Mayoral Candidates Kim, Breed, Leno, and Alioto Respond to PPS-SF Questionnaire on Public Schools in SF
PPS-SF reached out to mayoral candidates with a series of questions regarding their platforms on public education in San Francisco. Four candidates, Jane Kim, London Breed, Mark Leno, and Angela Alioto, responded to our questions. Their answers are below, unedited, and in the order in which we received responses from the candidates.
NOTE: This article was originally published on May 3, 2018 with responses from only three candidates. It has since been updated, on May 4, 2018, to include responses from Angela Alioto.
1. What is the role of City Hall in San Francisco’s public schools?
City Hall can play a strong supporting role for our public schools and families. City Hall can and should build an active partnership with the Superintendent and Board of Education with an open and consistent line of communication.
As the only mayoral candidate who has served on the Board of Education, public schools and education have been and continue to be one of my top priorities.
In 2012, I led the supplemental appropriation effort to provide additional city dollars to support high school students at risk of not meeting at the time new “A-G” graduation requirements and unearthed $2.4M owed to SFUSD. In 2014, I was the lead author of the Public Education Enrichment Fund Reauthorization Measure and strengthened the measure by eliminating the deficit trigger and extending the sunset date. In 2016, I authored Proposition W, a real estate transfer tax paid when luxury real estate changes ownership, in order to make to make San Francisco the only city in the nation to make K-14 completely free.
This year, I am the co-author of Proposition C, a commercial gross receipts revenue measure on the June 2018 ballot raising $130M+ to fund childcare and early childhood education, with former Board of Education member and Supervisor Norman Yee. This measure will make early childhood education for children 0-3 affordable for San Francisco and raise the wages of our childcare workers.
Unlike New York and Chicago for example, where the Mayor is in charge of public education,the Mayor of San Francisco has no direct authority over our public schools (nor does the Board of Supervisors). Our schools are governed by the seven members of the Board of Education who are elected directly by the voters, hire the Superintendent, and set the District’s budget.So what can the Mayor do to improve our schools? A lot actually.
The Mayor can—and as your Mayor I will—launch related policies that support our schools, such as my commitment to build 5,000 new homes each year and expand affordable housing so teachers can afford to live here. The Mayor can protect and expand the nearly $100million in direct support that the City provides to the School District and the additional $250million in children’s services funding, and ensure the Department of Children, Youth, and their Families, which allocates tens of millions of City funds, is investing in the best programming for our kids. The Mayor can ensure City departments, such as Muni and Recreation and Parks, are supporting our schools and students as they should. And the Mayor can—and should—use the position to advocate for improvements to our schools and motivate the private sector to invest more in our students. As Mayor, I will be a fierce advocate for our public schools—Genuinely would not be here without them
San Francisco and its Mayor has a unique relationship with SFUSD in that SFUSD is its own entity with an independently-elected School Board Members. As Mayor, I would respect the independence of SFUSD and respect the checks and balances in place.
However, there are concrete opportunities for my Administration to support SFUSD. Whether it is through the creation of affordable housing to keep teachers and families in San Francisco, advocating for state and federal funding to bring in more money for our public education institutions, investing in universal childcare and afterschool programs or keeping our streets safe and clean, I intend to use the resources at City Hall to support our public schools. I look forward to working with the Superintendent, parents, teachers and school staff, PTA’s, youth and Board Members. I am proud of my record as a coalition-builder, and believe that this will be key to continuing healthy and constructive relationships.
San Francisco’s future as a socially and commercially vibrant city requires that we provide our children and young people with the highest quality public education. Operating the best public schools and colleges is the single most important thing our City can do to continue attracting and developing the creative professionals, skilled workers, and engaged citizens that have made San Francisco a regional, national, and international center of cultural innovation and economic growth. As Mayor, I will work closely with the educators unions, administrators, and the Board of Supervisors to develop a collaborative strategy for increased funding to keep and attract educators and education-based service programs. I will also take seriously my responsibility to serve as a leading public advocate for increased education funding in San Francisco, Sacramento, and Washington, D.C.
