meetings, etc. — yielding a community cohesion that feeds back into the school itself.) And while I admire the creativity of using census tracts in lieu of other indicators, it is entirely perverse to be rewarding communities for academically failing! (“Please oh please let my ‘hood not score so well this year that our CTIP gets bumped!”) San Francisco needs to lose its obsession with the “achievement gap” and instead focus on raising achievement for each and every single student in the district; a rising tide lifts all boats!
Even though I personally think it’s doomed to failure, I do actually hope that San Francisco somehow beats the odds and succeeds with it: it was soul-crushing to see every single one of our (progressive, publicly-biased) friends in the City either move away or go private. San Francisco deserves much better — but I’m afraid that neither of these options is it…
There are a number of different options for penalties that could be imposed — lying about your address is fraud, so we could refer cases to the D.A. for prosecution; we could also impose hefty fines on families who are found to have lied about their addresses. We could ask families to verify their addresses every year, which would allow us to zero in on those who change their address just before applying to middle schools, for example. Currently, we offer sibling preference to extended family members living under the same roof; we could stop doing that (which would make it harder to use a family member’s address). I am not necessarily endorsing any or all of these measures but rather simply trying to give people a sense of the range of anti-fraud measures we could put in place.
The question I have is, what would the “penalty” be if you were caught lying about your address? If there is no penalty, then the whole system is stupid.
I agree with the CDC preference for an attached or related elementary school. Many of these students continue at that CDC for after-school program offered for students K-3 and it makes sense to have the same students be able to continue. In my experience working at several elementary schools with attached CDC and having been parent at one, the staff of the CDC and elementary school work closely together to share info. and plan services.
I agree the address issue is ripe for fraud. It is not hard to get a piece of semi-official mail, like a cell phone or car insurance bill, delivered to the address of a friend or relative. (people already do this to get better car insurance rates , in fact)
Anyone can make up a bogus lease form. If one owns a business or rented-out house, those property tax or utility bills can be substituted for the real residence.
Many people put an address on driver’s license but DMV does not ask for any proof, since the purpose is supposed to be notifying relatives in case of accident and calling one for jury duty.
Conversely, with shared/transitional housing (semi homeless, living with friends or family) many low income families do not have utility bills in that name and are not officially on the lease. The District currently accepts an affidavit from the official resident as to the others living in the home, for one of the proofs of residence.
Sally, please don’t leave San Francisco. Talk to real estate agents. Encourage them to figure out what census tracts have low academic achievement. Then rent in said census tract before applying for school assignment. Then get your pick of schools. Is the school district prepared for this type of unintended consequences?
I would like to have all options open to me, including private schools, when it comes time to navigate this system for my son.
**Where do I follow-up to request the the notification letters not be moved back.**
I would lean towards Option B. I am spending a lot of effort to become more involved in the community I live in. With the birth of my son, we are meeting many new families and really enjoying this new sense of community that I have not felt since I was child. I would love it if the majority of these new friend’s children went to the same school as my son. This is assuming they are not all planning to move to the burbs as soon their children reach school age, as some have already told me.
Sally, the PreK preference would be for children who attend SFUSD Child Development Center programs at their attendance area school: our CDC programs are 60% low-income, and most elementary schools do not have a CDC program housed within them. So this “preference” would affect a small number of children, and those children are primarily low-income.
Hmmmm. And supposing you could not afford Pre-K in your attendance area, didn’t make its cut-off date, or chose a Pre-K school because you didn’t know the system was going to change? You’re then retroactively disadvantaged from getting into your attendance area school? That hardly seems fair. I see the point of sibling preference, but the Pre-K thing seems loaded, especially tilting toward older kids and affluent parents who can pay for local preschools (as well as low-income families who can use local Head Starts).
After touring the publics, I was excited about the idea of public school here — so many committed parents, such resourcefulness and grit in the face of an uncaring city and state. My attendance area school, an up-and-comer, was looking good. Now, since the new system will even further limit our choices, and with the budget cuts and even fewer bus options, I’m sorry to say that I am leaning back toward private or leaving the city if we don’t get an aid package.
“Sure, but I was comparing Option A to the current system, not to Option B. Why would Option A succeed to do what the current system has failed to do?”
