From high school to college

By Alex Emslie

City College Trustee Chris Jackson introduced resolution S13 to the board of trustees Jan. 29. The proposition is aimed at aiding a seamless transition for students of the San Francisco Unified School District into higher education.

S13 was tabled at Jackson’s request to allow for further editing. Its careful wording suggests the complexity of making that transition.
S13 calls for support of the SFUSD school board and superintendent’s effort to “make college a more viable option for every student,”   which eludes to SFUSD’s implementation of A-G requirements.  The resolution also calls for the creation of a joint board which includes members of the City College Board of Trustees and the SFUSD school board.

The current SFUSD graduation requirements are problematic because they don’t align with A-G requirements. Currently, students can graduate from high school with honors without having taken the courses they need to get into college.

Aligning high school curriculum with state college requirements and closing one of the worst achievement gaps in the state are two priorities of SFUSD under the direction of their five year plan, “Beyond the Talk: Taking Action to Educate Every Child Now.”

The Predictive Power of Demographics
The plan states that, compared with any other large urban district in California, SFUSD has the greatest percentage of graduates who are academically proficient. However, the gap between typically high-performing demographics — white and Asian students — compared to lower-performing demographics — disabled, African-American, Pacific Islander, and Hispanic students — has been widening annually.

Taica Hsu, an algebra and geometry teacher at Mission High School, thinks the achievement gap, as well as limited diversity in schools, is directly related to the high school application process.

Instead of using feeder schools, in which middle schools feed into specific high schools in the same neighborhood, San Francisco students are required to apply to high schools they want to attend. Many students shoulder a hefty commute because they were assigned to a high school far from residence.

“That seems, from what I’ve heard from parents, to be a big challenge,” City College Associate Dean of Outreach and Recruitment Laurie Scolari said of SFUSD’s student assignment policy. “They’re always stressed about trying to figure out where the students are going to get into school.”
The assignment policy also leads to unbalanced populations. “We have parents who are afraid of sending their child to schools that are predominately Latino or African-American, and that’s a problem. We need to ensure racial and socioeconomic diversity,” Hsu said while addressing the SFUSD School Board Feb. 12.

City College bridges the gap to higher education
Dean Scolari is currently coordinating 36 K-12 outreach programs for City College. “These programs all live and belong in different departments all over campus. There’s not one place that houses this information. To my knowledge, this is the first place,” she said about the K-12 outreach reference guide she has drafted. She hopes to distribute the guide to SFUSD counselors to aid in directing students to programs that may help them at City College.

Another new program through the Outreach and Recruitment Office is the Ambassador Program. It utilizes City College students to reach out to grades K-12 and promotes the benefits of higher education. Chris Molina, who has been a City College ambassador for over one year, commented on diversity in SFUSD while giving a tour to students from Marina Middle School.   “I understand the whole San Francisco Unified thing, but people are going to go where they feel more comfortable,” he said.

Scolari began working for City College after aiding San Jose Unified School District in their successful implementation of A-G requirements. “I wanted to be in a room and be able to say, ‘All of you are accepted and you can all come to college,’ and I couldn’t do that when I worked in the UC system. That’s what’s great about this college – not only will we take everyone, but we have a program to support all the different aspects of what their needs are.”

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