We need to be also looking at revenue enhancements such as additional professional development days for educators and rent subsidies and opportunities for educators to avail themselves of low-interest loans for down payments on homes in San Francisco. Doing so will help to us to recruit and retain the bright and talented professionals who want to educate our children.
Furthermore, my office will explore all options to partner with state and federal authorities on ways to provide financial help to educators living under the weight of oppressive student loans.
I believe schools and the Mayor’s Office can have a very special relationship, whereby the schools benefit in many ways, not just financially. My door will always be open to educators, parents, and students who bring innovative ideas to the table for recruiting and retaining educators and for producing a schoolroom atmosphere that supports educators and benefits students in our hard-to-staff schools.
2. In your role as mayor, how would you collaborate with SFUSD? What city resources would you devote to public education?
As a former member of the Board of Education, I understand the balance of power and the jurisdiction of the Board of Education, Board of Supervisors and Mayor. Over my last two terms on the Board of Supervisors, I have collaborated closely with SFUSD staff, UESF, students and parents, and Board of Education members on land use and housing issues, public safety and funding.
San Francisco should invest dollars and resources into our public schools to make up for where Sacramento and the state of California has failed. We can partner on staffing and/or funding nurses, mental health counselors, wellness centers and healthy food initiatives and develop strong collaborations between Department of Public Health, Human Services Agency, Department of Children, Youth and Their Families, and Juvenile Justice. The Mayor’s Office should provide real estate, land use and housing staffing for SFUSD to develop a real plan for SFUSD’s surplus property.
I am excited to lead a Mayor’s Office which talks about and prioritizes public education-- Pre-K to community college.
I have supported almost every conceivable funding measure for SFUSD and City College,whether school bonds, continuing a parcel tax, or City funds, since I have been in elected office.
I fully support June’s Living Wage for Educators Act, Proposition G, to which will provide $50million per year to increase teacher pay citywide. I am also committed to improving teachers' lives here in the City, for example by making parking permits available for them in the neighborhoods where they teach and providing them preference to enroll their children where they teach or where they live.
We also have an early childhood education workforce in crisis. Preschool teachers are paid far less than elementary school teachers (who are underpaid themselves), and yet are increasingly required to attain similar educational certifications. Early childhood education is critical to educational achievement, and we know that raising teacher salaries raises the quality of classroom learning. I support dramatically increasing preschool teachers’ pay, as well as K-12 teachers, and paraprofessionals. Our front-line educators are too important to our next generation to be living in poverty, barely able to stay in San Francisco.
I will continue to fight for the two most important sources of local money for ourschools—the Public Education Enrichment Fund (PEEF) and Children’s Fund—as I did without ballot measure to expand and extend them in 2014. I will make sure the baseline funding they provide is protected in our City budget. I will work with the District and City College to expand summer school offerings, particularly for high school students. And I will support afterschool and summer school programs in our budget and ensure that the Department of Children, Youth, and their Families (DCYF), which allocates most of the City’s education and youth funding, is aligned with District and families’ priorities.
Unlike the School District, the Mayor directly oversees DCYF. I know their work well and I know what programs are most successful in supporting our youth. As Executive Director of the African American Art and Culture Complex I worked closely with DCYF to ensure sufficient funding for our programs for low-income children and to pay our onsite teachers, tutors, and paraprofessionals a quality wage.
SFUSD’s budget is independent of the city’s budget, but San Francisco voters have consistently supported additional funding from our General Fund to augment the programs in our schools across the city. As Mayor, I would advocate for continued funding and explore creative opportunities to supplement funding.
As the former Chair of State Senate Budget Committee, I am well aware of the tough and painful fiscal decisions that must be made during times of deficit. I gained invaluable experience winning budget battles that saw greater investments in California and San Francisco. I will bring this experience to City Hall to ensure we’re making the most out of taxpayer dollars and seek out opportunities for federal and state funding to best address our city’s educational needs.
