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Ed Rebels present... 2009-2010 Youth-Led Participatory Action Research Project focused on Education Equity and San Francisco High Schools in Association with

Who are the Ed Rebels?

“We are angry, frustrated, and disappointed because students in our city are falling through the cracks of the school system. They are not graduating from high school and they’re not being adequately prepared for their futures.”

We are a group of young women that are dedicated to educational change. We all come from different high schools in the city of San Francisco with diverse ethnic backgrounds. ED Rebels started off as a research team dedicated to informing our community about inequity in San Francisco Unified School District.

Our Mission:

~ED Rebels

Our Methods:

Our mission is to inform students, educators, and community members and have them be aware of the lack of EQUITY in SFUSD. We want to emphasize the importance of EQUITY and encourage communities to work together to make a positive change for a better education system. We want to teach students that they can help reach this goal by speaking up for what they need and deserve.

Through identifying problems and issues that our communities struggle with, we were able to select our topic. We created our research question based on our topics and voted on a final reseach question. Shortly afterwards, we collected data by conducting anonymous surveys, focus groups, and video interviews. Our interviewees ranged from school board members, city officials, and college and high school students. The students we surveyed were mostly from the schools we attend; John O’Conell, Gateway, SOTA (School of The Arts), and The Marin School. We collected seventy-two surveys, conducted two youth focus groups, and did about twenty five video interviews. After collecting all of our data, we had a retreat to analyze the survey data using Through this process we developed seven research findings. After compiling all of this information we created a report and a documentary. Lastly, we developed our visions, recommendations, and prepared for our community presentation.

ED Rebels team at the beginning of the project in the summer of 2009.

Our Vision: After a long process of research we have come to realize what we WANT. We WANT an EQUITABLE education system in San Francisco. This includes more diverse schools, more equitable funding, and more support for both documented and undocumented students to go to college.

ED Rebels Paola and Aracely interview San Francisco city supervisor Eric Mar.

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Our Sample: The youth we chose to interview all had different backgrounds and went to different schools. We interviewed youth from middle schools and high schools along with students going to college. We also interviewed many adults such as city supervisors, school board members, a community center director, Tim Wise, Mike Hughes, Jim Shelton and many other people involved in the eduction system.

ED Rebels Priscilla and Karina present issue areas to the team.

Our Analysis:

Our Themes and Research Question:

After several meetings to gather data we moved into our process of analyzing the data. This took longer than expected because we took an unexpected break. We came back to our project because we felt we had a responsibility to our communities to continue this project. As we returned we developed our three main findings which were based on surveys and interview data.

Our Research Question is:

How can SFUSD increase equity for all San Francisco high school students? To find our research question, as a group we gathered to discuss issues we face in San Francisco. Some of the issues we felt were important and needed to be adressed were: • Teen Pregnancy

“The thing I hear the most often from high school kids, sadly, is that they’ve been told don’t bother applying to college.”

• Homelessness

• Violence


• Economic Crisis

Funding in San Francisco Schools:

• Segregation in Schools

Students believe San Francisco Unified School District distributes money unfairly to schools.

• Immigration

~Claudia Jasin

• Inequity in the School District • Unemployment • Health and Cleanliness • Hunger After many choices and a long process of decision making, we came to decide we wanted to research equity in our school district based on the topics of Funding, Segregation in Schools and Immigration Status.

John O’Connell High School, San Francisco, CA

ED Rebels FINAL REPORT | page 2


you could, and I think that leads to lower test scores. So, I think more funding for schools with lower test scores should be good.” ~Gaby, 11th Grade, Lowell H.S.

Students think funding should be distributed to schools that it need it the most.

• 71% of students attending high achieving or private schools think there is enough money to function properly.

Supporting Data: • 80% of students attending John O’Conell High School (a low performing school) that were surveyed, didn’t feel there was enough money for their schools to function properly.

• “What we do under “No Child Left Behind” is say, if this school is failing we’re gonna give you even less money. That would be like saying, if crime continued to go up in a community, and you would say to the police, well, we’re just cutting all your money, you’re not gonna get any more money for cops because you clearly can’t control crime. We would never do that.” ~Tim Wise, Author/ Educator

• “The state is probably just trying to keep safe what needs to be safe and what seems like a danger zone they try not to overhaul so they try not to help schools that need it because they feel that they are lost causes.” ~Edgar, Gateway High School alumni, First Graduate (FG2) and current student at Contra Costa Community College • 78% of students surveyed stated that they agreed or strongly agreed that the school board plays favorites in funding. • “They put priority on schools like [Lowell High School] when really their priority should be the other way around... because obviously they need the help.” ~Gaby, Bay School alumni, First Graduate (FG2) and current student at Tufts University • “I think that if they [schools with low test scores] don’t have money for supplies, you’re not gonna be able to teach stuff as well as

Aracely presents a rough draft of the Segregation/Diversity finding to the team.

“When it comes to schools we say, no, no, no, let’s actually cut your budgets and make you figure it out on your own. Which obviously has nothing to do with fairness or equity. It has everything to do with, I think, punishing people for being the wrong color, the wrong class, the wrong nationality, in the wrong neighborhoods.”

Ed Rebels co-facilitator and First Graduate (FG2) Alumni, Israel, leads a discussion about education inequity and how it effects First Graduate students and San Francisco students in general.

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~Tim Wise

Vision: We want to have a fair and equitable education system where all schools are fully funded based on their needs.

Recommendations: • San Francisco Unified School District should change the way schools are funded by distributing more money to lower income neighborhoods and schools with the lowest test scores.

“25% of San Francisco youth attend private school. The national average is 11%. Right off the bat you’re taking a whole chunk of students out of the public school system. That to me is the first segregation by race.”

~Maida Brankman

Segregation in San Francisco Schools: San Francisco students want more diversity in their schools.

Sub-Finding: Students would benefit from increased diversity by becoming more culturally aware and feeling more comfortable.

Gustavo, Kimberly, Aracely, and Paola stand in front of City Hall before interviewing city supervisors for their research project.

Supporting Data: • More than 50% of survey participants believe that schools would function better if they were more diverse. • “[More diverse schools would function better] because a wider range of ethnicities and cultures will create more cultural acceptance and a spreading knowledge of other cultures.” ~Anonymous student survey • “You can’t use race in San Francisco to admit students. Now what the school district does is they use all these differnet things like your parents education level, your economic level, but they can’t use race as a way to determine what school you’ll go to.” ~Karen Zapata, SF Elementary School Teacher • 75% of those who agreed that they would like to attend a more culturally diverse school, also said they would be more culturally aware and more comfortable in a diverse school. • “People could be exposed to different people of different backgrounds. They’d be culturally aware/culturally sensitive” ~Anonymous student survey

ED Rebels Monique and Maria interview author and educator Tim Wise about education equity at the Coalition of Essential Schools’ Fall Forum in New Orleans, LA.

• “I had come from public school atmoshpere, and going into a private school atmoshpere it’s very different. I became a minority instead of a majority.” ~Gaby, Bay School alumni, First Graduate (FG2) and current student at Tufts University

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• “[More diverse schools would function better] because you would learn more about other cultures and where [people] came from and how they live.” ~Anonymous student survey

San Francisco Unified School District should ensure that both documented and undocumented students recieve the same education rights.

Vision: Sub-Finding:

We want to see a more diverse learning community where SFUSD supports all sudents in becoming more culturally aware by creating diverse enviorenments where students feel comfortable.

SFUSD should help immigrant high school students get on the path to college.

Supporting Data: Recommendations:

• 87.5% of immigrants surveyed, and 60.4% of people who know immigrants, agreed that immigration documents are what immigrant students need to go to college.

• We want students to be more culturally aware and more comfortable in a diverse environment.

• “[Education rights] shouldn’t be done as who has documents or not, it should be based on who actually deserves it and has worked hard.” ~Jessica, 11th grade, Lowell H.S.

• We want different cultural histories and perspectives taught in our classes. • We want to be taught by teachers of different cultures, socio-economic status’, immigration status’, sexual orientations, and ethnic/racial backgrounds.

• “The school district has a plan with goals to meet the needs of immigrant students, but often when budget crises hit, the programs for immigrant kids and language support are the first to be cut.” ~Eric Mar, San Francisco City Supervisor

• We want San Francisco Unified School District techers to reflect the diverse population of students that attend the city’s schools.

• 71.4% of immigrants surveyed, and 53.8% of people who know immigrants, said that immigrant students don’t know where to go for financial aid.

ED Rebels discuss their findings and supporting data during the data analysis stage.

Stephanie and Aracely interview Jim Shelton, U.S. Department of Education’s Assistant Deputy Secretary for Innovation and Improvement, at an education conference in New Mexico.

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Vision: • “We don’t do a very good job with undocumented students. If I think about inequity that’s one of the ways that I think that we struggle, because we really aren’t able to do much in terms of financial aid for students who are undocumented.” ~Mike Hughes, Director of Undergraduate Admissions, University of San Francisco • “They are still students and they want to go to college and get a better education and become professionals but since they don’t have documentaion they are not able to do so and that is unfair” ~An undocumented student surveyed. • 92.3% of immigrant and non-immigrant students said that both documented and undocumented students should get the same education rights. • “A lot of immigrants without documents [can] do a lot of great things but they don’t really get the chance to because of their lack of documents.” ~Jessica, 11th Grade, Lowell H.S. • 66.7% of students who don’t know immigrant students, think that lack of English skills are the main reasons immigrants have a hard time getting financial aid. In fact, 53.8% of immigrants report that they don’t know where to get financial aid.

Ed Rebels discuss areas of educational inequity to focus their youth-led participatory action research project.

We want to see equitable opportunities presented to all students, regardless of their immigration status, so they can make it to college. By investing in the future of all students, we are investing in a better future for society.

Recommendations: • Create special programs where immigrant students recieve help and find opportunities to be able to afford college. • Schools should be stronger advocates by stepping up and helping undocumented students in their fight for the right to attend college. • Help enforce laws that make colleges disregard any students immigration status.

“It makes me so sick when kids who have been schooled entirely in the U.S. are denied college because they’re undocumented and they can’t get financial aid.”

~Maida Brankman

Paola, Aracely, Gustavo, and Kimberly visit San Francisco City Hall to interview city supervisors.

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Limitations and Lessons Learned:

Next Steps & Action: • ED Rebels wants SFUSD to take our research seriously and work to implement our recommendations.

During our time with Youth in Focus our group experienced many challenges. We started in the summer of 2009 with a big group of students from our colllege prep program, FIrst Graduate. In the fall, we continued with ten students. Finally, this summer it came down to the last six girls from the original twenty five students that we first began with. Although the lack of participants could have prevented us from continuing with this research project, we still moved forward.

• We want SFUSD to create a more equitable educational system. • We want all high school courses to prepare students for college, and for them to be like this in EVERY SF school. • We want supportive teachers, principals, and counselers who are available to us 100% of the time to help regardless of economic class, residential status, or race.

Throughout this journey we learned and experienced many new things. We discovered that our voice is truly needed to be able to create a change that benefits all students from all around the city. As we presented to multiple groups of people, ranging from school board members to students, we gained courage to set aside whatever fears we may have had.

• We want to resent our findings and recommendations to school board members that hold power to make the changes we need. • We want to present to students and motivate them to speak up and say what they need in order to create the equitable school district our city lacks.

