Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Board of Education candidates

Who will you be voting for in November? I'm creating this thread for you to discuss the candidates for Board of Education.


  1. I'm voting for Rachel Norton and Norman Yee, they are the best candidates that want to help the kids and not just those with political agendas or aspirations for higher office.

    Jill Wynns has unfortunately alienated too many people and burned too many bridges to be at all helpful or effective, so I won't be voting for her again.

  2. First of all, what does the school board do? I think that the school board determines policy for all the public schools in the SFUSD. These policies are then implemented by the district.

  3. Is there a link somewhere which has more info on each board member (how they voted, etc) ? I'd like to do more research on my own. I don't always trust some of the voices on this blog...

  4. Don't believe the hateful gossip that Jill Wynns and her shrill pals Dana and Caroline are trying to spread all over town about Norman's brain being injured in that car accident. It's old-school dirty politics, and shows clearly how vindictive and mean-spirited Jill Wynns is.

    Norman is fine, and he is a great school board member, even-tempered and fair.

  5. Yeah, what a disgusting smear campaign they are running.

    Jill Wynns is desperate; she has gotten NO endorsements this time around, and look how low she is sinking.

  6. This is from the yahoo group sfschools, someone is interviewing all the candidates and has podcasts on the web:

    Press for link to web page

    Candidate list and interview status

    1 Harold Brown (declined)

    2 James Calloway Http://srdad.com/BoE/JamesC.zip

    3 Marigrace Cohen Http://srdad.com/BoE/MarigraceC.zip

    4 Glenn Davis (withdrawn)

    5 Sandra Fewer (in editing)

    6 Omar Khalif Http://srdad.com/BoE/OmarK.zip

    7 Alexander Young Lee (in France, unknown return)

    8 Barbara "Bobbi" Lopez http://srdad.com/BoE/BarbaraL.zip

    9 Jaynry Mak (in editing)

    10 Emily Murase Http://srdad.com/BoE/EmilyM.zip

    11 Rachel Norton (in editing)

    12 Kelly Wallace (did not respond)

    13 Kimberly Wicoff (could not schedule)

    14 Jill Wynns (scheduled)

    15 Norman Yee Http://srdad.com/BoE/NormanY.zip

  7. ^ Thank you. this is what I was looking for.

  8. Because one of the anonymous posters has misrepresented my remarks from another thread, I am reposting here. You can read for yourself what I have said about Norman Yee; I never mentioned his brain being damaged, merely that he seems not fully recovered.

    I support Jill Wynns for BOE.
    Jill Wynns is the only member of the current BOE, and the only candidate, who truly understand school financing and the district budget. It is not enough to have experience with the kind of budgeting that a small non profit like Coleman or PPS does; school financing is a whole other ballgame. It has been said that there are only 6 people in the state of California who understand how school financing works, 5 of them are lying, and the 6th is John Mockler (author of Prop 98 which set minimum funding levels for education in the state). The truth is, there is a 7th person, and that is Jill Wynns.

    School financing in California is so incredibly complex that it is not something one can learn all about in just a year or two. Some of you are familiar with me through my posting about school food on another thread here. I have been heavily involved with this issue since 2002. Of particular interest to me was learning how Berkeley was able to afford to do a lot of the things they do with their school food, when I know that those things are very costly. They never talk about the higher cost, but in meeting with their food director Ann Cooper, I was able to learn that they get a funding stream called Meals for Needy Pupils. I won’t bore you with the details of this, but suffice it to say that my quest to understand the history of Meals for Needy Pupils, and to finally understand why it is that Berkeley (and many other districts) get this large revenue stream for better food, and we don’t, took almost two years. I kind of understood it enough to begin explaining it to others more than a year ago, but it took until just a few weeks ago to finally get the last pieces of the puzzle. My quest took me to admins at the CDE, to a reporter from the Sacramento Bee who wrote about this 5 years ago (but has since moved on to other areas beyond education), to the former Superintendent of Berkeley Unified, and a whole lot more. Jill Wynns’ expertise in interpreting what these people told me was invaluable, and together we were eventually able to make sense of this.

    My point is, this is one tiny funding stream in the gigantic tapestry of school funding in California. The state is apparently on the verge of revisiting, once again, how it is going to fund education. It is absolutely imperative that we have school board members who understand how school financing works; otherwise, how will we know when it is time to go to our state representatives and speak up about what is being planned?

    Same thing with the district budget. I regularly attend BOE budget committee meetings. Jill Wynns sat on this committee for 10 years. Two years ago, Mark Sanchez appointed a budget committee of mostly of members with little to no budget experience; when budget season began in earnest in the spring, member Jane Kim was nowhere to be found. Her law school classes conflicted with her attendance at budget committee meetings, and she chose law school over fulfilling her responsibility to our children. Sanchez then appointed Jill Wynns to fill Jane Kim’s seat until Jane could find the time to attend to the duties of the office she ran so hard to be elected to. I have watched other members of the budget committee sit slack jawed during the budget presentation by staff, and then ask questions which even I could answer. Fortunately, Myong Leigh, who is the top budget guru in the district, is a gentleman of impeccable credentials and personal integrity; I have known him for years and would trust him with my life. But I am old enough to remember when then-Superintendent Bill Rojas had a finance guy named William Coleman; this Coleman guy fled to the Detroit public school district after the Rojas house of cards came toppling down, and he was recently found guilty of fraud and corruption there and I believe is now in jail. Myong Leigh is nothing like this, but he is widely admired and respected by City government and private industry, and he regularly receives very lucrative offers to leave the district. He has served a long time, and it is not inconceivable that someday he may make the move. There is no guarantee that the next person will have Myong’s integrity.

    This is by way of saying that we need people on the BOE who have more than just the credential that they are a parent, or care about parents’ desires. We need people who understand what staff is talking about when the topic is school financing and the budget. We need people who have been through the sometimes acrimonious process of union negotiations. We need people who know what the heck they are doing, because they are not doing it for the first time!

    Apart from Jill, the next longest serving member on the BOE is Norman Yee, and as Caroline has pointed out, he does seem a bit not fully recovered from his tragic accident. Frankly, I was surprised to see his family encouraging him to seek a second term. The other current BOE members were elected less than 2 years ago. Add in at least 2 more newbies guaranteed this year, and you will have the majority of members (at least 5) with no more than 2 years of board experience. No matter which way you cut it, there will be plenty of “fresh blood” and “new voices” on the BOE. We need Jill’s experience and her understanding of the financial matters more than we need a sixth inexperienced wannabe.

    That said, I also support Rachel and Emily.

  9. Here are some links to candidate questionnaires.

    Not all the candidates always answer them.
    Basically, you have to go to their websites and dig for information.




  10. Notice how "nicely" Dana and Caroline try to make their smear campaign sound?

    "not fully recovered"

    "Frankly surprised he ran again."

    Shame on you people, really.
    Jill Wynns, Caroline and Dana are sinking to an all time lows, even for them.

  11. I agree, it is uncool to trash Norman that way. Wynns is a real back-biter, isn't she?

  12. Who are you 2:40?

  13. Andrew, the BOE has a HUGE impact on many aspects of the SFUSD. They hire and renew the contract of the Superintendent. They also vote on measures that have a dramatic impact on SFUSD students: school closures consolidations, or expansions, and districtwide policies i.e. JROTC, textbook adoptions, etc, etc). They help negotiate union contracts (UESF, SEIU, bus drivers) and legal settlements. And this is only a partial summary of their duties. It really, really matters to SFUSD parents who is on the BOE

  14. Yuck - what a tedious thread. Already too boring to continue reading. What should be a useful or at least controversial forum for opinion (however wild) and considered thought has been hijacked by the likes of 2:16, 2:19, 2:40 and 3:10 - for f*** sake whoever you are - we are adults here and perfectly capable of working out who has what agenda and who is mud slinging.

  15. 2:40 is also 2:16, and 2:19, and 3:10; it is also the same person who posted on another thread the same message at 10:52, 10:54, 1:41, and 2:02.
    Hint to the serial poster - it doesn't fool anyone when you post something and then post again two minutes later agreeing with your own previous message.

  16. 2:40

    I'm really not clear on why questioning Yee's competence is a smear campaign. To me, a smear campaign is raising an issue that has no bearing and is false. But this issue does have a bearing. They may be wrong, but the candidate's mental competence is clearly relevant. I don't think saying "shame on you" really answers it. If you believe he is fully competent, explain why. Caroline and Dana should provide more specific details as to why they believe he is not competent. (Altered speech, etc.) I don't think changing his political views (aligning more with Greens) would be sufficient to show this absent consistent virulent positions against them in the past that would indicate he has just totally gone off the deep end by reversing course 180 degrees suddenly and without explanation.

    Certainly people think John McCain's age and health are relevant to assessment of his candidacy.

    So let's get to the merits of this issue. Is he or isn't he competent to hold the position? Why or why not?

  17. "To me, a smear campaign is raising an issue that has no bearing and is false. "

    Isn't that what they are doing? Insinuating that he is not well, but offering no examples or proof? Planting those undeserved "seeds of doubt?".

    I agree that "Caroline and Dana should provide more specific details as to why they believe he is not competent."

  18. I raised health concerns, not per se concerns about competence, and I think Dana did too. It's a delicate issue and I'm not that comfortable going into more detail.

  19. I think they are acting irresponsibly even mentioning it, if they are not prepared to back up their gossip.
    Sure looks like a smear campaign to me.

  20. Caroline-

    If you are not willing to back it up with a real factual discussion, then I would say it's only fair for you to cease raising this issue. In my view, it's not fair to make an innuendo that he's unhealthy and therefore shouldn't serve but be unwilling to explain the basis for it.

    I am not the anonymous poster beating the drum on a smear campaign.

  21. It's a genuine concern; it's a delicate situation. I'm really not willing to discuss further details publicly. I e-mailed you privately.

  22. But how can it be a "smear campaign" when on another thread, Dana said she might vote for Yee anyway.

  23. I am more than happy to air my concerns about Norman Yee publicly. My concern has more to do with Norman's physical stamina than with his "brain", as some anonymous person with too much time on their hands keeps trying to claim I said (talk about "smear campaigns"....)

    For those who are unfaimilar with this situation, Norman Yee was hit by a car the day after Christmas 2006 while crossing a street on a green light in a crosswalk; the car which hit him was, I believe, making a legal turn also on the green. No reckless or drunk driving, no jaywalking - just plain old crappy bad luck all around. You can read about his accident here:

    Norman suffered numerous injuries but none the less he was back in his board seat just a few months later, wearing one of those neck collar things and looking very frail. I was at his first meeting back after the accident, and he stayed only a short time; I think most people were surprised to see him at all, given the extent of his injuries.

    Since that time, I have watched him at meetings. Now, almost 2 years after the accident, he still seems to tire easily; of course some of those BOE meetings are excruciating and go on for 4 or more hours. He fidgets in his seat a lot and seems like he can't get comfortable, but I have sat in those board room chairs and they aren't really that comfortable. I have seen his attention wander; I have seen him unable to find the documents under discussion, or unable to find the place in the document under discussion. Other board members help him with this. That's all fine, but it makes me feel that the heavy load BOE members carry may be too much of a strain for him.

    Ultimately of course this is his decision to make, along with his family. If he were my husband, I would absolutely insist that he step down, but I assume since he is running again, he feels up to the job.

