Parent Advocacy Updates, Newsletter Feb 1, 2023

Weekly updates from SF Parents
Dear Parents and Supporters,

It’s February and the start of Black History Month! We feel lucky to have a school district that recognizes rather than bans from the classroom the true history of Black Americans. Especially in light of the recent horrific brutality with Tyre Nichols’s fatal encounter with the police, we’re holding close and lifting up SFUSD’s Black students and families in this moment. 


This is also a time to remember how far we still have to go to close our opportunity gap at SFUSD, which has only and unfortunately widened in the last few years.


It is timely that we’re also this month recognizing two Black (one Black/Latina) Board of Education Commissioners for their new officer roles: Kevine Boggess as President and Lisa Weissman-Ward as Vice President. We know they were both intricately involved in developing the new Vision, Values, Goals and Guardrails plan for SFUSD that was spearheaded by Jenny Lam, and now all attention turns to Boggess and Weissman-Ward to continue the process of implementing and monitoring this crucial outcomes-focused plan. SF Parent Coalition plans to deepen our relationship with both of them, holding them accountable to the student-centered board leadership that will keep SFUSD headed in the right direction.


Why parent organizing matters.

Parents started the year a bit blindsided by backroom lobbying for an officers change on the Board of Education, one that came at an untimely moment for SFUSD. 


Parents recognized it was wrong to force a fourth leadership change in our district at this moment. Many of you showed up and spoke out. Over 150 parents emailed the Board and Superintendent in support of stability for our schools. Over 50 public comments were made by parents and students, many in person at the public meetings, in support of stability and focus.


Ultimately, we couldn’t stop the momentum of the change that had already begun, but parents DID succeed in pushing back on the adult politicking by clearing the way for an incredible public school mom—Lisa Weissman-Ward—to advance into one of the officer roles. SF Parent Coalition continues to remind SFUSD and the Board of Education of the importance of parent voice, and that current parents (including moms!) should be in leadership roles with our district. Also, we continue to challenge the notion that any commissioner is entitled to be rotated into a leadership role, and encourage the Board to develop a more thoughtful process for considering future nominations and potential qualifications/disqualifications.

In short, YOUR advocacy had an impact, once again. This is a moment to celebrate the impact parents and supporters are (still) having by advocating for equitable and thriving schools. It matters! Thank you.


This month and Lunar New Year, SF Parent Coalition is taking a moment to honor mom, education advocate, AAPI leader, and Champion for Kids: Jenny Lam! Jenny Lam’s presidency was cut too short, especially given the phenomenal work she did to stabilize and focus SFUSD on its students. In her 10 short but incredible months as SFUSD Board of Education President, Jenny Lam:

  • “Made the BoE boring again,” bringing SFUSD’s focus back to student outcomes and good governance.
  • Pushed for universal screening and early interventions for reading delays and dyslexia.
  • Worked with community, SFUSD staff, and other stakeholders in shaping the district’s vision, values, goals, and—a first for the Board—guardrails for commissioners.
  • Brought in training for commissioners on best practices and improved governance to promote accountability around student outcomes. 
  • Prior to presidency, and during extended school closures, was the only commissioner who prioritized the conversation to return students to full-time, 5-days-per-week, in-person schooling, championing the resolution “5 full days by fall.”

We recognize Commissioner Lam for her excellence and focus on accountability, transparency, and student outcomes, and we honor her as a true Champion for Kids! Thank you for all that you do for SFUSD’s 50,000 students, Commissioner Jenny Lam. 🙏

Literacy for All Campaign Update:


CLOCK IS TICKING: SFUSD promised to release the second half of TNTP’s literacy audit of our curriculum and instruction program in December. Then it promised January. Crickets. Oops, it’s now February! The audit has been in SFUSD’s hands since the summer.


SOME PROGRESS, SOME CONCERNS WITH PILOT SELECTION: The district’s work to select and implement a new K-5 literacy curriculum adoption is making progress — which is great news. At the same time, we currently have some concerns:


A curriculum review committee made up of parents, educators, and community members recently selected two curricula for the district to pilot: Benchmark Advance and Into Reading. It is commendable that SFUSD designed an inclusive process for reviewing curricula. However, we are also left wondering about a disconnect and what happened here: the process ultimately led to the selection of two curricula that district leaders previously rated poorly. For example, SFUSD academic leaders said Benchmark Advance did not meet their criteria for high-quality curriculum, and Into Reading only partially met their criteria. The only curriculum that met their criteria, EL Education, was eliminated from consideration after a plurality of the community committee voted for Benchmark or Into Reading as their top choice.


We are curious about what’s going on here and will continue to keep you posted. One thing we learned: some of our parents who served on the ELA committee described the process as overwhelming and that they didn’t feel they had enough training on a very complicated rubric to be able to appropriately provide input. This is concerning and we’re further exploring what’s going on. In the meantime, if you are interested in joining our active Literacy For All Campaign efforts, please contact Tomio ([email protected]).


Other Updates:


We want YOU for our Board Bootcamp!

Have you ever thought that YOU might make an excellent Board of Education Commissioner?! Enroll in the new Board Bootcamp pilot run by our sister arm, SF Parent Action! It’s a 5-session program that emphasizes what you need to know about what it takes to effectively serve on and run for the Board of Education. APPLY HERE BY THIS FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 3RD.

Application form is short and sweet!


RSVP for our February parent meeting:

Everything you need to know about school site budgeting.

Have you noticed at your school? School planning and budgeting is underway! Ever wonder how your school site priorities get folded into the overall district budget? Join us on February 16th, at 12pm over Zoom to learn best practices from other parents who have served on their School Site Council. We’ll also hear from special guest, LCAP Coordinator Tim Burke, on how you can get your concerns heard at the district level and influence our district’s budget decisions. RSVP HERE 📆 


Did you know? Our schools could get million$ in facilities upgrades.

On Thursday, January 26th, at our last monthly parent meeting, we heard from SFUSD Facilities Department Head, Dawn Kamalanathan, about an exciting new potential bond measure for 2024 that could bring millions for facilities improvements to our schools. This was the first of many conversations her team will hold to get feedback on their plans. Curious to see where your kid’s school falls within the list of repairs and renovations needed? Find out here.


📢 ACTION ITEM: The first opportunity for parents to get heard by the Board of Education on this topic is March 7th meeting. What do you think? How about we focus on the nuts & bolts–heating, ventilation, electrical, school site safety? No school facility should be deteriorating. Let’s keep SFUSD boring and commit at a basic level: NO school site should be in the red!


High School Task Force Listening Sessions.

The SFUSD High School Task Force is hosting a series of community listening sessions this month, to hear from families about what you want to see in our high schools. The first session is this Saturday, Feb 4th 9am–12pm at Presidio Middle School (450 30th Ave.). Let’s make sure every high school student at SFUSD can access the opportunities and instruction that supports their learning so that they graduate career-and-college ready.


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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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