I believe in taking a deeper look at programs and services that are most effective and reinvest in them wisely. We should work to eliminate wasteful spending and prioritize programs that generate new revenue, collect owed revenue, stimulate the local economy and continue working closely with our regional partners. The best investments are those that respond to the critical needs of families at the bottom of the economic ladder to lift everyone up into economic security, strengthening our economy and providing students access to a quality education, vocational training, and other programs that can help them get ahead. As Mayor I will conduct a top-to-bottom audit to identify waste, fraud, and abuse and redirect money to better address our top priorities.
I have spent years fighting against the demise of art and music in our public schools. Budget cuts have trimmed, if not cut altogether, arts education in school across California. The California Arts Council is a state agency that funds community-based organizations and schools for the purpose of exposing students to the arts and music through experiential education and performance. Unfortunately, after the dot com boom in the early 2000’s, 95% of funding for the CA Arts Council was cut. At one point, California ranked 50 out of 50 in the country in per capita funding of the arts. In comparison, New York allocated $5, Minnesota $4, California was just $.03. When I arrived in Sacramento as a State Assemblymember in 2003, I fiercely fought to restore the budget cuts. It took over 10 years to build it back up. Every report indicates that students who study arts and music test better in science and math and have higher rates of self esteem. We’re failing our youth in arts and music education. As Mayor, I would seek public private partnerships to expose our children to the world of creativity and imagination that art and music can offer our students.
I am very hopeful about the current Superintendent, Dr. Vincent Matthews, a San Franciscan and a graduate from San Francisco State — he has the cultural background to pursue our values. His experience in the Inglewood and San Jose Districts overseeing large urban areas assures me that he can move the district in the right direction. I look forward to working with him to improve the status of our schools. I am also proud of our Board of Education, and think they are on the right track.
I am proud that as supervisor, I worked with the school district to expand “before and after” school services to San Francisco’s children. I know first hand how we can work through the school system to address problems in our community. Early in my career, I helped produce a video designed to provide AIDS education for teenagers that was used throughout the school system. The education system is a touchstone for San Franciscans, a centralized way to address the needs of our diverse community.
In my own personal experience the best results come from a close working relationship with the union, the educators, and the advocates for children. That’s how, working with Margaret Brodkin, we were able to draw up the legislation and eventually win Proposition J, the Children’s Fund.
I will work hard and lead our delegation as it demands adequate support from Sacramento and Washington D.C. and as we initiate innovative local solutions.
3. As the next mayor, how would you make all families, including low, moderate, and middle income families, a priority? What policies will you support and how will this connect to your support of our public schools?
I am leading an initiative to make early childhood education and childcare affordable to families up to 200% AMI. As a Supervisor with an all women legislative team and for several years, an all mothers legislative team, I understand the importance of full day childcare. One, it allows working parents to participate in our economy and/or pursue meaningful careers. Two, it enriches the education of our youngest residents, over 90% of whose brains develop by the time they are 5 years old.
I will study funding and implementing a yellow school bus program for all San Francisco’s elementary schools so that transportation is not scheduling nightmare for working parents. This year, I have asked our San Francisco Transportation Authority to work with SFUSD to cost out a full yellow school bus program for our Elementary Schools. We currently spend dollars for our “Safe Routes to Schools” programs and educate families on how to bike and walk to school. We can do more to take cars off the roads and support working families. I believe San Francisco should invest in preserving and building more affordable and middle income housing as well as greatly enhance our public transportation system, a major costs for many families.
Over my last 7 years on the Board of Supervisors, I have negotiated and won the most affordable and middle income housing-- I will continue that work and lead for our City. on my first two years on the Board of Supervisors, I also worked with Mayor’s Office of Housing to initiate the process of securing funds to build 100% affordable housing at 1950 Mission (former Phoenix High School) site.
