SF Green Party School Board Endorsement Questionnaire 2022

Due Date: Saturday, September 3

Candidate Name: Karen Fleshman

Phone Number: 917-686-2041

Web site: karenforsfschools.com

E-mail: karen@karenforsfschools.com

Name of Campaign Manager: pending

How much do you expect to spend in this contest: 30-40k

Major Endorsements: Harvey Milk LGBTQ Democratic Club, SF Latinx Democratic Club, SF Berniecrats, SF League of Pissed Off Voters

Incumbent Board Member whose votes most reflect your values: Matt Alexander

Incumbent whose votes least reflect your values: Ann Hsu

1. What is your stance on COVID safety in the schools? Under what
circumstances might you support instating a mask or vaccine
mandate, or canceling in-person classes? 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?)

My stance is we need mask mandates, testing mandates, improved ventilation
and improved handwashing sinks and soap dispensers, and to provide students
and families with masks and tests at all schools. I would consider
canceling in-person classes if a significant number of students and
educators were ill with COVID.

I support the current SFUSD and City and County of San Francisco vaccine
policies that recommend all students and staff be vaccinated and
respecting their personal and religious beliefs.

My stance here is rooted in my being a public school parent. In general, I
listen to scientists and make decisions based on what public health experts
recommend. COVID response has been so driven by politics that I trust my
own gut, Black doctors, and my friends in the disability rights community.

My kids and I live with my elderly immunocompromised mother, and we are all
very cautious about COVID, and to date none of us have had COVID. Many
SFUSD educators wish there were mask mandates for their safety, because it
is easy to influence elementary school students to wear masks, but more
difficult to get middle school and high school students to wear them
without a mandate. And many of our school bathrooms are not in good

2. Why are you running for school board?

I am running to unify San Francisco for San Francisco Unified.

My kids have been SFUSD students since kindergarten. I am proud and
grateful for the education my children receive at SFUSD from excellent
brave educators

https://www.sfchronicle.com/sf/article/Fire-at-San-Francisco-nursing-home-prompts-17171226.php#:~:text=Cecily%20Ina%20and%20Vincent%20Reyes,the%20fire%2C%20fire%20officials%20said.> and how they are developing into kind, compassionate, well-rounded critical

But right now, only 57.5% of SFUSD graduates

https://go.boarddocs.com/ca/sfusd/Board.nsf/files/CG5V977F8741/%24file/6_28_22%20-%20SFUSD%20Student%20Performance%20Analysis.pdf> are college and career ready. It's unacceptable that some SFUSD students
are cared for and challenged while others are warehoused. Our two-tier
public education system both contributes to, and is a result of
gentrification, displacement, and racism, and it harms everyone in San

I am running to bring my experience to ensure every SFUSD student thrives
and graduates ready for college or careers.

My priorities are:

Invest in students' and educators' social-emotional well-being and academics

Encourage every SFUSD school to adopt simple practices that help
students' and educators' social and emotional well-being, setting them up
for learning success.

Ensure educators receive the professional development, prep time, and
tools they need to improve literacy and math and prepare young people for
college and career pathways.

Provide budget transparency and accountability

Work with the District's finance team to improve budget transparency.

Advocate for SFUSD to pay teachers and school site staff on time and
restore their benefits.

Ensure current bond funding is used to repair SFUSD property in a timely
manner and support future bonds to modernize school sites.

Increase resources for the most marginalized schools and students.

Promote collaborative decision making

Improve HOW SFUSD does things, including how we engage with communities,
how we treat students and educators, how we make decisions, how we get
along with each other, even when we disagree.

Unite the community, parents, unions, and administrators to understand
the current and projected SFUSD budget and build consensus on priorities,
vision, equity.

Co-create a multi-year plan so people know what to expect.

Source solutions from those who are closest to the problem.

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

I am currently involved as a parent volunteer for school events. In the
past,I co-facilitated anti-racism workshops at my kids' school, for both
the PTA and for the parents at large, and was a PTA member. For several
years, I co-led the tours of prospective parents at my kids' elementary
school and cohosted the summer playdates and welcoming activities.

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

I want to see safe, positive, diverse schools in every neighborhood that
ALL students and educators want to come to, where all students and
educators feel seen, heard, loved and connected. Data shows diverse schools
produce positive academic, social, and emotional learning outcomes.

The new student assignment policy for elementary schools that will go into
effect in 2025-2026 is a step in the right direction. The current lottery
system leads to segregated, unevenly resourced schools, long commutes,
traffic and environmental impact, an exclusionary culture at some schools,
and contributes to our attendance problems. It is stressful for everyone,
especially students who, like one of my kids, got assigned to a school
different from their friends that is very far from our home.

The Lowell "merit" based admissions will not withstand a legal challenge.
I would like to work with community stakeholders to design a fair and
equitable admissions process that complies with the law.

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
o make things more equitable?

Yes, I am very concerned about the inequality in fundraising and the
inequality in education between schools, this is why I am running for Board
of Education, to strategically allocate resources to our most marginalized
schools and students. Public education must be supported through adequate
funding to ensure schools are well-funded and educators are paid as the
professionals they are.

