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02/04/2022

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Wooldridge seems to misunderstand recent changes affecting San Francisco's prestigious academic magnet high school, Lowell. (Full disclosure: I used to teach in the same school district at a different high school.)

It is inaccurate to say that the city government is trying to "kill" the city's most academically outstanding public high school by moving from the old admission process, which used factors such as an academic placement test, grades, an essay, etc. to admissions by lottery.

Lowell moved to a lottery system during the 2021-2022 admissions cycle as a response to the pandemic. This decision was made for a couple reasons - first, students were not given letter grades the previous school year, making it difficult to impossible to assess their recent academic achievement. In the chaos of the pandemic, the district couldn't administer a fair admissions test due to schools being closed. It is significantly under-resourced in normal times, so it did not have the ability to pivot into something like an online proctored entrance exam.

It's also important to mention that the decision to move to lottery admissions was made in 2020 in a time of unprecedented public attention to and support of the Black Lives Matter movement in the wake of the murder of George Floyd. Lowell is a great school, and also controversial in that the student population that attends the school does not reflect the overall public school student population of San Francisco. I'll link to the demographics of the district as a whole and Lowell specifically below, but it's important to mention that 7.1% of public school students in SF identify as African American, but only 1.7% of Lowell High School students do.

The decision to make lottery admissions permanent was controversial, and the school board that made this decision is currently facing a recall election. Wooldridge says that diversity is a tool of excellence, but the solution he proposes of expanding schools like Lowell can be seen as antithetical to that argument.

https://www.cde.ca.gov/sdprofile/details.aspx?cds=38684780000000
https://www.cde.ca.gov/sdprofile/details.aspx?cds=38684783833407

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