SF Green Party School Board Endorsement Questionnaire 2014
Candidate Name: Emily M. Murase, PhD
Phone Number: 415.742.1860
Web site: www.emilymurase.com
Name of Campaign Manager: Chris Rankin
Signed voluntary spending limit: No
Campaign Manager: firstname.lastname@example.org, 415.857.3647
Major Endorsements: Chinese American Democratic Club
Democratic Women in Action Democratic Club
Municipal Executives Association Political Action Committee
Parent Political Action Committee
San Francisco Building & Construction Trades Council
San Francisco Democratic County Central Committee
U.S. Congresswoman Jackie Speier
California State Senator Mark Leno
California State Assemblymember Phil Ting
California State Board of Equalization Betty Yee
Former California State Assemblymember Fiona Ma
San Francisco Assessor-Recorder Carmen Chu
San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón
San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi
San Francisco Treasurer Jose Cisneros
San Francisco Board of Supervisors: President David Chiu, Eric Mar, Malia Cohen,
Mark Farrell, Norman Yee, Scott Weiner.
San Francisco Board of Education Commissioners Jill Wynns,
Matt Haney, Rachel Norton
San Francisco College Board Trustee Lawrence Wong
Democratic County Central Committee: Chair Mary Jung, Alix Rosenthal, Arlo Hale Smith, Bevan Dufty, Bill Fazio, Leah Pimentel, Rebecca Prozan
Favorite Incumbent School Board Member: All
Least favorite: None
1. How are you currently involved in the SFUSD -- or how were you
involved in the past?
I currently serve as Vice President of the Board of Education. During
my first term, I chaired the Building & Grounds Committee, the
Curriculum Committee, the Rules Committee, and the Ad-Hoc Committee on
Student Assignment. I am a parent of a sophomore in high school and a
7th grader in middle school, and I am a proud graduate of San
Francisco public schools: Argonne, Frank McCoppin, Alamo, Anza (now
Wallenberg), Presidio, and Lowell. As a parent volunteer, I served on
the Parent Teacher Community Council of the Japanese Bilingual
Bicultural Program (PTCC JBBP), the PTCC JBBP Advisory Board, the Rosa
Parks School Site Council, and chaired the SFUSD Parent Advisory
2. Why are you running for school board?
I am focused on an ABC agenda.
A = Academic Achievement
Despite budget cuts of up to 25% of our operating budget, San
Francisco remains one of the top performing urban school districts in
the state, with several California Distinguished Schools and National
Blue Ribbon Schools. At the same time, we still face a serious
opportunity gap for underperforming students. We must use a variety of
approaches, including showcasing high achievers. I have been a strong
supporter of the annual African American Honor Roll Program as one
strategy. We need to keep our focus on high academic achievement for
all our students.
B = Bullying
I authored a resolution to recommit the district to addressing
bullying in school, something our family experienced and overcame. I
partnered with CommonSense Media to bring $40,000 in resources to
launch an annual Internet Safety Day which covered cyberbullying for
all students. We need to ensure that our schools are safe places for
C = College & Career Ready Graduates
I have been an advocate of high school pathways to connect students to
future career options. Galileo Academy of Science & Technology, for
example, offers 6 different pathways: digital arts, environmental
science, hospitality, computer programming, biotech, and
health. Students spend 2-3 years in these programs. In the health
pathway, students become eligible for certification as Emergency
Medical Technicians (EMTs). We need to continue to give options to our
high school students.
3. How do you feel about the current school assignment system?
Would you make changes, and if so, which ones?
I am committed to providing families with choices. The language
programs that the school district offers, in Cantonese, Mandarin,
Japanese, Korean, Spanish, and Tagalog in elementary school, French,
Italian, Hebrew in high school, keep families from moving away.
There is currently a proposal before the board to give families a
higher preference for attendance area schools than currently. While I
am inclined to support the policy change, I want to be sure that the
change has been discussed thoroughly with a broad range of
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?
The Quality Teacher Education Act of 2008 took specific measures to
address these concerns. Teachers at the 25 most challenged schools
receive a $2000 bonus and teachers in hard to fill subjects (math,
science, languages, and special education) receive a $1000 bonus. I
believe these incentives to be an effective way to retain good
teachers in socially stressed 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?
A group of public school parents founded EdMatch to address this very
concern. EdMatch is designed to equalize fundraising so that those
schools without strong parent bodies can benefit from private
fundraising as well. Rather than duplicate efforts, I would like to
see philanthropy directed to under-resourced schools through EdMatch.
6. What is your position on JROTC in the public schools?
After visiting JROTC classes and speaking with students, alumni, and
faculty, I have become a strong supporter of JROTC. Marginalized
students, students who are not natural athletes, or interested in
cheerleading, or spending their time in other organized
extracurricular club activities have found community through the JROTC
program. So many students, especially minority and low-income, have
expressed to me their relief in having found a school-based family.
The last time I looked into enlistment numbers, there were only 3
SFUSD graduates who enlisted into the military, and none of them were
7. Would you support district elections for school board members?
No. City-wide elections ensure that school board members care about
all schools, without preference to a particular neighborhood.
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 essential to our decision-making. It is important
that everyone understand the function of public comment and that it is
not an opportunity to engage in substantive discussion. This should be
emphasized before public comment period.
9. How would you expand the opportunity for staff development for
paraprofessionals? What do you think of the district's staff
My first term in office has been characterized by a budget crisis that
reduced our operating budget by as much as 25%. Now that funding is
becoming more readily available, I would like to see investments in
staff development, including career pathways for
paraprofessionals. Last year, for the first time, staff put together a
catalog of summer professional development opportunities. We need to
make this information and registration available on-line.
