Sunset parents shine light on school assignment issue

Parent Roxy Xiao lives on San Francisco’s west side, a stone’s throw from some of the most popular schools in The City — but her kids were recently assigned to schools across town.

Xiao’s son, Jimmy, was matched with Burton High School in the Excelsior, while her daughter, Erica, was assigned Oneida Middle School, near Balboa Park.

“I don’t know if I should just be a housewife and take the kids to school, rather than work,” Xiao said. “It’s very frustrating.”

Parents such as Xiao have flooded Supervisor Carmen Chu with calls in recent weeks. In response, Chu is hosting a hearing today before the board’s City Operations and Neighborhood Services committee.

“We want to understand, from the district, is whether it’s [the assignment system] working well or not, and whether there will be any changes going forward,” Chu said.

The district’s current assignment system attempts to create diversity among San Francisco’s public schools. Parents can request up to seven school choices, and assignments at in-demand schools are made based on a combination of factors including a student’s socioeconomic status and home language.

The majority of parents do not ask for schools close to home. This year, 18 percent of kindergarten parents requested schools near home, while 25 percent of parents with students entering middle school and 26 percent of parents with students entering high school picked schools near home, according to district data.

Parents often pick schools close to where they work, or choose based on specific academic programs or ratings, according to school board member Hydra Mendoza.

At many schools, more than 60 percent of student populations are dominated by a given ethnicity, according to Blythe.

“Now we have more segregation than ever,” Superintendent Carlos Garcia said, adding that the board will review the school assignment program this spring.

“We are absolutely going to have to spend some time examining the system,” he said.

bwinegarner@examiner.com

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