Add to the mix Charter Schools - there are several up here in the Sacramento area. Some are excellent, some not so. Have they come to San Francisco yet? And I think the coming trend is for some to be as jb recommended - specialized schools that also provide the required basic education.
My granddaughter went to a highly recommended middle charter school and what an education she got there. And she worked for it. Project and homework assignments amazed me in their depth and complexity. She applied for permission to attend a different school from the high school she would have automatically attended. When she and her mom were interviewed by the principal at her school of choice, she was immediately accepted when her middle school education was made known.
As far as I can tell, there is a diffeent policy regarding open enrollment in each school district. And you can't blame parents for wanting the best education available for their children.