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
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
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