Finally, MUNI should be free for all children 18 and under. Transportation should NEVER be a barrier to going to school.
The school selection process continues to be a headache for too many San Francisco families,sadly compelling many to leave the City altogether. I will advocate for the District to streamline the process and to prioritize neighborhood schools more. Kids and families should be able to walk to school in their community, as my friends and I did when I was a student. And parents deserve more predictability and certainty when they enter the school selection process.Neighborhood schools are better for the environment and are the backbone of a strong community.
Neighborhood schools also do not mean racially isolated schools, especially given the City's Density and diverse communities. Rosa Parks Elementary in my district, for example, serves both the Western Addition and Japantown communities, fostering a diverse and successful neighborhood school.
Also, the School District has been working with the Municipal Transportation Agency (MTA) and others on a program called Safe Routes to Schools, in which every school conducts transportation survey and develops a unique plan for students and families to get to school safely. The program encourages non-auto travel including Muni, walking, biking, etc., which can help build community and keep parents from having to sit in traffic every day. As Mayor, I will ensure the MTA strengthens Safe Routes to Schools, improves Muni service, builds the bike lanes and pedestrian safety improvements, and hires enough crossing guards so every child can get to school safely.
SFUSD and City College graduates need stronger pathways into quality jobs in our local economy. Our economy is changing and our students need to be prepared for and connected with the jobs of tomorrow. Tech does not employ the most workers in the City; healthcare does. The City itself is the largest employer, followed by UCSF, the School District, Wells Fargo,and then Salesforce.
We need to connect our students with these employers, unions, and industries early on, help them secure internships, apprenticeships and mentorships, and ensure they have access to the classes they need to excel in their chosen field. And we need training and placements for students interested in the blue collar jobs of the future; San Francisco can, and must, still be center of manufacturing, building, and design. As Mayor, I will work with the private sector to get real commitments for internships and jobs for our students. We have extremely talented students and we need to help them transition into skilled local professionals, whether in information technology, public safety, banking, building and other trades, city jobs, service,healthcare, or whatever the future may hold for our local economy.
Most importantly, we need to create more homes for all San Franciscans: families, teachers,police officers, nurses, students, the elderly, and the homeless. Everyone. At the same time, we need to preserve some of our city’s most valuable affordable housing stock—rent controlled units. We must fight to protect the most vulnerable from eviction and displacement. We need to remember that San Francisco is made great by its people—not by its buildings.
When our teachers can no longer afford to live in the communities where they work, and families are leaving San Francisco searching for a place to raise their children, City Hall has failed our neighborhoods. We must act urgently to address the affordable housing crisis that's squeezing families and teachers out of our City. As Mayor, I will expand upon my successful legislative record fighting for our educators, building affordable housing, and supporting healthy families to keep San Francisco a place where working people and families can afford to live.
