SF Green Party School Board Endorsement Questionnaire 2019

Due Date: Thurs, Sep 12

Candidate Name:Kirsten Strobel
Phone Number:650-291-0782
Web site:
Name of Campaign Manager:
How much do you expect to spend in this contest: $15,000
Major Endorsements:
Incumbent Board Member whose votes most reflect your values:
Incumbent whose votes least reflect your values:

1. How are you currently involved in the SFUSD -- or how were you involved in the past?

I began my career at Legal Services for Children in San Francisco where a large part of our practice focused on school disincline procedures in SFUSD. We represented children facing expulsion from the District and advocated for their access to a meaningful education. We also supported children and families with IEPs and language access issues. There are a lot of great people at the District who work hard to achieve results for children but it is an extremely difficult system for families to navigate. You should not have to have a lawyer to access your educational rights.

2. Why are you running for school board?

I know the value and impact of a meaningful education because I had one. And I know the disastrous effects of the opposite because I saw children and families who were pushed out by the District and denied their educational rights. I grew up on the peninsula and have a deep love for San Francisco and our values. I want everyone to have the chance to love San Francisco as much as I do and I believe the School Board has the ability to help drive this city toward a more equitable experience for all.

3. How do you feel about the current school assignment system?

The current school assignment system is a complete mystery to many families in San Francisco and continues to fuel segregation. The system needs an overhaul and the District did not go far enough last December in their proposed reform efforts. An automatic school assignment to a neighborhood school is not a helpful solution to addressing a student's educational needs if that school is under-funded and under-supported.

Would you make changes, and if so, which ones? We need to strengthen our neighborhood schools through examining and drastically altering how the District allocates its resources. This includes PTA funding.

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?

Through further development of targeted mentoring programs, we can build a structure that fosters career opportunities for seasoned professionals and lays out pathways for more junior employees in the District to achieve their goals. As teachers and other professional staff develop expertise in various areas we should provide opportunities to share and deploy that knowledge on a District-wide basis and not just school by school. With targeted mentoring and clearly defined professional development opportunities we can attract and retain great teachers. The District has exceptional internal talent and we need to do a better job of harnessing it.

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 am extremely concerned by the lack of equity in parent fundraising. So much of a student's experience in SFUSD is determined by what side of Geary Street they live on or go to school in. They only way to address this growing inequity is through resource allocation. This can happen at the District level through school funding and also through a District-wide shared PTA fund.

6. What is your position on JROTC in the public schools?

For some students JROTC can serve as a pathway to success but their presence should be limited.

7. Would you support district elections for school board members?

I do support district elections. Families should have a voice and strong advocates where they live.

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 important part of the inclusion process. Whether you are a parent or not (like me), public schools are the bedrock of American society and it is our responsibility to participate in their success.

9. What is your stance on allowing noncitizen parents, guardians and caretakers of students to vote in school board elections?

I do not believe that noncitizens should vote in elections and we therefore need to be extra vigilant in ensuring that all families are encouraged to participate in their student's educational outcomes.

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?

Teacher buy-in is absolutely critical in District policy making and requires the School Board work toward inclusive decision making. This means giving teachers, families, and students a seat at the table. We know that better decisions are made when more voices and perspectives are considered. Improvements occur incrementally so we need to build teams based on trust and collectively commit to inclusive work.

11. Would you strengthen the voice of the elected student representatives, so that they could introduce legislation and vote on measures?

Yes. Students should be empowered to be active participants in their education.

12. How do you see the role of the School Board in comparison to the role of the superintendent?

I see the School Board as overseers setting policy and the superintendent as the implementor and administrator of those polices.

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?

Increasing the income from rental properties requires an audit of the RFP process to asses where gains can be achieved.

14. What should the district do to make its schools more environmentally friendly?

I would love to see SFUSD develop a public/private partnership with an environmental foundation or company engaged in sustainability efforts. San Francisco SHOULD be a leader in this movement and serve as an example to other urban districts.

15. Would you ensure that all San Francisco students have access to a public pre-K program? If so, how?

Yes! Unfortunately, so many children enter our schools not ready to learn. The District needs to work closely with other city services to ensure that children and families have the support they need like access to medical care and economic stability.

16. Do you think Prop 13 needs to be reformed? If so, in what ways?

Tax avoidance is a massive hinderance to our public schools. Public education should serve the overall public good as a vital component of the country's economic and social health. I support splitting the property tax roll and eliminating limits for commercial/industrial buildings and land.

How will you use your position on the Board to advocate for this? I will be a tireless advocate for Prop 13 reform and work to develop relationships with leaders in Sacramento to advance public funding for 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 education system?

Yes, I have read it. The main lessons the District should absorb are the lack of importance of standardized testing in measuring educational outcomes and in the negative impact that charter schools have on school districts. Charter schools drain resources from districts and actively excluded special education and ESL students. There are charters that are inclusive and achieve great results, like Life Learning Academy, but they are the rare exception and far from the norm.

18. What do you think of the District's use of standardized tests? How would you change them, if at all?

Standardized tests ALWAYS favor the advantaged students over the disadvantaged students and “success” is correlated with family income. Standardized testing has blossomed into big-business and does not serve as an objective tool. The District should have curriculum guidelines and empower teachers to write tests and asses and measure learning in their classrooms.

19. How can the public schools better address the needs of Special Education students and ESL students?

To better address the unique needs of special education and ESL students we need stronger collaboration among team members and families. This includes using assessment tools and recommendations from experts to creatively solve problems. And those assents need to be performed in the student's native language. We need to share resources and information to reach our shared goals. I think the District does a good job with supporting students in maintaining placement with same-age peers which has successful outcomes.

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 political decisions based on the recommendations of community stakeholders (students and families, teachers, SF residents) and education experts and public school advocates.

Due Date: Thurs, Sep 12, 11:59 pm.

Please submit by email to cc@sfgreens.org. For more information, call
Erika McDonald at 415-337-1499. Please return your answers in plain
text (not HTML, PDF, or Word format), so that we can post all
candidates' answers in the same format.

The SF Green Party will invite all candidates who return completed
questionnaires on time to speak and answer questions at our candidate
forum and endorsement meeting (scheduled for Wed, Sep 18 from 7-9 pm).
If you need to schedule a particular time slot, or if you are unable
to make the meeting, please be in touch with us at cc@sfgreens.org.
Otherwise, we'll interview candidates as you arrive. Our forum and
endorsement meeting will take place at the Redstone Building (room
TBA). The Redstone is located at 2940 16th Street (between Mission
and South Van Ness, 1 block from 16th St BART).

Completed questionnaires will be posted on our website,