SF Green Party School Board Endorsement Questionnaire 2019
Due Date: Thurs, Sep 12
Candidate Name: Robert Coleman (Bobby Coleman)
Phone Number: 415-271-0284
Web site: www.studiosaraswati.com/bobby-coleman
Name of Campaign Manager: collective effort
How much do you expect to spend in this contest: Unknown; mostly "earned media" focused on my efforts toward wide-ranging positive improvements at the SF Board of Education.
Native-American Activist and current SF Poet Laureate Kim Shuck
Music Educator and community activist Allison Lovejoy
Former President SF Board of Supervisors Matt Gonzalez
SF Publisher and free speech icon Ron Turner
SF Mime Troupe stalwart and SF performing arts legend Ed Holmes
Incumbent Board Member whose votes most reflect your values: Despite some avoidable controversies emblematic of the incumbent board's decision-making process, I concur with the usual easier votes and the vast majority of positions of the board (and appreciate the positive aspirations of all of them, especially Gabriela López).
Incumbent whose votes least reflect your values: Jenny Lam, appointed incumbent in this year's special election, a staffer for Mayor Breed and stated supporter of SF's ex-D.A. U.S. Presidential candidate Kamala Harris.
1. How are you currently involved in the SFUSD -- or how were you involved in the past?
Arts, poetry, and performance programs throughout the SFUSD -- "We Are All Poets" project in all schools and conferring "Youth Poet Laureate" honors to all student participants, demonstrably inspiring them to excellence.
2. Why are you running for school board?
I'm running for the benefit of students, the school board, and the entire city. The position deserves the intended election contest instead of a mere appointment (as well as proper accountability of an mayoral appointee who stayed on the mayor's staff and steadily supports the mayor's pro-developer picks and positions). By all measures, my supporters and I believe it's clear from my lengthy track record that I will do a better job bringing people together to harmoniously resolve all our more difficult issues instead of worsening them as we currently see. The process of listening to each other should by all means continue as a learning opportunity.
3. How do you feel about the current school assignment system? Would you make changes, and if so, which ones?
By the Board's own admission, their recent "fix" needs more fixing --
(sorry it's mainstream media but the article's more recent than the local coverage) -- and though some are happy, there's reasonable evidence that it deepens segregation and the consequences of gentrification. Changes would address the information support for families gap, the transportation gap, housing disparity, the huge 25% SF opt out rate for public schools, and other issues. The school board passes well-intended resolutions but I've heard them publicly lament at school board meetings that they have failed to implement them well, which requires better and fuller strategies. I will help them considerably to reach their positive goals.
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? I looked carefully at the current SFcontract and spoke at length with teachers and others about this issue. I know that much is being incentivised in this regard, but I'd advocate for even more. Issues include teacher support, timing of hiring, and (very dramatically in SF) housing -- hence, Prop E for educator housing appears on the current ballot. And more must be done.
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?
A very serious problem. The current VAPA program is ramping up free access to musical instruments, which is long overdue and vitally important, but access to art supplies is still reported as hit-or-miss, with distressing misses. Like much of the board performance, what sounds excellently intended to be equitable turns out to not be working very well for too many families. Budget priorities, in my opinion, must be more rational, consistent, healthy, and separate from the mayor's agenda.
6. What is your position on JROTC in the public schools?
Against. Let's not normalize any violence in education.
7. Would you support district elections for school board members?
-- and my candidacy this year supports the notion of any election at all! Why should the mayor get to appoint a member of her own staff, who remains on that staff, and hope to clear the field from electoral challenges and voter accountability? That may be aggressive politics to some but to me it is undemocratic, therefore unacceptable as good government.
8. What do you think of the public comment policy at school board meetings? How (if at all) would you change it?
Poorly conducted, lacking a calmly mediating spirit. My history, training, and demeanor will serve to easily inspire remedies -- and our city is widely calling for that healing on all sides.
9. What is your stance on allowing noncitizen parents, guardians and caretakers of students to vote in school board elections?
For allowing them to vote -- expanding democracy to more stakeholders.
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?
Hugely important that it be as inclusive and supportive of healthy process as possible; claims that this is already so shouldn't avoid the imperative that these processes remain respectful, non-bullying, complete, and fully inclusive. Reports run in both directions of satisfaction and dissatisfaction; we can do better.
11. Would you strengthen the voice of the elected student representatives, so that they could introduce legislation and vote
Yes, they must play their crucial, respected role in the full context of our decision-making process. And that soundness of process should serve to strengthen maturation, empathy, and wisdom.
12. How do you see the role of the School Board in comparison to the role of the superintendent?
The board has governance and oversight responsibilities to advance the goals of the district rather than administration, and I commend this common sense article on such fundamentals:
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?
Looking at the Green's platform yields an overall sense of prioritizing public benefits over private ones. Dormant properties don't readily reflect Green values.
14. What should the district do to make its schools more environmentally friendly?
Address the transportation and housing issues in their full context; encourage plant-based diets; increase healthy exposure to and appreciation of the natural environment; ensure that all vendors and all MOUs reflect our need to shift paradigms to model the intelligent responses to address the crisis of environmental collapse.
15. Would you ensure that all San Francisco students have access to a public pre-K program? If so, how?
Yes -- and the tuition credit program isn't enough. It is funding-dependent and not free to all:
16. Do you think Prop 13 needs to be reformed? If so, in what ways?
Yes, I agree with the Green Party platform:
How will you use your position on the Board to advocate for this?
Robust public advocacy in all modes.
17. Have you read Diane Ravitch's book, "The Death and Life of the Great American School System?" Yes
What lessons should the District take from this work?
Improve conditions, have better standards, challenge charter schools and corporatization.
Whether or not you've read the book, what role do you see for charter schools in the public education system?
Reduce to original intent only and completely eliminate all poaching of public school resources.
18. What do you think of the District's use of standardized tests? How would you change them, if at all?
They are currently generally discouraged by the Green Party as counterproductive, not reliably reflective of educational achievement, expensive, and distracting. I agree. Wherever possible given jurisdictional limitations I would advocate toward the goal of eliminating such misuse.
19. How can the public schools better address the needs of Special Education students and ESL students?
I support the Lau action plan and current MPD initiatives. Again, even more can be done!
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 listen to all stakeholders with a caring, calm open mind without any corrupting political or business influences. I am in service to the community 100% genuinely, as my track record consistently bears out.
Due Date: Thurs, Sep 12, 11:59 pm.
Please submit by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, call
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Completed questionnaires will be posted on our website,