I am proud of my proven record of fighting for better schools and access to higher education. Focusing on providing quality education using every resource to assist all students in receiving a high school diploma with opportunity for higher education or vocational training will ensure greater successful outcomes in employment and financial stability. As the former State Senate Budget Chair, I understand the importance of investing in early childcare and education, providing access to nutritious food, and giving families health and dental care. Investments in early childhood programs pay huge dividends by providing stability for families, increase academic and long-term outcomes for children narrowing the achievement gap, support working parents and create new jobs and businesses. As Mayor I will bring my 18 years of legislative and budget experience fighting for youth and families to City Hall. I have released my education plan to Renew the Promise of a Quality Public Education
- Renew the San Francisco Promise to ensure that all City College graduates who complete their Association degree will have a guaranteed, tuition-free spot at SF State University. As Chair of the California Senate Budget Committee, I secured $120 million in stabilization funding to save City College when it was in the depths of the accreditation crisis so that we could live to see Free City. I also created a pathway to higher education and living-wage stable jobs for students experiencing homelessness by waiving the fee for high school proficiency exams for homeless youth. But it’s time to tackle another critical challenge: making sure more students actually graduate with a bachelor’s degree. While a college degree has become a prerequisite for entryway into many of the available jobs in our workforce, an alarmingly low number of San Francisco students who enroll in a community college program end up going on to earning a bachelor’s. The San Francisco Promise has great potential as a smart public policy solution to this problem; yet for too long, the program has existed in word but not in deed. We need to help families start planning for college earlier, and to provide the support system necessary to help students stay on a path towards college from a young age. Using the Long Beach Promise as a blueprint for success, I will renew the San Francisco Promise to ensure that all San Francisco students are set up for academic excellence by increasing access and improving funding for school resources, academic counseling, and after-school programs. Student interest in pursuing higher education or a curiosity for learning more about a particular issue area should be celebrated and supported. That means matching those students with the services they need to successfully arrive at a college degree debt-free. As Mayor, I want to take Free City a step further, by ensuring that all City College graduates complete their Associate’s degree will have a guaranteed, cost-free spot at San Francisco State University. California is predicted to be short 1 million college graduates by 2030, which will have widespread effects on our economy and workforce for decades to come. If we want to lift more of our residents into the middle class, we need to make dramatic improvements to our college completion rates — and this means making dramatic changes to the barriers that students face.
- Strengthen Our Communities by Investing in Affordable Housing for Teachers. San Francisco Unified School District has a problem attracting and retaining teachers, and it’s no wonder why. The average monthly rent in San Francisco is about 78% of the average teacher salary. Simply put, our teachers cannot afford to live where they work. Each year, our City loses about 500 teachers — about 12.5% of its entire teaching staff — due to the soaring cost of housing. This is one of the highest attrition rates in the country. As State Senator, I authored legislation to make it possible for San Francisco Unified School District to build affordable housing for teachers on surplus school property. My legislation enables SFUSD to access low-income tax credits from the federal government, which is a major funding source for building affordable housing. Because of this legislation, San Francisco is finally actualizing its dream of building the first affordable housing units for teachers at the Francis Scott Key Annex in the Outer Sunset. There will be over 100 units with various bedroom sizes for teachers. As Mayor, I will work with SFUSD to prioritize funding for affordable housing for our teachers so that San Francisco no longer loses vital members of our communities.
- Ensure Our Children Can Access Comprehensive, Inclusive Curriculum. As State Senator, I authored the Fair, Accurate, Inclusive, and Respectful Education (FAIR) Act, which was signed into law in 2011. It amends California Education Code to include societal contributions from people with disabilities and members of the LGBT community in history and social studies curriculum. School curriculums need to teach acceptance and understanding to our young people, particularly as a means to protect them from harassment at school. San Francisco can be a leader on inclusive, anti-bullying initiatives — but we need to ensure that programs are set up for sustained success. As Mayor, I will work with school board members, teachers, administrators, parents, the Youth Commission, and youth-serving nonprofits in order to certify that our curriculums are appropriately preparing students to appreciate different perspectives, life experiences, and histories. Additionally, I will ensure that our communities support our schools’ inclusive agendas through robust after-school, mental health, and safety programs.
- Establish Universal Preschool by passing Proposition C. We know that when we prioritize the education of our youngest children through preschool and enrichment programs, those students are much more likely to be successful throughout K-12 and college and go on to gain employment, keep healthy and stable families, and to prioritize their own children’s education. Yet, despite our fundamental understanding of the far-reaching benefits of a quality preschool experience, it’s not universal in California — and only around 13% of California’s low-income kids are enrolled in quality preschool programs. I fully support Proposition C , in favor of authorizing an additional tax on commercial properties to fund childcare and early education programs. We must actively work towards making preschool available to every child.
