SF Green Party School Board Endorsement Questionnaire 2016
Due Date: Wednesday, August 31
Candidate Name: Matt Haney
Phone Number: 4156069940
Web site: matthaney.com
Name of Campaign Manager: Shwetika Baijal
Signed voluntary spending limit?: No
Campaign Manager: Shwetika Baijal: (925) 207-6632, firstname.lastname@example.org
Major Endorsements: SF Labor Council
United Educators of San Francisco
San Francisco Tenants Union
San Francisco Labor Council
San Francisco Democratic Party
Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club
San Francisco Young Democrats
Richmond District Democratic Club
SF League of Pissed Off Voters
Attorney General Kamala Harris
State Senator Mark Leno
Public Defender Jeff Adachi
DA George Gascon
Former Assemblymember Tom Ammiano
Assemblymember Phil Ting
Assemblymember David Chiu
Supervisor Jane Kim
Supervisor Aaron Peskin
Supervisor John Avalos
Supervisor Norman Yee
Supervisor David Campos
Supervisor Eric Mar
Board of Education Vice-President Shamann Walton
Board of Education Commissioner Sandra Lee Fewer
Board of Education Commissioner Emily Murase
Board of Education Commissioner Rachel Norton
Board of Education Commissioner Jill Wynns
Board of Education Commissioner Hydra Mendoza McDonnell
Favorite Incumbent School Board Member: I work well with all of them.
1. How are you currently involved in the SFUSD -- or how were you
involved in the past?
I have been a member of the San Francisco School Board for the past four years and was recently elected as the San Francisco School Board President.
2. Why are you running for school board?
Over the past four years serving on the Board of Education, I've visited all 113 of our elementary, middle and high schools here in San Francisco Unified School District - partnering with students, parents, and educators to fight for a school system in which all of our children can fulfill their potential and pursue their dreams.
From authoring the landmark "Safe and Supportive Schools" policy which helped cut school suspensions by 50% to extending computer science education to all students and all schools, from securing funding and support for the country's first LGBT Studies course to helping raise the graduation rate to its highest level ever, we have made tremendous progress together. I have worked to make our schools more supportive, healthy and equitable, to enhance relevant and engaging 21st century learning opportunities, to build a healthy, sustainable, student centered school district, and to support and empower our educators, students, and families.
All that I have seen and learned has only deepened my commitment to our schools and students. I still believe that San Francisco can and should do a better job of providing opportunity to all of our children. There is so much potential and prosperity in this city - our future should be one in which San Francisco's young people are not just included in it, but leading it.
I hope to have the opportunity to continue serving our city and students, at this critical time of transition for our school district, as we seek a new Superintendent and continue the progress and momentum that we have seen in recent years.
3. How do you feel about the current school assignment system?
Would you make changes, and if so, which ones?
Our student assignment system continues to create challenges for many families, and I believe it is time that we look closely at making some changes to it: to help create more certainty and predictability for families, and also to better serve the goals of diversity and equity. As a part of that process, we should look closely at our attendance area boundaries, the placement of programs including language pathways, and do more intentional, proactive outreach for schools to increase diversity.
In doing so, we need to act a lot more seriously and intentionally to address racial segregation in our schools. San Francisco Unified School District must recommit to addressing racial and economic segregation, we cannot accept the status quo. Our neighborhood demographics are changing, and it is unacceptable for our schools to get more segregated as our neighborhoods become less so.
Finally, we have to modernize our school assignment system to make it more user centered and better utilize technology. We have to invest in the systems that allow everyone to participate in the process and feel like they have access to all of the necessary information.
4. How can we redistribute the more experienced and higher paid
teachers throughout the city? What do you think the school
district needs to do to attract and improve the retention of good
teachers who are willing to work in socially stressed schools?
We must pay our teachers and staff more; give them the support they need to be successful; and help our staff secure affordable housing. We cannot have a world-class public education system if our teachers cannot afford to live here. I also believe that SFUSD can play a more proactive role - by using our own land, in partnership with the City, to build housing specifically for teachers. I think in the future, as we look to build new schools and expand sites, we should also look at ways that we can add housing for educators. We can partner with the City to increase down payment assistance, and expand support to include rental subsidies for educators. I also think that SFUSD can provide more direct support to educators - in supporting them when facing eviction and in providing housing resources to educators.
