SF Green Party School Board Endorsement Questionnaire 2012


Candidate Name: Kim Garcia-Meza


Phone Number: 415-644-VOTE (8683)


Web site: http://www.kimgarciameza.org


E-mail: kgm4schoolboard@gmail.com


Name of Campaign Manager: Jeremiah Jeffries


Signed voluntary spending limit: Yes


Campaign Manager: Jeremiah Jeffries


Major Endorsements:


Favorite Incumbent School Board Member: Sandra Fewer


Least favorite:

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

I was a bilingual public school teacher for over 10 years and I have been
working with SFUSD since 1989. I am a parent of 3 school age children. MY
two oldest started at Flynn Elementary and now attend SF Friend. My
youngest child attends a San Francisco public school (Flynn ES) and is in
the first grade. I am an advocate for parents, teachers, and children. In
addition to my time as a prek-12th grade public school teacher, I was
elected to serve on the Executive Board of United Educators of San
Francisco (UESF). I was a union rep at my school site. I also served on
the School Site Council, English Language Advisory Committee and District
English Language Advisory Committee for SFUSD. I am currently the chair of
SFUSD’s Bilingual Community Council. I have been an advocate for public
schools for over 20 years.

2. Why are you running for school board?

There are currently no teachers with
extensive experience in our Preschool-12th Grade public schools
in San Francisco. I will add a very knowledgeable and respectful
voice to the Board of Education. I am a long time advocate in
public schools for teachers, parent voice and bilingual education.
I am dedicated to promoting early literacy and strongly believe that
all students should have the opportunity to access higher education
and be prepared to enter a career of their choosing. I know this
opportunity begins in pre-school and must be nurtured and
supported through early literacy and positive school experiences
that keep students engaged throughout their school career. I have
a vision to closing the Achievement/Opportunity Gap between
students and I will work to help San Francisco public schools to be
a place that will provide a quality education to all our children.

3. 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?

SFUSD needs to take a close look at its hiring and teacher placement
process. I do not support moving teachers based on their experience or rate
of pay. Teachers often are integral parts of their school communities and
it would be very damaging to those communities to forcibly move their
teachers. However changing SFUSD’s hiring practices and creating a better
system for teachers who want to transfer to work in “socially stressed”
schools. To real focus here should be better serving students, giving them
what they need not teacher placement. I
support having a structure of increased prep-time and financial support
schools for students
who are struggling (similar to the current AP structure for “gifted and
talented” students).
I will also work to implement a policy of returning paraprofessionals
to the classroom to support instruction and help with classroom management.
This would reduce the isolation teachers feel and help to retain them.

Being an educator myself, I understand what a big difference a little
support can make in the life and longevity of an of educator. I will work
to ensure that all educators had sufficient materials and supplies as well
as people power (increased paraprofessional support) in their classrooms. I
would work to ensure that all educators had a at a minimum a COLA( Cost Of
Living Adjustment ) to their salaries.

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

Yes. I would lobby the state to
consider counting preschool age children in the average daily attendance to
fund pre-K. I would also make every elementary PreK-5th Grade. And start
the enrollment process there. Currently SFUSD has a Child Development
Program but it has strict eligibility requirement is remains mostly unknown
to the general public.

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

I support all afterschool programs that children benefit from and enjoy
participating in. I do not think JROTC should be protected or given special
treatment. No PE credit for an afterschool club. I do not think that SFUSD
should spend 1 million dollars or any money to maintain the JROTC program.
Its funding should only come from the Dept. of Defense, which should be
treated like any other organization/club that wants to use school property
after school hours.

6. What would you do to increase learning support services in San Francisco's public schools?

I support reauthorizing and expanding the
public school enrichment fund from the City. I support having more
counselors and wellness centers in all our high schools and middle schools.

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

NO!

8. What do you think of the public comment policy at school board meetings? How (if at all) would you change it?

I like that you don’t
have to call in ahead of time. I think people should be able to submit
public comment electronically for board members to review. Also I think
everyone should be given their two minutes.

9. How would you expand the opportunity for staff development for paraprofessionals? What do you think of the district's staff
development programs?

Young and experienced teachers & paraprofessionals should receive regular
trainings to teach in
more culturally competent and engaging ways and most importantly to build
healthy
relationships with students and families through restorative practices,
better classroom
management and student discipline techniques. SFUSD needs to invest in its
paraprofessionals and compensate them to attend all relevant professional
development

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

I support it!

11. 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?