- Actively Support After-School and Summer Programs. Education doesn’t stop when the school day is over. We know that learning losses over the summer and after school disproportionately affect low-income students. But participation in after-school and summer learning programs could mitigate learning loss and even produce achievement gains. It’s time to make a longer term, permanent commitment to making sure that all kids have equal access to extracurricular opportunities. There is a vital ally helping more San Francisco students reach graduation day: the city’s constellation of community-based organizations. But we need to do more to ensure these organizations are integrated throughout the school system. San Francisco can transform its public education system into one that proactively fights against achievement gaps through supportive, extracurricular solutions. As a member of the Board of Supervisors and as State Senator, I worked to retain funding for the Summer Youth Employment and Training Program — and to expand the program, when possible. As Mayor, I will ensure that our City continues to invest heavily in public-private partnerships so that our most vulnerable students aren’t falling behind. By expanding on public programs that already work — such as the San Francisco Recreation and Parks after school program — and partnering with other nonprofit and private organizations, our City can improve the odds that at-risk students will stay on a path to academic success.
- Combat Chronic Truancy with Compassion. In 2015, two-thirds of San Francisco Unified School Districts’ high schools reported that an average of 11 percent of all students were chronically absent. For African American students, that statistic is double. Over the past several decades, a college degree has become the single most important ticket out of poverty and into opportunity. But we also know that kids who are chronically absent from school are much more likely to drop out later. And without a high school diploma, students have a seven times greater likelihood of finding their way into our criminal justice system. As Mayor, I will work with community-based organizations, the San Francisco Department of Public Health, SFUSD, and the office of Housing and Community Development to proactively combat the issue of chronic truancy to ensure that our students are attending school every day. First, we need to gather more data on truancy in SFUSD to help implement district-specific prevention strategies to focus on change. Additionally, we need to work with school administrations to develop public awareness campaigns to educate both parents and students about the ramifications of missing class on a regular basis. Dropping truancy rates means making a dent in the school-to-prison pipeline, as well as growing the middle class.
- Protect Public Education from Trump/DeVos. While Donald Trump and Betsy DeVos try to privatize education, we need leaders who will always put public education first. As Mayor, I will work with other California Mayors to encourage the governor and federal administration to protect and increase funding for San Francisco's public schools. San Francisco relies on federal grants to fund after school programs, special education, and free and reduced school lunch. Donald Trump and Betsy DeVos have made it clear that they will take any opportunity to privatize our public education system through private school vouchers and other sneaky strategies veiled as “school choice.” The Mayor of San Francisco has a renewed duty to preserve California’s ban on school vouchers. As Mayor I will defend our ban on private school vouchers, and ensure our public schools remain our top priority.
- Expand Youth Access to Mental Health Treatment. As our country comes to grips with the epidemic of gun violence, we must take steps to protect San Francisco’s kids at school. The status quo of offering thoughts and prayers is no longer acceptable. I have spent my life in public service working to make schools safe for all kids, and as San Francisco Mayor, I will continue advocating for anti-bullying programs and school-based mental health care. In my plan to end street homelessness by 2020, I introduced the idea of Universal Mental Health Care for all San Franciscans, which would allow any resident to access quality mental health services, regardless of their income, housing, or immigration status. I want the same mental health access for every child in the San Francisco Unified School District. Studies show that children who experience trauma have a significantly greater likelihood of chronic disease, mental illness, and experiencing or inflicting violence. We must offer support and quality mental health services so students who experience trauma, such as domestic violence, bullying, or housing insecurity, have a safe place to turn. By offering school-based care, we can tackle the root causes of truancy, school drop-outs, and violence. As a State Senator, I authored a bill to remove the requirement that at-risk youth establish parental consent for mental health counseling, allowing students to seek immediate care if they are facing substance abuse, violence, or depression. We must continue to remove barriers to accessing mental health care for San Francisco’s students. As Mayor, I will ensure that every SFUSD school is equipped with a qualified mental health counselor who can offer students a safe, reliable support system regardless of what they experience outside of school.
