San Francisco community groups
to hold briefing on school assignments
By Brigid Gaffikin, Bay City News
March 7, 2006
SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) - Two groups will hold a community
briefing Wednesday to demystify the process the San Francisco
Unified School District uses to assign students to different schools.
The Chinese for Affirmative Action/Center for Asian American
Advocacy and Parents for Public Schools want to reach families
and service providers such as preschool and after-school program
leaders to spread the word about how the district's sometimes-complicated
school assignment system works. The meeting will focus on the
upcoming 2006-07 school year.
CAASF spokeswoman Christina Wong said the organizers want to
"educate parents who aren't familiar with the process about
what their options are" and explain the history of the current
Organizer Sandra Halladey, a spokeswoman for Parents for Public
Schools, said that "the majority of families do get one of
their school choices" but that misperceptions still persist
about many schools in the district.
Many people have ideas about schools that are "not based
on any real information," she said.
School ambassadors from many of the district's schools will be
at the briefing to explain the merits of each school to interested
parents and other caregivers, Halladey said.
"We wanted to put a personal face on this," she said,
adding that "it is a stressful time for parents."
"We're trying to give people the heads-up that the letters
are out. Most people do get one of their choices," she said.
That said, there will also be a number of families in attendance
who didn't get one of their choices last enrollment period, but
who are happy with the "under the radar" school their
child ended up attending, she said.
"There's not just one good school, there's lots of good
schools," she said.
Parent participation makes a big difference in school quality,
Halladey said. One of her daughters just graduated from Alvarado
Elementary School, which was "shunned" several years
ago but which, with parent involvement and communication between
parents and teachers, "is now in demand," she said.
Event participants will also explain what parents and caregivers
who don't get their children into one of their school choices
can do if they're still unhappy with their options, including
going through another selection round and taking part in enrollment
counseling, Halladey said.
Historically, all SFUSD schools from elementary through high
school have participated in a selection process meant to ensure
that each school has a diverse student enrollment.
A court-supervised assignment system, which ended with a November
federal court ruling, has classified students according to what
the district's Web site describes as six race neutral factors,
including socioeconomic status, mother's education level and the
student's home language.
Some parents have been frustrated with the diversity index assignment
With the recent court ruling, the school board "can create
something the entire community can live with," and the CAASF
is hoping the district can address the way assignments are made
"in the next months," Wong said.
The community briefing will take place at 11:30 a.m. at Starr
King Elementary School at 1215 Carolina St.
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