My vision for SF’s school system is also a place where educators, parents
and youth
are involved and help bridge the gap between Board of Education Policy and
their
needs. We would solicit the feedback of parents, youth and educators to
support our
public schools and focus on the importance of human resources, with
everyone working
together to ensure that every child is successful.

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

Yes! I support the current SF youth commission and
expanding the youth commission to include
an appointments from the Board of Education Commissioners. I will work with
supervisors to
identify young people to work with them to gain valuable experience in city
hall.

13. What do you think of the District's and state's standards for curriculum? How would you increase student achievement levels?

The some of the standard are good, however they are inadequate and don’t
reflect what I needed for children. Also many of SFUSD’s curricular
decisions are decided at the state level, which then gives SFUSD a limited
choice. (very rarely is curriculum at that level decided based on how
children learn best.
To increase student achievement we must fight for small class size and
equal education opportunity (I am talking about actual courses, A-G for all
is only start), for students. All schools should have art & language
opportunities not just school with a wealthy parent base. To close
the achievement gap you fund the classroom, the course work and support that
goes directly to students. You fund classroom opportunities first before
downtown
or administrative projects or administrative overhead. Closing the
achievement
gap starts with involving and giving leadership to parents and students in
their own
outcomes. I will also work to implement a policy of returning
paraprofessionals
to the classroom to support instruction and help with classroom management.
I
support having a structure of increased prep-time and financial support to
students
who are struggling (similar to the current AP structure). I will continue
to support a
stronger bilingual and language capacity building programs for SFUSD.

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

The School Board is the employer of the Superintendent. As members of the
policy-making body, board members should hold the superintendent
accountable to policies that the board passes and should provide financial
oversight. Board members should ensure that the superintendent’s actions
reflect the will of the community. While the superintendent should have the
opportunity to provide input on the
policy development process, she/he needs to focus on the work of day-to-day
operations and
program implementation.

15. What do you think of the current arrangement of armed police officers in schools? What measures would you support to make sure that our children are safe in our schools?

I do not support armed
police in schools.

I support both new and experienced teachers
receiving regular trainings to teach in more culturally competent and
engaging ways and most importantly to build healthy relationships with
students and families through restorative practices, better classroom
management and student discipline techniques. I would also lower class size
and add an assistant to every classroom .

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

SFUSD has recently adopted a new student enrollment system. We are still
waiting for
the results and trends of this new system to be revealed to evaluate its
effectiveness.
However SFUSD's school enrollment process has been highly problematic,
especially
for bilingual students. Choosing a SF public school for any child in San
Francisco should
not be hard choice. It should be about programmatic differences and
uniqueness of
a school, not how neglected or under-resourced a school community is. Every
child
deserves to have a world class quality public education and every school
should offer
strong core of Reading and Math, as well as arts, music, new language
acquisition and
science. Every child should be given the opportunity to reach their
potential in a way of
their choosing to become good healthy citizens that value one another.
SFUSD need to be more family friendly in its enrollment process and needs
constant scrutiny to ensure equity and balance.

17. A portion of SFUSD income is from rental of various properties. What changes should the district make to increase the income from
these properties?

Do not believe in "surplus" property. I believe the School District has
properties
that are "under-utilized". SFUSD should maintain all their properties
(property is
a finite resource that once you lose in the bay area it hard or near
impossible to
receive again) and open them for more public and community use. This would
serve to create more parks and safety zones in which families and their
children
can gather and hold community events. SFUSD could also use those spaces to
provide quality parent support and wellness options for every neighborhood.

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

For SFUSD to improve its environmental practice it must change the
applicable structures of the institution, the behavior of the adults and
the behavior of the students. As an institution we must invest in greening
our facilities, purchase environmentally friendly materials, supplies,
reduce waste and have quality food choices for our children to eat. Our
lunch program cannot be a constant parade of plastic and dairy. As adults
we must be explicit in our green choices for what we purchase for our
classrooms, every school should have some sort of edible garden program.
Teachers have to teach our students about sustainability and reducing our
environmental impact. Students must begin to learn about the environment
and practice their learning in a way that builds habits of thought and
consumption that lead to healthy choices now and in the future. As a small
business owner (I run my own preschool, Las Mañanitas) I have experience,
in a school setting, integrating environmental literacy into curriculum,
working with parents to make healthy choices, making green choices for our
facilities and working with local food growers and organizations to provide
healthy food options for my students. I have been committed to having my
business, our school community at Las Mañanitas, be as green and natural as
possible. In Las Mañanitas there are little to no plastic products. We
maintain an edible garden and even raise chickens. It is an integral part
of our learning environment. We make sustainability a value we teach our
children from an early age. There also needs to be a parent education
component to help parents be more environmentally conscious in their choices
for themselves and their children.

