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SF parents organization endorses teacher, incumbents for school board

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The political organization representing parents in the San Francisco Unified School District endorsed on Monday three incumbents and a politically active teacher who are running for four open seats on the school board this November.

With the upcoming elections just two months away, the San Francisco Parent Political Action Committee endorsed incumbents Jill Wynns, Rachel Norton and Matt Haney for re-election to the Board of Education, as well as local educator Trevor McNeil in his second attempt at a seat on the board.

Commissioner Sandra Fewer is leaving behind her seat to run for city supervisor in November, meaning at least one newcomer will join the school board even if all three incumbents are re-elected.

The endorsement — from one of the leading voices in the school board race — could be a needed boost for McNeil since he raised less in campaign contributions by the end of June than candidates Stevon Cook and Ian Kalin.

Cook, the CEO of an education nonprofit, brought in almost $32,000 and Kalin more than $15,000, compared to McNeil’s some $7,200, according to filings with the San Francisco Ethics Commission.

At the same time, filings show Kalin, a data officer for the federal government, contributed some $12,000 to his own campaign.

In four school board races since 2010, the committee has organized on the ground and sent mailers for their chosen candidates. The group raised upwards of $60,000 to support candidates in the last election cycle, according to Michelle Parker, SF Parent PAC president.

“We do a lot more than most clubs do,” Parker said. “That said, candidates have to do their work too”

The committee, which sprung forth to help parents navigate the election process, interviewed nine candidates for school board on camera and plans to post the videos online. It is also expected to host a fall event for parents to meet with the committee’s endorsed candidates.

“Not necessarily all of our candidates have gotten elected, but I think most [have],” Parker said.

While Parker would not say why the committee did not endorse certain candidates, she said the decision to endorse three incumbents was not contentious.

The committee chose McNeil because he is a teacher — a voice currently lacking on the school board — and has a vested interested in improving San Francisco’s public schools because he plans to send his young daughter to one. According to his LinkedIn profile, he works at a public school in San Mateo.

McNeil is also the former executive director of the San Francisco Democratic Party and has served on the local Democratic County Central Committee.

In May, the United Educators of San Francisco executive board endorsed Haney, Cook and candidate Mark Sanchez for school board.

According to a news release, teachers union head Lita Blanc decided the candidates are “perfectly suited to address … the affordability crisis and ensuring that the Safe and Supportive Schools resolution in fully supported.”

The Safe and Supportive Schools resolution has reduced suspensions in the SFUSD but raised concerns over the resources provided to teachers in the district.

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