SF Green Party School Board Endorsement Questionnaire 2012

Candidate Name: Gladys Soto
Phone Number: 415-713-9424
Web site: www.gladyssoto2012.org
E-mail: gladys@gladyssoto2012.org
Name of Campaign Manager: Durning, Santore & Davis LLC
Signed voluntary spending limit: Yes
Campaign Manager: Durning, Santore & Davis LLC
Major Endorsements: I have the following major endorsements to date and they are listed the most significant below.

Organizations and Democratic Clubs to date:

San Francisco Democratic Women in Action
Coleman Advocates for Children and Youth
Richmond District Democratic Club
San Francisco Latino Democratic Club
Irish American Democratic Club
FDR Democratic Club of San Francisco
Education Not Incarceration

Elected Officials and Commissioners

Mark Leno, State Senator
Leland Yee, State Senator
David Campos, District 9 Supervisor
Christina Olague, District 5 Supervisor
Malia Cohen, District 10 Supervisor
Kim-Shree Maufas, Board of Education Commissioner
Sandra Lee Fewer, Board of Education Commissioner
Emily Murase, Board of Education Commissioner
Chris Jackson, San Francisco Community College Board Trustee
Petra DeJesus, Police Commissioner and SFDCCC Member
Rafael Mandelman, SFDCCC Member
Matt Dorsey, SFDCCC Member
Kelly Dwyer, SFDCCC Member
Leah Pimentel, SFDCCC Member & LAFCO Commissioner
Gabriel Haaland, Former President, Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club
Debra Walker, Building Inspection Commissioner

Favorite Incumbent School Board Member: The members on the school board whose values are allied with mine are Kim-Shree Maufas and Sandra Fewer

Least favorite: I do not have a least favorite Commissioner. While the other five current members values do not ally with mine as Commissioners
Fewer and Maufas do, there are policy areas where we can work together,
such as Special Education, Nutrition and reauthorizing the Public Education
Enrichment Fund. If I am going to be a successful School Board
Commissioner, I will have to work with the majority of the Board to get
policy implemented that continues to close the achievement gap.

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

I am a parent of two students in the San Francisco Unified School District.
My Daughter goes to Lowell High School and my Son attends Rooftop
Elementary School.

Furthermore, I am a member of the San Francisco Unified School District
Bilingual Citizens Advisory Committee and serve on the School Site Council
at Rooftop Elementary school. Also, I am member of Parent Voices, an
organization fighting to make child-care more affordable and accessible.

2. Why are you running for school board?

I am a stakeholder in the SFUSD with two students in the public schools and
I am running to represent the underserved communities that I and my family
belong to in our School District. As a Latina, Second Language English
Learner and an immigrant, I want to bring representation from my
communities in San Francisco public schools to the School Board. Each
community makes up one quarter or more of our student population. However,
we do not have representation on the Board of Education and we have not had
Latino representation in four years.
This means that when policy is developed and implemented in SFUSD, the
communities my family is a part of do not have a voice in the discussion.
Our communities need a voice in the development of policy, whether it is in
regard to curriculum for traditional academic courses, environment,
discipline or nutrition.
Additionally, my goal is to continue the work of past and present
commissioners to minimize and hopefully close the achievement gap that
exists in our school district. During my first term, I am going to
concentrate my time on the following four policy items to continue closing
the achievement gap.

. Dedicate more resources to K-3 reading programs to increase every
students opportunity for success at the middle and high school levels

. Ensure Language Immersion programs are assessable to all students

. Continue Restorative Practice to keep students in the classroom and
learning through disciplinary issues

. Improve the nutritional choices available to students at San
Francisco's public schools.

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?

The Quality Teacher in Education Act of 2008 was designed to help
solve this problem. I do not know what progress has been made on the
goals of QTEA in terms of teacher mentorship and other strategies
designed to help and retain teachers in the cities most socially
stressed schools. One strategy to help solve this issue is a Labor-
Management team that is made up of UESF and SFUSD staff that work
together to develop strategies that could move some of the Districts
most experienced staff to the most stressed schools.

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

As a Candidate, I do not have all the information to give a give an in-
depth answer. However, I am a huge advocate for access to Pre- K
programs for every student, because early learning helps to reduce the
achievement gap and my goal on the School Board is to continue the
work of past commissioners to implement policy aimed at minimizing and
closing the achievement gap.

