Newsletter June 23, 2022

Weekly updates from SF Parents

SFUSD & Board Updates

In just over a week, a new superintendent, Dr. Matt Wayne, will take the helm of our district. What will he need to get up to speed on? What should you know right now, as an important SFUSD family advocate? Here’s what’s been happening this month at SFUSD:

 

New attention to SFUSD’s entire portfolio of high school offerings, Lowell High School included

Last night (Thursday, 6/22), the SFUSD Board of Education (“BOE”) landed another historic vote on Lowell High School, this time reversing the lottery admissions decision back to merit-based. The meeting was not boring. With passionate arguments on both sides, there was no way for the Board to satisfy everyone advocating on Lowell admissions policy. With a 4-3 vote supported by Lam, Motamedi, Hsu, and Weissman-Ward, Lowell’s admissions returned to the three-band merit system for the 2023-24 school year.

 

The BOE also unanimously approved an important resolution to create a task force that will consider community-informed recommendations to improve SFUSD’s entire portfolio of high schools. The task force will “examine admissions policies for both selective admissions and comprehensive high schools with a focus on how to best elevate the quality of education and improve outcomes for all students.” We’re not sure why it took so long for this sensible resolution to be put forward, but as we remember too well, the previous Board of Education was focused on, well, other things.

 

A focus on “student-outcomes governance” moved forward by President Lam

Could it be possible that our School Board is truly moving into hyper-good-governance mode? This month, President Jenny Lam introduced a resolution to temporarily pause committee meetings while the board gets re-focused on it’s #1 job: educating kids. Will parents miss the extra meetings? Probably not. Though some families have expressed concerns about how this limits the opportunity for community input, the intent of this resolution is positive and we’re and eager to keep a close watch on if it helps achieve its goal, allowing the Board to devote more of its “time and attention to creating the conditions to improve student outcomes.” A School Board focused on student outcomes sounds pretty good to us.

 

Budget Explainer from SFParents: “Pink Slips”

Earlier this spring, parents across the city were horrified to learn that over 400 teachers and administrators received “pink slips,” or, potential layoff notices. SFUSD provided an update on the situation in May: the vast majority of our teachers and staff did not receive final layoff notices. Phew! But why does this happen and is there anything we can do to prevent it?

>> Read our SFParents Explainer on “pink slips”

 

 

What’s going on with MATH and our students?!

At this month’s curriculum committee we got an update from the district on student outcomes in math, and it wasn’t great news. For example, not only is the number of SFUSD students taking AP calculus declining, but so is the pass rate– across all racial/ethnic student groups. Could it be time to revert to the old math ways? We’re not math experts, but these STEM professors think so

 

Graph above: Reformatted SFUSD data for clarity, produced by SFUSD parent, Elizabeth Kelly @BethKellySF on Twitter. Illustrates a decline in tests taken and tests passed by our SFUSD students, across racial/ethnic groups, since the controversial change in math curriculum:

Don’t miss this important 3-minute action!

Shared Schoolyards at risk of losing funding from the city budget.

Please take 3 minutes today to save the Shared Schoolyards program. In the last year, the Shared Schoolyard Program has provided free outdoor programming to more than 2,600 children, opened 36 acres of play space to San Francisco residents, and provided access to 24 playgrounds for our children. More than two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, our children need us to support their well-being more than ever. The Shared Schoolyard Program is a low-cost way to expand access to outdoor play space for children across the city, including in Equity Zones (30% of yards are in Equity Zones).

 

Yesterday, the Board of SF Parent Coalition sent a letter to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and Mayor London Breed urging the City to continue to fund this important program for our city’s families and children. What can you do to help?

  1. Take 3 minutes to email your city supervisor today,
  2. Forward your email to 10 friends and ask them to do the same, and,
  3. Call in to make public comment tomorrow, Friday 6/24 at 10 AM at the Board of Supervisors Budget Hearing. Urge them to fully fund Shared Schoolyards for our city’s children.

Ronen’s Student Success Fund Charter Amendment

 

Proposed charter amendment could bring $70M/year to SFUSD students

For the past three weeks since we learned of Supervisor Ronen’s Student Success Fund charter amendment, we’ve been poring over the details, meeting with education policy analysts to answer questions, like: is this great for students?!, and most importantly, meeting with you, SFUSD families, to hear your reactions and questions.

 

Find a summary of our current understanding of the proposal and many of your questions, here.

 

The TL;DR: We’re thrilled there’s so much money on the table in this proposal to support our city’s students, particularly those with the greatest needs. We also have many questions and parent recommendations for how to improve the proposal to be more equitable, aligned, and coherent in order to truly serve our city’s students and achieve the student success goal indicated by the proposal.

 

We’ve spoken with supervisors–including the main author, Supervisor Ronen, commissioners, the Mayor’s office, SFUSD, and most importantly: families. Our initial advocacy appears successful, with many of the parent questions we’ve lifted up now being incorporated into language revisions. Two remaining concerns we have about both process and content:

 

1) Only two of seven school board commissioners (Alexander and Boggess) were involved with drafting the charter amendment proposal. Among those who appear to not have been “at the table” and who have not yet weighed in publicly: the other five commissioners and the new superintendent Dr. Wayne. We also learned that the San Francisco Youth Commission was not consulted during the proposal drafting.

 

2) As revisions are made, it’s important to see this proposal stay away from overly prescriptive language. If there’s anything parents know about education it is that there is no single bullet that leads to success for kids. We hope to see language remaining flexible enough–particularly for a 25-year city charter amendment– allowing schools, *families,* SFUSD, and the City to work together to determine how to best identify and serve the needs of our students over time.

 

We’re looking forward to seeing Draft 2 of the Student Success Fund proposal and are hopeful that it will get to a place where we’ll be signing on along with Supervisor Ronen, UESF, and other authors. SFParents, keep us posted with what you think about it. Our inbox is open, at hello@sfparents.org

 

 

SF Parent Coalition 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.

 

Our sister organization, SF Parent Action, advocates for policies and elected officials who put the needs of San Francisco’s public school students first. Don’t miss out on important updates on that work and what you need to know!

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