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San Francisco Embraces School Choice?

San Francisco Embraces School Choice?

San Francisco, bastion of leftism, is considering an unusual avenue toward luring middle-school students to a school in a crime-ridden district: offering them a golden ticket to the high school of their choice, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

School choice in San Francisco?

Yes. The new Willie Brown Jr. Middle School, replacing the previous version and opening next year to the cost of $54 million school in the troubled Bayview neighborhood, is having problems attracting students.

So Superintendent of San Francisco Unified School District Richard Carranza and the San Francisco School Board have cooked up a plan: if students attend Willie Brown for three years, they will be first in line to choose any high school they want. The only students who will precede them are those who already have siblings in the high school. The current system allows siblings first choice, then students living in census tracts that have the lowest student test scores. After that, all students can register for the school of their choice.

The previous school on the site, Willie Brown Academy, had some of the lowest test scores in the state for 10 years, and closed in 2011. At the time, 160 students in fourth through eighth grades attended the school, primarily African-American students, the Chronicle reports.

The new Willie Brown Middle School has room for 650 students, and will feature high-tech classrooms and science labs, a modern cafeteria, and art and music programs.

Fewer acknowledged that the area around the school is still a drawback, saying, “We felt that we had to do something to draw folks back to the Bayview. They’ve been leaving to go to middle school. They had to.”

Michelle Parker, vice-president of communication of the San Francisco PTA, was optimistic about the plan, telling the Chronicle, “I think there’s going to be fear about the unknown (of the new school). This is actually something that could make a difference to some people. I think it could work. I do think it’s a golden ticket. I think that is enough to make people look twice at Willie Brown. We want them to take a second look.”

The highly-rated Lowell High School, and the School of the Arts, are not included in Carranza’s proposal.

Photo: File

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