San Francisco through voter initiative has pre-school for all that is
managed through First 5 San Francisco. I do not know the level of
coordination that First 5 San Francisco has with the SFUSD, but First
5 is and should be a crucial partner to SFUSD because we are serving the same population. As a Board Commissioner I am going to analyze how
the District coordinates with First 5 and work with the
Superintendent, First 5 staff and stakeholders to make any
improvements possible to ensure every family wanting pre-school is
getting into a program.

In Addition to First 5 San Francisco, SFUSD has Child Development
Centers at or near elementary schools throughout the district that
provide Pre-K enrichment education to pre-school children. This is
also a crucial asset to reducing the achievement gap and I will
examine how children are enrolled and work with stakeholders to ensure
that every child is getting access to preschool through the District.

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

The School Board a few years ago passed a resolution that allows JROTC
to remain in the public schools as an after-school program. One of the
conditions of staying in the public schools is that the instructors
were to become credentialed teachers. To my knowledge this has not
happened and I cannot consider supporting the program until they
become credentialed teachers.

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

SFUSD has a lot of learning support services in its public schools.
Probably more than 100 organizations provide tutors, services and
other resources to our public schools. The main item we need to
ensure is that these services are equitable throughout SFUSD. If they
are not, then we need to increase the services in schools that need
the support the most.

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

Yes, I believe that district elections would allow for more diverse
representation on the San Francisco Board of Education. This will
increase the opportunity for families like mine that are
underrepresented in the SFUSD to get someone elected and have a voice
in policy development.

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

I do not like that general public comment is at the end of the
meeting. I would like general public comment to become the first
agenda item of the meeting, to increase the likelihood that
stakeholders will come to board meetings with issues they may have
with SFUSD. As it is now public comment is at the end of the meeting
and it is very difficult for families like mine to come and comment to
the Board at 10pm, when our children are going to bed earlier in the

I also would like for people to be able to attend the meeting and
speak without having to fill out speaker cards on any issue, not just
general public comment, but comment taken in regard to individual
agenda items.

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

As a candidate, it is difficult to have all the information available
regarding staff development and programs. I do know that
paraprofessionals often work in the most difficult situations in the
SFUSD and need quality staff development. Once I am elected, I will
work with UESF and the superintendent to better understand what needs
to be done in terms of staff development and work with my colleagues
on the Board to make those adjustments.

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

I am an immigrant to the United States and I am very supportive of
noncitizen parents, guardians and caretakers having the right to vote
in Board elections. I volunteered on the 2010 campaign that attempted
to make this happen and I will volunteer on the next campaign to make
this happen.

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?

As a candidate, I do not have information regarding how teacher input
is done throughout the SFUSD. My inclination is that it varies from
school to school and it would be difficult to force an administrator
to follow standard rules set by the Board. Any chance of increasing
teacher input would most likely have to be done through collective
bargaining with the administrators and I am open to having that item
be part of the bargaining process.

In regard to school site councils, the change I would like to see is
an increase in the level of underrepresented families on the School
Site Councils, so they have a stronger voice regarding policy
decisions being made about budgets and programs at the school.

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

I support student delegates and currently they can work with Board
Commissioners to develop policy. This seems to be a good arrangement
for them to be able to introduce legislation. Also, they do vote on
every item that comes before the Board, but they are not counted in
the official vote. This probably is because of the requirements placed
on the SFUSD as a special district of government.

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

To me the focus has been on the District's curriculum requirements of
A-G that set standards for every student in terms of coursework that
makes them ready for college upon graduation from SFUSD. This
requirement is a major step in improving achievement levels for
students in San Francisco's public schools.

In addition, Past commissioners have led the way in making curriculum
more diverse in San Francisco's public schools. The most recent
example of this is Commissioner Fewer's LGBTQ resolution in 2010. As
Board Commissioner I will not only ensure that the policy of past
commissioners to diversify curriculum continues to be implemented, but
I will work with stakeholders to enhance these policies when needed.

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

The Superintendent is accountable to the School Board to properly
implement their policies. The Superintendent should be held
accountable for how she/he does this work and if not done properly the
Board should change superintendents.