    I don't necessarily feel as Caroline does that he has changed his political views. I think that it has always been the case with Norman, since he was elected, that you never know how he is going to vote until he actually does vote; sometimes I think even he isn't sure until he casts his vote. I did hear one odd thing, which was that he had told a group of west side folks (pro JROTC) that he hadn't made up his mind yet about JROTC. This was AFTER the resolution which he co-authored which eliminated PE credit for JROTC, essentially killing the program, had already passed. It seemed a bit late in the day to be saying he hadn't made up his mind yet after his own reso killed the program. But, as I said, I was not the one who heard him say this, so it is heresay. The question is bound to come up during the campaign, so we will all have a chance to see what Norman's official policy is on JROTC.

    When all is said and done, as I indicated, I may vote for him again. Overall I think he has been a good board member; he certainly has given 110%. I continue to be concerned about his physical stamina, since this is another 4 year term in a job which does require one to remain focused on what is sometimes mindnumbingly boring detail for hours at a time. But frankly, when I look at most of the other candidates, I don't see too much that looks better.

    Now, anonymous bashing person, go ahead and scream, rant and rave that I am "smearing" Norman and calling him "brain damaged." All I can say is, I use my real name when I talk about other people. I stand behind my opinions, and I am speaking for myself. Who knows who "anonymous" speaks for?

  24. 2:16 here...

    (and actually not the same as the other posters who seem to agree with me about the shitty way those people are trashing Norman Yee)

    It's part of the "I am a middle-aged nice woman who is concerned" tactic , the supposedly innocent "raising of questions about his health" and then saying 'poor man". And now the "it's a delicate situation, I'll e-mail you privately."

    It is disgusting, it really is.

    All part of Jill Wynn's plan to try to take votes away from the other incumbent. Her friends should stop spreading those rumors on every listserve they belong to, it's really unethical.

  25. Let's calm down,OK?

    So far, I like Rachel Norton, Sandra Fewer and Norman Yee. (There has to be at least ONE man on the board, doesn't there?)

  26. 51.6% of the kids in SFUSD are males.

  27. "All part of Jill Wynn's plan to try to take votes away from the other incumbent." This doesn't even make sense. I haven't heard from anyone yet who was even able to find four candidates to endorse. Most people only seem to like one or two. No one has to take votes away from anyone. It's more like, how are we going to find 4 decent candidates to support?

  28. Hi 4:51:
    I know nothing about Sandra Fewer. Can you tell me why she has your vote? thx.

  29. Although Fewer seems qualified and had kids who attended SFUSD schools, I'm skeptical because she's endorsed by all the Progressives on the BOE and because she claims that closing the "Achievement Gap" is her top priority.

  30. I think it's great that she has "closing the achievement gap" as a top priority. I hope San Franciscans always have the attitude that what is good for those with the least is good for all of us. That alone would not disqualify any candidate in my mind. I just also hope that there is some thought given to supporting middle class families too, and some creative thinking about how to create a win-win situation that can bring benefits to all the groups. There are strategies out there. They take communication and organizing of the community, which SFUSD needs to do a lot better though....

  31. Fewer does not mention middle-class families on her web page.

  32. In other words… Norman Yee now has (gasp!) a disability? Well then, of course, by all means, put him on the ice floe.

    Or… is it possible that other BOE members, district staff, parents and community members could rise to the occasion (and the spirit of the ADA), and demonstrate a commitment to inclusion and accommodation? You know, the kind of commitment we profess to value in our schools? Shouldn't Yee be viewed as a positive role model for district students and their parents? (Including students with disabilities and their parents?)

  33. 2:16

    Don't worry, the private e-mail was insufficient to convince me that there was enough substance on this.

    My view remains that this the unwillingness to discuss the details of Yee's purported health problem in public means that the issue should not be raised. If it cannot be fairly evaluated, it should not be an argument.

  34. I'm sorry if anyone thinks it's unfair to Yee to raise that concern. We'll have to agree to disagree. My view is that the best interests of our district's children, and of our schools, outweigh that delicacy.

    I've been attending BOE meetings and otherwise following BOE issues closely for 10 or 11 years, and my guess is that most parents here are relatively new to the issues, so I assume some might find the perspective useful.

    For those who haven't read the thread below, the discussion of BOE candidates started up off-topic there. I'm reposting a couple of comments. This is from one of mine:

    *** ... the left/Green/progressive faction on the Board of Ed definitely has been the source of an attitude that the middle class and the advantaged can take care of themselves without any support from the district. One example is their notion that enrichments (and separate honors classes) for GATE students are elitist, as well as the entire existence of Lowell and SOTA -- that faction feels those should all be eliminated or at least seriously weakened.

    Another example is the notion that oversubscribed schools (usually meaning westside schools) should have their bungalows removed or even be shut down entirely, and the kids transferred summarily to undersubscribed schools.

    I was really surprised to see a teacher on another thread claim that other teachers largely support the left/Green/prog faction, for those and other reasons. Are many teachers really for nuking Lowell and SOTA, and closing down popular, high-achieving schools to transfer their students to underperforming, undersubscribed schools?

    Of the BOE candidates, Sandra Fewer is one who is pretty much a down-the-line advocate of that left/Green/prog faction, though she's being rather quiet about it so far. Norman Yee seems to have aligned with them closely now too ...***

    Someone else asked who the left/Green/"Progressives" currently on the board are, and an anonymous poster responded (I've added first names here):

    ***The Greens on the BOE are [Mark] Sanchez (leaving the BOE but running for BOS for District 9), [Jane] Kim and [Kim-Shree] Maufus, with [Eric] Mar (leaving BOE but running for BOS from District 1) and [Norman] Yee (up for reelection to the BOE) as Green-leaning Democrats. BOE candidate Bobbi Lopez is a typical Green candidate, and Sandra Fewer is a Green-leaning Democrat.***

  35. Sorry to be so naive, admittedly. I am so new as I have just one kinderkid. But it seems that eliminating GATE or even honors classes is hurting all students, not just the economically disadvantaged. It's shocking to even see that on the table, honestly.

  36. 9:13, I should clarify that there isn't a specific proposal on the table to eliminate GATE or honors classes current. It's a viewpoint that has been regularly voiced by the left/Green/"progressive" faction.

    Also restating/crossposting here -- forgive the duplication, those who read my similar comments on the other thread: As a SOTA mom, it hits close to home for me that this faction truly threatens the existence of my kids' school, since they view admission by audition as elitist. Green Party activist and former school board candidate Kim Knox, who used to post on the local Greens' Left in SF blog (she has moved away), made a ritual of attending SOTA and Lowell theater productions and blogging about the racial breakdown of the casts, based on her own judgment. Her point was to show how elitist both schools are and presumably pave the way for eliminating their admission requirements.

    A Facebook group called "Save SOTA from the Green Party" has 170-plus members.

    It's baffling, because the Green Party lists support for the arts as a key part of its platform. SOTA is a gay-friendly, hippie arts school where students who would be (and have been) misfits and outcasts at more traditional schools find a home. The notion that it's elitist and should be eliminated doesn't seem like it would fly with the Green Party base -- yet it's an article of faith with the BOE's Green/"progressives."

  37. I don't know if I would even want my son to go to Lowell as it sounds like a pressure-cooker, BUT it is the only SF High School, I think, that ever shows up in the top 20 on those "best public high schools in the country" lists. Hey. we're a top notch city and we ought to damn well have a top notch academic high school.

  38. These candidates all have or have had children in SFUSD schools and are looking out for the best interests of our children, without any ideological strings attached:

    Jill Wynns
    A veteran who understands the fiscal intricacies and smokescreens. Sanchez even put her back on the budget commitee while Jane Kim was off studying for law school tests.

    Rachel Norton
    Everybody likes this pick. A mom who seeks compromise.

    Emily Murase
    A parent at Rosa Parks, knows the district and its history.

    Fourth pick:
    I'm still undecided. Perhaps Norman Yee.

  39. It is very sad how bitter people who have nothing better to do spend so much time time spreading lies about a true public servant like Norman Yee. Don't believe the lies.

  40. Norman Yee knows more about early childhood education than anyone else on the BOE.

    Jill Wynns wants to cut CDC preschool programs, in the short-sighted unthinking view that "preschool is not SFUSD's business". It becomes SFUSD's business when those children enter Kindergarten, unprepared, and way behind.


  41. Jill Wynns gets my primary vote.

    Nobody knows more about how the district operates. And she is fully commited to the job. She's not using it as a stepping stone to a Board of Supervisor position (Mak, Mar, et al) or attending law school instead of attending BoE meetings (Kim).

  42. 7:01 is not accurate. Jill Wynns does not want to cut SFUSD preschools (Child Development Centers), and the alleged quote is a fabrication.

  43. It is very sad how bitter people who have nothing better to do spend so much time time spreading lies about a true public servant like Jill Wynns. Don't believe the lies.

  44. another thing to think about when making your school board picks is, what about the three members who are not up for re election this year. where will they be 2 years from now when their first terms are up? hydra mendoza works for newsom in her day job as his education adviser. if he runs for governor in 2010 and wins, she'll go with him to sacramento. if he drops out of the race, or loses, he will be termed out as mayor and mendoza will need a new day gig. there is rumor she'll run for board of supervisors in 2010. the same has been rumored about both kim shree maufas and jane kim. maufas goes to law school just like kim. how credible is it that these two felt law school was a necessary part of their training for board of education? more likely would be a plan to use their BOE seats as stepping stones to higher office. even numbered districts come up for election in 2010, including termed-out maxwell's seat in district 10, and alioto-pier's seat in district 2. these two current members could be gone by the next BOE election too.
    all the more reason to be thinking about who to elect this time. putting 4 newcomers into office, to join the 3 not running this year, would mean not only no one with any real experience in board matters for the next 2 years, but maybe for many years to come. parents need to think long and hard before they turn their backs on experienced members like yee and wynns. it would be ideal if yee hadn't been hit by a car (not exactly his fault!) or wynns were friendlier, but a school board full of happy faces masking minds that are either sponges waiting to soak up their first board experiences, or already focused on the next run for higher office, is no solution to what ails the sfusd.
    Norman Yee
    Jill Wynns
    Rachel Norton
    Emily Murase
    'Nuff said.

  45. another thing to think about when making your school board picks is, what about the three members who are not up for re election this year. where will they be 2 years from now when their first terms are up? hydra mendoza works for newsom in her day job as his education adviser. if he runs for governor in 2010 and wins, she'll go with him to sacramento. if he drops out of the race, or loses, he will be termed out as mayor and mendoza will need a new day gig. there is rumor she'll run for board of supervisors in 2010. the same has been rumored about both kim shree maufas and jane kim. maufas goes to law school just like kim. how credible is it that these two felt law school was a necessary part of their training for board of education? more likely would be a plan to use their BOE seats as stepping stones to higher office. even numbered districts come up for election in 2010, including termed-out maxwell's seat in district 10, and alioto-pier's seat in district 2. these two current members could be gone by the next BOE election too.
    all the more reason to be thinking about who to elect this time. putting 4 newcomers into office, to join the 3 not running this year, would mean not only no one with any real experience in board matters for the next 2 years, but maybe for many years to come. parents need to think long and hard before they turn their backs on experienced members like yee and wynns. it would be ideal if yee hadn't been hit by a car (not exactly his fault!) or wynns were friendlier, but a school board full of happy faces masking minds that are either sponges waiting to soak up their first board experiences, or already focused on the next run for higher office, is no solution to what ails the sfusd.
    Norman Yee
    Jill Wynns
    Rachel Norton
    Emily Murase
    'Nuff said.

  46. Good post, 8:29.

    After all my concerns and after looking over the list of candidates again, I may well still end up voting for Norman Yee myself.

