“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.
Photo essay: Ana Hernandez, Junipero Serra Elementary; and Barry Schmell, Harvey Milk Civil Rights Academy
Today, after five years of severe budget cuts in the San Francisco Unified School District, PTAs are being asked to pay for teachers, reading specialists, social workers and school psychologists, computers, basic school supplies, staff training and more. But not all PTAs can afford those things. Parents at just 10 elementary schools raise more than half the PTA money that all 71 elementary schools in the district take in. Many of the rest raise nothing, or almost nothing.
Ana Hernandez and Barry Schmell come from very different backgrounds, but they have at least one thing in common: They both lead their schools’ parent-teacher associations
New state dollars will begin flowing into the San Francisco Unified School District in the fall — and policymakers and activists have already begun arguing over how to spend them. Should the San Francisco Board of Education use the $22 million from a new funding scheme to increase teacher salaries districtwide? Should it hire more classroom aides? Or should it adjust its decade-old equitable funding policy that gives a leg up to schools with many children from poor families?