The San Francisco Parent Political Action Committee has made the following endorsements for the November 2016 election.
SFUSD BOARD OF EDUCATION (4 seats open):
The SF Parent PAC does in-depth interviews and vetting to determine who the strongest school board candidates are each election cycle. This year we had an outstanding pool of candidates to choose from. We also decided to try something new in our research process. Instead of having candidates complete our regular dissertation – er – questionnaire, we recorded videos of them answering several questions. You can find these videos on our new YouTube channel and include all candidates who interviewed with us, which we hope you find helpful in getting to know where they all stand on critical issues facing our district.
The questions we asked them that you will find answered in the videos are:
- What do you want to spearhead in the first 6 months, if you are elected? Be specific.
- What is one intractable problem that you see in education in San Francisco that you either 1) have a concept on how to approach, and/or 2) that you want to address. What would be the concrete steps that you would take to fix it?
- Math. What do you think?
- What are you going to do to increase teacher compensation?
- How would you modify, if at all, how PEEF and QTEA funding is allocated?
- How do you make decisions? For example, on what policies to support and/or propose or what to spend your time on or who to listen to.
- (Incumbents only) What value have you brought to the school board thus far in your tenure? Why should voters support you again?
Although we don’t agree with any of the incumbents all of the time, we felt they have each demonstrated a willingness to listen, consider various points of view, and work hard. We feel confident that they are the more than capable of identifying solutions to the challenges our students and school communities face, and being held accountable to the communities they serve. Matt Haney has been particularly good at incorporating the long underrepresented student voice in district decisions, and has led efforts such as Safe and Supportive Schools. Rachel Norton has been an excellent communicator with parents through her regular blog, as well as a great advocate for students with special needs. Jill Wynns has a stellar record as an advocate at the state level for our district needs and understands education finance better than almost anyone we know.
Trevor McNeil is a teacher – a voice we desperately need to see represented on the school board. He has some fresh ideas around teacher retention, and as a new parent and SF resident, is especially invested in making sure the district is a place he’ll feel confident sending his own daughter. You may remember his name; he ran two years ago and came very close to winning. Since then he has stayed engaged and aware of the issues.
The common threads throughout all our interviews this year, and issues we’d like these candidates to consider and do something to address are:
Include parents in the search for a new Superintendent in an authentic way. No window dressing here. We want to see the search committee finds ways to have parents weigh in on the qualities our next leader should have in order to effectively communicate with and partner with families, and help our children be successful.
Attract and retain middle class families in SFUSD. Economically diverse schools help all students. When we show all families that we care about their child’s success and that there is a place for them to thrive, everybody wins.
Academic excellence. This phrase isn’t heard often enough around here. Every child has the potential for greatness, and the supports and expectations should be set for all children to reach it. One thing we say often is, the one thing no parent wants is for the school district to be what stands between their child and success – no matter what success looks like for that child, be it trade school, an engineering degree, or a job right out of high school.
COMMUNITY COLLEGE BOARD (4 seats open, Parent PAC is recommending 3):
San Francisco has heard more about community college over the past four years than we heard for decades before that! The institution has been through a lot recently with regards to accreditation and financial issues, and the current board has done an outstanding job tackling these issues and working to strengthen the college’s ability to support current and future students. Amy Bacharach, Rafael Mandelman, and Alex Randolph have been part of the board during this challenging time and we need each of them to continue doing the good work for the next four years.
The Parent PAC has taken a position only in District 1 this cycle. We are proud to support Marjan Philhour for supervisor. Marjan supports building more housing for middle class families in the Richmond, is a strong supporter of high quality and affordable Rec and Park programs for families, and supports transitioning the homeless to permanent housing, not tents. She also believes it should be the highest priority of a supervisor to serve their constituents. In addition to her overwhelming qualifications and experience for this job, as a mother choosing to raise her children in San Francisco, it is obvious that Marjan has a deep interest and investment in making sure the Richmond District, and the city, are family friendly.
