San Francisco School Board Reverses Controversial Votes on Merit-Based Admissions and High School Mural

The San Francisco Unified Board of Education reversed two controversial decisions Wednesday that had factored heavily in the recall of three trustees earlier this year.

In a 4-3 vote, the board voted to bring back merit-based admissions at the elite Lowell High School and do away with the newer lottery system. In doing so, the board rejected a recommendation from Superintendent Vince Matthews to maintain the lottery system for another year.

The elimination of Lowell’s merit-based system in 2020 infuriated many parents and was one of the factors that prompted the recall effort. Those in favor of a lottery system said it was necessary to increase equity and diversity.

Wednesday’s decision will take effect for the 2023-2024 school year. To attend Lowell, applicants will have to meet a certain grade point average and achieve certain standardized testing scores. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Wednesday’s vote could invite a legal challenge.

The school board’s new majority also rescinded a 2019 vote to cover up a 1,600-square-foot “Life of Washington” mural at George Washington High School. The initial vote came in response to complaints about the mural’s depiction of slaves and a dead Native American. 


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