However, although we completed the project in one year there were many ups and downs. It was very overwhelming and we would sometimes only meet once a week. A few of the people from the Youth in Focus staff couldn’t continue and we had a big break during the process. There was a lot of confusion throughout but our dedication to getting this task done led us to finish the project we

• We want to continue to be a part of programs that are dedicated to creating powerful and benificial education change.


Priscilla and Karina share back an issue brainstorm with the rest of the ED Rebels team.

Monique and Maria faciliate a communiy mapping activity at the Coalition for Essential Schools, Fall Forum in New Orleans.

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ED Rebels Partners... Youth in Focus The guiding vision of Youth In Focus is of a world in which youth and adults share knowledge and power to create a more just, sustainable, and democratic society. Since 1990 Y.I.F has pursued this vision by providing training, consulting and coaching support in youth-led action research and evaluation (Youth-REP) to underrepresented youth and adult allies working for postitive change. Youth-led action research brings young people’s energy and information to bear upon social and organizational challenges. Young people play lead roles in designing and following up on research or evaluation projects that serve to change or initiate a program, organization, community initiative, organizing campaign, or policy that affects them and their peers. Our mission is to educate underrepresented youth and adult partners in youth-led action research, evaluation and planning to create the conditions for social justice.

Priscilla, Gaby, and Karina take a break during a data analysis workshop.

Stupski Foundation Our mission is to improve life options for children of color and poverty. We are a private operating foundation focused on transforming our public education system so that all students are prepared for college, career and meaningful lives. The foundation develops ad implements its program work in collaboration with partner organizations that share the vision and ability to advance the transformation of public education systems at school, district and state levels.

First Graduate First Graduate’s unique high-touch, long-term approach directly addresses the needs of first generation students. We make a 10 year commitment to students starting the summer before seventh grade through the completion of college. The program enrolls 25-30 rising seventh graders annually and will complete its first 10 year pipeline in the spring of 2010 with the addition of our tenth class, recruited from five San Francisco public middle schools. In the spring of 2011 we will congratulate our first college graduating class. Our mission is to help students finish high school and become the first in their family to graduate from college.

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ED Rebels BIOS...

Priscilla Ortiz I am 15 years old and I am a junior at Ruth Asawa School of the Arts. I found out about Youth in Focus from my program, First Graduate. I want to learn more about how we can make our schools better and I’ve realized that all youth have a voice and we should all stand up for what we believe in.

Aracely Nunez-Quintana I am 15 years old and I go to Ruth Asawa School of the Arts. I am a Latina student in a San Francisco public high school, and will be the first in my family to graduate from college in the United states.

Sonja Flores I am in the 11th grade at Gateway High School and I am 17 years old. I participted in this project because I want to make sure I can at least start pushing the school district to give money to schools according to their own individual needs. I love to write and play soccer.

Gabriela Rodriguez I go to Gateway High School and I’m 16 years old. I think everyone has the right to learn.

Project Co-Coordinators Israel Alex lazo I am a graduate of Leadership High School in San Francisco. Currently, I am a Senior at UC Santa Cruz majoring in International Studies, and minoring in Education. I am a member of First Graduate’s innagural class, FG1.

Karina Sandoval I am 16 years old and I go to Gateway High School. I am a part of this project because I want to make a differnce in the way schools run in our city, and want them to be more equitable.

Aaron Nakai I am a youth-led participatory action research facilitator and educator. I have worked with diverse groups of youth over the past 10 years. I live in Oakland, California and support youth-led projects focusing on education equity, racial justice, and health justice - in order to ensure youth get their places on decision making tables.

Paola Garcia I am a junior at The Marin High School. I am 16 years old and I am doing this project because I think it is important for people to be informed about what San Francisco Unified School District is really like.

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ED Rebels! a project of first graduate, youth in focus, and the stupski foundation

ED Rebels  

A youth-led participatory action research project about education equity in San Francisco high schools. The project was completed by the ED...