Sherman SchoolMy next door neighbor was excited to go to school. She was 5 years old, quite bright for her age, and anxious to learn more. Her parents were very proud of her and also looking forward to her starting kindergarten at the lovely Sherman school a block away… But no: the School Board, in their infinite wisdom, decided that she must go to school in the Tenderloin. Aside from the inconvenience of getting her there and picking her up while not owning a car, they did not like the idea of leaving her all day in a distant, neighborhood. So they decided to bear the high financial burden of enrolling their girl in St. Bridgid School.

San Francisco has one of the lowest per-capita population of children in this Country. My neighbor’s experience is a good reason why. Busing was banned some time ago, so our educrats’ answer is to make parents provide the transportation!  Apparently they do not understand the intent of that law. Using children as pawns in their social experiments is wrong, and running off families is a shame. This was a magical place to grow up in.

Our schools should also offer engaging after-school programs to nurture the hidden talents our children have and to afford relief to working parents.

An alarming number of students do not graduate, and of those who do, only half go on to college. Unfortunately those students who are not college-bound have learned no skills which they can translate into well-paying careers. The school district closed the vocational training schools some time ago, because those courses might “stigmatize the students”. Well, every plumber, electrician or mechanic I know is too busy making money to worry about being “stigmatized”.

The School District’s mission  to promote “social justice” should not take priority over teaching reading and writing. I believe its mission should be to train students to learn  to the best of their ability, the skills they will need to succeed in life.

I also believe the schools should include a mandatory class in “survival skills”: To teach each student what to do in emergencies, how to avoid getting into trouble or worse not living long enough to make it to adulthood. If my younger brother had taken such a class, perhaps he would have seen his seventeenth birthday. Even the best education is meaningless if you don’t survive to use it.

Finally, we have a problem of attracting and retaining good teachers, who are the backbone of our schools. The primary reason is affordability in San Francisco. Why not give teachers some priority on the list for affordable housing, that developers are required to provide. Who wouldn’t want teachers as well as our first-responders living in their building?  Seems like a no-brainer to me.

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