Lowell High A-g requirements high school is a selective co-educational, public magnet school in San Francisco, California with approximately 2,600 students.
Admission is contingent on submission of an application and based primarily on evaluation of test scores and prior academic record. Lowell High School began in 1856 as the Union Grammar School. In 1894, the school was renamed to honor the distinguished poet James Russell Lowell, chiefly by Pelham W. Ames, a member of the school board and ardent admirer of James Russell Lowell. The school relocated in January 1913 to an entire block on Hayes Street between Ashbury and Masonic.
2006 150th anniversary of the school. School day lengthened to eight hours and twenty three minutes. Lowell ranked 2nd internationally in AP exam scores. School day is shortened to seven hours and forty minutes. Lowell and other schools by implementing a race-based admissions policy as a result of San Francisco NAACP v. San Francisco Unified School District and the 1983 Consent Decree settlement. Because of the Consent Decree, SFUSD strived to create a more equal distribution of race at Lowell, which was predominantly Chinese American, particularly trying to introduce more African American and Hispanic students into the school’s population.
In 1994, a group of Chinese-High community activists organized a lawsuit to challenge the 1983 Consent Decree race-based admissions policies used by SFUSD for its public schools. The lawsuit was led by Lowell alum, Lee Cheng. In 1999, both parties agreed g a settlement which modified the 1983 Consent Decree to create a new «diversity index» system which substituted race as a factor for admissions with a variety of factors such as socioeconomic background, mother’s educational level, a achievement, language spoken at home, and English Learner Status. Critics of school diversity index created by Ho v. San Francisco Unified School District point out that many schools, including Lowell, have become even less racially diverse since requirements was enacted. On November 15, 2005, the United States District Court for the Northern District of California denied a request to extend the Consent Decree, which was set to expire on December 31, 2005 after it had been extended once before to December 31, 2002.
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The ruling claimed «since the settlement of the Ho litigation , the consent decree has proven to be ineffective, if not counterproductive, in achieving diversity in San Francisco public schools» by making schools more racially segregated. The expiration of the Consent Decree means that SFUSD’s admissions policies, including the «diversity index» and the special admissions policies granted to Lowell, and many of its «Dream School» initiatives are no longer codified and mandated by the Consent Decree. As a result, these policies may be challenged at the community and local levels as well instead of just at the judicial level by filing a lawsuit. Lowell is located north of Lake Merced, south of San Francisco’s Parkside District.
The school spans several blocks between Sylvan Dr. Eucalyptus Drive in the north to Winston Drive and Lake Merced Blvd. Lowell High School historically has test scores ranking among the Top 10 Public Schools in California, including Gretchen Whitney High School and Oxford Academy. The school’s modular scheduling system and self-scheduling «arena» program allow students freedom in course choice, unlike the rest of the high schools in the SFUSD. Students also have the opportunity to choose from a large number of Advanced Placement courses. Lowell uses a class scheduling system historically popular in most high schools and colleges, an «arena» in which students move from table to table signing up for classes, allowing students a degree of programming freedom almost unheard of in other high schools today. While scheduling classes for the 2006 spring semester, one of the students who had volunteered to assist the running of arena was caught abusing the scheduling system to use early scheduling privileges, granted to volunteers by the administration, to let friends schedule before others.
This abuse proved to be a catalyst for anti-arena faculty in the school. Five of six department chairs and dozens of teachers at Lowell filed a union grievance demanding an end to class imbalances. Citing these imbalances, they called to eliminate arena scheduling and to replace it with computerized scheduling used in all other SFUSD schools. Proponents of arena argued that the system distinguishes Lowell and gives students additional responsibility and flexibility with shaping their high school careers. Doing so, students can prepare for a similar selecting of courses in college. Students would be able to choose teachers whom they found to be compatible with their learning style.
The rotating priority system of picking teachers and times would assure the fairest results for the greatest number of people. After a student forum, committee meetings, several student petitions, and final deliberation by then-principal Paul Cheng and the administration, it was decided that arena would remain in place, with modifications to address concerns about inequities and class imbalance, including the abolishment of early scheduling for Shield and Scroll and «mini arena,» which allowed people with incomplete schedules another chance to complete them by opening up all the classes again with a few slots. Under pressure from faculty and students, in 2013 the Lowell administration decided on an «online arena»—very different from the previous arena. In 2012, the Lowell administration began preliminary testing by requiring students to submit their proposed classes for the next school year through an online form, designed and maintained by a few students from the computer programming classes.
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