- Invest in Vocational Training and Local Hiring for a Changing Economy. Tech is one of the fastest growing sectors in San Francisco’s economy — and as such, it should also be considered and promoted as a new path to the middle class. By using successful models like New York City’s Tech Talent Pipeline, our city can deliver training and education opportunities to equip San Franciscans with the necessary skills to excel in 21st-century jobs. As Mayor, I will work with employers and educators in San Francisco and across the Bay Area to build a strong base of workers who are prepared for the jobs of tomorrow. City College of San Francisco is one of our greatest resources to help close the alarming gap between the skills that companies need in today’s economy and the skills that a large segment of San Franciscans possess . I will continue working with San Francisco City College and its Trustees, and will expand the offering of academic certifications available through the community college system. Finally, I will increase our city’s investment in San Francisco’s workforce training initiatives to increase resources for adult technical education, ramped-up bridge programs, and accountability to the success of those programs by facilitating better data. Creating quality jobs for San Franciscans and quality talent for the City’s businesses is essential to a thriving 21st century economy. We need to be proactive about investing in specialized, technical workforce programs, as well as coordinating with industry and education partners to train and hire a new generation of highly prepared tech professionals.
This is a very high priority for me. As Mayor I will work with parents, educators, and Superintendent Matthews to ensure we are doing all we can to expand upon programs that are currently working and also engage additional programs in order to close the opportunity and achievement gaps for students of color. All programs put to use must be available to those with the most need and be focused on creating opportunities for students of color to succeed and be able to provide the tools and support for their success. I am encouraged by the slight gains in graduation rates and increased math scores as a result of the engagement of the My Brother and Sister’s Keeper Community Challenge. But, we must also seek and consider putting into practice additional methods such as personalized and project-based learning in order to close those gaps.
As we know, there are many students, however, who are at a disadvantage due to issues at home that are beyond their control. The children facing those difficulties could certainly flourish if additional support was available. I will support educators and administrators as they work with families to try to create stable and supportive homes for students and will fully support district efforts to provide educators with tools such as additional tutors, para educators, and mental health professionals with multidisciplinary learning experience that will help students of color achieve success.
But we must acknowledge that there are substantive reasons why some of the most vulnerable San Franciscans, such as DACA students, face unique barriers to federal funding. That is why federal funding for City College must be contingent on not requiring Social Security Numbers or filing FAFSA to receive support.
4. What is your position on charter schools?
Charter schools provide families education options and be a lab for piloting curriculum and ideas. I supported and continued to support existing charter school reauthorizations such as Gateway HS (and its expansion to Middle School), Life Learning, and Five Keys but was very wary of supporting new charter applications and did not vote to support any new charters. I completely oppose for profit charter schools and for profit charter management organizations. I also believe charter school employees should have to right to organize and join unions. I also support more transparency and teacher protections at existing charter schools.
I am a big supporter of expanding the community school model-- schools which partner with community-based organizations and the city and develop into neighborhood hubs which provide wrap-around services, counseling and resources to all our families.
I believe that every child deserves a high-quality education, regardless of their socioeconomic status, race, gender, sexual orientation, or faith. I oppose voucher programs or privatization schemes. The free market is not a solution to improving our educational system.
Charter schools in California often operate without being held to the same standards as other taxpayer-funded schools. This should not be the case. Charter schools are funded with public dollars, are part of the statewide public school system, and have a responsibility to serve all students. All public schools need to play by the same rules. Charter schools cannot have admission requirements or require parents to volunteer their time, and should have a clear expulsion and suspension criteria that affords due process. In 2015, I authored SB 322 (Access to Charter Schools) to ensure that charter schools have nondiscriminatory admission policies, as well as suspension and expulsion policies that guarantee students appropriate due process.
I have had the opportunity to work with some extraordinary charter schools. For example, SIATech Treasure Island Charter school engages with students to overcome obstacles and stay the course toward a high school diploma. Staff and teachers come together to draw in disconnected students through creative forward-thinking curriculum that integrates technology and learning. If we are to have charter schools in our public systems, they can and must be held to the same standards as our public district schools.