    Being a cautious voter, I'd still like to meet and hear Emily Murase before I throw myself wholeheartedly behind her, but her slogan right now for me might as well be "What's Not To Like?"

  47. Good post at 8:29am.

    Yes, we need Board members who are not merely using the SFUSD as a stepping stone for a new day job in the future. And experience/ continuity does count for something

    Of course, being a BoE member pays only $500 a month, so you NEED a day job. But some board members have always been looking ahead to careers in politics (Mar, Sanchez, etc). And attending law schools is no excuse for missing board meetings.

    Jill Wynns
    Norman Yee

  48. The BOE chats are never talking about Emily Murase enough.

    I suppose it makes sense. She's easily the most qualified, most dedicated, and least self-serving of the candidates, but that lack of self-promotion and political finagling must keep her out of the chatter.

    So listen, she's got kids in school. That should be an absolute prerequisite.

    She was a champion of Prop A.

    She directs the SF Department on the Status of Women, dealing with family issues every day.

    She was in the Clinton White House, and was an executive for AT&T Japan, so she has fiscal and managerial expertise on a global level.

    She has absolute ZERO interest in higher office, and by no means sees BOE as a stepping stone.

    So what more do you want?

  49. 7:16 wrote:
    "Jill Wynns does not want to cut SFUSD preschools (Child Development Centers), and the alleged quote is a fabrication."


    Let's just look at the record, shall we? It's all in the minutes of the Board of Education meetings:

    April 2005
    Jill Wynns voted to close McLaren Child Development Center.

    May 2005
    Jill Wynns voted to close Yoey Child Development center

    June 2005
    Jill Wynns voted to close Sutro Child Development Center

    Jill Wynns voted to close Presidio Child Development Center

    Jill Wynns worked with Ackerman and tried really hard to cut preschool programs in San Francisco by $3.3 million.

    Is closing down centers and cutting budgets by 3.3 million what you consider 'supporting" early childhood education?

    Today's article in the Chronicle clearly shows how much more we need to invest in preschools, and how not doing so really affects Kindergarten classes.

    I agree with Annettehurst,
    all these below-the-belt slaps at Norman Yee about his health are sickening. Talk about what a candidate has done, talk about their records, talk about their votes and their actions, and leave the snarky speculation about their mental prowess out of it, it's destructive gossip, it is entirely unprincipled, and it is unfair.


  50. Yet Jill Wynns was one of the main forces behind Prop. H, which provides million in dedicated city funding to Preschool for All, as well as more millions to K-12 SFUSD schools. She put vast amounts of volunteer time and energy into that campaign, as did many of us.

    So without going back to board minutes for details, or to board members for an explanation of the complexities behind the issues, she has clearly demonstrated her support for and commitment to early childhood education.

    My understanding is that it's rare for a school district to run a full preschool program. So that's a complicated layer of funding and needs that raises its own set of complexities. The only issue that I followed even slightly was the Presidio one, which was of course over money -- it comes down to how much is left for classroom needs.

  51. Sean, I'm really impressed with what I hear of Murase, but not with this phrase or attitude:

    She's easily the most qualified, most dedicated, and least self-serving of the candidates,

    I don't want to get into a pissing match about it, but I hope that's not the way SHE herself puts it. It doesn't reflect my image of her.

  52. Caroline,
    if you think showing support for preschools is voting to close many of them and trying to cut the budget for preschools by 3.3 million dollars, then I guess we disagree entirely.

    As you said, you followed these issues only slightly. If you had followed them closely, you would see that the amounts "saved" by closing those centers would have been very minor. Jill Wynns kept bringing up how Presidio CDC paid rent on the building in the Presidio (62K a year, after the lease we renegotiated) and her point was that SFUSD should not pay rent for property when we have some much of it we don't have to pay rent on. But then we would point out that SFUSD leases 1098 Harrison Street for its special education administration offices at a cost to the district of something like a million a year (I've forgotten how much the lease at Harrison Street is, but it was hellish.)
    So, why not move administrative offices to save MILLIONS before displacing children from their schools for amounts which pale in comparison?
    And as for Jill being "one of the main forces behind Prop H" , you may as well claim that she invented the internet, while you are at it :)


  53. Interesting for the first few posts, but Caroline and Moggy, please take this discussion offline!

  54. The CDC details are too arcane even for me, so never fear, 10:27.

    But Wynns worked with Tom Ammiano to create Prop. H. You can't take that away from her, as the song goes.

  55. I'd like to know what people think of Barbara Lopez?

  56. RE: Lopez, she's Mark Sanchez's hand-picked successor. 'Nuff said.

  57. Has Tom Ammiano endorsed Jill Wynns?

    That would be make me suport her. He was a long-time school teacher in the Mission and has his heart in the right place for our kids.

  58. Wouldn't Sanchez pick another teacher? I don't think Lopez is a teacher.

  59. My wife’s school – Tenderloin Community School , in cooperation with the Bay Area Women’s and Children Center tried to set up a program that had been proven very successful in other states. Called Eat, Exercise and Excel (EEE) it tried to provide for students to eat lunch in the classroom and to provide some additional classroom based exercise programs. The main motivation was to try to reduce the conflicts and chaos that had been occurring during lunch and getting the kids to lunch and to try to provide additional community and educational opportunities for teachers to connect with their students in a less structured environment. The teachers, although creating more work for them and reducing what limited free time they had during lunch, agreed to implement the program to great initial success.
    Jill Wynns singlehandedly killed this program with no other apparent motivation than the belief that all school programs should come from the BOE. Her rationale for opposing the program was constantly questioned with no adequate response.
    First she refused to allow the teachers to hand out children’s vitamins. This resulted in the waste of hundreds of dollars of children’s vitamins already purchased. She continued to oppose and throw up roadblocks to the program and eventually managed to kill the program by getting the Cafeteria’s workers union to file a complaint alleging that child labor laws were being broken because the children from each class had to go and pick up the lunches for their classroom.
    You can imagine how dispiriting it is for a school to try to do something that works for their community and then get opposed by a single board member for no discernable good reason.
    We had neutral to somewhat positive impressions of Jill Wynns before this issue arose and am still willing to give her the benefit of the doubt if she can adequately explain her opposition. I will be sending this request to her office for clarification. Unfortunately, it seems for now, that she is driven by a sense that any change at SFUSD has to come from the Board and specifically with her input, and woe to any program that doesn’t get her blessing.

  60. (hopefully) future sfusd parentSeptember 10, 2008 at 11:53 AM

    RE: Bobbi Lopez, this is what was posted on the sfschools Yahoo group:
    Barbara "Bobbi" Lopez is an immigrants' rights advocate for the ACLU.Previously, she worked for three years at La Raza Centro Legal, where she coordinated the Youth Advocacy and Empowerment Project (YAEP),representing youth in administrative hearings, offering rights workshops to parents and youth, and encouraging overall youth development, specifically in the immigrant community.
    Maybe Mark Sanchez supports her because she's a rising star in the Green Party/immigrants' rights community.

  61. The Eat, Exercise, and Excel program sounds interesting. As a parent, I would be very wary of anyone feeding my child vitamins though. But I'm sure teachers got parental consent on that one?

  62. Teamlala and others reading this, I'm somewhat familiar with the situation regarding that program at Tenderloin. It it NOT TRUE that Jill Wynns "singlehandedly" (or otherwise) killed it. I'm curious where you got that version.

    I heard about the vitamin issue, and my understanding is that it's illegal for the school to dose children with vitamins (much as they might benefit many children) -- I didn't make the laws, nor did Jill Wynns. Still, the program could certainly have continued without that.

    But the other issues were with National School Lunch Program (NSLP) regulations and both the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) representing the caf workers and the United Educators of San Francisco (UESF) representing teachers.

    A number of the aspects of the way that program was running the school lunches violate NSLP regulations. When there are violations of those regulations (which are indeed largely onerous and picayune!) the entire district risks losing its federal reimbursement money for school meals. And the meal programs ARE audited with surprise visits -- it's not an empty threat.

    Aspects of the way the meals were being run violated the SFUSD contract with the SEIU covering the caf workers, including some use of child labor rather than union workers. (One elementary school child was badly bruised carrying a large, heavy bin of the NSLP lunches up stairs, which is yet another concern.)

    And the UESF objected to the fact that teachers were giving up their contract-mandated break to oversee lunches in the classrooms.

    I'm aware of this because of my involvement in SFUSD school food issues -- as you can see, some of it falls into that area.

    This program was, I'm told, an export from someplace like Leavenworth, Kansas, which is not a union stronghold and probably didn't run into those issues.

    It's ironic that Jill Wynns in this case is getting the rap for the unions' objections to the program at Tenderloin, while other places she's getting accused of being anti-union.

    To me it seems like there's some swift-boating going on. What's that about?

  63. Caroline wrote: "To me it seems like there's some swift-boating going on. What's that about?"

    Yes, there is, what you and Dana are doing to Norman Yee is swift-boating.

  64. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  65. By the way, I only learned about the Eat, Exercise and Excel in context of the union issue, with the info about the vitamins mentioned as a side issue.

    But I did read a fact sheet on the program. It sounded to me like its intent was to not allow the children ANY unscheduled play time -- 100% of lunch and recess time would be supervised eating or structured exercise/games.

    I can see how that would reduce conflicts and chaos, because idle hands are the devil's plaything and all that. But my kids, especially my daughter, have tended to be the types to spend part of their free time wandering the playground daydreaming and living in an imaginary world. (I remember a classmate from my elementary school days who "rode a horse" around and around the playground, holding the reins and jumping imaginary hurdles, for that matter.) And at Lakeshore, the kids on the playground used to invent entire games of their own, with their own rules.

    So I have wondered how kids like mine would fare with 100% of their time structured. I guess if with freedom came fighting and chaos, I'd go for the 100% structured time. But to me it would be a shame to give up the daydreaming and imaginary world. That's an aside, though -- just what came to my mind when I heard about this program.

  66. Every school site is different. There are SF schools where student behavior during unstructured time is a major concern. Good for you if your school has no problems of that sort. BTW - they did have to get parent consent before handing out the vitamins.

    Like I said, I am trying to get direct information from Jill Wynns and others regarding this and other issues. Part of what I think of as responsible decision making before voting.

    It certainly is the perception, rightly or wrongly, among the teachers at TCS that Jill Wynns mas the major factor behind the scuttling of EEE. Including the union involvement regarding this issue.

    I understand that when you are in a position of responsibility, you sometimes have to make decisions that not everyone is happy with. On the other hand, adequately communicating and partnering with the people who are actually in the classroom is also important.

    Bringing out a 'swiftboating' charge at any criticism of an elected official is over the top and unwarranted.

    Bottom line to me is that there was a program developed and administered by the school and BAWCC to address the particular problems of that school which was demonstrably working and having a positive impact.

    It was scuttled by some combination of BOE opposition, union opposition and bureaucratic inertia and inflexibility. I am trying to find out who and what was responsible so I can properly direct my ire and opposition. Unfortunately, this is all too typical of SFUSD and the BOE.

  67. Teamlala, my perception was that there was a lot of momentum for that program and it took quite an effort, driven by the unions, with Student Nutrition chiming in because of the significant issue of NSLP violations, to change it. My guess is that bureaucratic inertia would have left it in place, and that the BOE would have left it alone too except for those issues -- if it ain't broke, why cause problems for anyone by fixing it? It would be something else if the Tenderloin folks had asked the school district to step up and CREATE the program -- that's when you would have run into bureaucratic inertia.

    The rap on Jill Wynns is simply not true in the Tenderloin case, though, unless she's really running the UESF and the SEIU local.

