SF Green Party School Board Endorsement Questionnaire 2016
Due Date: Wednesday, August 31
Candidate Name: Mark Sanchez
Name of Campaign Manager:
Signed voluntary spending limit:
Favorite Incumbent School Board Member:
1. How are you currently involved in the SFUSD -- or how were you
involved in the past?
I am in my eighth year as a school principal in SFUSD; my first two years I
served Horace Mann Middle School, in the Mission, and since then I've led
Cleveland Elementary School, in the Excelsior district.
Prior to this, I served on the SF Board of Education, the last two years as
the board's president.
I taught 4th and 5th grades for seven years in SFUSD schools, 1993-2000.
2. Why are you running for school board?
I want to help with affordable housing for educators. We are losing
teachers, paras, and other school workers at an alarming rate. We have the
most turnover on the east side of SF, where students encounter more
instability in their lives than other parts of town. Teacher turnover
exacerbates the challenges in our students lives; and the turnover is
primarily related to the lack of affordability in the Bay Area.
I also want to help the board select the best possible superintendent for
SFUSD. I led the hiring of Superintendent Carlos Garcia in 2007, one of the
best superintendents in SFUSD's history.
3. How do you feel about the current school assignment system?
Would you make changes, and if so, which ones?
In large part the assignment system is a mishmash of court ordered
desegregation and other overlaid policies which were meant to help
integrate our schools. What we have now are more racially and economically
isolated schools than ever, and an assignment system that at best is
irksome, and at its worst helps drive families from the district. The board
needs to work with the new superintendent to come up with a fair policy
that adds to diversity but isn't opaque and confusing to families. A tall
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 need to work with our labor partners, UESF, to develop a plan that would
spread the most successful/diverse/tenured teachers to all schools. I don't
agree with forcing teachers to assignments that they wouldn't want, but we
can provide incentives--for example, one idea from a Brett Harte Elementary
teacher is to encourage and allow small teams of teachers who have worked
together successfully to choose to move together to hard to fill schools.
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?
I was floored when an Alamo Elementary School PTA parent suggested that his
school's fundraising proceeds be shared with schools who don't have
families who can raise the kind of money you find at some of our schools.
It's worth canvasing our PTAs to see what they might come up with to help
schools that don't have the fundraising capabilities. I think we'd be
6. What is your position on JROTC in the public schools?
7. Would you support district elections for school board members?
I would support a combination of at large and district--for example, 2 at
large and 5 district members.
8. What do you think of the public comment policy at school board
meetings? How (if at all) would you change it?
When I served as board president, 2006-2008, I ensured all (or as much as
possible in some cases) public speaking came toward the beginning of the
board meetings; I would promote that same policy if elected.
9. What is your stance on allowing noncitizen parents, guardians and
caretakers of students to vote in school board elections?
I've supported the measure in its first two versions that went to the
ballot, and I support the current one as well.
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
As an SFUSD elementary school principal, my commitment has been to
encourage, listen to and include teacher input. At Cleveland we have a
robust instructional leadership team that is comprised of a teacher from
each grade level, as well as support staff and myself. This body is charged
with gathering information, listening and collaborating with one another
and making decisions that are school-wide in nature and which are designed
to increase student academic outcomes.
11. Would you strengthen the voice of the elected student
representatives, so that they could introduce legislation and vote
If it's legally permitted, I'd like student reps to the BOA to be able have
binding votes. Either way, student reps should be able to author
12. How do you see the role of the School Board in comparison to the
role of the superintendent?
The school board sets broad policy, is ultimately charged with the
stewardship of a sound budget, and hires/releases as necessary its only
employee, the district's Superintendent. The Superintendent is charged with
managing the business of the school district, including implementing board
policy, and ensuring that state and federal guidelines are adhered to. The
BOA and the Superintendent, at their best, are a team that has a common
vision that will help ensure that all students achieve academically, and
are ultimately prepared, educationally and emotionally, to enter into post
secondary education and/or careers.
13. A portion of SFUSD income is from rental of various properties.
What changes should the district make to increase the income from
Right now the priority should be to identify "surplus" district property
and move to build educator housing on these sites.
14. What should the district do to make its schools more
The district has done a lot in the last ten years--all schools on the last
three bonds were granted at least $150,000 for greening purposes. That
combined with the district's sustainability office (which promotes waste
diversion and less reliance and less wastefulness of utilities) has moved
our schools in a positive environmental direction. Can more be done? Yes.
We need to ensure that all new and remodeled sites are outfitted with solar
panels (right now, there are none on the roofs of our schools), and we can
do more to leverage grants from institutions to further our
greening/beautifying at schools that don't have the capability to fundraise
15. Would you ensure that all San Francisco students have access to a
public pre-K program? If so, how?
There is wide access with First Five funding and traditional funding
streams, but it can be widened--I'm particularly concerned for very low
income families who for whatever reason are not accessing pre-K
opportunities. I see this reality first hand as an elementary school
principal, with some of our incoming kindergarten students having little or
no prior schooling experiences.
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?
At the very least, Prop 13 needs to be reformed by "split rolling" it so
that corporate/business/agri-business properties are taxed at a higher rate
than homeowners. I will work with unions and other school boards to help
move this back to a top priority--it had been tackled twice before, with
polling and signatures gathered; but both times the measures were pulled
from going to the ballot. We need to try again.
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
I've read reviews :)
Charters have limited capacity. I'm more interested in allowing entire
school districts to charter themselves to dig themselves out of the
deadening red tape that impedes creativity and progress. I've supported
charters in SF in the past but feel that we have reached a ceiling and am
not inclined to approve more.
18. What do you think of the District's use of standardized tests?
How would you change them, if at all?
I am one of the biggest proponents in the district for dismantling the
interim assessments, tests that the district itself has created and which
are not mandated by the state. They need to go. The SBAC is state mandated.
We need to educate parents on the SBAC's good and bad aspects and inform
them of their opt out rights.
19. How can the public schools better address the needs of Special
Education students and ESL students?
As it is, special education teachers almost need legal credentials to
adhere to the myriad laws that make up special education guidelines.
Streamlining the laws without diminishing intended outcomes would be the
best for special education students. As well, the federal government needs
to live up to its past promises to fully fund special education. Without
these two critical changes, I fear that we will continue to underserve many
of our most needy students.
English learners need highly qualified teachers who can be retained at
their sites. The assessment for English learners, the CELDT, needs to be
overhauled or done away with by the state.
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 almost always consult with teachers to help inform decision making.
I also include our union leader partners, colleagues in administration,
parent groups, the Student Advisory Council and Youth Commission, as well
as school board members. As well, I rely a bit on my 23 years of service in
SFUSD to inform my decisions.