Civil & human rights

Isolated Schools Clustered by Test Scores, Family Income

Jeffrey Thorsby, Emily Dugdale and Paul Lorgerie, San Francisco Public Press — Feb 2 2015 - 8:39am

If one looks at the San Francisco Unified School District as a whole, a clear pattern emerges: Schools with the highest level of achievement tend to have the lowest levels of family poverty. And schools that are identified as “racially isolated” are visibly clustered by both income and achievement. This plot shows the base Academic Performance Index for each school in the district for which data are available, as well as the percentage of students poor enough to qualify for free and reduced-price lunches, which are used as a proxy for measuring poverty.

Ranking Schools by Diversity

Jeffrey Thorsby, Emily Dugdale and Paul Lorgerie, San Francisco Public Press — Feb 2 2015 - 8:38am

Schools across San Francisco show markedly different levels of racial and ethnic diversity. Increasingly over the last five years, schools are dominated by one racial group. With mathematical tools, it is possible to measure which schools are the most and least diverse. We chose to rank schools using a formula that economists use to tell whether an industry is dominated by monopoly ownership, the Herfindahl-Hirschman index, also known to ecologists as the Simpson diversity index. The idea is the same: Sum up the squares of all the fractions of your sample. The higher the number, the lower the diversity.

Transportation Challenges Complicate School Choice for S.F. Students

Rebecca Robinson, San Francisco Public Press — Jan 29 2015 - 1:05pm

While San Francisco’s school assignment system has benefited families with the means to transport their children to schools with the most desirable programs, it creates dilemmas for more disadvantaged students who must travel long distances to school, often without the help of their parents. Many lower-income students must choose between long commutes on unreliable public transit and attending lower-performing schools closer to home. This may help explain why San Francisco public schools, like those in many cities nationwide, are increasingly resegregating as decades of court-ordered diversity measures recede into history.

Data Confirm Link Between Parent Fundraising, Student Achievement

Jeffrey Thorsby, San Francisco Public Press — Jan 28 2015 - 1:52pm

Last winter, the San Francisco Public Press published a detailed, data-rich narrative showing how private funds have saved a few schools from the ravages of years of budget cuts, but ended up exacerbating educational inequality within the San Francisco Unified School District. As a researcher for the project, I assisted the team in scouring through mountains of public documents, including budgets, California Department of Education data reports, hundreds of parent-teacher association nonprofit tax returns and statistics from other state and local agencies.

Traumatized by the Streets: Illustrated Report on Finding Housing in San Francisco

San Francisco Public Press — Jan 5 2015 - 4:14pm

As seen in our fall issue, this illustrated report tells the true story of two individuals as they struggle to find housing in San Francisco. Follow the different paths of David and Laura as they navigate the city’s supportive housing system.

Click through to view the full story.

Sentencing Reform Side Benefit: Behavioral Health Court Expansion

Sanne Bergh, San Francisco Public Press — Nov 25 2014 - 9:45am

A state law approved by voters on Election Day will reduce tough sentences for some felonies. But it could also provide a financial windfall to local community courts, which divert people with mental illness out of the criminal justice system. Part of a special report on homelessness and mental health in San Francisco, in the fall 2014 print edition. Stories rolling out online throughout the fall.

KQED Tackles Junction Between Homelessness, Mental Illness

Emily Dugdale, San Francisco Public Press — Nov 10 2014 - 4:44pm

KQED Public Radio’s “Forum” hit the airwaves this morning with a conversation with Robert Okin, the former chief of psychiatry at San Francisco General Hospital, who recently published a new book on homelessness and mental illness. He said the common belief that the homeless choose to reside on the streets, from his experience profiling them, is false.

Poor Is the New Black: Segregation in San Francisco Today

Justin Slaughter, San Francisco Public Press — Mar 26 2014 - 5:33pm

“This is the San Francisco Americans pretend does not exist,” James Baldwin said on KQED more than half a century ago.

Baldwin, a world-renowned black writer and activist, was referring to the Fillmore district of San Francisco, where he and KQED documented the after-effects city bulldozing, literally, black neighborhoods in the name of “urban renewal,” and the unemployment and isolation of young blacks in Hunters Point.

“There is no moral distance between the facts of life in San Francisco and the facts of life in Birmingham,” Baldwin said in the same year of the 16th street Baptist church bombing that killed four little girls in Birmingham, Ala.

Since then, the number of black residents of San Francisco has shrunk by nearly half. Black children are grossly over-represented in San Francisco’s foster care and juvenile justice systems, and unemployment among blacks in San Francisco still remains higher than in other groups.

Activists Call for Revival of Harvey Milk’s Anti-Speculation Proposal

Josh Wolf, San Francisco Public Press — Feb 10 2014 - 4:39pm

Before his death, Supervisor Harvey Milk introduced an “anti-speculation” proposal that would have heavily taxed profits generated by quickly flipping properties in San Francisco. Now Brian Basinger, a housing activist and former president of the nostalgically named Harvey Milk Democratic Club, is pushing for the city to resurrect it. The proposal was one of seven considered at Saturday’s citywide Tenant Convention at the Tenderloin Community School auditorium. Participants were able to rank their preference for various proposals by ballot. The event was the culmination of a series of neighborhood tenant conventions that aimed to generate ideas to solve the city’s affordable housing crisis.

New Law Gives People With Criminal History a Chance for a Job and Housing

Josh Wolf, San Francisco Public Press — Feb 6 2014 - 6:28pm

A new local law will help people with a past criminal conviction secure housing and find employment in San Francisco. Known as “ban the box,” a newly approved plan by Supervisor Jane Kim will mean job applicants no longer have to disclose their criminal history until after they have participated in a live interview. It will also mean public and private agencies will be limited in how that information can be used to place people in below-market-rate housing.

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