Clarification: My bill, SB 322, was specific to charter schools only. It was intended to remove ambiguity in the law that allows some charter schools across California to admit or expel students without a process of transparency or clarity in a manner that is consistent with other public schools. SB 322 was co-sponsored by the California Teachers Association and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and did not pass.
We must be on continual vigilance in view of the Trump/DeVos charter school factions and other privatization schemes and the infusion of corporate pro-charter school money into San Francisco politics.
I have and will support SFUSD public schools and I have opposed and will continue to oppose the privatization of our public school system.
As Mayor, I will turn a critical eye towards any expansion of the current charter system in our public schools and will work closely with the Board of Education on the issue. SFUSD public schools must be strengthened and supported and we should not allow our public school system to be privatized or controlled by corporations.
5. What is your vision for how all San Franciscans can support public education?
I have demonstrated a strong track record of being bold and fighting for big ideas to regrow our middle class and support our working class communities and winning. My track record - Free City College, raising the minimum wage to $15/hour, Eviction Protection 2.0 and increasing affordable and middle income housing in San Francisco - sets me apart from other candidates. I will continue to fight to make San Francisco affordable for families.
I will continue to invest city dollars and support voter initiatives which support our schools and families-- Public Education Enrichment Fund, Children’s Fund, Rainy Day Fund and will always consider ways to raise new revenue for our schools as well. I will continue our City’s work to engage the private sector to invest in our public schools and will be a strong advocate to enlist our city departments and services to strongly partner with the growing community schools movement.
I am proud of the public school system that made me who I am and that has nurtured and taught generations of San Franciscans. As Mayor, I will support our schools every way I can. No Family should feel they need to leave San Francisco to find a great public education. And no teacher should leave our schools because of unaffordable housing. We have much more work to do, but I know our schools can be world-class. They can be worthy of their students.
Please visit the link below to learn more about my plan for San Francisco education: https://medium.com/@LondonBreed/making-our-schools-worthy-of-their-students-8f9efe380962
Our Mayor must show strong leadership in creating a public education vision for our city - to fight for state and federal funding, balance stability in our neighborhoods, engage the community and collaborate with Supervisors and School Board members across the city, maintain economic, racial and cultural diversity and lead the way for smart housing growth and find opportunities to support working parents. Undertaking this delicate balance of competing needs can only move forward if we maintain an open dialogue with various stakeholders, have strong leadership and don’t settle for the current status quo This coming election, I urge all San Franciscans to support Proposition G ( Parcel Tax for San Francisco Unified School District).
We live in one of the wealthiest cities in the Bay Area, yet our SF teachers have historically struggled with the lowest pay in the Bay Area. Prop G will provide a 7% increased in wages to educators over the next 20 years. I am proud to support Prop G. I also absolutely believe that Prop 13 needs to be reformed and I support a split roll to allow commercial properties to be taxed based on their current market value. There have been many attempts to reform Prop 13 over the years and I remain hopeful that it can politically move forward at the ballot. In 2013, I authored a constitutional amendment to change Proposition 13 and allow local parcel taxes for schools to pass with 55% of the vote, instead of the two-thirds currently required.
I know that San Francisco’s ability to provide our children with a quality public education depends first and foremost on the city’s ability to attract, retain, and provide ongoing support for the teachers and para educators in our schools. This support must include guaranteeing school district employees good wages and benefits, housing subsidies and access to BMR teacher housing, professional development opportunities, and a meaningful voice on the job, but must not be limited to these core necessities. The Mayor must make education and child development a top City priority, generate strong public support for an aggressive education agenda, and help identify and raise the resources necessary to make sorely needed improvements.
I have endorsed Proposition C for Child Care and Prop G, the Living Wage for Educators on the June ballot and firmly believe the salaries and benefits for teaching professionals must rise if we are going to be able to recruit and retain first-class educators