View Full Version : All SF A Progressive Case for Neighborhood Schools

03-10-2011, 09:40 AM
This from BeyondChron (http://www.beyondchron.org/news/index.php?itemid=8973#more) by Trevor McNeil:
I am a product of, and teacher in, San Francisco independent schools. I certainly don’t judge parents who send their kids to private schools or the people who work hard to make those schools successful. Learning, community, and if you make an effort, justice are happening there. These schools are non-profits that do good work and deserve praise for their innovative, passionate teaching. But the mass-proliferation of private schools in our city is problematic. If the Students First initiative – which urges the school board to support neighborhood-based student assignments for public schools rather than a continuation with the current lottery system – can help convince parents not to enroll their kids in independent schools, then I believe progressives have to re-assess our knee-jerk reaction to be against neighborhood schools.

Students First is a group and a possible November ballot initiative that support neighborhood-based student assignments. It does not seek to promote segregation. That neighborhoods themselves are still racially segregated is a national shame and a moral challenge for us to examine institutional privilege and admit a history of racism. The time has come though, for a city as diverse as San Francisco to move away from a busing mentality. We should focus first on what is best for our kids.

Without a doubt attending a diverse school is best for our kids.

And yes, many will argue that the Students First initiative may hurt that diversity. But would it really?

More than 29% of our school-age children in San Francisco attend private or religious schools. Aside from denying the district a huge amount of money as well as dedicated parents more able to contribute financially, those schools where a third of our kids go, are generally monochromatic. Those kids are San Franciscans. They do not benefit from the racial diversity of the lottery system. They grow up to be parents and voters in a city that, despite years of non-neighborhood school allocation, still is largely segregated. And if, for even a small percentage, neighborhood schooling would compel some of those parents who spend $236,000 on eleven years of schooling, to send their kids to public schools, then the Students First idea would have my support.

And it can be a progressive reform. Having the well-off invested in matters of government policy forces change (think of the difference between a draft army during an illegal war and a volunteer army during an illegal war – the anti-Iraq-war movement suffered). The carbon footprint of driving kids all over the city can’t be insignificant. And the social footprint of kids not knowing their neighbors is certainly significant and a little sad.

The rich bypass the lottery. And that is a problem. They aren’t “better”. But they are better educated which means we’re losing parents who understand the expectations of college admissions more fully. The rich have more time off to go to PTA meetings and volunteer as assistant coaches. The rich kids benefit from tutoring, summer enrichment camps, and the mental security of not having to worry that their parent will have a job or that they will see a drive-by tonight. If these kids were in our public schools teachers and administrators could concentrate on the students who do need extra attention and caring – the very students that continue to fall through public school cracks.

read more>> (http://www.beyondchron.org/news/index.php?itemid=8973#more)