Thursday, May 21, 2009

Dream Schools

"This past fall, Davis reopened its doors as one of San Francisco's first three "Dream Schools" -- the name for a controversial reform initiative spearheaded by the San Francisco Unified School District's superintendent, Arlene Ackerman. The idea behind the program is to transform some of the city's lowest-performing schools in some of its poorest neighborhoods into high-achieving "academies" whose graduates go on to college. Three Bayview schools, including Davis, were selected as the initiative's first, with seven others in the pipeline for this fall.


The reality is that underneath the campus facelifts and burgundy blazers that give the Dream Schools a veneer of success, there are deep problems that will take years to work out -- assuming they ever can be."

"But staffers and parents are beginning to paint a more nuanced picture that exposes how challenging it can be to reform a neglected school. Almost everyone who's been close to the reform effort acknowledges that it's been exhausting and often confounding. Some voice deep concerns about aspects of the program. Yet for every critic, there is an enthusiastic supporter who believes that in spite of the challenges, the Dream Schools program could truly rehabilitate the educational opportunities in this African American sector and, eventually, throughout the entire southeast part of town."

"Thus, the Dream Schools purge the lower performers out of a school, the very kids who need the most support end up getting the least."

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