19. What is your assessment of how adequate the School Board Sunshine regulation is?

SFUSD School Board Sunshine does not go far enough. I will work for San
Francisco’s school system to be a place the has a fair and open
(transparent) budget process. I will work to make the budget more
comprehensible, more transparent and more accessible. I support the budget
being presented in multiple languages and available for the hearing and
visually impaired. As a small business owner, starting and running my own
preschool I understand how budgets work and how valuable budget information
is. Having the input of teacher, parents and students to determine budget
priorities and to understand the impact of budget decisions is invaluable.
Making all departments budgets available online in a searchable format,
with tools for the public to make changes and clearly see the impact of
decisions for themselves. I also support having a public process where each
dept. would present their budget. I also support zero-base budgeting
prioritizing the classroom first, ensuring that every year the public and
the board know where every dollar is spent. The budget should also show at
least two-year differentials between what was budgeted and what was spent
and how it changed over a two-four year period. This would be a
significant step to transparency that I would support. Without this level
of transparency it is difficult to hold the Board of Education or any
institution accountable.

20. Should every high school have a functional, open, operating library? If so, how could we make it happen?

Yes! Pursuing grants and increasing the pubic enrichment fund for libraries.

21. Would you favor a transition away from a reliance on paraprofessionals to team teaching in socially stressed schools?

No.
Paraprofessional staff are essential to working in classroom and providing
instructional support. We need more paraprofessionals not less. Having two
teachers in a classroom would be extremely beneficial but economically its
not practical.

22. Did you support SB 1381, the proposal that raised the age requirement for students entering kindergarten?

YES!

23. What do you think of the current rules regarding teacher tenure?

I like and support teacher tenure! It protects against discrimination
(especially ageism) and guarantees due process for every employee.

24. Do you think Prop 13 needs to be reformed? If so, in what ways? How will you use your position on the Board to advocate for this?

Yes. Prop 13 needs to be reformed. I will work to end the corporate
benefits in prop 13 and fight for more significant tax reform in
California, especially ending the 2/3rds budget requirements.
I would support and advocate for a statewide special election in Feb or
June for
a new statewide revenue measure on education funding or specifically to
repeal the corporate portions of prop 13 so that there can be a focused
campaign towards a more permanent solution to California fiscal woes. I
would work with educators, parents, youth and labor organizations to build
this campaign.

25. Have you read Diane Ravitch's recent 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 the book. I do not support the privatization of public
schools. I believe the recent proliferation of charter schools is about
privatization. Creating charter schools are not a good reform model. I do
however support schools like Gateway or 5 Keys Charter (in the SF Jails)
that seek to serve the students SFUSD has failed or not provided for. Any
approved Charters should have to offer something distinct and effective,
than what the district is able or willing to provide.

Nationally Charter schools are part of a gross anti-education rhetoric and
practice that shifts responsibility away form the people most responsible
for undermining public education.

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

Special Education: SFUSD needs a comprehensive audit of its education
services. Schools need to be sure that students IEP goals are being
monitored and met. Also the district needs to comply with state law and
regulation because current practice often leads to costly litigation and
settlements that undermine our overall budget. At a minimum, SFUSD needs to
meet all its legal obligations to students with IEP’s and who are at risk,
but also to push them beyond that to address bullying and other quality of
life and learning issues and work toward a culture of inclusion in all our
schools.

For English Language Learners:

All of my children are Spanish speakers and came into SFUSD designated as
ELL students. I worked for many years in SFUSD as a Spanish bilingual
teacher in the Mission. I am passionate about providing quality education
for our ELL students. This begins with access to these programs and
excellence in implementation once we are in these programs. I have also
been very involved in education policy at the district level through the
Bilingual Community Council for SFUSD, where I serve as co-chair. I have
worked to provide real data that demonstrates the academic achievement of
English Language Learner students in all the language pathways - English
Plus, Bilingual, and Immersion. We have successfully advocated for STAR and
CELDT results to be sent to parents in Spanish and Chinese, allowing
parents more voice in their children's education. We have also
successfully uncovered enrollment practices that deny some of our English
language learners access to various learning tracks. We have successfully
advocated for reform of the reclassification of students, particularly
English learner students, who are also Special Ed.