Newsletter 3/27/24: Literacy Update Message to Community

Weekly updates from SF Parents

A special message to our community



Three years ago in March 2021, we were celebrating together the win of finally get schools back open in San Francisco. After the longest pandemic school closures of any major urban city, parents, teachers, community members showed up day after day for a year–whether via Zoom or in-person rallies and demonstrationsand finally achieved this victory for kids.


The former superintendent called us “heroes for our city’s children.” 


It was a year and a half before SF Parents would launch another full-scale campaign, Literacy For All, in the fall of 2022. 


Two dozen parent and teacher advocates built our campaign after organizing research meetings, dissecting data, and working to understand what kept so many of our SFUSD students from achieving grade-level milestones in reading. We connected with SFUSD’s Department of Curriculum and Instruction via open meetings to our parent community, we brought in nationally renowned literacy researchers, and we studied what other districts around the nation were doing to improve student reading scores.


We finally settled on three main culprits at SFUSD that were holding our students back:

  1. a decentralized system with “a thousand flowers blooming” (some SFUSD kids were getting excellent instruction and materials access, but not others),

  2. an outdated, ineffective literacy curriculum (Lucy Calkins), and

  3. an assessment tool (“F&P”) that was supposed to tell teachers how their students were progressing, but in fact, left too many in the dark.


Following a long and intentional research period, SF Parent Coalition spent these last two years advocating for changes to all three of these culprits. And this week, we see the fruits of your advocacy efforts: All three will finally be addressed.


Last night at the Board of Education meeting, SFUSD announced (and the BOE approved) the new literacy curricula coming to our schools and classrooms this fall: PK & TK: Creative Curriculum; Grades K – 5: Into Reading; Grades 6 – 8: EL Education.


SFUSD shared how these programs will be better for kids and will close the gap in reading outcomes. They described the professional development and training for teachers to make this transition smooth and supportive. They adopted an Each and Every By Name initiative to double the percentage of Black and Pacific Islander kindergarteners meeting grade-level milestones. They presented data-driven strategies that will be implemented centrally and in partnership with schools. Kudos, SFUSD.


Dr. Priestly and Commissioner Alexander even referenced and appreciated SF Parent Coalition for parents’ hard work, research, and recommendations. This is well-deserved public recognition of the hard work you’ve been putting into this advocacy for years now, SF Parents community.


Pausing for a moment of celebration here… To every parent and teacher who showed up over the last three years, spoke about their concerns, attended a meeting or literacy event to learn more, or activated on this issue: CONGRATULATIONS on the impact you’ve now had for SFUSD’s current and future students. Literacy is fundamentally a social justice issue, one that shapes kids futures right from the very start. SFUSD must do better, and now, thanks to your efforts, it will.


Let us also be real: this is a monumental shift for SFUSD. For any district taking on curriculum adoption, this undertaking would require all hands on deck even during a “normal” time. For SFUSD, it is coming at a time when we are also making huge changes to middle school math, evaluating an overhaul to early math, streamlining high school offerings, replacing a faulty payroll system, improving HR practices, and moving towards potential school closures.


We’re recognizing how much change the district is trying to do to make things better for SF’s kids. And, when you’re trying to turn a cargo ship that’s been heading in the wrong direction, you can expect change to be hard. Our 50,000 public school kids are relying on all of us to get this right, to be patient with the changes as they unfold, and for all of us to keep rowing in the same direction.


Though we are celebrating today, and you should too, it doesn’t stop here. Our community will continue holding SFUSD accountable. We are still looking for:

  1. A clear roadmap and plan (beyond a 3-page overview) that demonstrates SFUSD is prioritizing this massive literacy undertaking and understands what it will take (including the price tag and ongoing progress monitoring) of doing it well. 

  2. Assurances that SFUSD will identify each and every child *not* meeting grade-level reading milestones in reading, will support them with research-backed high-dosage tutoring and interventions, and will centrally align with any outside service providers to schools.

  3. Assurances that teachers and school leaders are receiving regular, effective communication and information that articulates the details of the rollout, and that teachers are receiving appropriate support, including compensated PD time.


Parents continue to be the greatest untapped resource to keep SFUSD on track. We will continue to hold SFUSD accountable to following through on its promises. To those of you who regularly come out for SF Parents events and happenings, thank you for continuing to show up. And to those of you who quietly follow along, we have enormous appreciation for you, too. An informed community is one that will act, spread the word, (and vote!) on behalf of kids.