In addition, we must look at innovative ways to help our teachers go to the schools with the highest needs and stay there--this must mean more support in the classroom, better working conditions, higher pay. We should also focus on building up our own teaching force, with programs like the San Francisco Teacher Residency and the Para to Teacher program, which can help to address our retention and recruitment challenges.
5. Some of our schools receive significant funding from parent
fundraising. Are you concerned about the inequality in fundraising
between schools in rich and poor neighborhoods, and if so,
what ideas do you have to make things more equitable?
Parent fundraising has become one of today's more controversial issues in our school system. This is not to disparage parents who raise money for their children's school, but to highlight the shrinking number of mixed income schools in San Francisco. Money raised through fundraising can lead to paying teacher and staff higher wages, buying school supplies, and providing students with top of the line technology.
Schools that do not have fundraising capacity should receive more funding. The district should help schools build fundraising capacity where possible. We should also encourage PTAs with high fundraising capacity to set up partnerships with schools that do not, and give a percentage of what they raise to those schools.
6. What is your position on JROTC in the public schools?
If schools want to fund JROTC, they should fund the course on their own. JROTC should not receive funding centrally from the school district.
7. Would you support district elections for school board members?
I'm open to it.
8. What do you think of the public comment policy at school board
meetings? How (if at all) would you change it?
I think we should provide more opportunity for people to give comment virtually. I also think we need to make every effort to ensure that general public comment happens earlier in our meetings.
9. What is your stance on allowing noncitizen parents, guardians and
caretakers of students to vote in school board elections?
I'm completely behind granting non-citizen parents, guardians, and caretakers of students the right to vote in School Board elections to the extent that I urged the Board of Supervisors to include non-citizens in local elections. Proven to help students perform better, parental involvement is vital to a student's success, yet, parents who are not citizens have had their voice on education issues suppressed. Passing this measure would help the voice of immigrant parents be included in shaping the City's future education policies. I will work hard to see this measure passed in November.
10. In what ways would you work to increase teacher input in
administrative decision-making? How would you work to increase the
voice of school site councils (parents, students and staff), in
It is critical that school board members work to ensure that the voices of educators are included both in the development of policy and in program implementation. I have always viewed it as a key part of my role as a school board member. In the development of policies that I have pursued, including the Safe and Supportive Schools policy, I have worked closely with educators to ensure that their voices and experiences were respected and at the forefront.
11. Would you strengthen the voice of the elected student
representatives, so that they could introduce legislation and vote
I am in full support of strengthening the voice of our students through the ability to vote on measures and introduce legislation. They currently are able to vote (it is an advisory vote) and introduce measures (with cosponsors), and some of that is required under state law.
Passing unanimously through the School Board earlier this year, I authored the resolution to endorse "Vote 16," which would allow 16 and 17-year old students to vote in School Board elections. Thoroughly embedded in their communities, we know that young people care about local issues, and have opportunities to have conversations at home and school that support informed voting choices. 16 and 17-year olds can obtain driver's licenses, work and pay taxes, and utilize public services, so why not the ability to participate in the voting process? I will work hard to see this measure passed in November.
12. How do you see the role of the School Board in comparison to the
role of the superintendent?
School board members should set the policy, vision, priorities and guidance to the Superintendent, who is responsible, along with site administrators and educators, to implement and administer policy and programs. With that said, I have not been a Commissioner that simply "goes with the flow," but instead will challenge the status quo when it is in the best interest of our students and educators.
13. A portion of SFUSD income is from rental of various properties.
What changes should the district make to increase the income from
We should make sure that whoever is renting or leasing the property, if it is a private commercial tenant, pays us the full value of what the property is worth.
14. What should the district do to make its schools more
Already at the forefront of greening the schools, the U.S. Department of Education awarded SFUSD a 2016 Green Ribbon Schools award for environmental accomplishments, one of 15 school districts in the nation. Currently the district is working on a slew of new and cutting edge programs to further enhance the environmentally consciousness of the schools in the district.
