About Rachel

Rachel Norton has served on the Board of Education since January 2009, and served as Vice President and then President of the Board in 2012 and 2013.  She has served as a member of  the California School Boards Association’s Delegate Assembly since May 2009, and was appointed to the organization’s Legislative Committee in January 2012. At various times during her tenure on the Board, she has chaired the Rules, Curriculum, Budget and Student Assignment committees.

Previously, Rachel served as co-chair of the Site Council at Argonne Year-Round Elementary School and as a classroom volunteer. She served on the SFUSD Community Advisory Committee for Special Education between 2005 and 2008, and has been an active member of Parents for Public Schools – San Francisco (PPS-SF) since 2001. She has also volunteered for the Autism Speaks Bay Area Advocacy Committee, which is working to secure health insurance coverage for kids with autism. In June 2008, she graduated from the Emerge California program, which helps Democratic women gain the political skills they need to run for public office.

An editor and writer, Rachel has worked at The New York Times, Reuters, and CNET:The Computer Network. In 1996, she created the Visual Journalism course at U.C. Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism, which she co-taught for two semesters. Between 2007 and 2008 she worked as the part-time Editorial Director for FORA.tv in San Francisco and has done paid writing, editing and consulting for PPS-SF. She is currently the Director of Policy and Communications at the San Francisco Parks Alliance, a nonprofit that seeks to inspire and promote civic engagement and philanthropy to protect, sustain and enrich San Francisco parks, recreation and green open spaces.

A product of California public schools, Rachel was born and raised in Berkeley, Calif., and graduated from Berkeley High School. She has a degree in English from Barnard College and is married to Tim Norton. They rent an apartment in the Richmond district and enjoy the rich experience of raising their two teens in an urban environment.

5 responses to “About Rachel

  1. Hey Rachel,

    You should link this to your website as well. Story plus video:

    http://abclocal.go.com/kgo/story?section=news/local&id=6013884

  2. florence chamberlin

    Congratulations Rachel – Wish you we had access someone like you here in Miami

  3. Thank you! Regarding GATE, I agree with you – there is really not much going on at the elementary school level. There are a couple of really dynamic PPS members who are engaging with the SFUSD GATE coordinator on these issues and if you email me privately I can put you in touch with them. What I would love to see is a plan put together for how we could improve our ES offerings for high-potential students, and then perhaps go to the Prop H money next year to fund a pilot or modest district-wide project. Of course money is part of the problem — but another piece is that there hasn’t (to my knowledge) been a lot of thinking done about what an elementary-level program for gifted students should look like. That planning has to come first before we look at more funding.

    On the science question, I have been very impressed with the new K-5 FOSS curriculum the district has implemented this year. It is very hands-on and very comprehensive. Every elementary school should have implemented this curriculum this year, so if you are not seeing it at your school yet, talk to your principal. I think it has been fairly intense for the teachers to absorb and fully digest, so we may not see the full benefits of the new curriculum until next year.

  4. Rachel,
    I have enjoyed reading your informed and well-articulated arguments on sfschools and am happy to see that you are a candidate for BOE. I have a few questions for you. I was wondering how you view GATE. IMO, the GATE program seems woefully underfunded and practically nonexistant in SFUSD ESs. Is this an area where you think there should be additional resources, or should the priority continue to be on the bringing the lowest-performing students up to minimum standards? Also, as a scientist, I am concerned that our students’ exposure science (in addition to art, music, P.E. and social studies) is inadequate due to the emphasis on math and reading in the days since NCLB. Is this something you would like to change?

  5. Rachel, it’s all the way. You are so qualified to be a SFUSD School Board Member. Your experience and knowledge of matters is abounding, and your ability to get things done is impressive.
    I have taught in this district for 35 plus years and have not met anyone I would put my trust in until I had the privilege of meeting you.
    You have my support all the way.
    Nancy

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