New SF school assignment policy fails at Board of Education

The five-year-old assignment process that has determined where students attend public schools in San Francisco will not change anytime soon.

After delaying a vote twice this past school year, the Board of Education on Tuesday voted 4-3 in favor of continuing to use the San Francisco Unified School District’s current system, which gives enrollment priority to kindergarten students who live in neighborhoods with the lowest test scores.

Board President Emily Murase — along with commissioners Sandra Fewer and Rachel Norton, who authored the resolution — voted for the policy change. Vice President Matt Haney and commissioners Jill Wynns, Shamann Walton and Hydra Mendoza-McDonnell were the dissenting votes.

The policy had sought to give precedence to kindergarten students living in attendance areas of the district’s 72 elementary schools, noting that the existing policy that took effect in 2010 to reduce the academic achievement gap actually isolates students based on their race.

The argument, according to the resolution, was that residents of areas with higher-demand schools might have less access to educational opportunities than families living in Census Tract Integration Preference areas, which have the lowest average scores on the California Standards Test.

For the SFUSD, CTIP areas represent the 20 percent of census tracts in San Francisco with the lowest-average scores on the state test.

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