When you hear "San Francisco," two common things that come to mind are expensive and technology. However, I guarantee when we think San Fran, we don't think children. In fact, it has a lower percentage of children than any other major city in America. Still, children are there, and it makes the gap between white children and black children that much more visible.
According to the Sacramento Bee, at one San Francisco school Charles R. Drew Preparatory Academy, nine out of 10 black students at the school failed reading and math exams. Across the district, 19 percent of them passed the state test in reading, compared to 31 percent of black students statewide. As a result, San Fran has become a progressive enclave and beacon for technological innovation, but at what cost?
While the black population in San Francisco is dwindling, many of the black families who are still in town are concentrated in public housing in the city’s industrial Bayview and Hunters Point neighborhoods near the toxic naval shipyard whose jobs drew black laborers around World War II. This is the perfect setup for concentrating black children in flagging neighborhood schools.
In Bayview schools, there's an extremely high rate of teacher turnovers — twice as high as in other parts of the city — with a large share of inexperienced first- and second-year teachers.
So what can be done to help tap the potential of these students?
Next month, California will begin using a public database called the dashboard to identify school districts where certain types of students, such as poor kids or African American children, are doing poorly on the state tests and struggling in other areas, too. Districts with the lowest levels of achievement in multiple categories will receive support.
There is also a citywide focus on STEM with schools like Willie L. Brown Jr. Middle School, which anchors effort in the Bayview. Charleston Brown currently runs the school. Even with efforts to help, it doesn't change the fact that life outside the classroom can spill over. Still, the efforts to do right by the students won't stop.
“We have to change the narrative that says you have to come from an established community to have abundant success,” said Brown, who commutes to work from Fairfield each day on a motorcycle. “We will change that narrative. I can’t accept nothing less. That’s why I’m still out here.”