Everett Middle School, on Church Street in the Mission District, is one of the city's most-improved public schools. It's also a hotbed of realness.
The latter was on display Tuesday during a visit to the school by Shaun Donovan, Barack Obama's secretary of Housing and Urban Development.
At the behest of Donovan and school Principal Lena Van Haren, a table-full of students were asked to opine on their likes and dislikes. You know, the usual. Muni was trod upon, of course, but then it got a little real -- a young Mission District native was asked what changed the neighborhood.
Her honest answer: white people.
Most San Francisco public school alumni can relate to the Muni problem. Budget cuts slashed the San Francisco Unified School District's bus fleet from 44 to 25 in 2010, with a full "phase-out" scheduled for next year. And pre-existing bus service was always limited: there are Everett students who live in the Sunset and Lowell High students who live in Bayview, meaning long Muni rides are a way of life for public school kids.
A pilot program giving free Muni kids to youth has been a hit this year, but if the N-Judah is rerouted or if there's a problem on the street, a whole busload of kids are going to be marked tardy.
The fact that yellow buses aren't a factor -- and transportation woes are literally a different department -- in San Francisco had to be explained to Donovan.
More obvious and not requiring explanation was gentrification, and the g-word's pale-faced harbingers.
"The Mission District, around here, has changed a lot because there's a lot of white people taking over the Mission," said a 12-year old, when asked by her principal what's changed in the surrounding area. "I used to always see Latinos in the Mission -- and, yeah."
"People are moving out of the Mission because it's getting more expensive since so many more white people are moving to San Francisco," she continued. "And that's why it's harder to get to school and black people are moving out."
Doubters out there, know this: the exchange was caught on tape. We won't identify the student except to say that she's a neighborhood native. And a perceptive one.
Donovan, for his part, missed not a beat. "That's the reason why the president and I are working so hard on affordable housing in the neighborhood, so people don't get pushed out," he said, after the tiniest of pauses.
White people: making things happen, and efforts not going unnoticed.