I have authored resolutions to improve our environmental sustainability and reduce energy use. I have advocated for a Zero Net Energy (ZNE) strategy, which has established the goal to make all new construction be ZNE-ready and would cut the energy usage of existing building in half by 2030. The district has also reduced its water usage by replacing inefficient fixtures and aerators, cutting back on landscape usage by 25 percent, and implementing real-time water meters to help repair underground leaks. Through the Safe Routes to School Program at 37 SFUSD schools, the district has promoted green transportation alternatives, resulting in an increase of the middle-school bike rates to 600 percent over the past six years and raising the amount of high schoolers taking public transit to 60 percent.
15. Would you ensure that all San Francisco students have access to a
public pre-K program? If so, how?
I fully support SFUSD's commitment to early education, and will continue to advocate in support of public pre-k programs in SFUSD. The investment in early education pays off in immeasurable ways over time, and therefore it is SFUSD's interest to protect and grow this investment.
I also believe that it is critical that SFUSD have a critical, recognized, fully supported role within the City's broader commitment to early education. Money should not be diverted away from SFUSD in favor of other pre-k programs, and our School Board should be a leading advocate for our early education schools. SFUSD early education programs should be expanding. SFUSD should also be a leading voice at the state level to push for greater investment in early education.
I have visited most of our early education sites in SFUSD. I believe that we need to make additional investments in early education, to ensure that the academic, physical, mental, emotional and social well being of our students is adequately supported. We need to pay our early education teachers more, and increase staff support, particularly to help meet the social and emotional needs of students. We also have to make sure that we have a close eye to equity in our early education sites, and put our resources where they are needed the most.
16. Do you think Prop 13 needs to be reformed? If so, in what ways?
How will you use your position on the Board to advocate for this?
I have long been involved with the statewide effort to reform Prop 13, including authoring a resolution urging the reform of Prop 13, and organizing school board members across the state for this effort. I believe that we also need to look for other local revenue streams for SFUSD. Most urgently, I am in support of exploring a new Parcel Tax, with the revenue going primarily to raise teacher salaries, and support teacher recruitment and retention. I also think we need to look at other revenue options, including luxury taxes and taxes on development that can help to fund public education.
17. Have you read Diane Ravitch's book, "The Death and Life of
the Great American School System?" What lessons should the
District take from this work? Whether or not you've read the
book, what role do you see for charter schools in the public
Yes I have read the book and support her views and approach. I oppose efforts to privatize our schools or greatly expand charter schools in San Francisco. I have opposed all of the new charter applications that have come in front of our Board. I have also spoken out against the flawed process, in which local school boards are constantly overridden by the State Board of Education. When some called for a massive push for charter schools in California, I spoke against it, a stance that was recognized by Diane Ravitch: https://dianeravitch.net/2014/03/15/matt-haney-why-school-boards-matter/
18. What do you think of the District's use of standardized tests?
How would you change them, if at all?
I share the concern about over-testing. I do not support "high stakes testing" that might lead to negative consequences or repercussions for schools, teachers or funding. I think we need to move away from "fill in the bubble" assessments and do all we can to limit the amount of time that is used for assessments. We should look to our educators to help us develop formative assessments that help them with instruction and prioritize those over others, and carefully assess where and how to roll back any district assessments. We should also make sure that our schools all have the adequate technology and support to be able give the assessments with as little disruption as possible to the educational environment.
19. How can the public schools better address the needs of Special
Education students and ESL students?
I am a strong supporter of inclusion of special education students into general education classrooms. But in order to do that, we need to ensure that we have adequate support, including additional paraprofessionals and professional development. Inclusion can only be successful if we support our educators.
We also need to provide better support for our EL students---including additional time for English language development, a stronger commitment to bilingual education, smaller class sizes, and additional tutoring and support.
20. Please describe how you make your political decisions. What is
the main basis for your decision making (e.g., consultation with
your constituents, political consultants, colleagues, unions,
businesses, donors, or your gut feelings)?
I have visited all of our elementary, middle and high schools in the district--I get a lot of my information directly from schools, students, educators and parents. I also consult closely with my colleagues, our educators (and their representatives), the Superintendent and his staff, the Student Advisory Concil, my family, core supporters, and parent organizations such as Coleman Advocates for Children and Youth.