Date of Graduation

Spring 5-21-2022

Document Access

Project/Capstone - Global access

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Urban and Public Affairs


College of Arts and Sciences

First Advisor

Sarah K Burgess

Second Advisor

David Donahue


The San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) has worked toward increasing diversity in San Francisco schools, but predominately white families are still leaving public schools. Due to the significant number of families opting out of the public school system, the public education resource is depleting as funding relies on a per-pupil model. The issue of modern-day segregation exists because of the disproportionate access white middle to upper-middle-class families have to private education in contrast to those who rely on the public resource. To address this issue, my Capstone Project asks, what are the factors that lead San Francisco families to decide on private education instead of public? In this thesis, I show that the elements influencing the decision of families to opt for private schools include parental experience, specialized teaching, curriculum, community, the public-school enrollment process, and COVID-19 resource accommodations. Drawing on Pauline Lipman’s definition of the “right to the city”, the Capstone Project shows that the needs of private school families are disproportionately available to them in private schools because of being both white and middle to upper-middle class. As public-school funding relies on attendance numbers, it is critical to utilize the factors to draw more families from private to public schools. I suggest that the incorporation of the characteristics outlined by the private school families provides resources to those who rely on public schooling and could diversify the classroom.