    I'm not really accusing YOU of Swiftboating. The true definition, it seems to me, is cynically twisting the truth to use someone's strengths (John Kerry's military record, Jill Wynns' extensive experience, knowhow and record of advocacy) against them.

    But in the Tenderloin case Jill is taking the rap for something she simply did not do. (It appears to me that your original account was sincere, though, which also exempts you from Swiftboating charges.)

  68. Whew. I'm sure she can sleep at night, now.

  69. Let's face it, Wynns will advocate for middle-class parents but is not liked by the unions, SpEd parents, etc. She may also not be the most politic of individuals. We each need to decide whether to vote for our self-interest or the greater good.

  70. I've noticed that some outspoken people on this blog talk a good game about supporting the less advantaged, but when it comes to their kids they seem much more conservative, and much more protective of their "middle class" rights. The hypocrisy doesn't help their credibility.

  71. Don't most middle-class people have to balance their social conscience with their own interests? Does that make them hypocrites?

  72. We middle class whites just can't win. (sigh)

  73. 3:02 PM - Am I a hypocrite for putting my child first, before the children of strangers?

    I never thought I would be criticized for having my own children as a priority.

    This is insane.

  74. People totally should put their kids first. I don't think it's a crime to be middle class. I just get disgusted when people pretend like they would sign their kids up in Hunter's Point if they got that roll of the dice, when they're set up already in a much better situation.

  75. Yes, how bizarre that someone would have a problem with me putting my kid first. Very strange.

    I think the hypocrites are those who have their kids in top-rated public schools, but criticize those of us who will not send our kid to a bottom of the barrel school.

  76. "Wynns will advocate for middle-class parents but is not liked by the unions, SpEd parents, etc. "

    Wynns doesn't advocate for anybody, she just has her pet projects and ignores or fights what parents want to do for their kids' schools.

  77. Regarding the program at Tenderloin, I can only speak to the meal portion of it, but that was scuttled not by Jill Wynns, or by the union (although SEIU did in fact file a grievance over it) but rather by the head of the review team from the California Department of Education. These people visited Tenderloin ES (and many other schools) as part of the complete review of district meal programs last spring, saw the Tenderloin program in violation of nearly every USDA reg governing meal service, and shut it down on the spot, through the instrument of a letter to the Superintendent indicating that all future funding not just for meals at Tenderloin but for the entire district would be withheld if the program were not brought into compliance immediately. Since our school district cannot afford to provide a meal program which costs in excess of $16 million per year if they don't get government reimbursement, there was no question but that the meal portion of the Tenderloin program needed to be abandoned.

    Jill Wynns did not "[get] the Cafeteria’s workers union to file a complaint alleging that child labor laws were being broken because the children from each class had to go and pick up the lunches for their classroom." The (SEIU) union opposd the program all on their own, but it was the honchos from the state who shut it down.

    No matter how worthy a program or special curriculum may be, schools which participate in the National School Lunch Program must follow USDA regulations. Many of the regulations are stupid and apparently pointless, and many of them slow down meal service. Regardless - the rules must be followed, and when the state comes around to inspect, as they did last year, and will again this year in a follow up review because of what they found last year, including that Tenderloin program, if they find violations (no matter how petty the rule) they can and will withhold government funding. Since, as I said, this district can't afford to feed kids without government money, the rules must be followed, like it or not.

  78. Okay, it sounds like "Bobbi" Lopez is not for me. What about Jaynry Mak? I'm looking for someone who is not an extreme lefty and who will be interested in making sure the schools don't overlook my bright but timid blond daughter. Rachel Norton and Emily Murase sound good; Jill Wynns sounds good; who else?

  79. Jaynry Mak is Ed Jew, part II. No interest in schools, she is a very rich political hack who ran unsuccessfully ran for the Board of Supervisors a few years ago. She has been fined & investigated... Clearly, she thinks she set her sights too high the first time, and is using this as a stepping stone.



  80. Marigrace Cohen sounds very reasonable according to this recent interview:
    Does she have a chance of winning, though? If not, it's probably better to vote for Yee than risk someone like Fewer winning.

  81. Sandra Lee Fewer is not the least bit interested in what parents want, especially middle class parents. She is only interested in what the unions want.

  82. Yes, Jaynry Mak would be a disaster.

    She has already been reprimanded in a dodgy fundraising scam (involving bus boys) when she ran for supervisor, and she has no interest in the job (she sees it as a stepping stone to a political career).

  83. Even worse, Jaynry Mak brags about serving on the SFUSD Hardship Appeals Board, the group that turned down the chemo mom's request for a school close to her home. JM lists her work with this group as one of her major accomplishments and a reason why we should vote for her. If you had a hardship appeal rejected, thank Jaynry Mak.

  84. 7:26, I think Fewer's position is more just straight down-the-line Green/Progressive philosophy, as opposed to strictly representing the viewpoints of the various unions.

    As noted, one of my issues with the Green/Prog philosophy is its opposition to differentiated education (or, basically, any special attention) for GATE (gifted & talented) students, and its correlated opposition to the existence of Lowell and SOTA as "elitist" selective-admission magnet schools.

    Then there's the Green/Prog notion that enrollment at "elitist" higher-achieving schools should be limited (by removing their bungalows) or that when enrollment drops, those schools should be the ones closed, and the students summarily transferred to low-performing, underenrolled schools.

    I don't think the unions have a particular stake in those issues one way or another; it's the Green/Prog positions that concern many parents.

    For those reasons and more, I'm sticking with the non-Green/Progs in this election -- Wynns, Norton, almost certainly Murase (fourth as yet undetermined).

  85. Nobody cares who you are voting for, Caroline.

  86. Do you mean that after all we have gone through this year to (finally) get our child into a higher performing elementary school, the Greens would want to close it and send my child across town to one of those schools we rejected in our round 1 assignment?

  87. As a SFUSD parent with kids in elementary and middle school and a PTA officer, I'm voting this way:

    Jill Wynns
    Rachel Norton
    Emily Murase
    Norman Yee

    I'm a progressive Democrat, but I'm appalled by the Green/Prog social engineering that has occured in our schools over the past few years.

  88. As you may know, yesterday SFUSD posted its Kindergarten Readiness
    Report based on a study done with the 2007 entering class. With some
    exceptions, it strikes me as a very well done piece of work.

    One of the more remarkable pieces of data in my view was the finding
    that students who were classified as ready for kindergarten, or who
    were academically ready but required some social-emotional
    remediation, clustered at the high API schools, while the low API
    schools had a much higher than average percentage of students who
    were deficient in all areas of readiness assessment. The quote from the summary of this data at pp. 19-20 of the report is below.

    If a significant goal of our assignment system is to promote
    educational success across all groups by balancing classrooms
    throughout the district, then the Diversity Index has clearly
    failed. Whatever "equity of access" means (a mystery to me,
    frankly), it also appears not to have been served by the Diversity

    In short, the Diversity Index is a monumental failure. And on top of
    that it is overly complex, lacking in any reasonable measure of
    predictability or transparency, and is driving middle class families out of the public school system to everyone's detriment.

    From the report at pp.19-20:
    "Where is readiness stronger vs. weaker?
    San Francisco Unified is a diverse district, and teachers in
    different schools can face very different populations of kindergarten students. For example, children who were more ready for kindergarten
    tended to matriculate into schools with high rankings on the Academic
    Performance Index, whereas children who entered lower ranking schools were less ready for kindergarten.

    To illuminate the greatest disparities in readiness, ASR examined the classroom composition of the five highest scoring classrooms versus the five lowest scoring classrooms. Whereas almost all of the children in the highest scoring classrooms were All Stars and therefore near proficient across the 24 readiness skills, the
    children in the lowest scoring classrooms had much more diverse
    strengths and needs. More than one third of them were Needs Prep
    children who were just beginning to learn the gamut of readiness
    skills, and just one in four were prepared All Stars. Such data remind us that different teachers face very different groups of incoming students."

  89. I am interested to hear Caroline's opinions about BOE candidates. I am a new parent to SFUSD and appreciate her views as a veteran.

  90. Yes, 8:48 -- that keeps coming up as a Green/"Progressive" philosophy (the notion of closing/cutting back high-achieving schools and transferring their students to underenrolled schools).

    When the district has had to close schools because of dropping enrollment, it has used a set of criteria, including achievement and enrollment. (That is, the schools with lowest and dropping achievement and lowest and dropping enrollment are the ones targeted for closure.)

    Yet because that generally means schools in low-income neighborhoods serving disadvantaged kids are more likely to be targeted, the Green/Progs' proposed solution is to spread the pain, and target high-performing schools for closure, dispersing those kids to underenrolled schools. That hasn't been carried out yet, but has been vigorously espoused by that faction. You can see that in theory it's more equitable, but you can also immediately see that in reality it's parent-unfriendly, student-unfriendly and punishes success.

    The issue also came up a couple of years ago when an inspection at Rooftop determined that some classroom bungalows were in extremely hazardous condition. They either needed to be closed or replaced immediately. The Green/"Progressive" school board members called for removing the bungalows, not replacing them, and just transferring those students to an underenrolled school (and shrinking the size of Rooftop, obviously). Jill Wynns successfully led the advocacy for replacing the bungalows with safe ones so the students could stay at Rooftop.

    (Obviously, bungalows are not an ideal situation. At some schools, including Lakeshore, they arrived when class-size reduction was implemented in 1996 as the only way to accommodate the extra classes. Real classrooms would be preferable, but not feasible in this budget climate.)

  91. This is very interesting. The only one who seems like a sure bet (to me at least) so far is Rachel Norton.

  92. Annette, I agree with you that the study is interesting and seems to have been done well. And their conclusion seems to be true, that lower-API schools start off that way, in a sense, with high concentrations of kids with factors that correlate with "not-ready." In other words, these schools start off way behind.

    However, I disagree with some of your conclusions, or at least I'd like to point out a contradiction. Middle class families are not being driven out by the diversity index. Middle class families were "driven out" (or chose to leave) by forced assignment across town, aka busing. Until the 70's, our schools, like many urban districts, were highly segregated by neighborhood and therefore by race, and resource allocation was highly inequitable to boot. Busing was the solution du jour. Which led to middle class flight. And schools that declined.

    Then when the consent decree was overthrown, the "middle way" solution became school choice with socio-economic diversity index. Some parental direction was now allowed, combined with some social engineering to give access to better schools to disadvanted kids. What has happened? For a number of reasons, including baby boomlets and economic downturns, but also improving schools as a new generation of parents has thrown themselves into the fight for public schools: the return of many of those middle class families. Not all, and certainly many are turned off/away when they don't win the lottery, but much higher participation now than before, and more schools than ever that have a economic mix. That is the fact: middle class families are returning, not leaving.

    I echo your concerns about the lack of transparency, the poor communication, the arcane rules, and mixed grade on implementation of the diversity index. Seriously, there are problems.

    But the conundrum is this: many good folks agree that the solution to the problem you restate from the report, that high-risk kids are segregated in concentrated enviroments that create a petri dish for more failure, can only be solved by more social mixing. A study posted by Kate recently, from the New York Times, seemed to show that 50% low-income, at-risk kids, mixed up with 50% middle-class, not-at-risk kids, is a good mix. The middle-class kids really don't suffer, and the low-income kids get a boost from a number of factors.

    So okay, if that is a solution, how to achieve it? Many parents on this list, who seem mostly to be educated, at least middle class, etc., have fought mightily to get their kids into schools with higher ratios of middle-class kids. No judgments here about that--I get it. I get why sending your kid to a high-poverty school isn't attractive. But just to say, the comfort bar seems a lot lower for this demographic than it would take to make more of our San Francisco schools mixed rather than segregated.

