S.F. has plan to close own school gap

The Associated Press
Saturday March 03, 2001

SAN FRANCISCO — The city is offering a sweeping plan to integrate its schools and close gaps in achievement between different races. 

The “Excellence for All” plan, released Thursday, proposes sweeping changes to San Francisco public schools. It is part of the district’s effort to tap $37 million in annual desegregation money. 

Superintendent Arlene Ackerman pitched the five-year plan as a way to ensure black and Hispanic students reach the performance levels of their white and Asian classmates. 

To that end, the plan recommends a series of changes. Chief among them is setting up magnet programs in schools with large black and Hispanic populations and expanding one elementary school’s Spanish immersion program. 

That approach has encountered resistance from U.S. District Judge William Orrick, who in 1999 ordered the district to stop using race as a factor when deciding which students should attend which schools. 

The district’s new plan would use race as one of eight factors, including family income and English proficiency, when assigning students. Race would be considered only once the district used seven other race-neutral factors to create diverse schools. 

If student assignments were then deemed segregated, the district would redo the assigning process until it achieved a suitable mix of students.