Because it’s more targeted. The problem with using linguistic and poor/non-poor as diversity variables is that there’s sufficient intra-group variability (e.g. within the Asian and Hispanic community) that you could fill an entire school with 80+ of one ethnic group and it’d still look fine from using the current diversity variables.
You tweak the dials, you get different results.
My compliments again on your writing. Thank you and Matt Keleman for voicing my demand for better schools. For 30 years we’ve chased integration and diversity when we should have been designing a curriculum that prepares every child for the next challenge.
I will post this in a few places and with what has been achieved I’m sorry I wasn’t able to accept Mary’s offer earlier this year to work with him on this. Good job all around.
Thank you for posting this, Rachel! It was fantastic to get Orla’s presentation last night – this would have been a good place to start doing community meetings, rather than on 6 options. It probably would have resulted in much better feedback from parents, directly related to what is actually being considered for implementation.
We must deal with address fraud by making it in everybody’s interest to be truthful as to their current address. We need unpredictability, so that lying could harm as well as help.
Let’s suppose that I live near Alamo and that Alamo is my first choice. Further, I would not complain if I got any of the schools in the Richmond. I just don’t want to get sent far away. I might be tempted to claim that I live in a CTIP3 area, such as the Mission, in order to get an improved chance of getting into Alamo.
However, if the Richmond had both zone schools and neighborhood schoods,if I lie, and if the number of seats at Alamo for CTIP 3 low achievement area students were set low enough that I only had a 50% of getting into Alamo as a CTIP 3 student, I run the real risk of not getting into Alamo, not getting into one of the other Richmond schools, and getting assigned to a Mission area school. I might not lie.
Therefore, Alamo and the other 10 elementary schools in highest demand, should have zones the size of high school areas, overlapping the single school area neighborhood schools. Living in the Washington High Area, I would be covered by my non-Alamo neighborhood school and by Alamo. If I lie and claim to live in the Mission to increase my odds of getting into Alamo, I would forfeit my chance of getting into my perfectly good non-Alamo neighborhood school. I might not want to take that chance.
“Option B does a worse job of desegration than Option A, in the simulations.”
Sure, but I was comparing Option A to the current system, not to Option B. Why would Option A succeed to do what the current system has failed to do?
“I agree with Erika that Option A is too much like the current system. It basically uses academic diversity based on census tract as a proxy for the current diversity index, which itself is a proxy for race. ”
No, you’re missing the point of the CTIP. It’s a real elegant flash of insight by Orla O’Keefe: choice won’t get you desegregation, but if you nudge those choices to be in a certain direction, you can influence what certain groups choose. That’s the purpose of CTIP1/CTIP2 for both the schools and the kids. Also, using the Census Tract and academic performance is a more directed method that solely using low SES, which is part (and only part) of the current diversity index.
“Rachel, I suspect that simulations of the current system would have also shown good potential for desegregating the schools, but it did not turn out that way. Why not? Without taking a hard look at the reasons for this failure, Option A is doomed to repeat it.”
Option B does a worse job of desegration than Option A, in the simulations. But the census tract idea of Orla’s is a neat trick, which makes it perform better than the old Option 6.
“Games. What if I live in a high achieving CTIP 3 area, rent for a year in a CTIP 1 area, get into a CTIP 3 school back at my old neighborhood, and then move back to my old neighborhood. Is that perfectly OK?”
Leslie, any system that uses “where do you live” as a factor in assignment is subject to the same games, even straight neighborhood assignment.
Rachel, I suspect that simulations of the current system would have also shown good potential for desegregating the schools, but it did not turn out that way. Why not? Without taking a hard look at the reasons for this failure, Option A is doomed to repeat it.
Thanks for the information on the meeting from last night. I was there in spirit. I am really intrigued about the pre-k preference. I do wonder though what impact this will have on the CDCs and their ability to probably handle an uptick in enrollment. What are their enrollment policies, etc.. Do they give preferences? Are the choices made downtown or at the individual sites?
Thank you so much for your detailed summary and take on all of this! It’s satisfying to see that the board is trying to implement a system that gives weight to both academic diversity and local preference, and weight to parent choice. It has also been particularly refreshing to hear that the board will implement a system that is not wasteful and where it won’t matter how you list your choices.
