The San Francisco School Board is using COVID to destroy a good school
The San Francisco Unified School District is using the Wuhan virus as an excuse to finish destroying what was once one of the best public high schools in the country. Those who object have gotten a snootful of Critical Race Theory (CRT) for daring to believe in academic excellence.
Lowell High School in San Francisco, founded in 1856, is the oldest still existing public high school west of the Mississippi. Early on, the school established a reputation for intellectual excellence. It became a recognized college preparatory school.
Unlike other public schools, attendance at Lowell wasn't determined by neighborhood proximity. Instead, students needed to be the top graduates of their junior high schools to enter. In the 1960s, Lowell had a disproportionate number of Jewish students. By the 1970s, Lowell was a majority-Asian school.
The San Francisco School Board has long despised Lowell's elitism, as well as the fact that only a small number of black students have qualified for admission. Over the years, the Board has made every effort to destroy Lowell's unique status as one of America's top public schools.
In the 1980s, the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) decided to desegregate Lowell by putting a cap on the number of Asian students who could attend. The SFUSD required students to take a standardized test to get into the school. Asians need to score a minimum of 62 points out of 69 for admission. Other non-minority students needed to score 58 points out of 69. Blacks and Hispanics needed fewer points — many fewer points.
Chinese activists whose children were on the receiving end of this government discrimination sued. They eventually compromised with the SFUSD, which was allowed to create a "diversity index." For applicants with low test scores, the index allowed rating the student's life hardships as a mitigating factor. That's how Lowell ceased to be one of the top ten public high schools in America.
But lowering Lowell's admission standards still wasn't enough for the SFUSD. With the Wuhan virus, it may finally have found a way to destroy Lowell permanently. The SFUSD abruptly announced it would not use tests in the coming year to determine Lowell admissions. Instead, Lowell will be part of the regular lottery for school entrance in San Francisco. The Board says this admission standard is temporary. Alumni and parents know better.
There was a contentious meeting about the plan. The leftist school board and its allies decided to paint the matter (as always) in racial terms. After the meeting, a board member lectured the Lowell community on Critical Race Theory. It makes for nauseating reading, especially because of how demeaning it is toward blacks:
A thread by Alison Collins 高勵思
This is a "learning moment". So let's get educated.
This article was recommended by Dr. @DumiLM an associate professor at NYU, my alma matter! (Thank you! 🙏🏽 )
It discusses the history of eugenics and standardized tests, and their relationship to the concept of meritocracy.
Here's a link to the full article: (files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ101…)
I'm sharing this article because I'm hearing from community members offline there is a LOT of anti-Black/Latinx sentiment popping up in online spaces and within Lowell community because of the discussion coming up about considered changes in Lowell's admissions policy. For the record, admissions changes are being considered based on logistics (SFUSD doesn't have grades or tests scores as we did in previous years due to COVID-19.) Nonetheless, when the topic of Lowell admissions comes up, so does race, which I feel needs to be addressed.
Please be aware: what we say has impacts on Black, Brown and Asian children. Some comments folks are making are creating trauma for Black/Brown children, families and educators who have been targets of racial aggression in educational systems, incl. public, private and charter.
Please be mindful that "merit" is an inherently racist construct designed and centered on white supremacist framing that justifies who IS and ISN'T worthy of education, safety, justice, empathy... basically humanity.
When we say some kids "deserve" access to a quality education, we are also inherently saying some don't.
When we say some schools are "academic" we are saying others aren't.
When we say some cultures value education, we are saying some don't.
These are what folks who are experts in critical race theory call binary thinking. Black vs. White, good vs. bad, safe vs unsafe...
These are all ways we racially code our world based on implied beliefs that privilege whiteness. This is also known as the "white frame".
And, yes, this even applies at a majority Asian-American school. The Model Minority Myth only exists within the context of a continuum that pits people of color against one another yet leaves the status quo unchecked.
Fundamentally the issue of selective enrollment is about access and resources, not justice. In this way "merit" is not about fairness, it's just another sorting mechanism to justify who does or doesn't deserve access to resources.
If you are interested in exploring this conversation further, I discussed the question of merit a while back in a post I did on my blog. (sfpsmom.com/so-whats-wrong…)
Please keep in mind, data presented in this post 👆🏽is several years old, and gentrification and displacement has made disproportionate representation for Black students an even bigger issue in all high choice high schools in SF except Ruth Asawa SOTA.
The Lowell's culture has also had an impact on Black and Latinx children choosing the school. But that conversation is for another post.😁
I also want to say, this is not to disparage any Lowell students or families, or those who wish to go there. I'm talking about the concept of merit which I believe is really harmful in our district.
Leftists aren't interested in uplifting blacks. That would require them to work with San Francisco's black communities to engage families in the education process and stop imposing endlessly awful educational experiments on the children trapped in those schools. Optimally, black families could receive vouchers so their kids can get good educations and fully qualify for schools like Lowell.
Instead, leftists are heading in the other direction. +-Through the medium of critical race theory, they're saying black students are not smart enough, disciplined enough, or ambitious enough ever to compete with white and Asian students. Having turned vile racism into a political virtue, the Board is saying the only way to level the playing field is to destroy the education system.
Image: Lowell High School. Public domain image.