SF Green Party School Board Endorsement Questionnaire 2022

Due Date: Saturday, September 3

Candidate Name: Gabriela López

Phone Number: 415-879-8683

Web site: gabrielalopez.org

E-mail: lopez4schools@gmail.com

Name of Campaign Manager: Jeremiah Jeffries

How much do you expect to spend in this contest: 25,000

Major Endorsements: San Francisco Latinx Democratic Club, Harvey Milk Democratic Club, San Francisco League of Pissed Off Voters, San Francisco Berniecrats, Board of Supervisors President Shamann Walton, Former Assemblymember Tom Ammiano, Board of Education Commissioner Mark Sanchez, Board of Education Commissioner Matt Alexander

Incumbent Board Member whose votes most reflect your values: Commissioner Mark Sanchez

Incumbent whose votes least reflect your values: Commissioner 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?)

During my term on the Board of Education, I focused entirely on ensuring all students, educators and families were safe during the height of the COVID pandemic. As a member and president of the San Francisco Board of Education I lead and oversaw the successful implementation of:

Online Learning Program (OLP), a program for medically fragile students or students whose health would be put at risk, and On Demand Learning Program (ODLP), available to students who do not meet the criteria for the OLP but whose parent/legal guardian is requesting a remote learning option for the Fall of 2021.
Provided a robust crisis distance learning program for all students during the first year of the pandemic
Provided over 1.2 million meals to families in need during the pandemic and helped launch the first ever food distribution site on Treasure Island
Distributed over 15,000 Laptops and WiFi to ensure families had consistent access to online learning
Distributed over 3000 Learning Kits to students and families
Prioritized in person instruction during the spring 2020 for students with special needs and students who would benefit from in-person instruction while giving families the option to remain online
Conducted multiple cycles of wellness checks to support families
Ensured all school workers continued to be paid during school closures due to health orders
Supported front line workers with additional pay and supplemental sick leave to allow workers to take care of themselves and family when impacted by Covid-19
I took the response to COVID in schools seriously, and implemented mask and vaccine mandates when it was still unsafe to congregate in large groups, per the California Department of Public Health and San Francisco Department of Public Health guidelines. It is also clear that many students, families and residents in San Francisco abide by these guidelines to continue to ensure safety in our city.

2. Why are you running for school board?

My responsibility as a teacher is to learn from experience and grow. The meaning of this last year is that we need to bring our communities together to face difficult issues, not let them divide us. But that is what is happening today. It's hurting our schools and our City. I am running for a seat on the Board of Education to bring us together, to continue to listen, to care and to ensure that these spaces are welcoming for all of our families.

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

I was previously elected in 2018 to the Board of Education, becoming the youngest person ever elected to the BOE. I served as the Curriculum chair before becoming Vice-President after serving for one year. Soon after, I was elected president for two terms, which has historically been done twice, both times by men. Prior to that, I worked as a public school teacher in SFUSD in the Mission District. And currently, I work with future educators who are student teaching in SFUSD schools.

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

While on the Board of Education, I was on the Student Assignment committee as President, overseeing the work our district was doing to create more integrated school environments that have been lacking historically in San Francisco public schools. It is common knowledge that in San Francisco, schools are now more segregated than when it was law, and I fully support the work being done to address and change that reality. While serving, I joined multiple community in-person and online meetings, helped gather data and input form students, educators and families, and worked with district staff and outside entities that were supporting this research in order to best educate the public on what we were doing to address this issue in our school district.

During my time on the Board of Education, I did not support the return to merit-based admissions after recognizing that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the process in place, which requires standardized testing results and grades, could not be fulfilled. It was especially evident once we saw the increase in diversity after one year of having the lottery in place, that Lowell should continue to be a school that is inclusive and open to all who wish to attend. Additionally, school district lawyers have repeatedly explained publicly that going back to a merit-based system is against California Education code which means SFUSD is not complying with the law. Public high schools should have no barriers to attending.

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 troubled when any school receives more funding than another. First and foremost we need to tackle the root cause of this problem - de facto school segregation. We can make progress through greater parent outreach, changes to the school assignment system which is underway, and improvements to the quality of education in our public schools. In the short term we should be tracking the amount of money that comes in through parent fundraisers and I would support efforts to compensate for large gaps with money from the general budget. I want to call on San Franciscans to view the overall health of our school system and our schools as a shared responsibility.

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?

As an educator and former board of Education commissioner, I am very familiar with the Williams Act. I believe that all students deserve access to educational materials and effective learning environments that are inclusive, creative and joyful. Within my roles, I have not seen this be implemented to fidelity and spent my time on the board addressing and working on it, including incorporating the technology part of education that is quickly becoming more prominent in our education systems.

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

I do not support JROTC programs as it teaches youth to glorify the military. I feel there are many other programs that are and should be available to high school students centered around the arts, science and technology, that would provide a place for them to go and also a set of skills they could use in the long term. I support the board's decision, more than 10 years ago now, to remove the program from our schools, one that is outdated and created over a century ago.

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

I would if the aim was to appropriately represent specific areas of the city, by people who reflect understanding those needs.