10. What is your stance on allowing noncitizen parents, guardians and
caretakers of students to vote in school board elections?
There are already several ways in which noncitizen parents, guardians,
and caretakers can participate in school governance. Each school site
has a School Site Council which sets the school's priorities and
budgets. Each school site is supposed to have an English Language
Advisory Committee composed of English Language Learner parents,
guardians, and caretakers. There are also a District-wide English
Language Advisory Committee and a Bilingual Community Council which
draw representatives from schools district-wide. The Parent Engagement
Department is responsible for addressing concerns raised by all
parents, guardians, and caretakers, regardless of citizenship status.
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
I have a strong working relationship with the leadership of the United
Educators of San Francisco who alert me to teacher perspectives on key
administrative decisions. I also consult with and hear directly from
teachers themselves, which is part of my job. In key personnel
decisions, for example, I want to know the recommendation of the
school site council.
12. Would you strengthen the voice of the elected student
representatives, so that they could introduce legislation and vote on
Earlier this year, I introduced a resolution to promote enrollment in
the Affordable Care Act through high school Wellness Centers with the
help of student volunteers. The student delegates joined me as named
authors. I am not aware of issues where the student delegates' status
has been problematic.
13. How do you see the role of the School Board in comparison to the
role of the superintendent?
The school board sets the policy direction and provides oversight for
policy implementation. The most important duties of the school board
are to adopt a budget and to evaluate the Superintendent. The
Superintendent is in charge of policy implementation.
14. A portion of SFUSD income is from rental of various properties.
What changes should the district make to increase the income from
Actually, I am currently working on an issue with the Girl Scouts who
would like to continue to meet at schools without charge. Rental
income must be considered on a case-by-case basis.
15. What should the district do to make its schools more
As a member of the Building & Grounds Committee, we recommended a
policy of eliminating bottled water contracts for all schools that had
access to high quality tap water. The bottled water contract for the
Board of Education office was terminated immediately.
My daughters attended Rosa Parks Elementary School in the Western
Addition. During their time there, the blacktop schoolyard was
transformed into an outdoor garden and classroom. Every school should
have access to a gardening program.
16. What is your assessment of how adequate the School Board Sunshine
The school board takes great care in meeting all of the requirements
of the state Brown Act. As a state agency, the school district is not
subject to the San Francisco Sunshine Act.
17. Should every high school have a functional, open, operating
library? If so, how could we make it happen?
A sizable portion of the $60 million Public Enrichment Education Fund
is dedicated to library services. Every high school should already
have a functional, open, operating library. Due to the budget crisis,
the funding of library staff suffered. However, staffing will improve
as our budget situation improves.
18. Would you ensure that all San Francisco students have access to a
public pre-K program? If so, how?
Pre-K education is enormously expensive. The school district has
prioritized pre-K programs for low-income families who do not have
other options, which I believe to be the right priority.
19. Did you support SB 1381, the proposal that raised the age
requirement for students entering kindergarten? How will you ensure
that Transitional Kindergarten is available to all students?
Yes, I supported raising the age requirements for students entering
kindergarten to reflect the findings of considerable early childhood
research and align with many other states. The school district's
Transitional Kindergarten priorities low-income families but has been
able to meet most demand.
20. What do you think of the current rules regarding teacher tenure?
I find the controversy over teacher tenure to be a distraction from
the basic issues of providing support to new teachers, ongoing support
to continuing teachers, and supporting teachers who need to exit the
21. 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?
Prop 13 absolutely needs to be reformed. I read in the LA Times that
Disneyland pays something like $.05 per square foot, and the only time
this would be reassessed is if Disneyland were to move. This is a
travesty. Corporations must pay their fair share of property taxes. I
have pledged support to Assemblymember Phil Ting who has launched a
campaign to split the Prop 13 tax rolls so that protections for the
disabled, seniors, and families remain, but corporations are required
to pay their fair share.
22. 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. Ravitch unequivocally rejects the high stakes testing framework
that she helped to create under No Child Left Behind. Already, the
school district has incorporated measurements beyond merely English
and math scores with which to evaluate schools and student
success. Under a newly constructed School Quality Improvement System,
schools will be evaluated on science, history, and other subjects, as
well as the social-emotional well-being of the students.
Charter schools must address a gap that traditional schools cannot
fill. One of the best examples of this is the award-winning Five Keys
Charter School that serves county jail inmates. Clearly, traditional
schools cannot meet the needs of inmates. Overall, research about
charter school performance has not demonstrated a significant
advantage over traditional public schools.
23. What do you think of the District's and state's standards for
curriculum, and the federal Common Core mandate? How would you
increase student achievement levels?
The Common Core releases educators from the tyranny of prescribed
textbooks and high stakes testing and empowers them to find their own
materials. It opens up space for collaborative work among educators.
Student achievement relies on a variety of factors. The work of
Professor Linda Darling-Hammond at Stanford has demonstrated that
investments in teacher recruitment, training, and retention can
overcome even the strongest influences of disadvantaged backgrounds,
including community violence and homelessness.
24. How can the public schools better address the needs of Special
Education students and ESL students?
In my first term, I supported the seismic shift in the district away
from segregated special education classrooms to a policy of inclusion
at all schools. While the policy is still in the process of being
fully implemented, I firmly believe this to be the right direction.
Stanford University researchers examined the outcomes of our ESL
students and documented exceptional progress in mainstreaming these
students into non-ESL designated classes.
25. 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 firmly believe that the best decisions are supported by a broad
coalition of stakeholders. I consult regularly with families, school
district staff, our labor partners, business representatives, and