7 Hour Meeting to Rename Schools that Aren't Even Open

In a city where achievement gaps are some of the highest in the nation

San Francisco has long been a city of devastating contradictions and nowhere is that more evident than in their school system. Last night the school board met for seven hours at a time when the city’s schools remain completely shuttered. Most thinking people probably assume that board members were toiling to figure out how to get schools open, how to offer distance learning to the families who need/prefer it and how to tackle the myriad consequences of students being out of school buildings for 10 months and counting.

Well, thinking people. You would be wrong. The board spent seven hours debating and ultimately voting to rename 44 schools in the district.

San Francisco has some of the most staggering racial achievement gaps in the country and taking Abraham Lincoln, George Washington and Diane Feinstein’s names off of school buildings will do nothing to change that. On the contrary, it is a distraction from what students and families need right now—schools that work.

In San Francisco, 70 percent of white students are proficient in math, compared to only 12 percent of black students reaching proficiency — a 58-point gap. In reading, the gap is also 58-points. Those gaps are 49 points for Latino students.

There are no silver bullets when it comes to closing those gaps but reopening the schools and offering parents alternative schooling options would make for a strong start in a district where only 12 percent of black students are proficient in math and 20 percent are proficient in reading.

San Francisco has been blanketed in Black Lives Matter signs for months. Now they have renamed 44 schools. I am hard pressed to think of a single way either performative gesture will do a damn thing to ensure that more black children—or any children— learn to read well enough to gain the knowledge and confidence they need to become the best version of themselves.

This is a complete abdication of responsibility for which the city’s children will continue to pay a very steep price.