Dear Mayor Breed,
When my wife and I moved to San Francisco in 1997, we were two 20-somethings having fun, and didn’t think we would stay in the City once we had a family. The lottery school system, cost of living and quality of life for families were all daunting as we looked ahead. We have managed over the years to make a great life in the Sunset District. As our children now approach high school age, however, our thinking has come full circle with regards t.o SFUSD policies, and what is best for our children.
Over the years we have sent our children to public kindergarten and middle schools, and one child was accepted to Lowell H.S. Sadly, because we want to support the school system and avoid expense, we may choose private high schools going forward, taking on significant economic hardship to do so.
Why? The high school lottery, removing academic measures for Lowell H.S. admittance, no advance-track mathematics in middle school, cancelling the names of our fallible yet visionary forefathers – these are all policies that have clear negative impacts on families, and San Francisco’s equity goals.
How many people go into private schools due to SFUSD school lottery? How many more will now opt out of SFUSD with the proposed demolition of one of this nation’s best academic high schools (Lowell)? How many taxpayers and voters feel alienated by the reductionist thinking of the “school names change commission?” How many families are actually leaving San Francisco, undermining the financial and intellectual capital that supports the system, due, in part, to scholastic uncertainty and these other maddening policies?
The goal of equal access for all, while laudable, is undermined because of these policies, as many of those who can afford to choose will not participate. Then, sadly, the intellectual sharing, the socio-economic and cultural mixing are not optimized in schools as key human capital exits the system. The policy of lottery causes significant stress and disruption for families leading up to school selection, and every day thereafter as kids travel across the city to faraway schools. Removing Lowell H.S. as a selective access school removes hope for children who would strive and thrive in an atmosphere of elevated intellectual rigor, and for the families who wish to avoid the crazy and painful San Francisco lottery.
At minimum I hope you will not double down on this lottery system by putting access to Lowell H.S. into the melting pot. More broadly, I hope you will see that these policies can alienate an important part of SFUSD’s support base, and undermine equity goals by pushing those who can afford it, out of the system.
San Francisco, CA
Categories: letter to the editor