As a BOE Commissioner, I would advocate for a review and improve the
district's formula for calculating each school's budget, including setting
aside 15-20% of the overall budget to support under-resourced schools.
What this means is that if there is one school where the parent group
fundraises $300K a year and the alumni association raises $8 million a
year, the school district should set aside money so that the other schools
have access to additional funds, especially schools that are
under-resourced and serve marginalized communities.

SFUSD's budget is based on enrollment, and 30% of SF families enroll their
kids in private school. To attract more families to SFUSD and increase
enrollment, we need to invest in students' and educators' social-emotional
well-being and academics, provide budget transparency and accountability,
and promote collaborative decision-making, resulting in better outcomes for
our young people. The better outcomes we achieve, the more confidence we
can offer l to families to enroll their students in SFUSD.

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?

Yes I am familiar with Williams v State of California and No I do not
believe that all SFUSD schools are in compliance.

As reported in El Tecolote

https://eltecolote.org/content/en/40-million-in-buena-vista-horace-mann-funding-to-address-long-needed-repairs/>, SFUSD has a $38,750 contract with a building inspector, George Kalligeros
of Elmast Construction and Inspection Services, who is paid $125 an hour to
inspect schools across the district. In 2021 he reported to the State of
California that the 38 schools he inspected were either in good or
exemplary condition, despite the abundant evidence of "broken windows,
falling ceiling tiles, rodent infestations, and filthy, unusable bathrooms."

Many schools have electrical issues, including inoperative lights in the
bathrooms requiring use of a flashlight. There are broken water fountains
and toilets, insufficient sinks and soap dispensers, unsafe play structures
with loose screws, and windows that are inoperative.

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

Personally, I am opposed to JROTC in the public school system, but some
students really love it. I believe in sourcing solutions from those closest
to the problem. I would advocate for the Army paying for the full costs of
the JROTC program in the public schools.

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

In general, I want to see school board members who are representative of
public school students and families setting policies and holding the
Superintendent to account. I can see from my own experience in this
election that it is extremely difficult for anyone without some degree of
economic privilege to run for school board in a citywide race. It is
extremely difficult to do the work of being a school member well without
some degree of economic privilege, because to do the job well, a member has
to dedicate many hours to it. Research

https://scholars.org/contribution/do-district-based-elections-school-board-help-minority-candidates-get-elected> about whether district elections increases representation of global
majority people on school boards is inconclusive.

One of my priorities is collaborative decisionmaking. I would like to
engage stakeholders to consider policy proposals for a healthier and more
representative school board. I would support piloting district board
members if this was the desire of students and parents.

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

Yes I supported the 2016 Proposition A school bond. In some cases, I
believe the bond money was spent wisely, to upgrade school buildings and
outdoor classrooms. In other cases I don't think the bond money was spent
wisely, to cover attorney fees.

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

I support allowing noncitizen parents, guardians and caretakers of students
to vote in school board elections. The early part of my career was in the
immigrants' rights movement and I strongly support noncitizen stakeholder
participation in our democracy.

Did you take a public position on previous ballot initiatives on the


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

I strongly support partnerships between SFUSD and non-profit organizations. I
have served as a consultant on community outreach, program development and
fundraising for many nonprofit organizations that partner with SFUSD,
including Year Up Bay Area, Third Street Youth Center and Clinic, Inneract
Project, and SEO Scholars San Francisco. I was active in the B Magic
Coalition in the Bayview.

In my kids' elementary school we had a nonprofit organization that
supported our language pathways program. Previously we had Playworks
engaging students at recess and Reading Partners providing high intensity
tutoring and Community Grows supporting our outdoor classroom. These
organizations add tremendous value to our schools.

I love the community school model at BVHM and would like to see more
community schools.

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

Yes. I believe it is extremely important to listen to the people who are
closest to the problem when making decisions. I would love to see the
student representatives introducing legislation and voting on measures. I
would love to see more students in general coming to BOE meetings and
making their voices heard. And I would like to see more high schools
represented in these leadership positions.

I have served as staff support to decision-making boards of youth-serving
organizations and part of my role was to mentor and assist the youth
representatives on those boards to strengthen their voice.

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

The role of the School Board is to determine policy for the public schools
including educational goals and standards; approving curriculum; setting
the district budget, confirming appointment of all personnel, and approving
purchases of equipment, supplies, services, leases, renovation,
construction, and union contracts. The School Board is accountable to the
people of San Francisco.

The Board of Education appoints a superintendent of schools and holds them
to account for administering the day-to- operations of the schools.The
superintendent executes the policies set by the Board.

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

Many families are frustrated by SFUSD's transportation system. My kids take
Muni to and from school but this is not an option for younger students.
Also due to the current school assignment system many students face long
commute times. Many Muni routes have been consistently late in getting kids
to school which contributes to learning loss. Then the school's attendance
clerks knowingly mark these students as absent, creating emotional trauma
for the students and their families that have to deal with the truancy
letters and procedures. Furthermore the bus system is racist in itself
because all of the routes go to the west side of the city, inferring that
there are no students interested in attending schools on the east side of
the city. This creates limited options for families due to transportation.
I would like to see the number of students who can walk to school increase.