Finally, a special appreciation to our funders, both grassroots and institutional: this is all possible because of you. Thank you for seeing the value in our work, and for making our collective vision for public school kids become reality.


We welcome everyone reading this to get more involved, join us at our next event, and learn about ways you can contribute to the ongoing positive impact that parents, teachers, and community are having for SF’s public school kids.


In community,

Meredith Dodson

Executive Director, SF Parent Coalition

Welcome to all of the new SFUSD families! 🎉


Just accepted your SFUSD school placement? Congratulations!! You chose wisely. SF parents love SF public schools, and you can read more about why we love our SF public schools in this just published piece in EdSource from SFUSD mom, K-12 education expert, and SF Parents Board Chair, Jennie Herriot-Hatfield. Jennie’s commentary includes several quotes from elementary, middle, and high school parents at SFUSD, and describes what we love about our schools. 


We also know many of you did not receive one of your top choices at SFUSD, and the process remains stressful. We understand that feeling, as many of us have been there before. If you still have remaining questions, email [email protected] to access the recording of our Lunch & Learn on Round 2.

Fixing the budget is hard. But we’re in this together.


In early March, SFUSD presented an interim budget update. Let’s just say, things aren’t looking rosy. State budget issues could hit CA public schools hard, and with SFUSD already facing a $421M deficit (1/3 of our budget!) by 2026, this is troubling. SFUSD is still relying on one-time sources of funding to plug its deficit, which is not sustainable. SFUSD will likely see more layoffs and continues to be at risk of heavier state involvement. A small silver lining: We are finally seeing honest reporting and decision-making by SFUSD leadership. (Do you remember the 2020-2022 days when the Budget Department was recommending cuts in order to rightsize the ship, but those at the helm avoided the hard decisions?)


YOUR THOUGHTS: We recently asked for your thoughts on what parents need from us, how we can help. This is what you told us:

  • You want transparency and answers from SFUSD budget central office on some of the most pressing changes affecting school budgets for the 2024-25 school year. 
  • You want to see an SF Parents campaign that focuses on keeping budget cuts farthest from students–minimizing negative impacts to our most vulnerable students–and on ensuring a baseline of excellence across all of our schools.

TAKE ACTION! What we (including you) can do next:

  • Attend a budget town hall. Over the next few weeks the district is hosting town halls and community listening sessions, both in-person and online. You can find more information here.
  • Co-create our budget campaign. We’ve been meeting with families since September to discuss potential budget campaign ideas, such as replicating the Opportunity Ticket campaign from Oakland. We are knee deep in co-creation mode — please share your ideas! RSVP for our Budget Office Hours with Giovanna — email [email protected] for details.


Parent Events Corner

Don’t miss these upcoming opportunities and events!

  • Thursday, March 28th, at 12pm via Zoom: Vote16 representatives present to our HS Workgroup about an initiative that would allow youth (at least 16 years) to vote on local candidates (Board of Ed and City College) and local ballot measures. More details and RSVP
  • Saturday March 30th, 1-3 PM in Duboce Park: Eggstravanza with your friends at SF Parent Coalition and SF YIMBY! Bring the kids, come hunt for (at 1:15) and decorate some eggs! RSVP
  • Wednesday, April 24th, 7-9 PM at Standard Deviant in the Mission: Parents Night Out! Light bites, mingling with other parents, unwind! And if you desire, chat up the representatives joining us from SFUSD with your budget questions! RSVP
  • Anytime: Sign up to be a Bay-to-Breakers volunteer to further spread the love for our I 💙 my SF Public Schools Campaign! Learn more and sign up
  • Anytime: Add your name to AB 2222 (evidence-based literacy instruction), supported by SF Parent Coalition among many other education advocacy organizations across CA! Extra credit: RSVP for Day at the Capitol in Sacramento (April 10th) and testify about the importance of this bill.





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SF Parent Coalition is a 501c3 nonprofit that centers the needs of children and youth in San Francisco public schools by bringing together a diverse network of parents and caregivers to advocate for a thriving, equitable school system.

Join as a member, volunteer, or donate to support our work! 


SF Parent Action is our affiliate 501c4 organization that empowers public school parents in San Francisco to advocate for policy change and local candidates who support public school families and students. 

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