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Special Report: Education Inequality

Public Schools, Private Money

Parents ramp up fundraising, widening the rich-poor divide

For the winter 2014 print edition cover story, the San Francisco Public Press examined tax records from PTAs and compiled 10 years of budget and academic data from the city’s school district. The research focused only on elementary schools to make easy comparisons. Our research shows that while a small number of schools were able to avoid the worst effects of recent budget cuts, belts continued to tighten at schools with more economically disadvantaged students. Read the series: sfpublicpress.org/publicschools

How Budget Cuts and PTA Fundraising Undermined Equity in San Francisco Public Schools

Debate in 2014: Use State Windfall for S.F. Schools to Aid Poorest Students, or Raise Teacher Pay?

Infographics: School Fundraising in S.F. by the Numbers

Albany School District Levels Parent Fundraising Playing Field

10 Solutions to Inequality in Elementary School Fundraising

Photo Essay: Two PTA Presidents, Two Realities

Buy a copy of the newspaper  |  See also: Five Ways to Encourage Giving to Disadvantaged Public Schools (Greater Good Science Center)  |  Radio: Jeremy Adam Smith interviewed on KPFA’s “Morning Mix”  |  KQED News  |  KQED’s hour-long talk show “Forum” with Dave Iverson |  KALW’s “Your Call” with Rose Aguilar  |  Op-ed in SF Chronicle

Public Schools

Youths Step Up to Question School Board Candidates

Noah Arroyo, San Francisco Public Press — Oct 3 2018 - 6:45am

In a first for this year's election season, students took the reins to organize a forum for school board candidates. They asked the questions and ran the show.

Deja Vu: Proposal Aims to Change Student Placement to Desegregate Schools

Noah Arroyo, San Francisco Public Press — Sep 21 2018 - 12:58pm

Racial segregation in San Francisco public schools is back in the news, with a proposal to change how the district places students into elementary school. This move comes three years after the Public Press reported on how the system was resegregating city schools.

Bayview School Feeling Squeezed by New Charter

Rob Waters, San Francisco Public Press — Sep 20 2018 - 1:41pm

This fall, the 105 students at the district's Malcolm X Academy began sharing space with 90 pre-kindergartners, kindergartners and first graders attending a new charter school in the same building. “It's hard to share space,” one staff member said.

If Proposition 58 Passes, California Schools Might Not Be Prepared for Bilingual Ed

Jeremy Adam Smith, San Francisco Public Press — Oct 20 2016 - 1:50pm

State Proposition 58 aims to undo almost two decades of voter-approved state policy that has actively discouraged bilingual language education. But just as demand for bilingualism is growing, California lacks teachers, standards, curricula and reading materials.

Education Reformers Say Students Need a Voice in State Funding for Equity

Paayal Zaveri, San Francisco Public Press — Jul 8 2014 - 2:25pm

With California public schools set to receive hundreds of millions of dollars in additional funding in the coming school year, education reform groups say Bay Area school districts have not done enough to bring students — not just parents and other district residents — into the decision-making process.

How Fundraising and Cuts Increase Inequities in S.F. Schools: Jeremy Adam Smith on KALW’s ‘Crosscurrents’

Justin Slaughter, San Francisco Public Press — Mar 28 2014 - 2:46pm

Jeremy Adam Smith spoke with host Hana Baba on KALW’s “Crosscurrents” about the disparity that parent fundraising creates between elementary schools in San Francisco, which he covered at length in a recent investigation for the San Francisco Public Press.

10 Solutions to Inequality in Elementary School Fundraising

Jeremy Adam Smith, San Francisco Public Press — Feb 13 2014 - 3:58pm

PTA fundraising at public elementary schools in San Francisco is wildly uneven, with only a small number of schools raising enough money in recent years to avoid the worst effects of state budget cuts. Based on Public Press research and conversations with experts in the field, here are some options for addressing uneven access to funding for San Francisco’s public elementary schools.

Part of a special report on education inequality in San Francisco. A version of this story ran in the winter 2014 print edition.

Albany School District Levels Parent Fundraising Playing Field

Emilie Raguso, San Francisco Public Press — Feb 13 2014 - 3:58pm

Concerned about equity, 3 elementary school PTAs pool money for daytime enrichment

The tiny Albany Unified School District in the East Bay was, until 2011, like many others in the state: Schools with the best parent fundraising were able to reap all the benefits for their own kids. Superintendent Marla Stephenson said the disparities had been immediately apparent when she began working for the district in 2008. Three years later she led the switch to a single annual campaign for all three schools — one that could provide an example for San Francisco and other districts struggling with inequities made worse by parent fundraising.

Part of a special report on education inequality in San Francisco. A version of this story ran in the winter 2014 print edition.

Two PTA Presidents, Two Realities

Jeremy Adam Smith, Luke Thomas and Tearsa Joy Hammock, San Francisco Public Press — Feb 13 2014 - 3:57pm

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

Part of a special report on education inequality in San Francisco. A version of this story ran in the winter 2014 print edition.

Infographics: School Fundraising in S.F. by the Numbers

Jeffrey Thorsby, Jason Winshell, Tom Guffey and Justin Slaughter, San Francisco Public Press — Feb 6 2014 - 4:10pm

The San Francisco Unified School District aims to spend its funds equitably, not necessarily equally. That means giving more to schools with the highest needs, based on a complex formula. But in the past decade, parents at some schools have developed sophisticated fundraising operations to make up for years of tight districtwide budgets. The result: parents at a few schools are able to significantly supplement their children’s education, while most are not.

Part of a special report on education inequality in San Francisco. A version of this story ran in the winter 2014 print edition.

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