Posted on February 3, 2021

S.F.’s Elite Lowell High School Would Permanently Switch to Lottery Admission Under Fast-Track Proposal

Jill Tucker, San Francisco Chronicle, January 30, 2021

San Francisco’s elite academic public high school would no longer admit students based on top grades and test scores, but instead use a random lottery system for admission to Lowell High if the board approves a measure fast-tracked for a vote.

The proposal will head to the school board during a special meeting Tuesday, with a final vote expected a week later. Four school board members — a majority — have already signed onto the effort.

For decades Lowell High School — one of the top-performing public schools in the country — has been considered a point of pride for the district and the city, something of a private school experience at a public school price.

But the school has come under fire in recent years for its lack of diversity and instances of racism even as the country faces a racial reckoning with the past.

The school board on Tuesday voted to rename 44 schools — including Lowell — after determining they the names were associated with slavery, oppression, racism and colonization.

Now, a week later, the board will turn its attention to Lowell’s admissions process.

“This is a response to ongoing racist attacks in our schools that must be addressed,” said board President Gabriela López. {snip}

The school board spent more than three hours at its last meeting discussing a recent incident at the school, in which students participating in an anti-racism lesson were exposed to pornographic, racist and antisemitic messages and images.


López said community members as well as local and national Black leaders are behind the measure, which if passed would require the same admission process used at the district’s other comprehensive high schools.


Lowell currently enrolls less than 2% Black students compared to 8% districtwide and less than 12% Latinx students compared to 32% in all schools.


The proposal, however, is likely to draw significant opposition from families, students and public officials who say the competitive high school offers high-achieving students a public choice that competes with private school offerings, including a long list of Advanced Placement courses.