A California school board decided to combat racial disparities when it comes to student enrollment. San Francisco school board members voted unanimously for a policy change Tuesday (Oct. 9) that will allow for the admission of more Black students at Lowell High School, an academically elite public institution in the city.
The decision allows for qualified students from a predominately Black middle school in the city to have automatic admission into Lowell, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. As of now, the decision would affect an estimated 11 current eighth-grade students at Willie L. Brown Jr. Middle School.
The high school has a disproportionate number of white and Asian students, with Black students nearly non-existent. Only one Black male student was among a class of 500 freshmen at Lowell last year, Mark Sanchez, a board member, said.
The board’s recent decision at Lowell, one of the top public high schools in the nation, could open the door for other schools to make stronger efforts to bolster the representation of students of color.
In the meantime, the San Francisco board may have to brace itself for more discussions about Lowell’s admission policy. The school has traditionally made admission decisions based on students’ grades and test scores — a method that has come under scrutiny as creating a barrier that keeps many otherwise deserving students from entry.
The school allows for several spots to be filled by qualified students from underrepresented schools, but that is a limited number.
The bigger concern, however, with the admission policy seems to be whether basing decisions on academic performance is illegal or not. Lowell’s use of grades and test scores to determine student selection could violate a California law prohibiting the consideration of such factors, district officials have said to The Chronicle. A selection process based on the sole consideration of academic performance could be seen as a biased process. Again, time will tell if the board will be forced to look more closely at the overall admission policy.