SF Green Party School Board Endorsement Questionnaire 2014


Candidate Name: Dennis Yang
Phone Number: (415) 373-8609
Web site: www.democracy.com/dennisyang
E-mail: yangeducationsf@gmail.com
Name of Campaign Manager: none
Signed voluntary spending limit: no
Campaign Manager: none
Major Endorsements:
Favorite Incumbent School Board Member: I like all the members.
Least favorite: None

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

I was a student in the SFUSD, first attending Spring Valley Elementary
School, then Marina Middle School, and finally Lowell High School. As
a graduate student, I was a tutor at Lowell before returning to my
alma mater as a teacher for three years. I also devoted a great deal
of my personal time to tutoring, mentoring, and counseling new
immigrant students in the SFUSD during summers and weekends.

2. Why are you running for school board?

As a proud product of the SFUSD and a former San Francisco public
school teacher, I have been on the frontlines and understand full well
the needs of all those involved in our educational system. I know the
needs of the students, parents, teachers, and administration and how
best to respond and meet each group’s needs. I believe that this
experience makes me uniquely qualified to be on the Board of
Education. Besides my experience as a public school teacher, I am
also a San Francisco independent school teacher. I want to bring the
skills and best practices that I have acquired from the SF independent
schools and infuse them into the SFUSD and improve the overall
educational system and quality of our public schools.

3. How do you feel about the current school assignment system? Would you make changes, and if so, which ones?

I am not in agreement with the current student assignment system. As
a member of the school board, I would propose neighborhood schools for
students in elementary school. This way the students will not need to
cause or be stuck in traffic, in order to get across town to go to
school. Once they reach middle school and high school age, we can
then apply the student assignment process for students to attend
different schools, thereby helping to diversify our schools.

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?

I would propose that we offer a monetary bonus to those teachers who
would be willing to be redistributed throughout the city. I believe
that we need to increase the salaries of all teachers in order to
attract good teachers and to provide them with the necessary support
and training to work 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?

I am concerned about the inequality in fundraising between schools in
different neighborhoods. I would propose that we do more fundraisers
citywide to raise funds for schools with less parent fundraising.
Another idea would be to do something similar to major league baseball
and that is revenue sharing. Under baseball’s revenue sharing plan,
each team contributes a certain percentage of their funds to a pool
which is redistributed to all the teams, with teams having the least
funding getting the greatest percentage of funds from the pool. We
could do something similar to this with all schools contributing a
percentage of their parent-raised funds to a pool. The percentage
given could be 5 to 10 percent but the contribution amount would be
the same for all schools. Afterwards the funds would be redistributed
to all the schools, with the schools that have historically low parent
fundraising given the most revenues.

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

I believe that there is a place for the JROTC program in our public
schools. Although I am anti-war, the JROTC program provides students
with discipline and a regiment that they would not have outside of the
program. I can attest to the fact that while I was a student, the
JROTC gave some of my friends the discipline and structure that they
needed in their lives. I am also opposed to the military using the
JROTC to recruit our young people.

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

I would support district elections for school board members. This way
the candidates can focus on campaigning within their own districts and
not have to worry about getting votes city-wide. There would be a lot
less wasted money and materials used on reaching out to all the
districts. However, once elected, the board members would have to
become aware of the needs city-wide and not just within their own
district.

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

I would like to see the public comments given more time at meetings.
We could also create a Twitter or Facebook page for public comments.
In this way, the school board members could take time to process and
respond to the online comments.

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

I would work with the other school board members to allocate more
funding in order to create more staff development opportunities for
paraprofessionals. I believe that there is always room for
improvement and expansion with regards to the staff development
programs.

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

I believe that noncitizen parents, guardians, and caretakers should be
allowed to vote in school board elections.

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?

I would work closely with the UESF and other school board members to
create a Teacher Advisory Council. This council would provide
increased teacher input in administrative decision-making. I would
also work with the various school site councils and other school board
members to create a School Site Advisory Council with which to
increase the voice of school site councils in administrative
decision-making.

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

If I am elected to the school board, I will definitely strengthen the
voice of the elected student representatives, so that they could
introduce legislation and vote on measures. I would work closely with
them to give them a greater voice and greater representation on the
Board of Education. In this way, they will have a more active role in
their learning and education and not just sit by passively while
adults dictate to them what they must do.

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 member, along with the other members of
the Board, is to make policies and decisions with the best interest of
the children’s educational welfare in mind. The role of the
Superintendent is to implement the policies of the Board and provide
supervision of the educational system. The Superintendent also
provides educational policy advice to the Board.

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

The district should make sure that all properties available for rent
are rented out and that a steady stream of revenue is coming from
these rentals. Any long term rentals should be checked to make sure
that they are paying the fair market rate rent. If not, their rents
should then be adjusted. Any properties that are not rentable can be
sold. The resulting revenue could be used to buy other property to
rent out or used to create an endowment fund for the school district.

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

The district should make sure that we are using 100% recycled paper in
all areas of the schools. The district must also make sure that all
schools have recycling and compost bins and containers. The students
should be encouraged to use these bins to help sustain the environment
and help schools be more environmentally friendly.

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

I believe that the School Board can always improve by being more
transparent and forthcoming with information.

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

I believe that every school should have a functional, open, operating
library. We could work with large companies or high tech companies to
obtain funding from them to help with school libraries. By
participating more in our schools, the high tech companies will help
to improve their perceived image of not caring about or being a part
of the community. We could also seek contributions and book donations
from local communities to help with the school libraries.

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

Yes, I would. I will work with the other board members and the Early
Education Department to help promote the EED programs on social media
and by holding meetings within different communities to help spread
the word about the early childhood education programs.

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 support SB 1381. I will work with the other school board
members to allocate the funds necessary to ensure that Transitional
Kindergarten is available to all students.

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

I do not agree with the Vergara lawsuit. I agree with the current
rules regarding teacher tenure and due process for teachers.

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?

I think that Prop 13 should be reformed so that corporations pay more
taxes. I will use my position on the Board to reach out to state
Assemblymen and Senators who are willing to reform Prop 13, and work
with them to accomplish this.

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?

No, I have not read her book. I am a firm believer and proponent of
public schools and public education. I am a proud product of the
SFUSD. I feel that charter schools are direct competitors to public
schools and research has shown that charter schools are not
necessarily better at educating our kids than public schools.
Families should choose public schools as their primary option and
charter schools as a secondary option.

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?

I agree with their standards for curriculum. I would work with the
other school board members to ensure that the district provides
adequate training and support to all teachers so that they can best
implement Common Core in their curriculum and daily lesson plans. As
teachers become better at teaching Common Core, they will be able to
better tap into students’ ability and potential, thus helping them
increase achievement levels.

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

The District should increase the salaries of Special Ed teachers in
order to recruit and retain them in San Francisco. With the salaries
and benefits of neighboring school districts more attractive, Special
Ed teachers are leaving our district and going to greener pastures.
With regards to ESL students, the District should hire more bilingual
teachers to help our ESL students.

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 consult with parents, students, teachers, and administrators. I
also consult with community leaders, businesses, and unions. By
understanding their issues and needs, I become more informed and
aware, thus helping me to reach my political decisions.