Monday, May 18, 2015

4LAKids - URBAN SPATIAL SEGREGATION IN SAN FRANCISCO: Living together. Learning apart.

4LAKids - some of the news that doesn't fit: URBAN SPATIAL SEGREGATION IN SAN FRANCISCO: Living together. Learning apart.:


LESSONS IN DESEGREGATION:  Other cities have much to teach San Francisco on how to diversify


“Spatial segregation is a feature of metropolises from San Diego to Boston, from Santiago to Cape Town, from Belfast to Bangalore. In some places the segregation is associated primarily with racial groups, in other places, ethnicity or religion, while in still other places, income status.
“In the U.S., spatial segregation is a serious policy issue because of the complex interactions between land and housing markets on the one hand, and their connection to local revenues and the distribution and quality of local services on the other hand. Disparities in school quality may be one of the more dramatic examples of the variations in public services between places.
“The combination of residential segregation by class and by racial or ethnic groups and the systematically uneven spatial distribution of quality schools results in poor inner-city enclaves where children attend substandard schools, which in turn limits their life chances. Other services, such as access to transportation and health care, also vary spatially, as do such measurable factors as air quality and neighborhood infrastructure.”
- Urban Spatial Segregation: Forces, Consequences, and Policy Responses
May 18, 2015  ::  There are ways to diversify schools — and other American cities have found those ways.
But in San Francisco, one of the most diverse cities in the country, a third of the elementary schools are segregated, with at least 60 percent of students from the same race. It’s the byproduct of housing patterns and a student assignment system that emphasizes parental choice.
Of the city’s 72 elementary schools, 23 have an enrollment that’s at least 60 percent of one race or ethnicity: 10 schools are predominantly Asian, two mostly African American and 11 Latino. That degree of segregation is a problem, according to academic experts, and decades of data from local, state and federal research.
“Racially isolated schools often have fewer effective teachers, higher teacher turnover rates, less rigorous curricular resources (e.g., college preparatory courses), and inferior facilities and other educational resources,” concluded a memo issued by the federal Justice and Education departments in 2011 regarding racial isolation in schools and legal issues related to desegregation.
Diversity in San Francisco schools, 2013-14
But across the country, as in San Francisco, court decisions have made it difficult for school districts to force desegregation. Consequently, many desegregation plans have fallen away in favor of choice-based programs — such as magnet schools and language programs — designed to attract students from diverse backgrounds.
In San Francisco, the school board has relied on a school assignment system to try to diversify schools. First preference is given to younger siblings of children enrolled in a school, second to families living in census tracts where students score lowest on standardized tests and third to students living in the neighborhood.
But it hasn’t worked.
“What we see is when we have choice, people self-segregate by race,” school board member Sandra Fewer said.
Yet school board members unanimously said they don’t want to give up on desegregating schools. Examples of desegregation efforts across the country — including magnet schools and creative school boundaries and assignment systems — suggest they don’t have to.
Impact of choice
In San Francisco’s Excelsior neighborhood, parental choice at one school shows how choice can lead to diversity in a school’s makeup.
Monroe Elementary is one of the most diverse — half Hispanic, a third Asian American, 7 percent white and 2 percent black.
The school has a Spanish-immersion program that draws both Spanish- and English-speaking families, a Chinese bilingual program for students who want to maintain the language while learning English, and a traditional general education program — programs placed at the school years ago to address the language needs of students in the surrounding community.
While the district didn’t set out to create a diverse school, the three programs lure a wide range of families from the neighborhood and from across the city. With 500 students and parents who speak three different languages, it’s a juggling act, but worthwhile, Monroe Principal José Montaño said.
“It’s a tall order to have all this in one school,” he said. “But language pathways make a huge impact in a school’s racial makeup. ... Language is a big part of race.”
In the Monroe library, “Goodnight Moon 1, 2, 3” is displayed next to the book “Te lo regalo!” while “The Three Little Tamales” is displayed alongside “My Friend Jamal,” with two smiling boys on the cover, one black and one white. Books in Chinese are on a nearby shelf.
In one third-grade Chinese bilingual classroom, the students are Asian American. Next door, the Spanish-immersion third-graders are mostly a mix of Latino and white. Just down the stairs, in the general education third-grade classroom, Asian, white, Latino and black faces glance up when a visitor walks in the door.
“Racially isolated schools often have fewer effective teachers, higher teacher turnover rates, less rigorous curricular resources … and inferior facilities and other educational resources.”
U.S. Justice and Education departments’ 2011 memo
While 80 percent of the students are from low-income families and two-thirds of them are English learners, the school overall exceeded the state’s benchmark of 800 points on the 1,000-point Academic Performance Index, based primarily on standardized tests. But more importantly, students across all subgroups exceeded the district average for 4LAKids - some of the news that doesn't fit: URBAN SPATIAL SEGREGATION IN SAN FRANCISCO: Living together. Learning apart.: