SFUSD owns a good deal of land in San Francisco. A distressing amount of this land is surface parking lots. Do you think this is a good use of this land? Would building housing on these lots be a better use? How important is this issue to you?
Our City must move away from being built for cars, and instead build for a future of homes in every corner, accessible neighborhoods, and community-driven schools. Therefore, the District must do its part in fully taking advantage of the property it owns and delivering on our promise of developing teaching/educator housing. We must do our part to increase our housing stock so that families and educators can stay in the community.
I supported legislation such as SB827 because it provided one of the best changes to overcome the red tape and bureaucracy that keeps cities from building more housing. We must do more to increase the number of affordable housing units. Ensuring more market rate development will require greater affordable units, but we need to find additional funding sources. One of the most important elements of this law was the ability for developers to streamline the approval of new housing efforts. The bureaucracy that surrounds new development in the city is crippling our ability to meet new housing demand and it must be addressed.
This is critically important for me. As someone who moved here after graduating college, who has aspirations to deepen roots and raise a family in this City, it is becoming increasingly challenging to stay in education and imagine a sustainable future. We must build more housing to ensure families can find an affordable home to live in and teachers can live and work in the same community.
More and more students attending our public schools suffer from homelessness. What do you believe the school district should do to address this problem?
I believe there is more we can do to partner with the City to bring services directly into our schools, offer information and guidance, and connect students and families to community organizations that support our homeless community. I am committed to ensuring that our homeless families and students receive as much support from SFUSD as possible, while partnering with local government agencies and community-based organizations to get them the services and support they need to stay in our City and into stable, long-term housing. We must ensure that our mental health and wraparound support services remain in our schools, and that we invest in our healthcare workers who partner with our schools in delivering services on-site. Our schools should be made accessible to the community, including and not limited to opening our doors for community organizations to meet and provide services to families.
I am open to programs that would use public school resources to serve families facing a short term crisis and in need of housing, but we must seek to ensure such a program would have all the resources and professionals needed to properly operate, including mental health specialists.
More and more teachers struggle with the cost of housing. What do you believe the school district should do to address this problem?
The affordability crisis is something we must all own and collectively take action on. When I first moved to San Francisco, over 60% of my teacher salary went to my rent. We must take direct action to address this, and it will require both advocating for (and creating our own) affordable housing while also increasing the density and amount of housing.
I also believe we must appropriately compensate our teachers so that they are able to live in the community they teach in. The average teacher pay in SFUSD is $65,240, which means that to afford an average one bedroom unit at the median monthly rate of $3,500, the average teacher would have to spend 64% of his or her salary on housing. This leads to high teacher turnover, or losing teachers to districts in the peninsula.
Some of this low teacher pay is a lack of overall funding, but some of it is shifting priorities. On the one hand, we must continue to advocate at the state level for increased per-pupil funding. At the current rate of $10,291 per K-12 student, California spends about $1,900 less than the national average. On the other hand, however, only 29% of SFUSD’s budget goes toward teacher salaries. The state averages at about 35% of District budgets that go towards teacher salaries. This means that if SFUSD just benchmarked to the state average, average teacher pay would be $79,000, a significant bump to a teacher’s salary and allow for a more sustainable income so teachers can live and stay in San Francisco.
Getting children to and from public schools is a problem for many parents. A major finding from the SF CTA Child Transportation Study was that “most parents drive their children to school and afterschool programs.” Do you see this as a problem? What solutions do you think the school district could pursue to address this? Please feel free to discuss school busses, shuttles, protected bike lanes, etc.
1. Invest in public transportation infrastructure, including continuing to support FREE MUNI initiatives, building more protected bike lanes, increasing the capacity and reliability of MUNI, and working with the City on creating innovative solutions for families. If families choose to send their kids to schools farther away from them, their first consideration should be to walk/bike or take public transportation to that school. This requires greater and closer collaboration with the City and SFMTA.
2. Increasing the predictability of the school assignment system and allowing for neighborhood preference to weigh more heavily in the lottery system. This would allow for families to better plan for transportation routes, coordinate with other families to allow for carpooling, and provide families with the time and flexibility to plan in advance, anything from after-school programming/sports/clubs, to anticipate transportation needs.
3. Develop more high-quality schools that are equitably distributed across our City so that the concentration of families wanting to send their kids to just a handful of schools on the other side of town is more distributed. This means intentionally nurturing the conditions that lead to a more neighborhood-school model so that families do not need to commute long distances in the first place (see previous point). However, this also means simply increasing the number of schools that parents view as delivering a high-quality education.
YIMBYs care deeply about integration and healing the wounds of redlining and exclusionary zoning. These policies deliberately result in segregated schools. SFUSD has a lottery assignment system designed to fix this segregation problem in our housing, but it has not resulted in vastly more integrated schools. What do you see as solutions to this complex problem?
It is clear that the school assignment system has not worked for the families it was meant to benefit most. While I support families having access to schools across our District, I believe we must do more to support our most vulnerable communities in understanding the school assignment process, while also ensuring we rebuild the trust with all our families.To integrate and diversify our schools, we must:
1. Make the assignment system transparent by providing more data and information for parents on the quality of every school, and giving parents the ability to engage in the process online. Parents should easily find out how our schools are doing, and we must ensure that this information is both transparent, understable, and accessible for families looking to send their children to SFUSD.
2. Begin to change the narrative of how families perceive our schools in SFUSD by engaging with families, intentionally building out programs to bring families closer to the school site, actively reaching out and surveying our family communities, and actively working to welcome prospective families into our schools.
3. Push forward with providing the highest quality instruction and stable school environments for all our schools so that we are continuously raising the bar by closing the achievement gap and providing equitable resources and opportunities for our schools. Please see next question.
There are serious geographic equity issues with our schools. Additionally, as some districts are growing their housing supply, adding more and more children, the lack of quality schools everywhere is becoming an increasingly urgent issue. How do you plan on addressing the issue of access to quality schools in every district and opening more schools?
By the time SFUSD’s Willie Brown Middle School opened its doors in the Bayview community, the District had invested $54 million to build and equip, making it the most expensive public school the City has ever had. But halfway through its first year, it saw 3 different principals, nearly ⅓ of students dropped out, and teachers were leaving. The challenges were symptoms of systemic issues our District has in supporting teachers and schools, and the weak opening has resulted in a loss of trust from both families, teachers, and the community at-large.
There is no silver bullet in education, but we do know that great teaching is the single biggest in-school factor to drive student outcomes, therefore leading to increases in the quality of a school. This means that we must focus in on:
1. Ensuring our teachers are equipped with the best possible curricular resources, including a robust core curriculum, alignment to common standards, and access to programs that enable differentiation and intervention.
2. Setting up teachers for success with a coach/manager who is able to provide highly effective and actionable feedback so that they can grow in their practice.
3. Equipping principals with the tools, resources, skills, and time to build strong school culture. We must develop a healthy school leadership pipeline to develop emerging leaders in our own District, as well.
Is there anything else you think our members should know about your candidacy? Links, references, endorsements, etc?
I am an alum of Equality California’s Leadership Institute, Victory Fund’s Candidate Institute, an active member of organizations such as United Democratic Club and the Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club.
I am endorsed by leaders such as State Senator Scott Wiener, CCSF Trustee Alex Randolph, former chair of the DCCC Mary Jung, both candidates for D6 Supervisor Christine Johnson and Sonja Trauss, State Representative Evan Low, and organizations such as United Democratic Club, Leadership for Educational Excellence, and the Gay Asian Pacific Alliance.
I am the only candidate who has a teaching credential, a Masters in Urban Education Policy and Administration, with experience at the regional, state, and national levels on education policy and science instruction. More information on my campaign and professional background is available on my website: www.philkim.org