Jill Wynns for School BoardJill Wynns

Student assignment process

Too many families feel that the current lottery system doesn't give them enough of a chance for a school which feels right for their child and their family. The student assignment process of spring 2008 was riddled with both human and computer errors, further eroding parent confidence in the assignment system. Some parents who followed all of the conventional wisdom about visiting many schools, seeking out less popular programs, and applying to a broad range of schools, still ended up getting none of their choices. The process must improve before the next round of student assignments in spring 2009, to rebuild the community's confidence in our schools.

Ironically, more students than ever applied for Kindergarten in spring 2008, reversing a trend of falling enrollment. Some schools which had struggled with low enrollment for years were overwhelmed with requests. A static assignment system which is not nimble enough to adjust for these kinds of changes does not serve our parents or our schools.

"Just make all the schools great schools" is often touted as the solution, but schools are only as strong as their leaders. Hiring qualified teachers for every school, recruiting and training the best Principals, and providing extra resources for schools serving low income students help level the playing field, but nothing is more appealing to parents touring schools than seeing an active parent body engaged in working for the benefit of their school and its students. We must make every effort to ensure that every school has something to entice parents in the door, whether it is a special program like language immersion or Montessori, or extended childcare, or additional arts and enrichment, or partnerships with local museums and cultural institutions. Different models for language immersion should be added to existing models to expand the availability of these popular programs to the large number of English-only applicants.

No family should feel that they must move out of San Francisco in order to be assured of a good public education for heir children. Strengthening public schools in San Francisco is a key requirement to the future of our community.

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