Like many parents in San Francisco, Melvin Canas and Delfina Ramirez described applying to public kindergarten as a part-time job. They researched schools all over the city for their daughter, Cinthya; took unpaid hours off their jobs as cooks to tour over a dozen; and ultimately ranked 15 of them on her application.
San Francisco allows parents to apply to any elementary school in the district, having done away with traditional school zoning 18 years ago in an effort to desegregate its classrooms. Give parents more choices, the thinking was, and low-income and working-class students of color like Cinthya would fill more seats at the city’s most coveted schools.
But last month, Cinthya’s parents, who are Hispanic, found out she had been admitted to their second-to-last choice, a school where less than a third of students met standards on state reading and math tests last year. Only 3 percent were white.