San Francisco School Board Commissioner Calls Merit-Based Education ‘Racist’

Newsweek:

The merit-based admissions policy at one of the country’s top public high schools—San Francisco’s Lowell High School—has been called unfair and unjust in a controversial new resolution to end its selective process. A particularly sharp critique of the school’s current policy came from Board of Education Commissioner Alison Collins, who called it “racist.”

During a San Francisco Board of Education public meeting on October 13, 2020, Collins said, “When we talk about merit, meritocracy and especially meritocracy based on standardized testing…those are racist systems.… You can’t talk about social justice, and then say you want to have a selective school that keeps certain kids out from the neighborhoods that you think are dangerous.”

Sophie Bearman of San Francisco’s online publication Here/Say Media posted a clip of Collins’ October statements on Twitter this week.

Sophie Bearman of San Francisco’s online publication Here/Say Media posted a clip of Collins’ October statements on Twitter this week.

Not everyone agrees with Collins’ assessment. Local news affiliate ABC7 quoted Richard Shapiro, a Lowell physics teacher, as saying the current system rewards “the hardest working kids in terms of academics.”

Currently, there are two criteria for students to get into Lowell: an excellent grade point average and a high score on an admissions test. The only other high school in San Francisco that also has admissions requirements is the Ruth Asawa School of the Arts, while the rest of the city’s public high schools use a random lottery system.

The resolution, entitled “In Response to Ongoing, Pervasive Systemic Racism at Lowell High School,” was authored by Collins, Board President Gabriela Lopez, Commissioner Matt Alexander, and Student Delegates Shavonne Hines-Foster and Kathya Correa Almanza. It was introduced to the board on Tuesday and is up for vote on February 9.

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