Indicator PR.8.f Public school participation
Why Is This An Indicator Of Health and Sustainability?
Integrated schools aim to uphold the value of equality in the quality of educational opportunities to children regardless of ethnic or economic background. Research has shown that Black and Hispanic students who attend ethnically integrated schools have greater academic achievement than their peers in more ethnically homogenous schools, even after controlling for other school-level factors and family changes.a A 2007 study of metropolitan area schools across the US found that the achievement gap between Black and white students is much smaller in schools that have between 25% and 54% Black, Hispanic, and Native American students.a However, all students who attend integrated schools seem to benefit, and children who have attended racially diverse schools tend to complete more years of education and have higher incomes, even after controlling for a number of background characteristics.a These students also tend to live in more integrated settings and have higher levels of civic engagement later in life.a Lastly, a recent study in England found that students who attended culturally diverse schools had better mental health.b
When the ethnic composition of the school district is not similar to that of the youth population, this indicates that certain ethnic groups may be choosing to send their children to private schools, more than others, impeding efforts to ensure that school populations are reflective of San Francisco’s ethnic diversity. High levels of private school attendance or home schooling can suggest real or perceived concerns with the quality of public education. San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) has experimented with a number of different school assignment policies to promote diverse, high performing schools. Currently, SFUSD allows any student to apply to any school in the city. However, there are often situations where there are more requests for spaces at a particular school than seats available. Whenever requests are greater than the number of seats available, the SFUSD uses a Student Assignment System to guide student selection. For more information on the SFUSD Student Placement Policy visit this website: http://www.sfusd.edu/en/enroll-in-sfusd-schools/enroll-for-next-year/placement/placement-policy.html.
The percents of all San Francisco 5-19 year olds and students enrolled in SFUSD schools by ethnicity were calculated for Census years 1980-2010. The ratio of SFUSD students to the citywide school-aged population was calculated by dividing the percent of SFUSD students in an ethnic category by the percent of all citywide youth in that category.
Similar to many other urban areas, San Francisco public schools face the challenge of trying to create a high quality, integrated academic environment that compensates for existing racial, ethnic and economic segregation by neighborhood. The education-related indicators in Objective PI.2 seek to illustrate these tensions/tradeoffs by providing multiple different indicators affecting the accessibility and quality of educational facilities in San Francisco. One measure alone cannot capture the complexity of student achievement or the various push and pull factors causing children and families to leave or move to San Francisco. Therefore educational achievement and performance must be considered both within the broader context of neighborhood, social and economic conditions which are addressed in other parts of the SCI.
Some students complete school before age 19, but because of their age at the time of the census, they would be counted as unenrolled students, thereby underestimating the number of students having received public school education.
It is possible to do an analysis of racial/ethnic demographics of schools at the neighborhood level using Census data and SFUSD school specific ethnic profiles and addresses. However, because so many students attend schools outside of their own neighborhood (because of the Student Assignment System and/or because there is not a grade-appropriate school in their neighborhood), there does not appear to be much added value to calculating this indicator at a neighborhood level. Citywide measures still reflect demographic shifts. However, individuals wishing to get more specific can do so by using this web accessible data.
Spencer ML, Reno R, Powell JA, Grant-Thomas A. The Benefits of Racial and Economic Integration in Our Education System: Why this Matters for our Democracy. Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity, Ohio State University. February, 2009.
Bhui K, Lenguerrand E, Maynard MJ, Stansfeld S, Harding S. 2012. Does cultural integration explain a mental health advantage for adolescents? [Epub ahead of print]. Int. J. Epidemiol. 1-12.