SF Green Party School Board Endorsement Questionnaire 2018
Due Date: Friday, Aug 24
Candidate Name:Martin Rawlings-Fein
Name of Campaign Manager:Elsa Isaacs
Signed voluntary spending limit: Yes
Major Endorsements: Rafael Mandelman, District 8 Supervisor
Cecilia Chung, Health Commissioner
Bevan Dufty, BART Board Member & Former D8 Supervisor
Christina Olague, Former D5 Supervisor
John Rizzo, City College Trustee
Becky Hogue, Pedestrian Safety Advisory Committee Chair
Matt Haney, Board of Education Commissioner
Robert Bernardo, VP of the San Mateo County Harbor Commission
Harry Britt, Former San Francisco Board of Supervisors President
Incumbent Board Member whose votes most reflect your values: Matt Haney
Incumbent whose votes least reflect your values: Dr. Emily M. Murase
1. How are you currently involved in the SFUSD -- or how were you involved in the past?
As a bi trans father of two public school students, I have served as a member of the School Site Council (SSC) and PTA of Harvey Milk Civl Rights Academy and on the PTA of Lakeshore Elementary.
2. Why are you running for school board?
I am running for School Board as an openly transgender and bisexual father of 2 public school students, successfully navigating the not-so-queer friendly boundaries presented to my children and family has instilled an undying passion for justice for the children I love more than anyone in the world. That said, love and passion are not enough, and I have decades of experience in public service, demanding justice for queer and trans folks youth and elders, indigenous communities, and LGBTQ families. Further, my administrative and direct experience working with students, as a director of education and a lead teacher, has prepared me to fight for robust, culturally responsive, and critical educator trainings, curricula, & assignment processes.
3. How do you feel about the current school assignment system? Would you make changes, and if so, which ones?
I think that without the Transfer Mechanism in place we will see a more diverse outcome in school placement as evidenced by the boards experiment in March of 2018.
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?
Better pay is only part of the issue, we also need to have affordable housing stock that starting teachers can afford. Affordable family and educator housing is one of the top three priorities, and I would address it with coalition building, working with the Mayor, the Mayor's Office of Housing and their program the Teacher Next Door to both advocate for identifying more land and further assistance from the city. In San Francisco, about 40% of the homeless population are members of homeless families (First Five). According to the Coalition on Homelessness as of 2016, there were over 3,300 homeless children living in intact families in San Francisco, this includes 2,352 homeless students enrolled in San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD), up from 844 in 2005. Every student and teacher needs to be housed in safety.
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 would like to see the districtwide PTA take the lead on pooling funds and distributing them equallyacross the district. My own experience of being in a school with a high percentage of folks below the poverty level, we changed our funding model to be a single non shaming ask, we lowered our PTA membership donation at the beginning of the year, and we did alright. It was not the large hit in the pocketbook that we thought we might receive, and we were able to continue at the same level of cultural events and services. Districts elsewhere centralize and redistribute funds raised by parents, it makes the system more equitable for all our students regardless of a family's ability to donate.
6. What is your position on JROTC in the public schools?
I am a product of MCJROTC. I think that if we want to get the military out of our schools, we need to create a comparable program which teaches civics and community building to replace the current JROTC model. I would support creating something to replace the current military based model.
7. Would you support district elections for school board members?
Yes, I would support this, because currently the full spectrum of San Francisco is not represented on the board.
8. What do you think of the public comment policy at school board meetings? How (if at all) would you change it?
Public comment is an awesome tool to allow for civic engagement. I wouldn't change the process.
9. What is your stance on allowing noncitizen parents, guardians and caretakers of students to vote in school board elections?
I love the idea of allowing people who are effected buy school board decisions being allowed to vote on the people who make them. It is a great step forward in our democracy. Now we have to make sure that folks who register do not have their identifying information given to the current federal administration.
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
I think that SSCs and PTAs could all use a visit from one school board member per year to help them find their voice.
11. Would you strengthen the voice of the elected student
representatives, so that they could introduce legislation and vote
Yes, of course.
12. How do you see the role of the School Board in comparison to the role of the superintendent?
The School Board and the superintendent should work together as a team, where the superintendent serves as the board's adviser on educational matters and leads the district on a daily basis, and the School Board makes policy and remains the final authority on all decisions.
13. A portion of SFUSD income is from rental of various properties.
What changes should the district make to increase the income from
First the district needs a complete inventory of what they have. and to be consistent with their rental costs.
14. What should the district do to make its schools more environmentally friendly?
School communities need to teach students about land stewardship, taking care of our water supplies and gardening like at lakeshore. By educating students about the nature and our resources at all schools we could have wonderfully environmentally friendly campuses across the city.
15. Would you ensure that all San Francisco students have access to a public pre-K program? If so, how?
Our Local Accountability Plan, or school-based budgeting, could be the answer. Currently we have the longest running Early Education Department in the state, since 1943. We need to ensure that the program remains fully funded for many years to come through the state and local funds. I would use whatever resources I have available as a board member to secure and hold onto funding for early childhood education.
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?
Yes, I would use my position of on the board to advocate for Prop 13 to be reformed in the way that it treats commercial property. Currently, residential homeowners have 72% of the tax burden while commercial property owners only pay 28%.
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 believe that public schools in combination with a thorough non-majority model can help to educate all students and families. And while charters were created for an innovative reason, we do not need to add more to the San Francisco landscape. Excellence through exclusion should never be a policy of a public school.
18. What do you think of the District's use of standardized tests? How would you change them, if at all?
We wouldn't teach to the test, we should only use them a diagnostic tools.
19. How can the public schools better address the needs of Special Education students and ESL students?
In three words, culturally competent education. The Common Core Standards establish the expectation that all students will be taught to the same high standards, and held to the same outcomes regardless of any of their demographics. To use English Language Learners as an example, they represent more than 1 in 5 students in California's K-12 schools according to California Department of Education and their California Language Census in the Fall of 2017. I would adopt the outlook of the findings of Education Trust West, which in 2017 researched SFUSD, and other schools including Westminster School District, Rowland Unified, Alhambra Unified, and Kerman Unified School districts. Their findings were that we should be upholding students cultural upbringings as assets to their language and learning acquisition, integrating English language acquisition with the full complement of subject learning and providing support in the primary languages of student learners. With these recommendations we could assist in their language development in culturally appropriate ways as a board.
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 political decisions by consultation with constituents, colleagues, and unions. I rarely go with my gut, because sometimes personal feelings can lead one astray.
Due Date: Friday, August 24, 11:59 pm.
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