Front page of Issue 16

The winter 2015 print edition is in stores now. Special report on the persistence of segregation in local public schools. Plus: 24-page insert commemorating the now shuttered weekly San Francisco Bay Guardian, produced by the newspaper’s former staff.

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Special Reports

Potentially Earthquake-Unsafe Residential Buildings — a (Very Rough) List

Noah Arroyo, SF Public Press — Jan 14 2013 - 12:51pm

This story appeared in the Winter 2012-2013 print edition of the San Francisco Public Press.

San Francisco’s Department of Building Inspection has kept a preliminary list of potentially dangerous soft-story buildings since 2009, but inspectors say it has not been verified by actual building inspections, and was never intended for public consumption. Some of the addresses the city generated might be wrong. The Public Press is publishing the list so that residents who might possibly be at risk in their homes can participate in the debate over how best to retrofit thousands of properties in coming years.

Earthquake Retrofit Delays Leave Thousands at Risk

Noah Arroyo and Barbara Grady, SF Public Press — Jan 7 2013 - 5:38pm

It will take at least 7 years to secure older wood buildings dangerously perched above windows or garages

This story appeared in the Winter 2012-2013 print edition of the San Francisco Public Press.

One in 14 San Franciscans lives in an old building with a first floor that city inspectors say could be vulnerable to collapse if not retrofitted soon to withstand a major earthquake.While officials have had a preliminary list of nearly 3,000 suspect properties for more than three years, they have not told landlords, leaving the estimated 58,000 residents who live there ignorant that their buildings could be unstable.

Poor Record Keeping Hinders Analysis of Domestic Violence Policing Practices

Kevin Stark, SF Public Press — Sep 26 2012 - 8:01am

As statistics go from tick marks to laptops, police struggle to make sense of trends

The San Francisco Police Department cannot precisely measure the number of domestic violence cases it handled before 2011, because investigators in the Special Victims Unit hand-tallied monthly records, and used changing and inconsistently understood categories of crimes. This story appeared as part of a special report on domestic violence in the Fall 2012 print edition of the San Francisco Public Press.

San Francisco Trails Bay Area in Domestic Violence Prosecutions

Christopher Peak, SF Public Press — Sep 24 2012 - 10:48am

Far fewer charged than across the region, even with strongly worded ‘no-drop’ guidelines

Though San Francisco’s so-called “no-drop” policy requires pressing domestic violence charges when evidence is sufficient to convict, the District Attorney’s Office pursued just 28 percent of cases through to trial or plea bargaining over the last 6 years. This story appeared as part of a special report on domestic violence in the Fall 2012 print edition of the San Francisco Public Press.

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

Jeremy Adam Smith, San Francisco Public Press — Feb 2 2015 - 8:40am

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 - 8:39am

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 - 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.

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