Our schools face many challenges–chief among them are inadequate funding and perennial budget cuts, as well as achievement/opportunity gaps between different schools and groups of students, and I’ve worked hard since being elected to address these problems.
In recent years, the state of California has utterly failed to provide adequate funding to our schools. I am not proud that I have been forced to support awful cuts, including forced closure days and increases in class sizes. In all, since I took office in early 2009, the district’s unrestricted general fund has shrunk by about 25 percent. However, I am grateful that SFUSD has been able to use the Rainy Day Fund, the PEEF (Public Education Enrichment Fund, also known as “Prop. H funding”) and other voter-approved funding to stay in the black and independent of state control — according the the California Department of Education, a record number of districts are now in danger of going bankrupt and losing local control, due to the budget crisis. Though the cuts have been terrible, I’m also glad that student achievement overall has continued to rise (though I believe students would have made more and faster progress had the budget not been so constrained).
I’ve also worked hard on other issues: addressing resource and opportunity gaps between groups of students and individual schools; overhauling special education (special ed is a key interest of mine because I have a child with special needs); and evaluating major changes in the district’s student assignment system (probably the single most common issue constituents want to discuss).
Here are my positions on key issues facing San Francisco schools:
- Achievement/Opportunity Gaps
- Seniority and layoffs: the “skip vote”
- Budget Oversight and Priorities
- Student Assignment
- Student Nutrition
- Special Education
On occasion, I also take positions on issues/ballot measures that are not directly education-related but which affect children and families: