SF Green Party School Board Endorsement Questionnaire 2020

Due Date: Tuesday, Aug 18

Candidate Name: Alida Fisher
Phone Number: (415) 279-3382
Web site: www.alidafisher.com
E-mail: alidafisher@gmail.com
Name of Campaign Manager: Victoria Mariolle
How much do you expect to spend in this contest: $60,000
Major Endorsements: I am proud to have been endorsed by SF Berniecrats,
the SF Tenants Union, the Bernal Heights Democratic Club, the Latinx
Democratic Club, the Alice B Toklas Democratic Club, and the SF Women's
Political Committee. Thus far, I've been endorsed by State Senate
Candidate Jackie Fielder, Supervisor Candidates John Avalos and Myrna
Melgar, Board of Education Commissioner Faaguua Molinga, CCSF Trustees
Bridgette Davila and Shanell Williams, DCCC members Shannell Williams,
Li Miao Lovett, and Keith Baraka. I am continuing conversations with
additional officials and clubs and hope to have more endorsements to
announce in the near future.

Incumbent Board Member whose votes most reflect your values:Alison Collins, Gabriela Lopez, and Marc Sanchez

Incumbent whose votes least reflect your values: I respect all of our
current board members and think that I align with them all on various

1. What is your stance on resuming in-person classes in the time of
COVID? Would you prioritize particular grades or students? What
would be the main basis on which you make this decision? (e.g.,
would it be based on your gut feelings, or whose advice would
you listen to?)

In the present moment, I don't believe that's safe to return to
in-person instruction. As a member of the district's Logistics Committee
of the Reopening Task Force, I'm digging into these policies and
guidance documents right now. Safety is our first and foremost priority
for both students and educators alike. While the San Francisco
Department of Public Health released guidance in the beginning of July
for the reopening of schools, many of the prerequisites (epidemiological
data review, testing rates, and contact tracing in particular) lead
local leaders to believe we will not be ready to send all students back
to brick-and- mortar schools until well into the Fall semester. And for
some students, it won't be safe to return to schools until a vaccine is

The district has to consider many layers of policy documents. Federal
CDC guidance, California Department of Public Health and Department of
Education guidance (as well as educational mandates revised under SB
98), as well as city level guidance as mentioned above all help
determine when schools can safely reopen, as well as what we need to do
in the interim.

I believe we should implement a tiered school return system that
prioritizes the return to school for students who have not been able to
access distance learning at home. Statewide data shows us that the
three focal populations that didn't engage in distance learning were
students who speak languages other than English, foster youth, and
students receiving special education services. SFUSD's youngest
students (grades PK-2) weren't engaged in digital learning in the
spring. The Reopening Task Force has recommended prioritizing our PK-2
students, special education students who are in Moderate/Severe Special
Day Classes, students who are experiencing homelessness or are in foster
care, and students who demonstrated limited online engagement as we
develop our approach for learning in the fall.

2. Why are you running for school board?

The Board of Education is where I believe I can best serve my family and
my greater community. I believe I have the experience and know how to
make SFUSD public schools more equitable and effective in supporting our
students. My in-depth knowledge of special education as well as the
intersectionality of race, ethnicity, ability level, and bias are
critically important as we address the disparity and widening
opportunity gap that is being highlighted during our current pandemic.
I do not plan to seek any other office. This is not a professional
stepping stone on the way to "bigger and better" things.

My vision is to build an equitable SF public school system that meets
all students where they are. To enact this vision my top three
priorities are social emotional supports (for staff as well as
families), implementing restorative justice practices, and reading
interventions. We need to meet our students' and teachers' basic social
emotional needs before any learning can happen. Now more than ever, it's
important to prioritize the mental and physical health of students and
teachers. This means ensuring school personnel is engaging in
anti-racist practices to support our diverse SFUSD population. We need
to understand how to engage students. And once we have our students
engaged, we need to ensure they are proficient and confident readers by
third grade. The correlation between the ability to read and success is
irrefutable. I will continue to work with SFUSD to implement Tier 2 and
3 reading interventions in every school so that all students are
proficient readers by third grade. To execute these priorities, we need
a transparent and accountable budget. Budgets are value statements, and
it's time we fund our values, that means more social workers, nurses,
school counselors, and school psychologists in our schools.

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

In my 15 years as an SFUSD parent, my four children have attended seven
different schools. As a former foster parent and mother of African
American children, all of whom have learning differences, the issues of
social justice and equity are very personal to me. I have been an
active member in school site and district level governance. I've
participated in PTAs, SSCs, PTA boards, the district-level African
American Parent Advisory Committee , the Charter School Oversight
Committee, the Equity Studies Task Force, the LCAP Task Force, and I've
chaired the Community Advisory Committee for Special Education (CAC). My
work focuses on the intersectionality between race, ethnicity,
socioeconomic status, ability level, and bias.

I collaborate with district leaders, CBO partners, and families to
improve outcomes for students. I am an outside-the-box thinker who
brings creative thinking to difficult problems. I have worked with
SFUSD to increase Tier 2 and 3 reading interventions at schools, to
increase parent understanding of their rights, and I am currently
working on finding unique solutions to the difficult challenges facing
families preparing to return to school via distance learning.

4. How do you feel about the current school assignment system?
Would you make changes, and if so, which ones?

As the aligned advisory committees have pointed out, the student
assignment system redesign must address the current inequities in school
programming, staffing, and facilities in various parts of the city in
order to have the desired impact. Back in 2018, when Resolution 189-25A1
was initially introduced, I raised questions that have still gone
unanswered today: How are we going to ensure the quality of the
educational experience in schools across the district: What is the plan
to make sure all SF public schools have the necessary resources to serve
their students: What is being done to renovate the existing
under-enrolled and under-requested schools: I tend to agree with Kevin
Costner's character in Field of Dreams: "if you build it, they will
come." If we provide the programming and resources that our families
have prioritized (language pathways, STEM programs, inclusion, etc) at
under-enrolled schools, families will be more likely to consider these

The assignment process is very manual. Families complete paper
applications which are manually entered into the computer system that
runs the algorithm. This leaves lots of room for error and is very time
consuming. With a more automated system, many of our EPC staff could
shift their spring focus from data entry to planning and building new
and equitable 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?

Absolutely, when there is a concentration of wealth it widens the
opportunity gap between schools. The practice of parent fundraising
fails to take into account the heritage of segregated schools. We need
to start talking about the inequities within San Francisco, including
the racial isolation in many neighborhoods. To create a more equitable
system, I would propose that we look at a consolidated education fund.
This is a concept where PTA's create a central fund that is funneled
into different schools based on need. When funding initiatives are
directed toward a specific group of students some families believe that
it will divert resources away from their children, but education isn't a
zero sum prospect. As John F. Kennedy is quoted as saying, ``a rising
tide lifts all boats.'' We have to ensure that we are giving each and
every student in SFUSD a consistent, quality education.

6. Are you familiar with the case of Williams et al. v State of
California? Do you believe that all schools in the SFUSD are
currently in compliance with Williams?

Of course. This was a landmark case filed against the State for its
failure to provide basic necessities to public schools, and of those
affected schools it disproportionately impacted low income communities
and communities of color. I do believe that all the schools in SFUSD are
in compliance with Williams. However, I think that there is still much
more work to be done. The aim should not be to have schools reach a
minimum threshold of resources and supports and consider those students
taken care of. As mentioned in question 5, I still think that there is a
steep opportunity gap between schools that we have to address to ensure
we are giving every student the opportunity to reach their full

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

Neutral. While I think it's valuable for students to be educated about
possible career pathways, I worry that it's too early to introduce JROTC
at the high school level. Students are still growing and coming into
their own identity and are likely to be heavily influenced towards a
military pathway just as a matter of availability. However, I do
recognize that the JROTC has been a positive choice for some kids,
especially for LGBTQ youth back when there wasn't widespread acceptance.
With a highly toxic locker room culture, JROTC was a safe haven from

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

No. The Board of Education creates policies that affect the entire
school district, and as such everyone should be able to weigh in on who
they believe would best serve SFUSD public schools. Enrollment isn't
dictated by district, so district elections could potentially restrict
our greatest accountability measure: holding our elected officials
accountable at the ballot box.

9. Did you support the 2016 Proposition A school bond? Do you think
funds were spent wisely?

Yes, I was and still am in favor of Proposition A. There is much
inequity in how the funds were allocated. Many schools in the southeast
portion of San Francisco have still not undergone their retrofits and
renovations. There are parts of the bond program that were
underutilized. Green Schoolyards is an example. The program was
initially established in 2005 with Prop A Bond money, and was available
to school communities that remove asphalt, add plants, and install
outdoor classrooms.

10. What is your stance on allowing noncitizen parents, guardians and
caretakers of students to vote in school board elections? Did you
take a public position on previous ballot initiatives on the

I absolutely support non-citizen voting, and have stated so publicly.
All parents should have the opportunity to participate in every aspect
of their children's education, and holding elected officials accountable
is an important part of our democracy. I also think it's important for
undocumented families to understand the risks involved in registering to
vote. The Department of Elections could be forced to provide the
database of registered voters to other governmental agencies, including
federal agencies such as ICE. Parents should consult with an immigration
attorney or other knowledgeable resource before registering. I am
sharing information about registering to vote wherever I go. In fact, I
always have voter registration cards and information with me.

11. What are your thoughts on the various non-profit organizations
that partner and/or contract with SFUSD?

I think these partnerships are invaluable in helping give wraparound
supports to students and families in need. I know first hand the impact
non-profit organizations and SFUSD collaborations can have to improve
student outcomes. I am a special education advocate with CASE, the
Community Alliance for Special Education. We are a San Francisco
nonprofit that supports families of students receiving special education
services advocate for their children, regardless of income level. Our
rates are based on a sliding scale, and the majority of our clients do
not pay for our services. The goal of our work is to ensure that
students have access to appropriate supports and services, regardless of
family income.

Right now, it is paramount that we collaborate with local community
partners to ensure that our students are getting the support they need.
Family Resource Centers, the Human Rights Commission's Everybody Reads
program, the San Francisco Public Library's tutoring programs, and
Support for Families of Children with Disabilities' parent support
groups are all examples of much-needed family resources that should be
used as models for expanding to support more students. They are a
cornerstone of a strong community school.

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

Absolutely, they more than anyone should have a say in their education.
If we are serious about empowering students that means giving them the
platform to exercise their voice. These are the next generation of
leaders and we should be fostering and encouraging that drive and
passion to better their community.

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

I see the role of the school board as implementing policy for SFUSD,
setting educational goals and strategies, influencing policy on the
state and federal level, approving curriculum, setting the district wide
budget, among many other responsibilities. The school board has one
employee: the superintendent. The superintendent in comparison is
charged with overseeing the day-to-day operations of SF's public
schools. Good communication and collaboration between the two entities
is important for good school district governance.

14. Do you think that SFUSD currently serves the transportation needs
of its students? Would you make changes to the current system?

SFUSD is interdependent on many other agencies to meet the
transportation needs of students. There is much work to be done to
coordinate with SF MTA in order to add additional routes and offer a
more consistent schedule. Ensuring that all students get to school on
time would go a long way in serving all of our SFUSD students.

Considering the impending layoffs of SFUSD bus drivers, meeting the
transportation needs of our students is about to get much more
difficult. As a parent of a student with an IEP who has used district
transportation services, I am devastated by this. When we return to
school, many families will have no way to get their students to school
without our amazing bus drivers. My son's bus driver helped launch him
into a successful day. He was energetic, fun, and made the kids look
forward to their day. He was encouraging, communicative, and loved the
students on his route (whom he called ``his students''). He and his
students deserve better than this.

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

Absolutely, even the youngest learners need access to public education.
At one time, Early Education was considered an encroachment on public
education due to the lack of funding. Now, we recognize the value and
appreciate that early education can be a tool to close the equity gap in
San Francisco. Funding is still a challenge, as it is not covered by
Prop 98. But the need to expand early education beyond the 4500 students
currently enrolled is critical. Early education classrooms are some of
the most inclusive in the district, and are a great benchmark for many
of our elementary schools. Expanding the toddler program at Early
Education Centers to more sites and more classrooms is an opportunity to
engage more families SFUSD. Expanding SFUSD's current model of
balancing paid preschool enrollment with students who qualify for
reduced or no tuition programs can help offset costs.

16. 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

While I have not read the book, I have to say I agree with the NAACP's
resolution that calls for a moratorium on charter school expansions as
well as additional oversight for existing charters. To be fair, there
are some San Francisco charter schools that do a great job of meeting
the needs of students who have been difficult to serve in traditional
classrooms. However, I find the lack of oversight and accountability
troubling. Parent and staff involvement in board governance is still
unregulated. I believe each charter school should have a mix of current
parents and educators on their board, and should be required to hold
board meetings in the municipality where the school exists. Even though
KIPP has multiple schools in San Francisco, they announced that all
board meetings will be held in San Jose, because the largest percent of
Bay Area students are located in Santa Clara County. That creates parent
engagement barriers for families who attend KIPP schools here in the

I would much rather see charter school funders work collaboratively with
SFUSD to improve outcomes at our existing (and often under-enrolled)
schools rather than look to open new schools. Charter schools provide a
layer of budgetary stress for many districts, including many here in the
Bay Area. The Public Interest released a report in May titled, ``The
Cost of Charter Schools for Public School Districts.'' The report found
that, in the 2016-2017 school year, charter schools cost Oakland Unified
School District $57.3 million. This reduction coupled with Prop 39, the
state law requiring districts to make classrooms available to charter
schools, has strained many school districts to the brink of insolvency.
We can't allow that to happen here in San Francisco, which is exactly
why I joined the Charter School Oversight Committee and am working to
hold charter schools accountable to the same standards as traditional
public schools.

17. What do you think of the current requirements that students take
the SBAC test, and what are your thoughts on standardized testing
in general?

I support the idea behind Common Core education standards. I appreciate
the shift away from rote memorization and rigidity to problem solving,
growth mindset, meaningful discourse, and engagement with peers. Having
national standards helps districts prepare graduates with the skills
they need to be successful in our 21st century society. It's important
to ensure that our students are ready for college and the workforce.
However, I am worried about the amount of testing to which we subject
our children; I am not a fan of the annual SBAC assessment that students
take each spring as it takes valuable resources away from the teaching

The middle school math sequence was redesigned by SFUSD teachers to
align with common core and to undo decades of inequities in math
instruction. Algebraic concepts are introduced earlier. The focus of
math instruction has shifted to complex instruction, growth mindset,
meaningful discourse with the instructor and engagement with peers. All
of these strategies have been proven to improve outcomes. Being part of
a diverse learning environment helps our students develop strong problem
solving and collaboration skills.

Common core instruction has highlighted the need for more effective
reading instruction and earlier reading interventions. Texts are more
complex, and even math exercises are predominantly word problems.
Therefore children not reading at grade level find difficulty in more
subjects. In order to fully implement the math sequence and provide
opportunities for all students to meet their potential, SFUSD must
invest in training teachers to provide differentiated instruction.

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

This is quite literally my life's work. As the former Chair of the
Community Advisory Committee for Special Education (CAC), I could write
volumes on this question! It's important to point out that 75% of
students receiving special education services are served in general
education classrooms. So when the needs of students with disabilities
aren't met, it impacts all students. One of my top priorities is
implementing robust reading interventions at all schools so that every
student is a proficient, joyful reader by third grade. There are very
few skills more important to future success than reading. A student not
reading at grade level by the end of third grade is four times less
likely to graduate high school. For students from low income families,
that number jumps to six times less likely to graduate. Educators should
be trained to recognize the signs of learning differences such as
dyslexia, and provide interventions such as phonics-based instruction in
small group settings. We have to ensure that all students have a
concrete foundation from which to launch their academic career.

Within SFUSD, 24% students enrolled are English-language learners, and
33% of SFUSD students have an immigrant parent. We need adequate and
appropriate curriculum for ELD and English Language Learners, in all
languages represented by our SFUSD families. We need more translation
and interpretation services! We also need to provide all English
Language Learners access to tutoring and after-school programs. As we
learned through the LCAP Stakeholder Engagement process, many families
rely on - or would benefit from - homework support provided through an
after-school program because navigating English language materials is a
barrier. Families also feel that students aren't receiving the support
necessary to reach reclassification goals, and teachers have expressed
confusion about the reclassification process. We need to ensure that all
administrators understand the reclassification process in detail.