CFER Slams SF Board of Education’s Dismissal of Merit-based Admission at Lowell

SFUSD BOE Complicit in Assaulting Excellence and Exacerbating the Achievement Gap

For Immediate Release

February 10, 2021

SAN DIEGO, CA – February 10, 2021- Late last night, the San Francisco Board of Education voted to approve the Collins Proposal (5-to-2) to discontinue academic selection at Lowell High School and shift the school to a lottery system immediately. Californians for Equal Rights (CFER) condemns BOE’s politicized decision as an egregious assault on the top academic school’s excellence and the merit-based principle.

San Francisco BOE has systematically betrayed public trust by attacking Lowell’s merit-based admissions and by withholding quality academic instruction from the city’s public school students. Even the City Attorney opposes San Francisco Unified School District for widening the achievement gap and disproportionately harming the educational access of low-income students, according to a recent lawsuit filed against the SF BOE.

“SFUSD commissioners have made a terrible decision that dumbs down standards and scapegoats hardworking students in ethnically diverse San Francisco,” said Grace Li, CFER Vice President, “These students, many of whom come from underprivileged families, aspire to attend Lowell through competitive academic selection. Now, they will be sacrificed to accommodate racial spoils and mediocrity.”

CFER’s official statement attributes San Francisco’s dismal racial achievement gap to “deep roots in housing instability, community breakdown, high rates of turnover among teachers, and a toxic cultural de-emphasis on achievement”. With 9 out of ten black students in SFUSD failing state math and reading exams, canceling rigorous academic standards will only worsen the gap.

By voting down merit and academic excellence, SFUSD Board of Education is placating unreasonable demands to scrap Lowell’s rigorous admissions standard for a dubious purpose of curing racism. Notably, Lowell already had a 30% admission set-aside for underrepresented students who didn’t meet the test’s cut-off line.

CFER supports constitutional efforts and initiatives to improve educational access for socioeconomically disadvantaged groups, which includes reasonable need-based assistance to low-income students. Attacking standards and merit for a purported goal of “anti-racism”, as in the case of SF BOE, would lead to violations of the constitutional guarantee of equal treatment, by promoting preferential treatment based on race in public education.


Wenyuan Wu

(786) 393-8028

About Californians for Equal Rights (CFER): CFER is a non-partisan and non-profit organization established following the defeat of Proposition 16 in 2020, with a mission to defend and raise public awareness on the cause of equal rights through public education, civic engagement and community outreach. In 1996, California became the first U.S. state to amend its constitution by passing Proposition 209 to ban racial discrimination and preferences. Prop 209 requires that “the state shall not discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education, or public contracting.” CFER is dedicated to educating the public on this important constitutional principle of equal treatment.

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