by Josie (’16)
With each coming school year, there is more and more concern over the state of San Francisco’s public education. Whether it is the budget or number of kids failing to graduate, there always seem to be problems with public education. As a high school student involved with the public school system, I believe there are multiple ways education can be improved such as campus beautification, larger budgets, and better ways to motivate kids to stay in school.
This year, the SFUSD (San Francisco Unified School District) has had an overall budget of $623,53,969 to spend on approximately 55,000 students in the public school system. This budget is divided into two parts, restricted and unrestricted funds. Restricted funds are earmarked for specific things such as special education and child nutrition. The unrestricted funds are for general education. 83.5% of this budget is used to pay school staff. 12.2% is used general school operations. 4.3% is used for books and student’s supplies. Since 1978, public schools have relied on the California state budget for funds. In 2008, Californian lawmakers cut school’s budgets by 7.2 million dollars, but even after these budget cuts and depletion of their reserved funds, the SFUSD is still in debt by 18.6 million dollars. This means that there is absolutely no money for the children of San Francisco’s education. This means to receive a well-rounded, well-funded education, children will need to attend private schools which on average costs about $30,000 per year, which means that the lower class who cannot afford these prices will be stuck with a poorer education. If the SFUSD can find someway to create better funding or reprioritize what is most important to spend money on, then perhaps public schools in San Francisco will not be as lacking.
Another fault of San Francisco public schools is regarding the motivation of students. Unless you really love learning and can appreciate the lessons of school, then public schools offer no interest to you whatsoever. Perhaps if the SFUSD is to modify the schedules for students, then we would be more inclined to stay in school. Waking up before the sun has risen, riding on a packed bus to a windowless classroom where you must sit for seven hours a day, breaking your back from carrying loads of text books and binders back home and then staying up into the wee hours of night to finish your homework is not a very appealing schedule. Maybe if school started later and did not involve so much after schoolwork, students would be happier. Campuses can be modified too. When I arrive on an ugly, cement, cold, uninviting, windowless, fluorescent-lit campus, I feel no motivation at all to go to school. If the campuses involved bright, warm colors, more trees, perhaps a window that opened, I would feel more inclined to return to campus.
The SFUSD’s mission statement is as follows: “The mission of the San Francisco Unified School District is to provide each student with an equal opportunity to succeed by promoting intellectual growth, creativity, self-discipline, cultural and linguistic sensitivity, democratic responsibility, economic competence, and physical and mental health so that each student can achieve his or her maximum potential.” Can public schools really achieve these goals with plummeting budgets and failure to keep kids in school? If the SFUSD can increase their budgets, create better campuses, and motivate kids, maybe there is hope for San Francisco’s public education.