Front page of Issue 16Get the winter 2015 print editionwith a special report on school segregation. Plus an insert commemorating the now-defunct S.F. Bay Guardian.

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Retrofit Law Has Nearly 100% Compliance Rate, So Far

Noah Arroyo, San Francisco Public Press — Feb 13 2015 - 4:05pm

Two years into operation, the city’s seismic retrofit program is finding some success: Almost all of the targeted buildings’ owners have had them inspected. Only 18 scofflaws remain. But even for most of the compliant owners the hard part is yet to come: They will need to retrofit their “soft-story,” wood-frame buildings.

As Courts Flip-Flopped on School Integration, Diversity Has Remained Elusive

Sanne Bergh and Paul Lorgerie, San Francisco Public Press — Feb 5 2015 - 5:26pm

By 2005, when a federal judge lifted the most recent desegregation orders, San Francisco Unified School District had been trying for more than three decades to make its schools more racially and socioeconomically diverse, starting in 1971 with forced busing. San Francisco schools no longer exhibit the level of racial isolation they once did, but they are now resegregating, as are many others across the country. In 2013–2014, in more than one-quarter of city schools, 60 percent of the students were of one race. That is a far cry from 1966, when more than one-third of the schools had student populations with 80 percent or more belonging to a single racial group. (In 2014, just three schools were segregated to that degree.)

As Parents Get More Choice, S.F. Schools Resegregate

Jeremy Adam Smith, San Francisco Public Press — Feb 2 2015 - 9:40am

Each January, parents across San Francisco rank their preferences for public schools. By June, most get their children into their first choices, and almost three-quarters get one of their choices. A majority of families may be satisfied with the outcome, but the student assignment system is failing to meet its No. 1 goal, which the San Francisco Unified School District has struggled to achieve since the 1960s: classroom diversity. Since 2010, the year before the current policy went into effect, the number of San Francisco’s 115 public schools dominated by one race has climbed significantly.

San Francisco Schools’ Changing Demographics

Paul Lorgerie and Jeremy Adam Smith, San Francisco Public Press — Feb 2 2015 - 9:39am

Over five decades, San Francisco saw a demographic transformation in its public school system. In 1969, white and black students together were the majority, as in most of the rest of the United States. Since then, San Francisco public school enrollment has fallen by 39 percent, and almost all the missing faces are white or black. But the two groups have not disappeared in the same way.

Isolated Schools Clustered by Test Scores, Family Income

Jeffrey Thorsby, Emily Dugdale and Paul Lorgerie, San Francisco Public Press — Feb 2 2015 - 9:39am

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 - 9:38am

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 - 2:05pm

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 - 2:52pm

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 - 5:14pm

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.

As Neighbors Decry Spread of Homeless Encampments, One Mission Resident Opens Her Home Instead

Sanne Bergh and Paul Lorgerie, San Francisco Public Press — Dec 19 2014 - 2:42pm

Potrero Hill and Mission District residents complain about nearby homeless encampments, which have grown in sheltered areas as winter approaches. Police and city officials say the problem is too big to solve. One resident took matters into her own hands. Part of a special report on homelessness and mental health in San Francisco in the fall 2014 print edition.

Thoughts on Homelessness From San Francisco Civic Leaders

Angela Hart, San Francisco Public Press — Dec 10 2014 - 5:52pm

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.

San Francisco has struggled for more than 10 years to solve the problem of chronicl homelessness. While the current consensus endorses the principle of “housing first” — stabilizing people by getting them off the streets and into basic housing — there is little agreement about the optimal policies to pursue. We asked eight civic leaders for their ideas about how to improve the living situations of the thousands of people currently living on the streets and in shelters.

Dropped Domestic Violence Charge for 49er Ray McDonald Is Standard Fare in Bay Area

Noah Arroyo, San Francisco Public Press — Dec 10 2014 - 5:22pm

Football players have recently made the news for allegedly assaulting their romantic partners. But both inside and out of sports, this type of crime often goes unpunished because victims refuse to cooperate — a problem that San Francisco City Hall continues to grapple with.

Schizophrenia Diagnosis Puts People First in Line for Benefits

Lisa Weinzimer, San Francisco Public Press — Dec 9 2014 - 3:16pm

Homeless people with schizophrenia face abnormally high hurdles to obtaining their Supplemental Security Income benefits. But one government program has sliced their wait times to mere days, rather than months. 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.

How Homelessness Can Compromise Mental Health

Evelyn Wang, San Francisco Public Press — Dec 8 2014 - 3:52pm

Studies show insecure housing can aggravate existing psychological problems, or even create new ones. Obtaining housing has been shown to improve mental health. 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.

S.F. Alternative Court Provides Lifeline

Lisa Weinzimer, San Francisco Public Press — Nov 25 2014 - 10:47am

For Kim Knoble, the citys behavioral health court kept her out of jail and helped her recover from a debilitating disorder. 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.

Sentencing Reform Side Benefit: Behavioral Health Court Expansion

Sanne Bergh, San Francisco Public Press — Nov 25 2014 - 10:45am

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.

Q-and-A: Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi on San Francisco Jail System

Rebecca Rosen Lum, San Francisco Public Press — Nov 21 2014 - 12:54pm

San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi says that the city’s jails are giving inmates the psychiatric services they cannot get at the major medical centers. 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.

Formerly Homeless Residents May Face Higher Eviction Rate Than Other S.F. Tenants

Paayal Zaveri, San Francisco Public Press — Nov 20 2014 - 3:22pm

Even after residents get in to supportive housing, they face many obstacles to keeping it, and make up a disproportionately large number the tenants threatened with eviction. 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.

A Minimum Wage Increase Means Nothing if Your Boss Is a Scofflaw

Noah Arroyo, San Francisco Public Press — Nov 19 2014 - 5:17pm

San Francisco’s vote to raise the minimum wage on Election Day reflects the widening recognition of deep income disparity. While the wage hike is a boon for those who toil under law-abiding bosses, thousands of San Francisco employers skirt existing minimum wage requirements, studies indicate.

New Virtual Reality Installation Reveals How Sea-Level Rise Will Affect Bay Area Shoreline

Paul Lorgerie, San Francisco Public Press — Nov 17 2014 - 11:39am

A San Francisco technology company is helping Bay Area residents visualize in 3-D how their neighborhoods could look under three feet of water when sea-level rise accelerates later this century.