However, what is amazing to me is that, after this long, long process of the student assignment redesign, parents will essentially have no real opportunity to weigh in in the most important phase –looking at the details of how a proposed option will work and thinking about how it will work/not work for them. I was at one of the focus groups, and it was very difficult for parents to weigh in on the vaguer options presented there, without details.
For example, “local preference” turns out to be just preference for one school in your local area, not preference for, say, the two or three schools closest to you. And I’m sure there are a lot of questions about the particularities of those CTIP areas, too! It would be great to see families be able to weigh in knowing all of the details…
One question: how will the waitpools work under the new system? This may seem like a minor detail, but I found that it was the part of the year where we most had to try to second-guess the system and felt the most arbitrary.
Actually, Christine, I have to disagree with you. Based on the simulations conducted by our Stanford researchers, Option A would presumably give families from low CST census tracts a strong preference for high demand schools. And based on our demographic data, low CST census tracts closely correspond with areas where there is a high African-American or Latino population, and also with areas that are generally low-income. There are always unintended and unexpected consequences to systems as complex as this one, but based on the simulations we’ve conducted there’s a good reason to think that Option A has the potential to de-segregate schools (note that I did not say “integrate,” since I don’t believe it’s possible with our current program layout, residential segregation and choice patterns to fully integrate our schools — in other words, the options currently before the Board will not further segregate our schools and they will probably marginally de-segregate our programs but they won’t make the racial isolation problem disappear).
Rachel: Thanks for the write up. I will link to my Facebook page. What is clearly one of the most challenging, and highly frustrating year long exercises doesn’t seem to be bringing the far reaching changes I think many thought it would… It appears to me we are looking at trying to turn an ocean liner instead of making a 90 degree turn in the school assignment process, and that is unfortunate. However…if progress is to be made, let’s make it, and move on to the other pressing issues you note above. Thank you for your hard work!
I agree with Erika that Option A is too much like the current system. It basically uses academic diversity based on census tract as a proxy for the current diversity index, which itself is a proxy for race. Each time the diversity measure is repackaged, it loses something in translation. The problem with the current lottery is that it failed to desegregate the schools, which was the whole point. There was nothing in the presentation last night to indicate Option A would succeed where the current system failed.
Reading this over is very disappointing to me. Option A just does not seem that different to me than our current system. It seems like a system that will further disadvantage the middle class from staying in SF. My daughter is still too young for school, but we live between Garfield and Yick Wo, either of which seem would be great fits for her. I am not sure what the census tract info will say about our neighborhood (there are both housing projects and million dollar homes) but we are solidly middle class and live in a rent controlled apt. If our tract is defined as CTIP 1, will we then have to take our daughter out of the neighborhood for school? How far away? We do not have the resources to buy another car. Busing seems to be getting cut. We do not have an older child, so sibling preference will not help us. We cannot attend preschool at an SFUSD site in our neighborhood because we are not low income. (yet, we cannot afford the prices of the market rate preschools. such is life in san francisco and the reason why middle class families leave)
So, depending on how big the tracts end up being, would we end up getting sent across town? The word “Choice” seems like a misnomer here. We want our daughter to walk to school. I vote for Option B.
School staff said that at looking at geographical areas, zip codes were too large, had too much variability in academic achievment within that zip code. Census tracts, staff said, were smaller and more accurate in representing an area of lower or higher academic achievment.
In a similar vein, the two levels of academic achievment, CTIP 1 and CTIP 2 could be pushed to three levels: CTIPs 1,2, and 3 for low, medium, and high levels of academic achievment.
Perhaps a goal for every school could be: 1/3 students from CTIP 1, 1/3 students from CTIP 2, and 1/3 students from CTIP 3.
Games. What if I live in a high achieving CTIP 3 area, rent for a year in a CTIP 1 area, get into a CTIP 3 school back at my old neighborhood, and then move back to my old neighborhood. Is that perfectly OK?
Thanks for speaking up for students in special education … as I suspected, the new suggested assignment systems don’t deal with the SPED assignment problems at all. Special education, is, as usual — always an afterthought in this district.
I was also disappointed that Orla’s presentation did not recognize that students in special education also suffer from a huge achievement gap … since the vast majority of students in special education are NOT cognitively delayed –there is no reason they should not be learning what other students are learning, but again, it is assumed that students in SPED won’t learn. They won’t learn if nobody is trying to teach them because of preconceived ideas about their lack of ability to learn.