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 having armed police in our public schools. Schools
should have security, but they should be trained by SFUSD, supervised
by the Principal and accountable to the Board of Education.

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

The Board of Education recently worked to address the issue of student
assignment, but again issues with the system appear to continue. I am
not opposed to going through the process of redesigning student
assignment again. But, I believe we should give the system implemented
two years ago, at least five years of implementation before we examine
if changes need to made to the system.

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?

As a Candidate I do not have the information about income from rental
properties. However, my goal will be to hold on to property and find a
way for it to be a continual asset to the SFUSD.

I would like SFUSD to build housing for employees of the school
district and low income families with children attending public
schools. We know how difficult finding quality affordable housing can
be in our city and doing this could help increase the retention rate
of district employees and give low income families the opportunity to
have a home environment that is conducive to learning. Instead of
having to be a family of four living in a studio apartment, families
could have adequate space for their children to comfortably study at

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

I am a proponent of greening the environment in SFUSD schools, because
it helps improve the learning atmosphere for students. This year SFUSD
has begun to implement a plan costing fifty million dollars to improve
lighting, air quality, energy management and exit signs. As Board
Commissioner, I will ensure that this program's implementation is
completed, not only because of its positive impact on the environment.
But also because of the improvement this policy will have on student
safety and their ability to learn in a school setting.

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

Sunshine regulation at SFUSD is inadequate. My understanding is that
it is difficult to get information from the district and can take
weeks to receive. In addition, SFUSD will charge money for the
information requested. This makes it nearly impossible for many people
to access documents from SFUSD. Once elected to the Board, I would
like to work with my colleagues to change this system and make
information from the district easier to access.

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

Yes, Re-authorize the Public Education Enrichment Fund in two years.
Also, SFUSD has a grant department and perhaps grant money can also
help fund libraries, not just at high schools, but every school and
child development center in the District.

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

I am open to team teaching in SFUSD, but it would need to be done
collaboratively and the Superintendent would have to work with UESF to
make this happen. A Labor-Management team working together could
potentially make this happen.

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

I supported it and will continue to do so, as long as the money is
going to Pre-K and transitional Kindergarten classes to help students
who need the extra time to develop before entering a traditional
Kindergarten class.

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

I am supportive of teacher tenure, but because of the issues of
inequities in many schools, we have to be flexible. There may be
situations where we have to disrupt teacher tenure at a school and to
do that properly the Superintendent has to work with UESF to make
these adjustments. This is another area where a Labor management team
could work together to make agreements that benefit the students and
protect workers' rights.

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?

The most possible reform to happen is to remove the commercial from
the residential, which would return billions of tax payer dollars to
public schools. As a Board Commissioner I would advocate in any way
possible to make this happen

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 do not favor charter schools, because they are not accountable to
their stakeholders, like public school districts. Additionally, the
workers at almost every charter school are not unionized and do not
have collective bargaining rights.

That said, I have become aware of situations where charter schools do
fill a need that is difficult for public education to accomplish. Five
Keys works in San Francisco's jails and has done a great job providing
inmates with the opportunity of receiving a public education.
Administratively, this would be impossible for SFUSD to undertake and
Fill this need.

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

As only being a candidate, this is another question that is difficult
to give an in-depth answer. However, the implementation of inclusive
practice that puts Special Educations and English Lanquage Learners in
the Classroom can be a benefit to the educational experience of
Special needs and ELL students. For inclusive practices to be
successful we need to add support for teachers such as
paraprofessionals in the classroom. Adding such staff could be an
opportunity for team teaching and additional professional development
for teachers and paraprofessionals. To make this possible, one
strategy is to create a Labor-Management team to implement strategies
that are not top down but inclusive of stakeholders.

Additionally, regarding Special Education, the district recently
reorganized the Special Education Department and hired a new assistant
superintendent to lead the program. This was done due to widespread
dissatisfaction, as inequity of services for disabled students were
found throughout the program. Furthermore, it was discovered that a
disproportionate number of African American and Latino students were
being held in restrictive settings, which is unacceptable. The Board
of Education needs representation to ensure that the school district
is accountable in providing access and equity in special education and
is treating all student communities humanly.