    The one strategy that seems to have worked well is immersion programs, because by design it mixes ELLs and English speakers, and quite often creates mixed-income groups as well. And middle-class families tolerate--even flock to--these programs because they perceive an educational advantage in learning two languages, and having primary Spanish and Chinese speakers onsite is a part of that.

    But what about the rest of our schools? The ones, like Miraloma and Grattan, that are looking increasingly more "advantaged" while Cesar Chavez and Sanchez stay highly disadvantaged? One solution would be a return to forced assignments, perhaps through neighborhood "zones" that mixed it up. Perhaps with a separate lottery for immersion.

    But wouldn't middle-class parents resent that just as much? The whole point would be that we would be sent to schools that whose poverty mix would be above that comfort bar. Would we see more middle class flight in that case? I would guess so....as with $4/gallon gas being a tipping point for junking the SUVs, there seems to be a comfort point above which middle class families don't want to go. Hence the angst on this blog. The BOE would be walking a fine line of promoting more desegregation (by income, by the way, not race) while courting a return to middle-income flight.

    Those who are complaining about the diversity index (and I don't mean complaints about how it is run--clearly, sibling enrollment should be reported out, EPC workers better trained, etc.) should understand that the diversity index gives us parents more preference than we are likely to have under any other system in this city. Strict neighborhood schools, with the scale of re-segregation that would imply, are not going to happen. Just to say, if you care about mixing it up as an educational strategy to improve success rates for all (and I do), the diversity index is about as moderate a policy as we're going to get.

    Looking at it another way, if you hate the diversity index because you got assigned (or fear getting assigned) to a school you don't like, then watch out using these arguments that the schools are too segregated by income and risk factors as the study suggests; because you may hate even more the solutions proposed to fix these problems. Neighborhood schools would certainly worsen the problem, and the solution is likely to lean the other way, actually.

    All that said, Annette, I'm glad you are looking at the public schools, and I wish you lots of luck in finding spots in the Richmond for your twins. I do think the twins policy should be looked at and changed. Maybe PPS can push for that along with other reforms. While there has been and continues to be more angst this year than in past years, it seems many are getting acceptable 10-day spots after all, as predicted (yay, Jessica!). It will be interesting to see how many are left when the dust settles next week.

    If you have any interest at all in public, it is a good bet to at least give the process a try. The odds of getting a school you like in the end are quite high, if not guaranteed; I think they are much higher than private actually, though maybe not parochial, where the neighborhood schools always seem to have spots. Just be careful in your Round 1 picks to include some off-the-radar schools, and you should be okay. Not all top-20s.

  93. I agree about Rachel Norton. She seems to have a knack for telling everyone she talks to exactly what they want to hear. Progressives love her and conservatives love her. She's sure to win in November.

  94. Wow, 10:33. Thank you for posting. My own thoughts on the assignment system align nearly perfectly with yours.

  95. As noted, one of my issues with the Green/Prog philosophy is its opposition to differentiated education (or, basically, any special attention) for GATE (gifted & talented) students, and its correlated opposition to the existence of Lowell and SOTA as "elitist" selective-admission magnet schools.

    Well, that is what they made private schools for. Why should you get preferential, differentiated, exclusive treatment in public school. Did you pay extra for that?

  96. Did SpEd parents pay an extra for their individualized education plans? GATE students are entittled to an appropriate and free public education along with other students.

  97. No one should have to pay extra for differentialted GATE education for their child. It is guaranteed in the state's education code. Public schools have to provide it regardless of that the ultraliberals think.

  98. 10:33

    Thanks for your analysis. I agree with you that if we are going to pursue educational goals for all as the top priority in the assignment process, we should try to achieve that mix in every school. The Diversity Index has not done that, and will not ever do that, as long as the current system of "choice" is in place. The "choice" system has led to self-segregation amongst the kindergarten-ready.

    What I don't understand is why everyone believes that we have to have random assignments in accordance with educational goal criteria in order to meet them. I don't believe the assumption that neighborhood school boundaries cannot be drawn to achieve precisely that result. If you look at the neighborhoods in the report that are described as having pockets of "Needs-Prep" students, they are all over the City: East, West, North and South. Clearly we can work with that to draw some boundaries and get some certainty going.

    As for middle-class coming back to the system, I have to disagree with you on that. If you look at the demographic data I don't think it supports that conclusion at all. And it is certainly true that Caucasians are not coming back to the system. The overall percentage of Caucasians in the District has not materially increased in quite some time. The drop in Caucasion and African-American student populations from the 90s has been made up almost exclusively of increases in Chinese-Americans.

    Finally although it may not matter much, your historical description is not quite accurate, because race was taken into account for at least one year after the consent decree was dissolved. But then Prop 209 apparently put a stop to that.

    We are not in disagreement on the overall goals. I just think we can get there by doing something that will draw Caucasian and middle class families back into the system.

  99. Annette, I can see how someone like you, who lives in the Richmond District (home of many top schools) would favor the idea of a neighborhood assignment system. Parents who live in the South/East quadrant tend to favor a system of school choice.

  100. 10:57 - so are ELL's paying extra for the extra resource teacher needed to get them up to speed in English? What about the Special Ed kids? Should their families pay more?

    Look at history. Remember the campaigns in Cambodia, China to eliminate the "elite" "educated" class? Is that what we want?

    Open you eyes folks -- the world is our competition, not just the little microcosm of San Francisco. The world is racing ahead to educate their children and they don't hold back the "smart" ones so that the rest of the 80% of the bell curve feels better. We do so in this city at our own risk.

    Should Alex Rodriquez, Kobe Bryant be held back -- some salary taken away so that we can pay more players at the lower end -- the ones that didn't make the team? What about equity there? Why do we allow competition and differentiation in sports, art, etc but not in academics.

  101. 11:45

    There is one "top school" in the Richmond and that is Alamo. There are several others that people will now put on their lists some of the time after a great effort by PPS, including Argonne, Peabody, Lafayette, and maybe Sutro. Sutro is not an option for me because with twins I need 2 equivalent kindergartens and one is an ELL class.

    Lilienthal and Sherman are not in the Richmond. The Richmond is a highly diverse neighborhood and in fact is cited as one of the highest pockets of "Needs-Prep" learners in the Readiness Report.

    Yes, my kids could walk to either Alamo or Argonne and yes, having grown up and walked to school in Ohio, I want that for them. But don't kid yourself that it's somehow because all of the schools in the Richmond are so great. I believe that we can meet the educational goals with reasonably certainty.

    There are weigh more schools with high-demand special programs on the southeast side of town than there are on the north side of town.

  102. 10:57 AM - So if gifted kids shouldn't get "get preferential, differentiated, exclusive treatment in public school" does that mean that the kids who need remedial help shouldn't get "get preferential, differentiated, exclusive treatment in public school" either?

  103. "While there has been and continues to be more angst this year than in past years, it seems many are getting acceptable 10-day spots after all, as predicted (yay, Jessica!). It will be interesting to see how many are left when the dust settles next week."

    Did I miss something? Did Jessica get a spot????? That would be terrific news1

  104. It wasn't Prop. 209 that put an end to the use of race in SFUSD assignment -- it was the Ho decision, which eliminated the ethnic caps on school assignment.

    I do perceive a tipping point now that is bringing the middle class back, and that's based on 13-plus years of watching this process closely. Attitudes are changing. I blogged about it yesterday on examiner.com.


    The Richmond District is heavily Chinese, an ethnicity that overwhelmingly tends (overall, on average) to be the highest performing subgroup in SFUSD, and all the schools in the Richmond have APIs over 800 (those listed by Annette plus McCoppin).

  105. Caroline,
    I really liked your blog entry. Maybe Amy could use it to start a new SFKFiles thread,

  106. Yes, the ethnic Chinese population is a confounding factor for many--an ELL population that scores well across income categories. And the Richmond and Sunset Chinese American communities tend to be more middle or upper middle income in any case, and not as much ELL, than those in Chinatown who are more "newly arrived." What all this means is that there are lots of hidden gems over in the Richmond even if Alamo is the one that people know.

    It's true there are more trophy schools in the middle and east side. There are also waaaay more high-poverty, low-performing schools. One of the reasons there are trophy schools, or popular ones, is the strategy of placing immersion programs in some of these schools, which have since come up the ladder. This strategy has largely been implemented on the east/south side of town, because of the high number of high poverty schools--and there remain many, many more.

    All of which is to say that I would question the idea that equitable neighborhood zones could be drawn without some amount of forced busing. And certainly, some amount of assigning middle class parents to schools they would see as dubious.

    The percentage of white participation may not have moved up much in the larger scheme of things, but it is back up above the 10% line for the first time in 2008 after languishing below 10% for several years. I suppose this could be because the percentage of kids in the city who are white has grown slightly at the expense mostly of African American kids, whose population in SF has declined precipitously. Though I'm not sure that the increase in % of white kids in the district connects to school-age population quite yet, since the number of white kids being born in the city has boomed significantly over the past five years. I still say there is an increase in the percentage of middle-class, and white, families applying.

    Anyway, we are talking about small numbers increases overall, in the hundreds really: but if each year's cohort of middle-class white kids in SF is about 3,000, then movement of a few hundred is significant. The perception is out there that middle-class, and also white, families should take a look at public. This was NOT the case 10 years ago.

  107. Nice article, Caroline.

    I've been a SFUSD parent for almost 10 years, and the return of the middle class (and some upper middle-class parents, too) to public schools has been a heartening development.

    And I'm pleased to see that the movement is now being extended to middle and high schools.

  108. Did SpEd parents pay an extra for their individualized education plans? GATE students are entittled to an appropriate and free public education along with other students.

    The idea of public education is to ensure that every child get one. Special ed students need extra resources to get an education. GATE students do not.

  109. ^you clearly have no idea what you are talking about.

    --parent of 2 gate students in sfusd

  110. Note:

    Lowell and SOTA get LESS public funding per student than other schools in San Francisco. And that's the way it should be. They make up the gap with fundraising and volunteerism.

  111. 4:50 PM - You are wrong. Public schools have a duty to educate each child, not just adequately, but according to each child's special needs. Sounds like you have a chip on your shoulder.

  112. Malcolm X Academy? Oh, wow.

  113. 4:50 -- I'm curious why you would not want to spend money on the best and brightest in your society?
    If all of us in our country thought the way you did, this country is doomed for sure. Talk about the brain drain.

    Talk about taking away any incentive to even try harder, or to try to be smart. You're funny.

  114. 5:15 -- I'm envious of you!! I wish my son could be GATE but I can tell from some of the difficulties he had in K that he will not be... oh well. Anyway, that's fantastic.

  115. Getting back on topic, the Green Party has endorsed Sandra Fewer and Barbara Lopez for school board. These are the people who think our children should be forced into schools like John Muir or Malcolm X. Or as their fearless leader Mark Sanchez, president of the BOE says, "I would have rather that people would have wanted diversity in the schools, but they don't. I'm willing to go another avenue to try to get there."

  116. 9:30 - thank you for keeping us posted. Its very confusing with so many candidates. I saw on Caroline's blog there is a list of endorsements and links. I'll have to research more.
    I am definite not interested in being a part of a grand social experiment, but at the same time I understand the need to have schools mixed. But forcing people to do anything against their will never works as attested by history.

  117. Public schools have a duty to educate each child, not just adequately, but according to each child's special needs.

    That sounds like wishful thinking.

  118. I'm curious why you would not want to spend money on the best and brightest in your society?

    Must be because if I'm not GATE, I'm not among them?

