We grab the black binoculars
With the thick black strap
And the book about constellations
And a beach towel
We get into the car
Sit in the leather seats,
And you drive as I gaze out the window
At the city lights
And up at the starless purple sky,
That reflects the city lights back.
You drive until the concrete road
Turns to dusty dirt
and the city fades into the purple horizon
You drive to the open countryside
The grass grows knee high
The crickets chirp
The land seems to spread out around us
For miles, and miles
And there is one tall oak tree
We put the beach towel
On the grass, under the oak tree
And you slip the thick black strap
Around my neck
You point with your figure where I should look
And you read from the book
About Orion, Camelopardalis,
Cancer, Aries, Pegasus, and Pyxis
But I don’t see the outline of great gods
Or crabs or horses
I see little white dots
I see the lights of cities on distant planets

-by Josephine Weidner

San Francisco’s Education

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.

This is how we’re spinning the story.

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.

The Real Americans

by Josie (’16)

Dan Hoyle’s show, The Real Americans, exceeded my wildest expectations. What I had expected was an older gentleman, maybe clad in old, worn-out corduroy slacks, a plaid shirt, and fleece vest clutching a cane, reciting his life story to a large audience. This was not the case, fortunately. Dan Hoyle is a young, very attractive man with enough energy to do a one-man show that is both exciting and captivating. He wore a plain white shirt and jeans and a variety of baseball caps to differentiate between the characters. The other aspect of his show that surprised me was how he could capture each character so precisely that I could really see the person Hoyle was acting as. It was almost as if those people were on the stage with him. Hoyle was so comfortable with the theater space usually filled with other actors and being in front of an audience alone. Hoyle also did an excellent job of encapsulating the “Real Americans.” He had the accents and the behavior and actions that the classic middle-of-America Americans would have. Hoyle also had the excellent point that we live in a liberal bubble in San Francisco, and that is why it is important to be exposed to who the “Real Americans” are. I hope Dan Hoyle has other shows to come that I can enjoy as much as I enjoyed The Real Americans. I would recommend all who have the opportunity to go see the play, do it!