From the post, "Parents Who Choose privates: Is Your Child Bored"
I think SFUSD is doing a great job and certainly when you compare test scores to similar cohort to other districts, even relatively homogenous, affluent districts, it shows the district is strong. I just think the conversation in SF is different because we have a large number of highly educated parents who are also very affluent (relative to the rest of the country) who tour a lot of schools that offer many different types of programs. Also it is very hard to compare public and private schools because there is a huge resource gap between a private school that gets 20-25k to educate a student they select and a public school that gets 5k (I forgot the exact amounts for SFUSD but it's not even half of private school tuition) to educate any student that shows up.
At any rate, it seems that parents in SF start to make a laundry list of their ideal school situation and anything less than that starts to look unappealing. The amazing thing is that they can usually find a school that matches their exact list. The only barriers re if they get in and if it's private, if they can afford it. I feel that if people in SF were to go outside the city and say, "I want a public Spanish Immersion program with a strong arts component that is also K-8," there would be no way that the public school system would even come close. But in SF, we actually have a school, Buena Vista, that fits that description. SFUSD schools and populations don't resemble those of wealthy suburbs but they do have a lot to offer when it comes to unique programs and creative ways of addressing the broad range of students that enter the public school system.