  119. 9:54 - so you just want all the resources for yourself?
    Human nature at its best.

  120. <<< Or as their fearless leader Mark Sanchez, president of the BOE says, "I would have rather that people would have wanted diversity in the schools, but they don't. I'm willing to go another avenue to try to get there." >>>

    This quote so disrespects parents, too. It's not that San Francisco parents overall DON'T want diversity -- it's that it may not be their very top priority, over and above a school where they feel their kids will thrive.

    I've seen the name as both Bobbi and Barbara Lopez (that is, the Green Party-endorsed candidate, along with Sandra Fewer). Same person, I gather.

  121. I hope the Bay Guardian endorses a reasonable slate. Their endorsements seem to carry a lot of weight with the young and the childless (i.e., most of the voters in San Francisco.)

  122. Speaking for my own interests as a SOTA parent*, I have always wondered what the Green Party base (the proverbial 27-year-old bass player, single, childless and sharing a loft in the Mission) would think if he/she knew that the Green Party in S.F. wants to crush SOTA, a gay-friendly hippie arts school that's a comfort zone for students who would be misfits and outcasts elsewhere.

    *But those of you with artistic kids may be in my place in not that many years.

  123. I hope the Bay Guardian endorses a reasonable slate. Their endorsements seem to carry a lot of weight with the young and the childless (i.e., most of the voters in San Francisco.)

    From what I gather from candidates, their single litmus test issue on whether to endorse is: does a candidate support JROTC? This is ridiculous and shameful that this is the ONLY issues they seem to care about when there is so much more. They should be educating their readers across the spectrum of issues - but they are NOT.

    No matter where you stand on this issue, shame on the SFBG for being myopic - there is SO much more that our BOE candidates need to be doing, monitoring and championing that this singular issue.

    As a so-called progressive paper, they should be leading the way in demanding more from our city, state and community for our public schools. It'll be interesting to see if they just do navel gazing over their pet issues.

    20 years ago I used to take the SFBG voter reco list to the ballot box with me. No longer. Make sure that you talk to public school PARENTS about what issues matter most and what is needed for our schools.

    Hopefully, I'll be wrong about this. But they SHOULD endorse Rachel Norton, Sandra Fewer and Emily Murase for starters - all current and knowledgeable public school parents.

  124. Tim Redmond, the editor of the SFBG, is a public school parent. Last election he did the interviews with the school board candidate himself (web cast). He should be appealed to directly on expanding the scope of the questioning and issues of concern.

  125. Most of the young, hip childless folks I know in SF (neighbors, child's preschool teachers, friends of friends) simply vote the Guardian's "Clean Slate" especially when it comes to the BOE where they know little or nothing about the candidates. IMO, this is a major reason why the BOS is currently filled with Progressives who are using the BOE as a stepping stone to higher elective office. It's imperative that parents go out and VOTE this November for BOE candidates who will support their kids' best interests. It would also help if we educate as our "child-free" young friends as well.

  126. As I recall though, last BOE election, Tim Redmond didn't even know what a Site Council was, and he had a child in public elementary school. That is a man who is seriously out of touch with his child's education. But, to give him the benefit of the doubt, perhaps by now, he is more seasoned.

  127. Sorry for the question but I am new to this - what is JROTC?
    The question of who votes for the BOE interests me and I wonder if there is any data available? With public school parents not being representative of the electorate, I wonder how many parents are actually voting. I have a large group of non citizen friends with kids in various public schools around the city and they are not allowed to vote for the BOE (which seems incredibly unfair). Anyone know if there is a breakdown (especially by parental status)of the voters? Also, can schools be involved in promoting candidates to parents or do they have to stay neutral/out of the process? thanks.

  128. I imagine that as tax-exept institutions schools, like Churches, cannot promote particular candidates. However they certainly can provide imformation on the candidates to parents and encourage parents to vote.

  129. Slightly off-topic, but Ross Mirkarimi's newsletter (I'm in District 5) just arrived in my e-mail in-box. It says John Muir is fully enrolled and thriving. I must say I'm rather surprised. Does anyone know anything about that?

    Back to the BOE candidates, what's a good place to find out about their platforms and credentials? (Sorry if I have not read prior thread thoroughly enough.) I feel soooo confused and also ashamed as I never paid any attention to this election in the past. I want everyone to have access to good public education, including children with special gifts and talents as well as children with special needs. Shutting down the schools that serve some of the brightest and most talented kids in our city (Lowell, SOTA) would be stark raving mad. (Heck, even my vocally anti-public private is VERY proud to get their 8th graders into Lowell.) You want to expand the successful public schools' models. If you close or reduce the size of top performing schools and try to FORCE those kids into lower-performing schools, you can bet you'll drive parents who care about education, regardless of class or race, into privates, the 'burbs, or other states. Instead you've got to attract education-oriented families to VOLUNTARILY enroll in less-known public schools by doing something to give them hope (start a parent group like Daniel Webster, add an appealing magnet program like language immersion or acquisition, hire a new principal with a strong track record, etc.). Parents and other sane people have got to get active and push all the media in this City to get behind sensible BOE candidates. The whacked-out enrollment system may be beyond redemption for the foreseeable future, but we can reduce the lunatics' control of the asylum by working for for BOE candidates who put quality education for ALL kids ahead of tangential "progressive" agenda. Help me get started! Thanks . . .

  130. Hi Marlowe's Mom - I'm on board. How do we get started?

  131. I and other bloggers will be posting info on candidates' forums and websites as it comes in.

    Re schools and candidates -- public schools are government (state) agencies, so needless to say they can't make endorsements -- think about the implications if they were promoting candidates...

    PPS and PTA are nonprofits, so they can endorse ballot measures but not candidates. Both usually get involved in sponsoring one or more school board candidates' forum; they're big on voter education.

    It is SO frustrating that a big mass of voters who don't know anything about schools and could give a crap can impact a school board election, voting at whim. One mom told me her husband's employee voted last election for three BOE candidates entirely because the person thought it was amusing that their names (first or last) were all Kim. Grrrrr....

    Marlowe's Mom and others who haven't paid attention before, I and practically every other now-passionate BOE politics wonk were inattentive too at some point. It's human nature. I'm still totally hazy about the City College board and other such items.

  132. The JROTC issue gets complicated, because there are many people who are totally anti-Iraq-war, against military recruiting in our schools, but still feel like we have to listen to the high-schoolers who really want this program to remain. One big issue, of course, is that the military is anti-gay -- but locally, JROTC is known as gay-friendly; one JROTC high-school leader is a transgendered youth. Up to now, students could take JROTC for their P.E. credits, and one gay Lowell alum who did that says it was regular P.E. where he got harassed and gay-bashed; JROTC was his refuge from that. So as I say, it's complicated. JROTC is especially popular here with Asian high-schoolers. Here's a commentary in Asian Week by one of them that addresses the issues:


  133. Sandra Fewer is only going to be a "current" public school parent for about another 15 minutes. Her youngest child will graduate this year. Her oldest started back when everyone just automatically got assigned to their neighborhood school. No one ever tried to make her send her kids out of the Richmond district to instead add "diversity" to Cobb or Serra or Muir or Malcolm X, but as a far leftie, you can be sure she will be all for sending your kids there.

  134. Fewer's kids attended the most desirable top schools in the Richmond District, but now she's all for reassigning the students who currently attend those schools to underachieving schools to achieve "equity."

  135. Sheesh, what a hypocrite. I am voting for Jill Wynns and Rachel Norton for sure.

  136. Wynns represents everything that is wrong with SFUSD. A vote for her is a vote for the current system, and the way they have always done things, which does not work.

  137. If they get rid of SOTA, we'll be moving to the suburbs for sure.

  138. They are not going to get rid of SOTA, that is Caroline pumping out her usual hysteria, not based upon fact, but conjecture.
    Mark Sanchez said one thing once about SOTA being so disproportionally white. Mark will not be on the BOE anymore, after November.

    BOE candidate forums
    One is coming up on 9/25 at Lincoln High School. Not sure of the time (probably around 6-8). Stay tuned and I'll post details. League of Women Voters hosts one, too

    Also, PPS and other organizations are sponsoring a candidate forum on Oct. 7th. Not sure of the location but am sure this and others are on their website at www.ppssf.org.

    Get informed, and then write and email and letter to everyone you know telling them of your choices/recommendations. IT IS VERY IMPORTANT THAT NON-PARENTS, PARENTS OF ADULT CHILDREN, RETIREES AND ESPECIALLY POTENTIAL 'FUTURE' PARENTS get an informed perspective.

    Unfortunately, I'm sure almost everyone on this list was a relatively uninformed BOE voter in their past lives (I was!) and then you realize what NOT paying attention gets you.

  140. Concerning JROTC...

    20 years ago, I voted the SFBG slate, too. And JROTC will be their litmus test, unfortunately.

    However, I have become a big supporter of JROTC in our high schools. At Galileo, where my son attends, the JROTC does all the dirty work around campus: cleanup after sporting events, help with fundraising, etc. You ask for help from them, and you get it. The high schools (Lowell, SOTA aside) are starving for volunteers, and JROTC is the only group that gives it.

    JROTC in SF is not like in the South. It is basically a social club for East Asian immigrants. It has openly gay members, believe it or not.

    It is very popular among working-class kids and immigrants. And the School Board would be doing a mighty disservice in shutting it down. I hope the SFBG will take this into consideration when it makes its recommendations.

  141. Oh, GOD, what ISN'T for immigrants?

  142. The Green/Progressive hostility to SOTA is frequently expressed and well known. Green Party activist Kim Knox, who was Mark Sanchez's campaign treasurer and an unsuccessful Board of Ed candidate herself, was outspoken about it in her posts on the Greens' LeftinSF blog. Kim has moved out of town, but the sentiment lives on.

    As I've pointed out and can easily document, Kim used to attend performances at SOTA and Lowell and head-count the ethnicities in the cast, and post her critical observations on LeftinSF, as part of her campaign to demonstrate that SOTA and Lowell offer insufficient social justice.

    It's not just SOTA; the same Green/Progressive viewpoint espouses eliminating Lowell as a magnet school for academic achievers, and dismantling GATE programs as well. All of that is well known and widely discussed.

    Mark Sanchez has also complained about schools that have diverse student populations but insufficient interethnic interaction in the playground, implying some intriguing plan to micromanage children's playground socializing. (That's a little rich considering he teaches at a school -- in Redwood City) that's almost entirely Latino.) It's true that he's leaving the board, but these are pervasive Green/Progressive viewpoints, not just his.

  143. Those who feel that Lowell/SOTA/GATE are elitist and insufficiently representative of the ethnic and socioeconomic diversity of the SFUSD's student population should vote for the Green Party endorsed candidates Bobbi Lopez and Sandra Fewer.

  144. Sure, vote for the green party picks and then get ready to drive your kids to Chavez and Hillcrest and Muir when the social engineers devise a new way to force "diversity" down our throats. Forget touring or listing choices. Just send your kids where the Greens want them to go. These ideologues have been in control of the school board for years, and now finally two of them (Sanchez and Mar) are leaving and trying to step up to Supervisor. Good riddance, I say, and let's not bring any more of them onto the board. Don't vote for Fewer or Lopez.

  145. Okay, there's got to be a better acronym than PROBE "Parents Reclaiming Overgreened Board of Education" but that's the message!

  146. I'm no fan of the whacko BOE members and their weak attempts at social engineering, but to say that there is a big plot to get rid of Lowell, SOTA, and GATE is just absurd.

    Consider the source, people.

