Sunday, October 26, 2008

Vote in the Chronicle poll

Vote in the Chronicle Poll:

What should be the top issue for the San Francisco school board?

Narrowing the achievement gap

School safety

Restoring JROTC

Communicating with parents


  1. Wow, shows you how off the public is on what the issues are.

    What about school assignment? What about financial -- how will they handle the budget crisis (which is coming if not already here!!) -- what programs would they cut, fund, how would they streamline???!!

    Achievement Gap -- I'd like to ask a bit about the large middle group that gets no attention but just sort of muddles along because well, they do ok, not bad enough to be on anyone's radar, but not good enough to be what we want of our future generation who will be competing on a global scale!

    Alot of monies have been thrown at fixing the achievement gap -- this problem did not just crop up yesterday, last year or the year before. Are programs being reviewed for effectiveness? Anyone thinking out of the box?

  2. Oh as I rant, I suppose I should ask, what would the Board do to increase enrollment and retention, improve graduation rates at 12th grade? that does touch a bit in the achievement gap area, but the AG has a lot of racial overtones, by design and by default.

    I'm not interested in racially charged solutions -- there are problems common to all students because of various factors - those are the factors I'd like to see addressed.

    Parent communication - does the newspaper mean to increase Parent Involvement and Responsibility for their child? Getting more flyers or memos from the Board with a bunch of buzzwords and politicospeak does nothing for me and actually counters our policy of being environmentally conscious!

  3. Are they kidding? I agree with the prior poster: ensuring adequate funding, fixing the assignment system, and improving under-performing schools are THE issues. You can "narrow the achievement gap" in either direction--and apparently some people want to narrow it downward by closing Lowell and SOTA.

  4. The Chronicle created those questions, so the public doesn't really get the blame.

    Re the achievement gap, it's not a problem unique to SFUSD (needless to say). If you read world education news ( you'll see articles from New Zealand about the Maori achievement gap. No one has solved this problem, in the greater sense. (Disclaimer: Some programs aimed at higher-functioning high-poverty kids do make a difference.)

  5. Caroline, do you have any connections to the Chronicle folks (since you are at Examiner, and ...)

    Maybe you can help straighten the Chronicle folks out? Their poll is almost nonsensical given the very serious issues the school distict will be facing.

    There should have been a question about fiscal responsibility and accountability, student enrollment/retention and graduation rates. Achievement GAP is so broad! Yes, it needs to be addressed, and I think the District Strategic Plan has it as its top priority.

    So no, the Board doesn't need to yet come up with another plan to address AG. How about how to handle the budget cuts with least impact to the greatest number of students??

  6. It makes sense that these are the issues the Chronicle would pick as most important, because they are the ones which the Chronicle has focused on. Chronicle education reporters are never SFUSD parents, so what they see as the most pressing issues are probably not the same as what we see as important. If we polled sfkfiles readers about what they think the school board should focus on, they would probably say student assignment process, expanding immersion programs, ensuring challenging curriculum for high achievers, attracting top quality teachers to all schools, and finding funding for more arts and enrichment. I doubt many of us would list school safety or JROTC as issues at all.

  7. Well said.
    Based on their poll, I had to choose JROTC, because I saw that as a indication of the slippery slope that the Board finds itself -- to advocate politics over what they are really their for -- to ensure adequate (lets not even ask for the superior) education for children so that they become productive, caring citizens of the world.

    I like your comment about challenging curriculum for high achievers. That actually even makes the AG worse! so not likely to see that at all.

  8. I just freelance for, but I'm married to a Chronicle reporter. But that probably means I have less influence than anyone! The Chronicle's current education reporters are extremely savvy (not all have been), so it's hard to know where this poll went astray.

  9. I think that's an awfully cavalier attitude about SFUSD's opportunity gap, which differs from the standard one in a very important way: it is much, much larger. SFUSD is the highest-performing urban district in California overall - which is why Margaret Spellings has praised it as an NCLB success. It also has the lowest-performing special education and African American students in the state. No appeals to demographics (economics) can statistically erase this difference.

  10. Actually, there's a lot of discussion of the fact that San Francisco has lost its African-American middle class. High housing prices have driven out families in search of homes to rent or buy. This April 2007 Chronicle story addressed that specifically:

    S.F. moves to stem African American exodus/
    Critics say effort to reverse longtime trend may be too late

    ... "San Francisco no longer has a viable black community," said (Joseph) Blue, an African American who lives in the Western Addition. "The middle class is gone, and what we have left is underprivileged, uneducated, poor black folks."

    San Francisco officials are now calling the thousands of black people who have moved away "the African American diaspora," ...

    That article and others say that the situation leaves largely only the poorest of the poor living in the African-American community -- those who are statistically likely (on average, overall) to struggle in school and achieve low academic performance.

    There's a lot of discussion about whether that's at the heart of SFUSD's achievement gap, along with the fact that our high achievers do better than high achievers in other urban districts.

    Disclaimers: I don't know if that middle-class exodus is also happening in places like Los Angeles, nor if the equivalent is happening with Latinos, though it would seem likely.

  11. How about school finance? The biggest question facing ALL CA school districts going forward is going to be where to get the funding to continue an already meager offering of basics and extras.