Lowell High School returns to merit-based admissions

Marcio Jose Sanchez

In San Francisco, Lowell High School has long been known as one of the most successful schools in the state, if not the nation. It produced a generation of gifted and talented students who were sought after by the country’s most prestigious colleges and universities. The school used a merit-based admissions process, selecting applicants who showed the most promise. Or at least they did until a couple of years ago when the social justice warriors on the school board scrapped the merit-based process and replaced it with a lottery system to be more “fair.” As we recently discussed, the failure rate at the school went through the roof, to the surprise of almost nobody.

People clearly noticed and the school board must have gotten an earful. This week, the board voted to rescind the policy and return to the merit-based admission policy. This will likely come as a relief to many parents of children hoping to excel, but at least two classes of students will have had their hopes diminished. Will the school’s reputation recover to once again be what it was in the past? (National Review)

The San Francisco school board voted 4-3 Wednesday night to return Lowell High School to a merit-based admissions system, two years after it first switched to a lottery-based system.

Beginning with freshman entering in fall 2023, test scores and grades will be used to admit students to Lowell, barring any other changes by the board, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

The board first voted in favor of a switch to the lottery system in October 2020 because they said remote learning created a lack of academic data on which to base admissions decisions.

Even with the obvious collapse of the high standards at Lowell following the change, the board still only managed a razor-thin 4-3 vote to return to merit-based admission standards. That’s rather remarkable, particularly when you consider the fact that during the last semester, guidance counselors were discovering failing students who had been admitted to the school despite having a barely second-grade mastery of reading or math.

We are also reminded that one of the justifications cited by the board when making the change in 2020 was the “racism and lack of diversity” in the student body. That will probably sound curious to some observers when you consider that more than 50% of the student body came from Asian-American families prior to the change. But it actually makes perfect sense. Liberal activists are always terribly concerned about racism hiding around every corner, but those concerns do not apply to Asians. They aren’t considered a “proper” minority in America in the same way that they view Black and Latino residents.

In a separate vote, the board reversed a previous order to cover up a mural of George Washington at Washington High School. That order was also based on allegations of racism. But the reason for the reversal was not that the original order was too stupid for words. It came about because “the board failed to conduct an environmental impact report” prior to enacting the measure. What the environmental impact of putting a tarp over a mural might be was not mentioned.

The real reason for this “change of heart” on the school board is obviously the fact that three members of the board were recalled earlier this year and the rest of the board knew they might be next. It was a change driven by concerned parents in the heart of one of the bluest, most wildly liberal cities in the nation. And with a bit of luck, perhaps the message will begin to sink in among other school districts around the country. Your job is to make sure that children are getting the best education possible and offer them a chance at a successful life. It’s not to promote your political party’s woke agenda at the expense of the students.