San Francisco Voters Strongly Back the Return of Algebra to 8th Grade

San Francisco residents overwhelmingly approved a measure on Tuesday to reintroduce algebra to the 8th grade following a failed 10-year educational experiment that did not yield the desired results.

According to initial figures from the San Francisco Department of Elections, the vote was 83,916 in favor and 16,105 against as of March 5. The decision to postpone the course until 9th grade not only deprived advanced students of the opportunity to engage in challenging coursework leading to high school calculus but also did not improve academic performance for Black and Hispanic students, as critics argued.

With a total of 500,856 registered voters in San Francisco, the voter turnout stood at approximately 21% on the same day as the presidential primary and the primary election to fill the late Dianne Feinstein’s U.S. Senate seat.

Although the algebra ballot initiative is non-binding, the school board had previously voted to reintroduce the course to middle schools. The voting results served as a reminder to the board, emphasizing the importance of meeting residents’ expectations.

Patrick Wolff, a parent with children in the district during this period, expressed that San Francisco voters emphasized the necessity for academic excellence in public schools without compromising on equity and justice.

Rex Ridgeway, part of a group that took legal action against SFUSD over algebra, anticipated a significant response from voters, highlighting a decade-long demand for change.

The notion of solely reverting to previous ineffective methods is not the solution, as Melodie Baker from Just Equations pointed out. Moving forward, new strategies need to be developed to ensure improved outcomes for Black and Latinx students without returning to old practices.

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