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

Yes, I strongly support universal access to PreK so that more students
enter kindergarten fully prepared and with exposure to a school
environment. Currently only 58% of students are kindergarten ready when
they enter kindergarten. Access to preschool is often determined by a
family's ability to pay. Universal access removes a barrier to a public
education for our young scholars, and is highly cost-effective. As a Board
of Education Commissioner, I would prioritize supporting families of Pre-K
and TK students with the enrollment process in a way that is culturally
respectful, trauma informed, and meets them where they are in their child's
educational journey and their capacity.

Funding of early childhood education in California is complex

https://www.startearly.org/enabling-smart-early-childhood-technology-in-public-systems/early-childhood-funding-in-california/#:~:text=Funding%20for%20these%20programs%20comes,through%20the%20state%2Dadministered%20Maternal%2C>, I will engage with stakeholders across the state to advocate for more
funding for the SFUSD Early Education Department, and turn to the National
Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC)

https://www.naeyc.org/about-us> for the early childhood practices, policy, and research that promotes high-quality early learning for all
young children.

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

I have not read her book but have followed Diane Ravitch throughout her
career and read many of her opeds and listened to her interviews. I agree
with Diana Ravitch's assessment that free market advocates, policymakers
and business leaders' embrace of high-stakes testing, school choice and
charter schools has harmed most young people and public education.

I encourage innovation within the existing public schools. I don't support
charter school expansion because I believe they drain resources from public
schools. Some charter schools offer an alternative that sometimes the
public education system is ill-equipped to provide. For example, Five Keys
charter school in SF has done an amazing job educating our justice-involved
youth and adults that otherwise would have been under-educated by SFUSD.

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

There are pros and cons to every kind of standardized test. In general
standardized tests test the ability to take the test which is why
universities including the University of California and Cal State are
moving against the use of standardized tests.

I am more interested in helping young people learn about themselves- what
are they good at? What do they like doing? What are they curious about? And
how can our public schools connect them with the skills knowledge and
experiences they need to develop to the fullest version of themselves. This
is why I want SFUSD to cocreate an Individualized Learning Plan with every
ninth grader through high school graduation that will prepare them for the
college or career of their dreams. To me this is a much better use of time
and resources.

I believe in assessments to help educators and systems better serve
students. Equitably evaluated standardized tests inform educators and
districts as to where the opportunities for improvement and innovation in
education exist. Well-designed standardized assessments tell educators what
each student's strengths and opportunities for growth are and support group
activities that develop all students in the classroom and inform a
curriculum that is equitable and inclusive. This allows educators to
calibrate their lessons to the learning edge of each current or incoming
student, supports students feeling seen/ heard/ welcomed in the classroom,
and ensures that students are appropriately challenged and supported.

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

I believe that those closest to the problem are closest to the solution;
therefore my approach will be to listen to students, their families, and
educators as experts in supporting, implementing and enhancing existing
strategies or co-developing new strategies to support focal groups of

Special Education Students

I believe we need to assess ALL children for learning differences early so
we can address them early before gaps widen. And I believe we need to
eliminate the stigma of having an individual education plan by creating an
Individualized Learning Plan for every high school student.

Some parents are frustrated because SFUSD is over-referring Black and Brown
children to special education. Some parents have sought IEPs for their
children at SFUSD and are frustrated by how difficult it was to get their
children assessed and to access needed supports. I believe strongly in the
integration of students with disabilities into general education classrooms
with the appropriate support. I think all students benefit from being with
each other. And in order to integrate, we must have additional resources
for paras and for educators.

English Language Learners

Providing individualized support to ELLs, keeping them in the classroom
with their peers, and using great resources

https://www.edutopia.org/article/10-strategies-support-english-language-learners-across-all-subjects> and strategies

https://www.edweek.org/teaching-learning/opinion-the-six-most-effective-instructional-strategies-for-ells-according-to-teachers/2021/06> assist English Language Learners and all students. I particularly like this

https://twitter.com/teacher2teacher/status/1423411139547787264?s&t=IoOIoA2qu_PrU9-qqEOoBw> providing students with alternatives to saying "I don't know." This
quote from Denita Harris, curriculum coordinator for the MSD of Wayne
Township, Indianapolis, about an asset-based approach to ELLs, resonates
with me: "English language learners possess a wealth of knowledge, and it is our obligation, as educators, to tap into their knowledge and continue
to build upon what our students already know and can do. We must remember
our students are in the process of learning a new language and are not in
the process of learning a language; therefore, we can provide the words and
the grammatical structures of the new language to help guide them in
speaking and writing."

Due Date: Sat, Sep 3, 11:59 pm.

Please submit by email to cc@sfgreens.org. For more information, call
Barry Hermanson at 415-255-9494. 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 7 from 6:30 - 9 pm). Please note the earlier start time. We hope to finish all
candidate interviews by around 8. 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. This will be a hybrid meeting, so you may
also talk to us via Zoom if you prefer. Our forum and endorsement
meeting will take place at the Redstone Building, on the third floor
(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,