San Francisco school board finds itself in the hot seat, again

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The San Francisco Board of Education has decided to change admission protocols for one of the country’s top performing public schools, by removing score-based admittance in exchange for a lottery system in order to address “pervasive systemic racism.”

The Tuesday night decision ends more than a century of merit-based acceptance to Lowell High School, first reported the San Francisco Chronical.


The Board’s 5-2 vote is an attempt to add more diversity to the San Francisco school by increasing the number of Black and brown students admitted.

Currently the school has enrolled 2,900 students – less than two percent of which are Black, compared with eight percent districtwide. Hispanic students make up less than 12 percent of the student body, compared with the district’s average 32 percent, reported the San Francisco publication.

Asian American students encompass 51 percent of the Lowell’s student body, compared to 29 percent districtwide.

But the move is likely going to cause frustration amongst parents whose children hold high test scores and look to Lowell as a crucial step in their path toward Ivy League acceptance, without having to pay private school price tags.

“The top-notch education that Lowell has provided to generations of San Franciscans is not a product of lavish resources, but rather, is the result of bringing together academically-focused students who raise the bar for each other,” the Lowell Alumni Association said in a statement Wednesday, condemning the move.

The alumni group noted the school has not done enough to address racism, but said they believe the school can be inclusive while maintaining higher standards in student enrollment.

The group instead encouraged the San Francisco Board of Education to work on improving education standards in elementary and middle schools across the city, to better prepare students eager for a more rigorous high school education and admittance into Lowell.

The association also note that “there is no indication that lottery-based admissions” contribute to more widespread diversity in schools. “In fact, a study showed that the admissions lottery implemented in the last decade has resulted in less diversity per school in the District,” the group said in their statement.


The controversial move comes as the city of San Francisco have filed a lawsuit against the Board of Education and the San Francisco Unified School District in an attempt to push them to reopen public schools.

The city remains frustrated that the school board and district have had 10 months to devise a plan on how to safely reopen schools, and have not been able to come up with a satisfactory path forward.

The suit points out that since September 2020, 113 private schools in the city have reopened with more than 15,800 students having returned for in-person teaching – with fewer than five cases of in-school virus transmission having been reported. 

City Attorney Dennis Herrera expanded the lawsuit Tuesday to include allegations of violating students’ rights to attend public schools under the state’s Constitution, discriminating against students on the basis of wealth – as only costly private schools have thus far reopened – and violating the state’s law to “offer in-person instruction to the greatest extent possible.”

The school board also drew condemnation from the city in their decision to prioritize renaming 44 schools they believed reflected racist figures, including George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.

The move is expected to cost between $400,000 to $1 million, in order to change signs, uniforms and insignias.

But the move to be more inclusive has stretched beyond student admittance rates.

A San Francisco Chronical journalist took to twitter Tuesday night to report that a father trying to volunteer on a parent advisory group was allegedly turned down due to the color of his skin.


“The SF school board tonight spent two hours talking about whether to allow a gay dad of mixed-race SFUSD kids to volunteer for one of several empty seats on a parent advisory group,” reported San Francisco Chronical columnist, Heather Knight. “Their problem was that he’s white and doesn’t bring diversity to the group.”

Fox New has been unable to reach the Board of Education to comment on the recent lawsuit, and their Tuesday night decisions.


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