We endorsed Scott Wiener for Senate last spring. Scott has been an incredible supporter of parents and our right to contribute our voice and influence to all conversations and decisions related to families. He is as relentless and hard-working as anyone we have ever seen. He is very good at finding shared issues with colleagues to work on together, even when that issue might be the only thing they have in common. His door is always open; he will listen to anything you have to say and have a reasonable conversation about it. He is also never afraid to stand up for the things he believes in. In addition to all that, he is a true policy wonk and looks at the long term impact of proposed legislation. You can see more details on the his positions and policies that we support in our May 2016 post here.
Boy, we’ve got a long list this year! The Parent PAC never takes positions on everything, preferring to stay in our wheelhouse of issues clearly affecting families. This year we have taken the following positions:
Prop A, School Bond, YES. This is a bit of a no-brainer. Our schools need to be safe, many are in need of upgrades, and these funds will also go toward building a new school in Mission Bay where so much housing has been built over the past several years. Additionally, this provides funds to construct the new SFUSD Arts Center and Ruth Asawa School of the Arts in the Civic Center where students will benefit from being in the heart of the City’s art scene. SFUSD’s bond program has been run extremely well, with projects being completed on time and on budget.
Prop B, Extension and Increase of City College Parcel Tax, YES. This measure effectively extends and raises (by $20) the parcel tax approved by voters in 2012. Funds would be used for general operating expenses including maintaining math and science programs and student services like libraries and counselors. This tax has helped stabilize City College during its accreditation and enrollment challenges over the past few years. The college has been an asset to the city and is critical for its health, as well as a key part of the city’s workforce-training network. It is also a major resource for economic mobility for low- and middle income families in the Bay Area.
Prop C, Housing Loan Program, YES. This measure expands the permitted use of a seismic safety bond program passed in 1992. There is still around $261 million left in this program that has gone unused. Prop C would make use of underutilized bonds and put them toward one of San Francisco’s most important priorities as a city: preserving and rehabilitating multi-family apartment buildings that are at risk of being converted to higher-income housing. It also provides funds for important improvements to existing buildings, including seismic, fire, health and safety upgrades, thus helping to maintain San Francisco’s housing stock over time.
Prop V, Soda Tax, YES. Same idea as the measure we strongly supported in 2014, just a new flavor. Last time the tax didn’t pass, but received 56% of the vote (it required 2/3 approval because it not a general fund revenue measure). The city of Berkeley DID pass their soda tax that year, however, and have had great success as a result. Despite what you read, it is not a grocery tax, and that is not how Berkeley businesses have treated it (they passed a general fund tax which looks almost the same as the one SF will vote on Nov 8).
Prop W, Real Estate Transfer Tax, YES. This measure would increase the real estate property transfer tax rate by .25% across all properties with a consideration or value of at least $5M. The funds go to the General Fund, though the Board of Supervisors has expressed intent through a July resolution to use the resulting funds toward free city college for SF residents and add to the kitty for street tree maintenance (related to Prop E on the ballot). City college plays an important role in our city’s health, and using the other funds to fund infrastructure maintenance is a good thing, in our opinion.
Prop 51, State School Bond for K12 and CC, YES. This bond measure will help to repair, upgrade and improve California’s K-12 public schools and community colleges. It will address the multi-billion dollar backlog of school construction projects. Lots of key people have endorsed this one – Democratic and Republican parties, the PTA, clubs, electeds, education non-profits like the PTA, etc.
Prop 55, Tax Extension for Education and Healthcare, YES. This one is an extension of the income tax portion of Prop 30 in 2012 that essentially saved California’s public schools (you must remember all the campaigning back then). It won’t raise taxes on anyone, but maintains the income tax on California’s wealthiest people – preventing $4 billion in cuts to public education. So, the relief we’ve felt over the past few years, while still not as much school funding as we need, would be gone if this measure doesn’t pass.
Prop 58, Multilingual Education, YES. Prop 58 repeals a previous, restrictive measure, Prop 227, which is outdated and restricts the instructional methods school districts can use to teach English. This measure would allow teachers to use new methods to better help kids learn. Prop 58 also encourages school districts to provide instruction programs so native English speakers can become proficient in a second language. Plus, all these decisions are to be made at the local level, so districts can decide how to best serve their students’ language needs.
We hope this helps!
Paid for by San Francisco Parent PAC. This advertisement was not authorized or paid for by a candidate for this office or a committee controlled by a candidate for this office. Financial disclosures are available at sfethics.org