SF Green Party School Board Endorsement Questionnaire 2016
Due Date: Wednesday, August 31
Candidate Name: Jill Wynns
Phone Number: 415 828-8560
Web site: jillwynns.com
Name of Campaign Manager: Novella Smith
Signed voluntary spending limit: Yes
Major Endorsements: San Francisco Parents PAC, SF Building Trades Council, Lt Gov. Gavin Newsom, State Superintendent Tom Torlakson, former State Superintendents Jack O'Connell and Delaine Eastin,
Favorite Incumbent School Board Member: Besides myself, I am a big supporter of Rachel Norton, a public school parent and Advocate for disabled students.
Least favorite: Sorry, I will not disparage my colleagues. You can see my endorsements on line.
1. How are you currently involved in the SFUSD -- or how were you involved in the past?
I have been on the Board of Education for twenty-four years, was a public school parent for twenty-two years and have worked on behalf of SF's public school students
for over three decades.
2. Why are you running for school board?
I have dedicated my adult life to working on behalf of children, particularly in our city, state and nation's urban school systems. My expertise is important if we are to continue to successfully increase school funding. Since 1988 I have played a key leadership role in fifteen revenue initiatives that have raised more than $3 billion of local public dollars for San Francisco schools. In 2012, while serving as President of the California School Boards Association, I was a spokesperson for the passage of Prop 30 that stopped the hemorrhaging of school and other public funding. My experience and commitment to be an active legislative and policy advocate for adequate school funding and other important policy issues, is unique.
The recent announcement of the departure of our Superintendent makes having experienced, well-connected board members even more valuable. I want to help to find a new permanent superintendent and support him or her through a transition period.
Currently, I believe that I am the only candidate committed to making raising salaries and other forms of compensation my highest priority, including developing teacher housing.
I will continue my dogged commitment to progressive causes, including opposing privatization and commercialization of public services, opposing charter schools, opposing Teach for America, the New teacher Project and others. The Board of Education needs my leadership and courage on these issues.
3. How do you feel about the current school assignment system?
Would you make changes, and if so, which ones?
Our system is complex, but responsive to the majority of families who support both choice, evidenced by their school requests, and language programs.
Hen we hire them and to work with
The change I would like to make is to return to using race as an assignment factor and be willing to engage in a legal battle, if necessary.
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 can do this by instructing our
Human Resources Department to assign only experienced teachers to our lowest performing schools when we hire them, and working with UESF to make agreements that include even greater incentive for moving to these schools.
Ending our relationship with Teach for America is a step in the right direction.
It was my consistent opposition hat finally got most of my colleagues to also oppose this contract.
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?
This is one of the things that we try to address by focusing our public funds on the highest need schools. The organization EdMatch has set up a good program that encourages donors to match their donations to middle class schools with donations to schools that have less capacity to raise private funds.
6. What is your position on JROTC in the public schools?
I support JROTC in our schools. As the program is voluntary and actually discourages entering the military in favor of college, it is clear that the leadership not the military aspects of the program are emphasized. We have never had a JROTC cadet fail to testify that the program has had an important and positive impact on his life.
7. Would you support district elections for school board members?
I favor all developments that will engage more voters in school board elections.
Currently we have relatively high participation in school board elections. We should be careful to make changes that could result in fewer school board voters.
Several years ago The Parents' Lobby, of which I was President, explored this proposal with MALDEF and others interested in promoting diversity among school board members and all elected officials. They did a study of voting patterns, including reviewing studies that had been done in San Francisco in preparation for district elections of supervisors. They recommended that we not pursue district elections for Board of Education, as it was likely to result in LESS, not more, diversity for the Board of Education.
One of the concerns was that we all agreed that we do not want o increase the size of the Board. I agree with that. I know of a few boards in larger cities that have bigger boards and they have more difficult political dynamics.
As we have a city-wide enrollment system, not a neighborhood school assignment system, we do not want to encourage board members to limit their focus to "their" schools. Nor do we want voters to limit their interest to one school board seat.