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

I did support the 2016 Prop A school bond and any measures that support improving our public schools. During my tenure we publicly worked on presentations of funding distribution, holding several meetings explaining its usage and prioritizing projects that were of higher need.

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 subject?

I am absolutely for allowing non-citizen voting by parents who have children in the district, since many parents work directly with the schools, teachers, students and other families who are consistently participating in making our schools better. We need to ensure they have an opportunity to be a part of deciding who gets to represent the students of San Francisco. They are contributing citizens of our society who pay taxes and participate in a variety of ways, so they should have the right to vote in these elections. And it is a shame that this right, one that was hard fought and unheard of, is now being challenged and taken away.

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

During my time on the board, I also spent time building with the various non-profit organizations that serve our students. We created spaces to have direct communication and to find better alignment in the work organizations provide in addition to what the school district can do. I believe many have deeper, closer relationships with the students and families we serve, and it is our duty to strengthen that relationship to ensure we are fully serving our students.

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

While serving on the Board of Education, I emphasized the voices and work of our elected student representatives as they are the reason we are doing this work. As Vice President and President, I welcomed incoming student delegates and met with them weekly to make connections with district personnel, community orgs and leaders, and other people who can support the work they are exploring, in addition to what we were providing. I centered students, figuratively and literally, even rearranging their seating at the dias.

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

The School Board and the superintendent's role is to work continually together to improve the system being put in place by both parties. There needs to be communication, transparency and accountability in order to build an effective relationship and appropriately represent the school district.

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

I have worked on efforts to better utilize our district transportation system while serving on the Board of Education, and I know that we can continue to improve what we are providing for students currently. I supported Free MUNI for all youth in our city, which is currently being used by all SFUSD students. I also would love to see more city public investments in transit for our disabled youth who need transportation but are not being served by MUNI currently.

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

It is no mystery that learning begins at birth and supporting our youngest San Franciscans with access to high quality early education experiences helps prepare them for life and learning. I will fight for the early education programs in SFUSD and support continued efforts to improve and maintain these high quality programs. This means ensuring all children in San Francisco receive early childhood education, increasing salaries of early child care professionals and supporting professional development opportunities for our early education staff. I will support early childhood education workers, and expand offerings so that every child entering the school district will have an opportunity to have early childhood education. We are lucky to have so many early education opportunities for families in our county and I would like to ensure that SFUSD continues to be a leader in these efforts.

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 system?

I have not read Diane Ravitch's book yet! But in learning more it's imperative that the school district look at the very clear research that addresses the privatization, standardized testing, merit-based pay and punitive discipline systems's effect on a child's education. And use that data and information as a guide for better policy and systems. And especially pull from the resources we currently have, many of whom are teachers in the district.

We have to keep public funding with public schools. It is well established that on the whole, Charter Schools do not outperform public schools and that is despite the overwhelming emphasis many charters place on test scores. Through experience, I know charter schools have inequitable pay scales, no union representation and have occupied space within public schools taking more opportunities away from our students. As a school board member, I did not support charters taking space within San Francisco. As an educator, I could only soundly agree with schools that provided unique services that ours do not, such as housing. We have an obligation to do right by our students and we undermine us all when we give into the narrative of charters and privatize our most valuable resource in creating equity, our 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've seen first-hand how the districts exacerbate over-testing with all the Reading, Writing and Math interim assessments taken away from instruction. I see how disastrous and inappropriate the district's efforts to do standardized tests with early childhood education, TK and Kindergarten students is wrong when educators should be focused on the development of the child. I support teachers being able to choose the assessments that will most inform their practice and allow them to best meet the learning needs of their students. Students would benefit more and I would be able to support them through more planning time instead of test training and staff time spent looking at repetitive and useless data for students they are likely no longer working with.

State-mandated standardized tests play no role in improving outcomes for SFUSD students. In my view, standardized tests have served one purpose: exposing the pervasive achievement gap affecting African-American and Latino students. We do not need to continue burdening our teachers, torturing our students, and distracting our parents with tests that highlight what we already know and offer no actionable path to a better education. This is why my colleagues and I, with support from the union, have taken the opportunity to inform our families of their right to opt-out from these irrelevant, anxiety-inducing tests. Our schools deserve more than to be interrupted so frequently for a poor measure of accountability when we could implement a more holistic approach that honors students' achievements honestly. Also, if there are going to be standardized tests, the results should trigger additional resources and support for students.

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

As an English Language Learner myself, I understand deeply the effects this has on the education of immigrant and working-class communities. One of my core values, not only in this campaign, but also in my teaching and role as a commissioner, is ensuring that students and families have the necessary language access in order for them to be most successful. We need more inclusive support for English language learners without taking away opportunities for Arts, Tech and Science classes when they get to middle school. This is the same for students with Special needs.

We must ensure that our students with the highest needs get support and resources that work specifically for them. I am for improving special education supports - developing a plan to consolidate services, reduce lawsuits and ensure our students' learning needs are getting met with the resources we do have while advocating for state and federal dollars to bridge the gap in staffing, training and type of services and opportunities available to students to address dyslexia, autism and other learning differences.

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,