The San Francisco Board of Education, Tuesday, unanimously voted to change the way students will be accepted to Lowell High School next year. The school will temporarily adopt the same largely lottery based system used by the majority of San Francisco public high schools.
Up to now, Lowell has admitted students by evaluating their grades, tests, and school activities. But that became functionally impossible after the pandemic began, when the district went to a pass/fail grading system.
The decision to change the policy came after over two weeks of heated debate.
During public comment, those who wanted to keep a competitive admissions system cited standards at universities and in the job market as notably similar to Lowell’s previous policy. Many current 8th graders expressed frustration about potentially losing the goal they’d had to attend lowell after working hard during middle school.
But many other students and adults said grade-based admissions lead to racial inequities. In fact, some board members spoke about a racially toxic culture at the lowell. The President of the San Francisco Alliance of Black School Educators, Virginia Marshall, said "we applaud the district and this new admission policy...every high school admission should be the same.”
For the next academic year, 8th graders will have to cross their fingers as they enter the Lowell lottery — though there are some students who will get preference . That includes students with siblings at the school, graduates of Willie L. Brown Middle School, and students living in parts of the city with historically low test scores.