We were encouraged this week to see the San Francisco Chronicle take a deep look at racial segregation in local public schools. As our readers know, the San Francisco Public Press produced a major investigative report in January on this subject: “Choice Is Resegregating Public Schools.”
Our goal at the Public Press is to lead in improving community coverage and in setting the local news agenda. As a community-supported nonprofit news organization, we focus on under-reported public policy issues, and we are heartened to see other Bay Area news outlets following our lead.
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Our original analysis of education data shed light on an increase in racial segregation in San Francisco schools. While parents now have more choice in where their children are enrolled, such a policy results in a “separate but equal” system. Factors that drive parents’ choices include the time and cost involved in transporting children to better schools.
Our investigation clearly influenced the Chronicle’s three-day series. A blog post by Scott Lucas of San Francisco Magazine noted similarities between the two reports. We’ll leave it to readers to draw their own conclusions.
Other news organizations that reported on our findings, including the Washington Post, the San Francisco Examiner and various education and economics blogs, linked to our coverage. KALW’s talk show “Your Call” featured an hour-long conversation with our lead reporter, Jeremy Adam Smith. The Chronicle in March also ran an op-ed about our coverage written by Smith, and cited our reporting in a blog post on sfgate.com.
The Chronicle’s recent report also discussed the disparity in fundraising by parent-teacher associations, the focus of a data-intensive story we broke last year in “Public Schools, Private Money.” This spring, that report received a 2014 Sigma Delta Chi Award for investigative reporting from the Society of Professional Journalists, and a John Swett Award for Media Excellence from the California Teachers Association.
We are proud to have spurred so many news organizations, including one of the largest newspapers in California, to bring this significant equity issue to the attention of many more readers in San Francisco and beyond.
The San Francisco Public Press was founded six years ago to shift the local news agenda to focus more on serious public policy questions. Help us continue our work as a trailblazer for public-interest journalism by making a tax-deductible donation to the Public Press.
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