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Friday, November 1, 2002

From the Outside Looking In


By Alexa Llewellyn




Starting at the Beginning

Or, Why Should the Progressive Care About the School Board Race?

With a 234-page votersí booklet, many races and initiatives compete for voters' attention. But one of the key races for Progressives in San Francisco is the race for three slots on the San Francisco School Board. Here are my reasons for asking Progressives to vote in this race:

1. To create a more progressive future in the San Francisco, you have to start with the cityís future leaders.

2. One of the largest employers in the city is the San Francisco Unified School District. Currently, after four years, a teacher in a public school in San Francisco makes $42,000. Within four years, prison guards make $70,000 per year. Since larger employers help influence the level of salaries and benefits that smaller employers give to their employees, a board that supports teachers and support staff can influence other wage levels in the city.

3. The key time to absorb information about the environment, arts, and other cultures is during the school years. A board that believes in protecting the environment, respecting other cultures, and helping students will foster a more caring community in the future.

4. Starting in kindergarten, there is an education opportunity gap. Some children come with basic knowledge about the alphabet, colors, and shapes. Some children do not. This gap widens as the children who donít come to kindergarten with the basics fall further and further behind those who do. A progressive school board would work with parents to offer a quality pre-K education program, giving all students to an equal and better footing for a brighter future.

5. The young adults who are left behind by an uncaring school district are the same ones found on the street corners and at the county jail. Those who have been marginalized by the school district's discriminatory expulsion practices, inadequate resources in remedial tutoring, and a lack of a GED program at the Youth Guidance Center are the same ones who have found that the only way for them to get ahead in life is through a life of crime.

6. A progressive school board could form the basis for a community of civic-minded, critically thinking citizens who are interested in working together for a better San Francisco instead of creating young experts in taking standardized tests and thinking inside the box.

I recommend two outstanding candidates, Sarah Lipson and Whitney Leigh. Sarah has served as a teacher and a substitute teacher at West Portal as well as a mentor for teenaged girls at Phoenix High School (for those who have had been expelled from other schools). Whitney was a public defender for youths for ten years in Santa Clara and San Francisco counties and is currently a member of the Juvenile Justice Advisory Commission. Both have been endorsed by the Harvey Milk Democratic Club, San Francisco League of Conservation Voters, Jeff Adachi, Supervisor Aaron Peskin, Supervisor Matt Gonzalez, School Board Member Eric Mar, and School Board Member Mark Sanchez.

To get more information on Sarah and Whitney, go to www.sarahlipson.com and www.whitneyleigh.com.