    It is the same people who are trying to destroy Norman Yee's reputation with vicious rumors.

  147. I don't know if there is a "big plot" to get rid of SOTA, but it is true that Mark Sanchez supported moving the school from its present easily-accessible location on Portola, where it shares a campus with many district administrative offices, to some empty rooms in a middle school in another less centrally located neighborhood, where the school would not be able to grow or expand, and where there was no suitable performance space for the many productions SOTA puts on each year to citywide acclaim.

    "A particularly contentious issue will be whether to move the School of the Arts, a prestigious high school for budding artists, musicians and writers who must audition to gain admission. Sanchez said SOTA uses only 51 percent of its campus near Twin Peaks, and it was not included on the district's initial list of 19.

    "Sanchez has proposed moving the school, perhaps to empty classrooms in a middle school in the Mission or Excelsior district, in order to allow the district to lease the school's current location for as much as $2 million a year. The idea is unlikely to be popular among SOTA students and staff.

    "We're in a fiscal crisis," Sanchez said. "We have to talk about all options, and this is clearly an option."

  148. Mark Sanchez will be gone in November.

  149. Right on Sanchez. Look at all options. Like shutting down underenrolled bilingual programs. Or cutting some of the hefty administrative expenses that the district carries.

    It scares me that this Sanchez fool could actually be on the BOS but that's SF -- he can join all the other fools on that Board.

  150. Sanchez will be gone in November and so will Eric Mar, but their viewpoint will live on in the two remaining board members who share their philosophy, Maufas and Kim. And Sandra Fewer and Barbara Lopez are in the same camp, so they would mean a majority for that viewpoint. Let's shut down our successful schools in a fruitless pursuit of "social justice."

  151. I know Mark Sanchez (and generally support Norman Yee) and yes, he does not like the way that SOTA and Lowell select kids for their schools. (I personally think he's nuts on this one.)

    Instead of shutting down a good thing (whether it be Lowell, SOTA or JROTC) I have yet to see Mark or the likes of him (i.e. Greens, so-called progressives,etc.) come up with SOLUTIONS to their so-called 'problems'. Instead they tear things down in the name of ideology and never, NEVER create or build up.

    Regarding Lowell/SOTA: instead of ridding SF of two gems, what are they doing to ensure that more kids across the district have access to the teaching, training, etc. to get into these schools? Again, they focus on the wrong things. They aren't, for example, leading the way to attract quality teachers, better accountability, etc. for better academic performance (for Lowell). And they are also not leading the way to enhance the arts in elementary or middle for SOTA (others, not the progs, seem to be taking up the mantel for that.)

    Similarly, the progs have an ideological issue with JROTC (it's military, nationally it's linked to don't ask don't tell, etc.) Yet in SF there are openly gay and transgender youth participating in the program (and very supportive of the program) and hardly anyone joins the military. Instead, it seems to be disproportionately helping kids graduate and get into college.

    So they kill it and have no replacement program for 1500 kids. Shameful.

    As a former self-described progressive, now with 2kids in the public schools, I will no longer label myself as such. I don't see those that call themselves progressive having the ability to seek REAL solutions - only tear down - and they certainly don't honestly consider the needs of ALL children.

  152. 10:47 well said!! I'll vote for you if you run!

  153. On the subject of JROTC, when a bare majority of four board members (Sanchez, Mar, Yee, and Kim) voted in late June to eliminate PE credit for JROTC, it was done after the district budget for 08-09 had already been finished. No money had been budgeted for the 7 extra FTE (full time equivalent) teaching positions now required for the additional PE classes needed at high schools to serve the kids who could no longer get their PE credit through JROTC. Plus, it was too late to lay off the JROTC staff, so this year, the district must pay for both JROTC instructors and also the 7 extra FTE, which will cost more than $350,000 which was NOT accounted for in the approved 08-09 budget. Where will this extra money come from? No one seems to know.

    This is the kind of poor budgeting decision you get when people who neither understand nor care about school finances are allowed to run the show. Parents should keep their eye on the ball here; pay attention to what is going to be proposed as a funding source for these extra FTE positions, and keep in mind that that $350,000 would have gone a long way towards providing a supplies budget for our schools - in fact, it could have provided about $6.36 per student, so if your child is at an elementary school with 250 students, that $350,000 could instead have delivered $1,590 into your budget for supplies.

    Think about it when you cast your vote this November. Do we need 4 more novices on the board with no district budget experience, or do we need board members who understand school finance and the budgeting process? This is why I support Jill Wynns. No matter how many times that serial poster (the one who says, "I am not a serial poster") tries to bash Jill Wynns, or Caroline, or me, the fact remains that Jill is the only member of the current BOE, and the only one of the BOE candidates, with 10 years of experience on the BOE budget committee. She doesn't push ideology at the expense of our children's school resources. Vote for fiscal responsibility, not left wing politics. Vote for Jill Wynns for BOE.

  154. That 350K retirement bonus Jill Wynns gave to Ackerman could have also provided supplies for schools, but Jill Wynns didn't seem to mind that.

  155. Funding aside, what is the difference between Lowell or SOTA and private schools? They all pick and choose their students based on their own criteria...

  156. "Funding aside, what is the difference between Lowell or SOTA and private schools? They all pick and choose their students based on their own criteria..."

    Here's one difference: SOTA and Lowell are FREE and students qualify to go there based on their own abilities, not on the actual or perceived attributes of their families.

  157. ^So true. Lowell is *the* stepping-stone for smart, hard-working, working-class (often immigrant) kids in this town to go on to great colleges and careers. Many upper-middle class kids are also well-served at Lowell, as they should be, but many of them also have options to attend University, Urban, etc. Lowell is a flat-out great option for kids whose families cannot afford the private schools in this town.

    Another option is Lincoln High, whose genetics science class is renowned, and whose current students and recent grads have been working with scientists at UCSF and winning international, collegiate-level contents. I hope folks saw the article about this recently in the Chron. These are not wealthy kids. They are public-school, immigrant kids.

    And SOTA, what a good thing for the kids with an artistic, counter-cultural bent (and talent) who would be stifled in a traditional school environment. Have to say though, it reminds of "Fame"--does that date me? :-)

  158. I stand corrected - the true cost of the 7 extra FTE's needed to teach PE at the high schools with JROTC will cost in excess of $500,000 this year, not $350,000 as I originally believed. That translates to $9.09 per student, or $2,272 extra for supplies for a school with 250 students. Thanks, Commissioners Sanchez, Mar, Yee, and Kim, for voting to kill JROTC, putting your ideology ahead of our kids' classroom needs.

  159. In response to the comment about Ackerman's buyout, it was approved by the majority of the school board (including Norman Yee, also a candidate for re-election) and is common in that field, often as an alternative to head off lawsuits or potentially larger payouts when superintendents leave before their contracts run out. A similar situation just this week happened with just-ousted Superintendent Rudy Crew in Miami.


    Yes, the money could have covered school needs, yet it's the cost of doing business in urban districts. One can definitely argue that that SHOULDN'T be the situation, but it IS the situation -- largely because school districts compete with the private sector for their leaders, of course. That's why the board majority approved the payout.

    The $500,000 cost of the JROTC ouster isn't analogous and was entirely needless.

    2:58 nailed the question about the difference between Lowell and SOTA and private schools. Also, magnet schools with selective admissions are very common in public school districts. The philosophy is that they are designed to meet the needs of a certain type of student -- artistic in SOTA's case, academic high achievers in Lowell's. I met someone from Fresno who said their district has at least one selective magnet elementary school; they also have a Lowell-style high school. NYC (Stuyvesant and others) and Boston (Boston Latin) have the best-known Lowell-like schools that I know of. NYC, Las Vegas, LAUSD and Denver are among the places that have audition-admission arts schools like SOTA. There are those who oppose such schools, as we've discussed here; the question is whether they reflect the sentiments of the greater community and whether they should be on our school board making decisions about our district.

  160. Has this cost issue with killing the JROTC and the lack of funding for the PE credit teachers been made public in the newspaper? This is the first I've heard of it. Maybe I'll forward this post to Nevius, Jill Tucker.
    If information like this gets out to the greater public, it will make people realize they need to scrutinize the BOE candidates before voting.
    Ideology is great (esp if it is along your own lines), but really, the BOE's has fiscal responsibilities also. How many remedial classes could that $500K fund? How many GATE programs? It goes on.
    Just to make a statement about the Iraq war or whatever is ridiculous - we have other avenues that do not affect the education of children in which to make such statements.

  161. SOTA and Lowell are FREE

    Where did you get the idea that school is free? Your special child is funded by my tax dollars.

  162. Also, magnet schools with selective admissions are very common in public school districts. The philosophy is that they are designed to meet the needs of a certain type of student

  163. 9:41 - so what is your point? The roads you drive on are funded by tax dollars, the buses/trains you take are subsidized by tax dollars, heck the toilet water you use to flush is subsidized by tax payers. Unless you have your own septic system.

    And you are dang right those schools are not free -- don't you think the PTA, parents fundraise, contribute their own money because your tax dollars can hardly provide the high quality level of education? Ditto for teachers, many probably use their own funds to pay for classroom supplies etc for the students. If anyone can say the school ain't free, its the parents of those kids who attend those schools.

    Is your problem just with SOTA and Lowell, or with the public school in general. Because you are correct that if you do not have children attending schools, you are probably contributing far more to society/the system than you are getting in return for now (but in the long run its in your best interest that the little rugrats grow up educated so they can fund your social security, not join a gang and perhaps mug you or home invade you or quite a few other terrible things that uneducated and idle youth may do).

  164. Ignore the troll please.

  165. Definition of serial poster:

    Caroline and Dana, posting under their names and as anons ( check the IP addresses for each comment and you know they come from the same computers).

  166. I've already been open about who I am supporting for school board - Jill Wynns and Rachel Norton for sure, Emily Murase and Norman Yee maybe - but another candidate who I find interesting, and who I suspect is not on many people's radar just yet, is Marigrace Cohen.

    She retired last spring from the SFUSD after 3000 years (okay, maybe it was more like 44 years, but anyway a very long time) having been a teacher, a counselor, a site admin, and a central office admin, most recently in the school to career department. She is a lifelong educator, experienced at all levels but particularly with HS students; there is something to be said for having at least some educators on the BOE. With Sanchez (teaches 8th grade) and Mar (college instructor) leaving, only Norman Yee has experience as an aducator, and his is, I believe, primarily preschool.

    Along with the usual claims all of the candidates make about closing the achievement gap, fixing the student assignment process, and being fiscally responsible, Marigrace Cohen supports reinstatement of JROTC and providing more vocational type education for students who choose not to pursue college directly out of high school. This has become kind of a controversial issue in the years since Bill Clinton decreed that all students must go on to college. While no one wants to go back to the days when students were tracked early in life (and sometimes against their will) into either college bound or vocational ed, and while graduates from schools like Balboa HS do go on to college 95% of the time, there still need to be options for those who, for whatever reason, make the choice to enter directly into the working world.

    I met Marigrace Cohen a few months ago through a mutual friend. At the time, she seemed uncertain of whether this BOE run was something she was prepared to do, but she seems to have gained confidence and support since that time, and I hear that at yesterday's District 11 candidates forum, she held her own with everyone else and scored some points with the crowd.

    I am not ready to say that I will vote for her, but she is definitely on my watch list.

  167. I heard that Carlos Garcia fired Marigrace Cohen and she got mad so that is why she decided to run for BOE. Disgruntled fired employee.