SO, at this time, I do not favor district elections for school board.
8. What do you think of the public comment policy at school board meetings? How (if at all) would you change it?
I think that we should increase the time allotted to each speaker. We decreased it from three minutes to two several years ago and made it more difficult for members of the public to bring up complex issues. I opposed this change at the time and still support returning to the longer time.
9. What is your stance on allowing noncitizen parents, guardians and caretakers of students to vote in school board elections?
I support non-citizen voting in school board elections. And I have worked for these initiatives during my whole career. I am committed to the current initiative on the ballot. There are a number of technical questions to be worked out. We must work for the passage and to resolve the complexities This will help the voters to trust that it can be accomplished effectively and, I hope, pass the ordinance.
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 administrative decision-making?
The school committees that we have that play a role can be strengthen and given a clearer role.
The district does have a responsibility to ensure that all contracts, laws and regulations are honored in the selection process.
11. Would you strengthen the voice of the elected student representatives, so that they could introduce legislation and vote
Absolutely. I have actually brought this proposal up to legislators, state-wide organizations like CSBA, ACSA and the CTA, and the Governor. There are a number of legal and constitutional issues that have, so far, prevented this from happening. However, I will do what ever I can to advance this objective.
12. How do you see the role of the School Board in comparison to the role of the superintendent?
The role of the Board is to hire, evaluate, and, if necessary, fire the superintendent.
The Board also sets policy for the district, including passing and budget, the primary policy document of the district, as it embodies the values of the community and the district.
The superintendent's job is to manage and administer the district, ensuring that the polices are adhered to and implemented.
13. A portion of SFUSD income is from rental of various properties. What changes should the district make to increase the income from these properties?
We have changed our policies to maximize revenue from property. Revenues are up. However, most of our tenants are community non-profits and we also try to make public facilities available to organizations that serve our students and their families.
14. What should the district do to make its schools more environmentally friendly?
I am the author of policies that have removed toxicsfusd pest control from SFUSD schools, changed our cleaning products to all biodegradable products, and instituted recycling. As well we now have a Director of Sustainability and are pursuing all environmental initiatives that we can. This includes supporting biking to school and greening all of our schoolyards.
I am working with the students of the Environmental Academy at Lincoln High School to work toward removing plastic water bottles from SFUSD schools.
15. Would you ensure that all San Francisco students have access to a public pre-K program? If so, how?
Through Pre-School for All and the Public Education Enrichment Fund, we have made a good step in this direction. We will need additional funding to further expand these services.
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 think that Prop 13 needs to be overturned, but I do not think that is going to happen. I have been part of efforts to get the Democrats, when they had a super majority in the legislature, to put this issue on the ballot. They refused. They were not even willing to put the issue of lowering he passing requirement for parcel taxes on the ballot.
So, the best we can hope to accomplish is to get a split role passed, to make corporate property owners pay a fairer share of property tax.
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 education system?
I am a great fan of Diane Ravitch, whom I know and with whom I have discussed charter schools and high stakes testing. I am the only member of the SFUSD Board of Education who has consistently opposed privatizing public schools by granting charters. Every other board member, including a previous member now running to return to the Board, has voted for almost every charter that has come before us.
18. What do you think of the District's use of standardized tests? How would you change them, if at all?
I believe that the current state mandated tests are an important improvement on the previous ones. They are better assessments that can actually be used to inform instruction.
There is an issue with the district's required formative assessments, used only internally by the district. Teachers have questioned the usefulness of these tests, as well as the time consumed by their administration. We need to have a discussion about how we continue to use these tests.
19. How can the public schools better address the needs of Special Education students and ESL students?
We have made huge strides on improving services to disabled students and should continue with the reform and improvements that are on-going.
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 make my decisions by consulting with experts, including staff at the school district, staff at the state and national organizations in which I participate, others who have expertise in these areas. I read material that is relevant to the subject, consult with interested stakeholders like teachers, parents and students, and spend time reflecting and considering the implications of my decisions.