Learning While Black: The Fight For Equity In San Francisco Schools
Bret Harte Elementary School Principal Jeremy Hilinski escorts a student back to class after spending a little one-on-one time with her.
Credit Lee Romney / KALW
When the head of the San Francisco chapter of the NAACP demanded the city declare a “state of emergency” to tackle low academic test results for African American students, he turned the blame on the grown-ups. “It’s not that the children are failing,” the Rev. Amos Brown told school board trustees. “I’m using the plural pronoun ‘we.’ We are failing.” The so-called equity gap has persisted for decades: As a group, African-American students in San Francisco and across the country struggle in public school, often posting the lowest test scores and graduation rates, and the highest rates of suspension and chronic absenteeism.
KALW Education Reporter Lee Romney set out to explore the systemic inequities that have hampered African American students in this changing city. Her ongoing series also showcases the resilience and power of black youth and their families, and the efforts of educators and community advocates to help them thrive.
John Templeton’s been leading land tours of SF’s black history for years. Now, he’s launched a Bay tour, to share those hidden stories from the water. He hopes to defy stereotypes and give black youth, in particular, a sense of pride and belonging.
It’s been 40 years since a landmark legal ruling led to a statewide ban on the IQ testing of black students for purposes of placement in special ed. Now, the lead plaintiff in that case, known as “Larry P,” is getting a second chance at an education.
The Big Lift, an original KALW documentary, follows Carver Elementary School’s family liaison over the course of a year as she works to support struggling parents and guardians — so their kids can thrive in the classroom.
A new intensive SFUSD program helps kids aged three-and-a-half to five regulate and understand their emotions. The goal: to avert an “emotional disturbance” designation, a special ed category where black children are overrepresented.
Community members came together on Thursday, March 21, for a forum and roundtable discussion of what it takes to navigate San Francisco Unified School District’s Special Education system and to develop an action plan to support African American students with learning differences.
San Francisco Unified School District’s African American educators have been honoring the achievements of black students who earn a 3.0 grade point average or above for a quarter of a century. This year’s emcees say the event celebrates an often-ignored narrative of excellence.
San Francisco’s African American community has shrunk by half since 1970. Of the families that remain, nearly a fifth live in public housing or get a rental subsidy. Now, a city effort is turning public housing into a key front in the battle to improve educational outcomes for African American kids.
African American students across the country are much more likely than any other student group to be placed in special education, and that’s true at San Francisco Unified too. The district’s troubled history has plenty to teach us about what is and isn’t working for black students with special needs today.
Teaching can be tough — especially for educators who work in schools where families are scraping by, lots of kids face challenges at home and in the community, and they often score low on standardized tests. Add to that isolation and high staff turnover and you’ve got a recipe for a revolving door.