by the Alice Fong Yu and Bayview Parent Community
To the administrators at Alice Fong Yu Alternative School and SFUSD Transportation Director, Elementary Assistant Superintendent and Superintendent:
Six years ago I submitted an application for my child to attend Alice Fong Yu (AFY) Alternative School because it offered K-8 instruction and an immersion program where she has the opportunity to learn a second language and get a quality education. The school is located in a safe neighborhood, and there is access from the Bayview to Alice Fong Yu through the school bus service.
Thirteen years ago, parents from the Bayview District and other AFY parents advocated on their children’s behalf by attending a meeting held by the Board of Education. Families were successful in advocating for our children to be able to ride the bus to and from the Bayview. The Principal has continuously made the decision to deny access to middle school students and families that live in the Bayview access to transportation without considering how this would affect the students and families. The Principal’s efforts to deny students access to bus services contributed to Black and Latinx families’ hesitancy to apply to Alice Fong Yu. It is unclear why the Principal has continuously decided to negate families’ access to bus services despite the Board of Education approving the service for Bayview families.
Upon my child being denied access to the school bus, I spoke with the executive director of transportation, he said that it was up to the principal to decide if students were allowed on the school bus. This decision made by the principal is absolutely unacceptable as she claims that her students are her main priority and this decision does not reflect that.
The principal is intentionally putting students at risk by forcing them on public transportation. Boarding public transportation as a young student with no supervision poses many risks, especially given that many of the children that the principal is forcing to take public transportation will be boarding the bus in the Bayview District at very early hours of the day.
Families are in need of a service that already is being provided by the school, but representatives of Alice Fong Yu and SFUSD continuously deny young children access to a service that provides them safety. It is not only discouraging that AFY continues to restrict access to services that are necessary for children to attend school but that they are perpetuating discriminatory practices.
The Bayview District has historically been a community that has been denied equal access and equitable resources. It is also no secret that the Bayview experiences a lot of violence. By denying young children access to safe methods of transportation, they are putting our children in harm’s way.
Alice Fong Yu claims that its educational approach is “the belief that children’s social and emotional growth is as important as their academic development.” Learning cannot take place if we do not ensure that our children have the best quality of life outside the classroom. AFY and SFUSD can play a vital role in ensuring that children arrive ready to learn by committing to provide all children access to school bus services. Schools not only have a commitment to ensure that children are learning in the classroom, but also have a responsibility to protect children in and outside of the classrooms whenever that is possible.
All students’ social and emotional growth are contingent on their circumstances and the mental state they are entering the classroom with. This issue of whether young children, specifically young children of color from low-income neighborhoods that have historically been disenfranchised, should be granted access to a school bus that provides them safety is not a new issue. This recurring struggle between parents of the Bayview District and Alice Fong Yu is a prime example of how students of color and students from low income neighborhoods are left behind. Not allowing middle school students, especially students from the Bayview District, to ride the school bus will cause undue hardship and continue the cycle of inequity.
This decision will likely lead to students ending their educational career at Alice Fong Yu after the fifth grade, because parents are concerned about their child’s safety. Alice Fong Yu is a school of predominantly Chinese American students; the number of Black and Latinx students who attend Alice Fong Yu are fractional. The opportunity that the few Black and Latinx students receive to attend Alice Fong Yu is one that they should be able to take advantage of without having to be concerned with what their form of transportation to and from school will be after the fifth grade.
Retaining non-Chinese students of color is something that Alice Fong Yu has struggled with for a long time; this added stressor will only be more detrimental to the experiences of Black and Latinx students. This stressor of navigating how children will be able to get to school safely is one that leads to parents removing their children from AFY. Many parents have to make the difficult decision between their child’s safety and the opportunity to receive a quality education that they will not receive in their local middle schools.
This process is not reflective of equal access and instead perpetuates a cycle where Black and Latinx students transfer out during middle school and native Chinese speakers are given a spot in the school. This contributes to less diversity and equity at AFY, which goes against the goals that SFUSD claims to uphold.
The following are some of SFUSD’s universal goals:
- Access and equity: Make social justice a reality by ensuring every student has access to high-quality teaching and learning.
- Accountability: Keep district promises to students and families and enlist everyone in the community to join in doing so.
The decision made by the principal has caused my child to feel very nervous and stressed about starting school in the fall due to not having access to safe transportation at the hands of SFUSD representatives. This issue is causing much hardship on my family and many other families that live in the Bayview, and the thoughtless decision also comes off as intentional to preserve a space only for Chinese students at Alice Fong Yu.
This issue of providing our children equitable access to bus services – but more importantly a quality education – is unjust and causes undue burden on children and their families.
There are many SFUSD middle schools that provide bus services to and from the Bayview district.
Why would a K-8 school that already provides a service to the K-5th graders of Bayview not extend the service to 6th-8th graders by providing them an opportunity to ensure their safe arrival to AFY? What does AFY expect families to do if they have multiple children in different grade levels? Do they expect families to put only some of their children on the school bus and leave their middle school aged children to ride public transportation by themselves?
Bayview families consist mostly of working class low income families that do not have the luxury of driving their children to and from school. To ask that they be comfortable with risking their children’s safety is an unreasonable ask.
There are currently three SFUSD middle schools that offer multiple routes of roundtrip bus services to the Bayview District; these schools are located in Ingleside Terrace, Sunset District and Noe Valley. I have listed below the schools that currently grant their students access to roundtrip bus services.
- Aptos Middle School, with two roundtrip bus routes
- Giannini Middle School, with two stops and roundtrip service
- James Lick Middle School, with two stops and roundtrip service
Alice Fong Yu, SFUSD and its Transportation Department need to take accountability for their failure to provide Bayview students equitable services that grant them the same opportunities as other students from wealthier districts. According to the universal goals that SFUSD claims to uphold, we are demanding that the safe and punctual roundtrip transportation service be extended to our children so they can continue to pursue an exceptional educational experience at Alice Fong Yu.
We ask that you reconsider the decision from a space and lens of an equity issue impacting Black and Latinx students attending AFY and truly prioritize the needs of our children over politics.
Thank you for taking the time to read this letter, and we hope you can make the right decision to support our children.
AFY Parent and Bayview Parent Community
This letter was sent out on Aug. 12, 2022. To contact the organizers, email or call the Bay View, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 415-671-0789.