San Francisco Schools - Historical Context: white/middle class flight
1968 – 78 -
When SF and other urban districts in the late 1960s began integrating schools through various methods white students and middle class families left the public schools in droves. For example, almost overnight the SF public schools lost more than 8,000 students [mostly white], bringing its total enrollment down from over 90,000 students to 82,757 after the first integration effort aimed at the elementary school level. The district lost 1/3 of its students in a 10 year period shrinking down to 60,000 students in 1978, the year African American communities and others sued to challenge the institutional racism in the district.
the NAACP filed a lawsuit to desegregate the SFUSD which was finally settled in 1983 with a ‘Consent Decree’ or court ordered desegregation plan for SF schools.
the Judge overseeing the Consent Decree allows new Superintendent Bill Rojas to expand the consent decree ‘reconstitution’ requirements to all of SF schools. He begins a process of scapegoating teachers and low income kids by “reconstituting” ‘failing' schools throughout the district [wiping out all staff from top to bottom and replacing them with totally new staff].
a group of disgruntled Chinese parents frustrated over their children’s rejection for admission to SF’s elite Lowell High school sue the district to dismantle the Consent Decree.
a Federal judge in the context of the conservative backlash in the courts rules that SFUSD must stop using race and ethnicity to assign students which leads to ‘rapid resegregation and growing racial isolation in the schools. The Harvard Civil Rights Project's research shows this trend occurring in most urban school districts around the country.
In campaigns against privatization and for racial justice and educational equity teacher activists Eric Mar and Mark Sanchez are elected to the Board of Education
SFUSD begins use of ‘diversity index’ [a race-neutral lottery system which uses 6 equity factors to increase diversity and opportunity in SF schools] – rapid resegregation and growing inequality continues despite new policy initiatives by the new Board of Education members.
Green Party teacher and parent Sarah Lipson is elected to the School Board. She is the first Green to be elected in SF [Sanchez was a democrat and changed his party affiliation to the Green Party with former Supervisor Matt Gonzalez shortly after being elected to the Board]
SF Unified School District now has 57,000 students but is losing students at about 800 a year. To close a $22 million deficit this year the board closes 5 schools, downsizes another and lays off 200 teachers and paraprofessionals.
The Consent Decree is expected to sunset or end at on December 31, 2005.