Monday, February 11, 2008

Thank you Gavin Newsom

Last Friday, Mayor Gavin Newsom offered to help the SFUSD with $30.6 million from the city's rainy day fund, according to an article in Saturday's Chronicle. This is great news for a district facing a $40 million shortfall. (In January, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's proposed massive education cuts throughout the state.) Newsom's proposal needs to be approved by the Board of Supervisors so please take the time to email your supervisor.

You can find additional information on education budget cuts on the Parents for Public Schools Web site.


  1. I think the Mayor has his heart in the right place when it comes to public schools, but the advocacy parents did at the Board of Supervisors City-School District Select Committee last week certainly didn't hurt; it probably sped up the Mayor's thought process on this question. The $29.5 million in Rainy Day funds the City is now likely to receive will be a huge help. You can watch streamed video of the committee meeting here.

  2. Saw report on news about school budget cuts. Mom in novato complaining that her kids classsize will go from 22 kids to 30.

    I recently looked at my 1970 kindergarden photo from San Diego public school. 30 kids in that class. Everyone talks like pre-prop 13 was the good old days. There's a data point showing that class sizes were worse back then.

    What's the difference now? Unruly kids? Bad teachers? Bad parents? Why are public schools worse now?

  3. I certainly wouldn't say they are worse! Check out this article "Who Says Californians Aren't Getting Their Moneys Worth" taking a look a the changes and challenges of CA public education over time. This details some of the great things that are happening in the face of tough demographic and economic odds.

  4. The link for the article named above is:

  5. I agree that public schools aren't worse now than 1970 and previous eras. It's apples and oranges.

    In 1970, parents were really pretty inattentive about what was going on at their kids' schools and in their lives and didn't demand much from schools (a generalization, but I would defend it). My dad never set foot in my elementary school, even though it was on the same block at our house. (My mom did shelve books in the library.)

    Our kids get less today in some ways than in pre-Prop. 13 schools. But there's stuff going on in our schools that was unheard of in my day. Language immersion? What's THAT? At my kids' alma mater elementary school, Lakeshore, there's now a PTA-provided "cafeteria menu" of enrichment programs that each teacher can pick from. The menu varies a bit year by year, but my kids have had programs like gardening, calligraphy, architechture and African dance. Motor perception -- a really fun motor skills class with all kinds of cool equipment -- is standard in the younger grades. That stuff isn't unusual in SFUSD schools. It was unheard of in my childhood, and our parents certainly wouldn't have troubled to fundraise for it.

    Back then, nobody in power gave a crap whether low-income children of color achieved any success at all in school. They were expected to do menial jobs anyway. Dropping out at 16 was THE NORM in many cultures, unquestioned. Only the privileged were expected to go on to college. Girls were steered to secretarial school (I was!), or went to college primarily to find a hubby. Smart minority kids were tracked into vocational programs, while rich white kids dumb as tree stumps were on the college track. Bullying and fighting were viewed as just part of childhood. Disabled kids were dumped into special schools (Sunshine School in the Mission, in the case of SFUSD). Kids with learning disabilities were routinely ridiculed, punished, publicly humiliated etc., and this was absolutely accepted.

    There wasn't any accountability system that allowed you to see schools' academic achievement, so there's no way to compare how schools did "back then" vs. now.

    It's true that with more money they had some stuff we'd love to have. Language classes (not immersion), now rare, were ubiquitous from about 4th grade up. I don't know about other schools, but I know that at Lakeshore, SF Rec-Park ran a program after school and on weekends that let any kids who felt like it play in the schoolyard, supervised. It's interesting that meals were scratch-cooked onsite, but school food was still disdained.

    One difference was that it WAS easier to hire teachers and not worry about how much they were paid, because even the smartest women had so few career options.

    Anyway, you get the idea.

  6. I just want to add a strong note of gratitutde to Gavin Newsom. He has really shown us what he is mae of. Thank you, Gavin!!

  7. Kate this is a bit off the wall but I found your Blog when I Googled Sunshine School. I went there when I was 6-8 years of age. I am now 58 and would like to find out something more about it. If you have any contcts or info please let me know

    Thanks and I enjoyed ready your blog thoug my children are 24 and 28.