'I'm getting choked up': Lowell High School may move to lottery admissions, San Francisco school district announces

The board says lottery system is 'exciting opportunity,' while families are worried about proposal

Sunday, October 11, 2020
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San Francisco Unified School District announced the board will vote on whether to put Lowell High School into the lottery system instead of basing it on grades and test scores.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- San Francisco Unified School District announced the board will vote on whether to put Lowell High School into the lottery system.

Lowell High School, a nationally recognized school, is located in San Francisco's Parkside District. Larry Baer, Justice Stephen Breyer, Margaret Cho, Benjamin Bratt, Jamie Chung and Carol Channing are among the dozens of named alums.

Currently, students are admitted based on grades and test scores.

But because of the COVID-19 pandemic, grades and scores have been mostly eliminated, the proposal is all entering freshman have an equal opportunity to attend through the public school lottery.

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"This is to me, an exciting opportunity," said Gabriela Lopez, a former SFUSD teacher and now vice president of the San Francisco Board of Education.

Lopez says the board will vote on an admission policy change for one year on October 20.

But when asked if she would like to see Lowell be a part of San Francisco's general lottery system beyond the school year and into the future, Lopez said, "Yes, and in any future vote, if that comes up, I will vote yes."

Right now, most of Lowell's students are Asian American.

"One thing that I've been hearing from the actual student body at Lowell is more representation in the African American community and the Latino community," said Lopez.

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"It's been our family's dream for him to attend this school. He lives within walking distance to the school, he attended Lakeshore Elementary, which is directly next door," said Rowena Fontanos, whose son is in eighth grade and has always wanted to attend Lowell, his father's alma mater.

"I'm feeling right now that the hard work that my son has really strived to achieve his whole academic education, was all for nothing," she said.

Fontanos says she has little faith in SFUSD's lottery system, after her son didn't get into any of his middle school choices.

"I'm getting choked up. We're just trying to do our best for our children and Lowell was one of those options that I feel like isn't right now."