  168. I listed to the interview with Marigrace Cohen and felt she was generally knowledgeable and remarkably tactful and composed given inerviewer "Senior Dad"'s periodic rantings about his pet issues. She would probably be a voice of reason on the BOE. OTOH, she isn't very familiar with early childhood education and ES policy, though as she's spent her career teaching or administering HS students.

  169. ""Senior Dad"'s periodic rantings about his pet issues. "

    All the senior people and their pet issues, including Caroline and her pet issues and Dana and her pet issues. Some of us are just trying to find a Kindergarten for our children and are really tired of having to wade through all the old people's tiresome rantings.

  170. Was Marigrace Cohen fired from SFUSD or did she retire?

  171. FWIW, I started a little younger having kids than most of the middle class white people I know (felt very young walking around Noe Valley with a baby when most moms at the time were a good decade older, though I was slightly older than the Latina Mission moms at the time, so go figure?).

    Anyway, at this point it seems I am older in experience and wisdom ;-) when it comes to kids, but younger in age than some of the kindergarten moms I am seeing at morning circle. Just sayin'. Before y'all go calling me old. I'm looking forward to some time in my 40's and 50's without kids, catching up on all the free time to do stuff like travel, things my peers did back in their 20's and even 30's.

  172. In the interview, Marigrace Cohen said that she moved to SF to teach HS in the 1960's and that she was retiring after 40+ years in the district.

  173. Caroline and Dana’s comments are out of line and exactly the kind of politics that turn people off from the process. These are the same dirty tactics that McCain’s campaign is utilizing and shame on you for bringing that kind of negative campaigning into the School Board race.

    If you have an issue with someone’s positions on issues, that’s fine but to go as far as questioning someone’s health crosses the line. Your lies are not going to work.

    The only candidate I have seen campaigning so far is Norman – I saw him at his campaign kickoff this weekend, in the Richmond last week and at the Vis Valley Street Fair yesterday. He sure doesn’t act like someone who has “health problems.”

    For an incumbent who is likely going to get re-elected, Norman is working hard at the grassroots level to let people know that the School Board is making progress. He’s not taking anything for granted which is a LOT more than I can say for Jill Wynns.

    Caroline and Dana – people can see right through your lies.

  174. Dana and Caroline are just two bitter people who have nothing better to do than to spread lies. It is irresponsible of you to suggest that Norman still has “brain injury” from his accident.

    Norman has never identified himself as “moderate” or “progressive”. He has always made his decisions on what is best for the students. Maybe in your one sided world view being more “progressive” is a sign of “brain damage”.

    The rest of us in the real world like that Norman is thoughtful about his responses and his decisions. He has never always been independent and has always been about the issues.

  175. Was that The Mogger posting anonymously again at 3:09?

    I support many of the Green-progressive causes. I like the fact that Aaron Peskin is pushing for a real estate transfer taxes on expensive properties, for example. And the progressives have done wonders in promoting bicycle lanes, in raising the minimum wage, in passing legislation to provide health care for poor people.


    As a parent of two children in the SFUSD, I think their social engineering has been atrocious on the school board. I don't like the way they treated Ms. Ackerman. I'm glad that Mar and Sanchez will be gone come November. We need candidates who are fiscally responsible and focused on education in the most fundamental sense. And, yes, I am a JROTC supporter, because it is tremendously popular among working-class kids and their parents, and the cadets do a lot of good volunteer work in high schools and in the community.

    So, these are my recommendations:

    Jill Wynns
    Rachel Norton
    Emily Murase
    Norman Yee

  176. Frankly I am more likely to trust posters who post using their real names than anonymous posters of innuendo, but that's just me. In any event, I think it's incumbent on all of us to get as much info as we can on those running for BOE as the measures they pass are likely to have a major impact on our kids.

  177. I think the Anonymous posts from people who are complaining about people posting Anonymously are hilarious.

    ?? scratching head ??

    And no, 3:20,
    the 3:09 post wasn't from me, but I agree with 3:09.


  178. I don't know. I was at the first Flynnarado meeting at PPS and the only board candidate there was Rachel Norton. She wasn't there to campaign, just to listen and learn about the issues regarding immersion enrollment. I was impressed. Where were the others?

  179. I imagine the BOE members, particularly those running for reelection to the BOE or election to the BOS, were trying to keep as far away as possible lest they be associated with the proposed "solution" to this debacle.

  180. 4:15 and 4:27, It seems to me that it's long been a practice in some circles to ask "where were the BOE members?" at various events.

    The same Green Party stalwart I mention who used to attend Lowell and SOTA performances, tally the ethnicities (based on her own perception) of the performers, and post breakdowns on the LeftinSF blog also used to comment on attendance at events, selectively choosing the events that the officials and candidates she preferred had been able to attend.

    I think we need to be aware that BOE members have a heavy roster of committee meetings and other sessions related to their (unpaid volunteer) positions, which may well conflict with events and functions.

    Actually, I think that method of assessing board members' commitment would for a period of time have worked unjustly in favor of Jill Wynns (and of course I say this as a supporter of hers), because at one time she was the only BOE member who had neither kids at home nor a day job -- so it was easier for her to get out to events than any of the other BOE members. She now has a full-time job (professional fundraiser for the Jewish National Fund), so that's no longer the case.

    BOE members also are called on to travel on board business, such as to meetings/seminars etc. by such organizations as the California School Boards Assn. and the Council of Urban Boards of Education. So there are many completely valid reasons one might not see a BOE member at an important community event. The BOE members and BOE candidates also have lives too, of course. (When they are parents of younger children, some can afford to pay for more child care than others.) I just wanted to caution that that may not be an infallible basis for judging.

    I think it was during the last mayoral campaign that we used to see candidate "Chicken John" everywhere, and wasn't he sometimes nude? But he was out there at those events!

  181. This wasn't just another community event, though.

    This was a pretty big debacle (sp?) concerning an already contested enrollment system.

  182. 7:01, you're right about its not being just another event.

    But then after I posted, I remembered that at the time (I know this was only a few short weeks ago) I was thinking it should have been addressed at BOE meetings, but it was the board's break (July and part of August). If board members were taking personal vacation time to travel, that would be the time.

    Any of them who were in town certainly should have stepped in and spoken up, offering support to the parents.

  183. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  184. I am Norman Yee’s daughter. I graduated from Lowell High School in 2003. My older sister Chandra, who graduated from Lincoln High in 2000 is now a kindergarten teacher at Guadalupe.

    I was notified about this blog recently and was appalled to read these posts.

    I would like to request that personal attacks on all candidates, particularly those on my father for alleged “mental incapacities” come to an end.

    Norman has always been open about sharing his positions on issues and explaining his votes. Please visit normanyee.com to learn more about him, or e-mail him directly at normanyeesf@yahoo.com. He has an open door policy to all parents and stakeholders. I encourage you to do the same for all the candidates you are interested in learning more about.

    As for Ms. Dana and Ms. Caroline, you are clearly not Norman’s wife or Norman’s family, so please refrain from making inappropriate judgements starting with, “If he were my husband...” My father’s accident was very difficult time for the entire Yee family. We are so proud of his recovery and his dedication to San Francisco’s children and families.

    Thank you for your understanding and I hope that you continue to use this forum as a positive place to learn more about the Board of Education race or potential kindergartens for your children.

  185. I looked through the posts, and I don't think anyone mentioned "mental incapacities" or said "if he were my husband..."

  186. 7:03am -- It seems fair that Caroline should be allowed to followup on her initial post.

    Seems to me if you do not like what she has to say, then just do not read it. Exasperated comments like yours just fuels negativity, and not constructive dialogue. I understand you may be exasperated and annoyed with her posts but then you have a choice not to read them.

  187. to 9:30 am:

    Dana said this in a post above, on September 9, 4:34 pm:

    "If he were my husband, I would absolutely insist that he step down, but I assume since he is running again, he feels up to the job."

  188. Reminds me of this story, about Winston Churchill:

    Lady Astor to Winston Churchill: "If you were my husband I'd give you poison."

    Churchill to Lady Astor: "If you were my wife, I'd drink it."

  189. Yes, I did say exactly what the anonymous 10:25 am poster quoted. I stand by that comment. I never at any time said that there was mental impairment or, as another anonymous repeatedly insists, that Norman Yee suffers from brain damage.

    Ms Yee, I am sorry if reading this blog has caused you any pain, but your father, as an elected official, is a public figure and the citizens of San Francisco have every right to discuss how he does his job, including whether or not he appears to be fully recovered from his tragic accident. As a private citizen, your father would be entitled to insist that the state of his recovery is no one's business but his own, but as a public figure he has no such right.

  190. I had the pleasure of meeting and speaking with Mr. Yee at the Flunk the Budget rally last spring 2 YEARS AFTER his accident. Not only was He charming and completely accessible he is also quite handsome.
    (I know immaterial , but one must get ones married lady thrills where one can.) Caroline and Dana your remarks are worthy of the McCain campaign. Until the BOE requires it's members to pass a physical before serving I suggest you keep your political smears to yourselves. Newbie SFUSD parents BEWARE the Caroline& Dana posts and do your research!

  191. A forum sponsored by supervisors Sean Elsbernd and Carmen Chu:

    To Hear From The Candidates
    Running For School Board

    Thursday, September 25th
    Lincoln High School Auditorium
    2162 24th Avenue @Quintara
    6:30-8:30 p.m.

  192. For those who believe that BOE candidates should send their kids to public school, you should be aware that Rachel Norton is putting her kid in private school. Feel free to fact check - right now it's hearsay but this could be important enough to base your vote on if it turns out to be true.

  193. 2:25

    get your facts straight and quit spreading lies.

    Rachel has two children, both have always attended public schools, until this year she made a tough decision and put one of her kids, who has autism, in a private school, because it was what her kid needed. She made a statement about it on her website.


  194. I heard that Rachel Norton has one kid in private school because of special needs (a private school tailored to particular needs) and one in public.

    Norton's apparent aim to please everybody, from JROTC supporters to progressives, is a bit worrisome (will be be able to make the proverbial "tough decisions" when someone -- maybe a lot of someones -- are gonna be pissed?), but she doesn't deserve flack for her school choices.

  195. Charming, accessible and handsome are not qualifications for serving on the school board. Norman Yee was co-author (with Jane Kim) of a resolution that will not only destroy the JROTC program that was so popular with low income students of color, but which will also punch a half million dollar hole in the district budget.

    JROTC teaches students leadership skills, civic responsibility and discipline. The San Francisco JROTC emphasizes the benefits of higher education, which results in 98% of JROTC students continuing on to college. JROTC regulations do not allow instructors or others to recruit students into the military.

    JROTC students and instructors reflect the racial, gender, and sexual (orientation) diversity of San Francisco - 90% are minority, 40% are female, and openly LBGT participants are embraced in the program.

    In the seven high schools with a JROTC program, it has the support of every principal, every Parent Teacher Student Association (PTSA), and over 85% of the students (JROTC and non JROTC.)

    "Insensitive to students' wishes", and "fiscally irresponsible" apply to Norman Yee too, and they are a lot more relevant than his charm factor.

  196. here's Caroline quoted on Yee:

    though (I feel sad saying this) he has seemed very distant and out of touch since he had a bad traffic accident some times ago.

    I raised health concerns, not per se concerns about competence, and I think Dana did too. It's a delicate issue and I'm not that comfortable going into more detail.

    It's a genuine concern; it's a delicate situation. I'm really not willing to discuss further details publicly. I e-mailed you privately.

  197. 2:25, 2;29 and 2:31 are posted by the same troll.

    It's amazing how low some people sink.

  198. 2:36 PM - How do you know this?