Archive for August, 2016

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SF Parent PAC November 2016 School Board Endorsements

August 28, 2016

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We are happy to announce the San Francisco Parent PAC’s endorsements for school board and community college board for the November 2016 election.

Board of Education:
Matt Haney
Trevor McNeil
Rachel Norton
Jill Wynns

Community College Board:
Amy Bacharach
Rafael Mandelman
Alex Randolph

Board of Education
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. We will be posting these videos on Facebook, our new YouTube channel, and our website over the coming weeks. These will be posted for 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.

Although we don’t agree with any of the incumbents all of the time (see our post last week regarding the teacher shortage), we felt they have each demonstrated a willingness to listen, consider various points of view, and work hard. We feel confident that on last week’s issue, and on others, 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, leading 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 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
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.

We respectfully ask you to consider voting for each of these candidates on November 8!

 

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38 Teachers Needed

August 16, 2016

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Welcome back to school!  I hope the first day of school was a good one for your children and family.

As most students were settling into their freshly decorated classrooms yesterday, getting to know their fellow classmates and new teacher, students in almost 40 SFUSD classrooms were greeted by a temporary instructor. Unfortunately, the school district is scrambling to find long-term substitutes or permanent replacements for these students. But until that happens, these students will be in a state of limbo — not knowing what adult will be leading their class day to day.

The teacher shortage is nothing new, in fact, as the Chronicle reported yesterday, there are half as many people in teacher credentialing programs now versus in 2008. Our teacher supply is at a 12-year low. And the actions of the Board of Education in May did not help matters. Our school board decided to take another look at where we get our teachers and became focused on the district’s contract with Teach for America (TFA), which they decided not to renew for the 2016-2017 school year. TFA has been providing young, enthusiastic (and inexperienced) teachers predominantly to schools that serve underserved communities — and would have provided about 15 teachers this year. The Board of Education chose not to renew this contract — without having a full compliment of full-time teachers confirmed to be ready for the first day of school. This was a short sighted decision by the Board of Education that has negatively impacted hundreds of students.

The SF Parent PAC believes that our district leadership should have done everything in their power to make sure San Francisco’s public schools had permanent teachers in every classroom on the first day of school to greet our students and guide them through the rest of the year. If the Board of Education was not confident this could be accomplished, extending the TFA contract would have helped alleviate this problem.

We will be watching to see how this situation is handled by the district’s leadership, hoping that the resilience of our children carries them through the instability they may experience for a time until the right people are in front of their classrooms.

I wish you and your children a rich and engaging school year. You’ll hear from us again soon!

Michelle Parker, President

San Francisco Parent PAC