Parents get behind Proposition H


Parents in San Francisco apply for their preferred schools, often sending kids across town. A group of parents want to change that.

When a lot of parents in San Francisco apply for their neighborhood school, this is usually what they face:

"We ended up with a school that we were not really -- we weren't fans of and weren't not willing to go," said resident Sue Kramer. "We actually decided that we would probably have to go to an independent school."

But a week into the school calendar year, Kramer got a call: There was a space for her daughter at her neighborhood school. A November ballot measure, Proposition H, would ask the local school board to change its current policy so that most every kid could attend their neighborhood school.

"Another real advantage to neighborhood schools is that it's very green," said resident Byron Thurber. "People can walk or ride their bikes."

Currently, parents are asked to choose their top seven schools anywhere in the city. Siblings have priority admission, followed by children who live in communities where the schools have low test scores. Neighborhood kids are a distant third, but some families get nothing.

"Four children, 21 chances, not one time," said resident Omar Khalif.

Some travel across town to get to school.

Anita Wong said it usually took her an hour and a half round-trip, including waiting for the bus, but she eventually got her son into their neighborhood school. Parents ask why the district can't improve all schools.

The school board says the economic and social diversity that parents bring has helped improve scores.

"That has been a wonderful way to get our schools to become better schools," said school board president Hydra Mendoza. "We are pouring more resources into them. Our schools are not falling behind, they're moving forward; we continue to be, for the tenth year, the highest-urban performing school district."

"My hope is that they will listen and they will hear parents," said resident Tami Aviles.

Prop H is non-binding, which means the school board doesn't have to change its current policy. In fact, not a single member of that board supports this measure. Still, parents who are behind Prop H want to initiate this discussion again.

About 30 percent of kids in San Francisco attend private schools -- among the highest in the nation.

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