A scary school poll

Pub date March 15, 2007
WriterTim Redmond
SectionPolitics Blog

By Tim Redmond

Kim Knox at leftinsf has posted the minutes of the Community Advisory Committee looking for a new SF school superintendent. Mostly pretty predictable stuff — except for a poll commissioned by a business group that has some really scary results:

To the question, is SF Unified School District going in the right direction or the wrong track:
Right Direction-22%
Wrong Track-54%

To the question, how would you rate the quality of the education provided by SFUSD:
Good to Excellent-28%
Not So Good to Poor-54%

To the question, how well do you think SFUSD manage its funds:
Excellent 20%
Not So Good to Poor 53%

One leftinsf commenter, Nakayama, concluded:

What ignorance. Anybody keeping a close eye on our public schools in SF –whether parent, student or administrator–can readily see that the schools are much better now than they were five or 10 years ago.

Why the misconception?

Because very few San Franciscans have children, and they have no idea what is happening in our schools.

I agree with the first part — I have a kid in the public schools, I’m really happy about his school (McKinley) and I think the public schools have improved dramatically in the past few years. But I don’t think the misconception is entirely due to the fact that most people in SF don’t have kids.

Let’s remember: Of the two superintendents who have been in charge since the 1990s, one ran an administration riddled with corruption; the other, while a talented educator, was arrogant, vindictive and disdainful of the community. That sort of thing doesn’t help with the perception of the district.

The second problem is that the district has spent a lot of money on a public-relations office whose chief job in the past has been to protect and promote the superintendent — so not a lot of effort has gone into promoting the schools in general. That’s changing now, under Acting Superintendent Gwen Chan, who seems to be doing a great job so far — and with a little effort, SFUSD could (and should) organize a major advertising and public-relations campaign to promote the quality and importance of public education in the city. That would help a lot.

Because those numbers really suck. And we all have to work to change them.