School assignments hot topic of election

Although the new student assignment system was passed unanimously by the San Francisco Unified School District Board of Education last spring, it’s a topic that weighs heavily as the November election nears.

Eleven candidates, including two incumbents, are competing for three open seats on the board. Board President Jane Kim decided not to run and is instead seeking a position on the Board of Supervisors, leaving one seat uncontested.

The SFUSD’s governing board oversees 78 elementary schools, 14 middle schools and 18 high schools. The student population of the district is roughly 55,000.

Kim-Shree Maufas and Hydra Mendoza are both seeking re-election to a second four-year term. The nine other candidates include parents, child advocates and former teachers.

Both incumbents voted to approve the district’s new student assignment process, along with solidifying the elementary school attendance areas to implement the placement next school year.

The board voted 7-0 in September to adopt the new attendance areas, but candidates agreed the student assignment issue is not settled.

Child advocate Margaret Brodkin said it is important for the board as a whole to monitor the new system and make changes
where necessary.

Libertarian activist and candidate Starchild said student assignment is complicated and he would like to see every child be able to attend their first choice.

Mendoza said the system has always been about choice and giving families options, and the new system still holds true to that goal.

“It is possible for families to choose schools and go to them,” Mendoza said.

The budget and how money is distributed also is a hot topic for candidates. During the next two years, the district is facing a
$113 million budget deficit. While some candidates want to see the entire system changed, others are offering ideas to increase revenue.

Parent Emily Murase said looking for outside funding sources with private donors is one idea she would promote as a school board member.

“An education match [would] give schools and administrators some incentive to go out and look for more private dollars,” Murase said.

Also, the importance of parent-teacher associations are stressed in the school board race.

Omar Khalif, vice president for Parents for Public Schools, said parents genuinely want what is best for their children, but where they live in The City affects that outcome because some parents are more involved than others.

“I see the achievement gap,” said Khalif, a parent of six students in the Bayview district. “The system is not working and it’s not getting better.”

Teacher support and increased parent involvement are two issues that teacher Jaime Wolfe and former teacher Natasha Hoehn both said are important.

Bill Barnes, Tom Chan and Winifred Dajani also are running for the school board.

Margaret Brodkin

Date of birth: Sept. 16, 1943
Neighborhood: Upper Market
Occupation: Director, New Day for Learning
Platform in 20 words or less: Increase transparency and accountability, expand revenue, close the achievement gap, promote full-service community schools, keep families in public schools

Winifred Dajani

Date of birth: Decline to state
Neighborhood: St. Francis Woods
Occupation: Teacher, business manager
Platform in 20 words or less: Strong literacy and math foundation for students before entering fourth grade, improved teaching model for our English-language learners (30 percent of students), more private development for more funds

Natasha Hoehn

Date of birth: Dec. 18, 1974
Neighborhood: Mission
Occupation: Nonprofit education director
Platform in 20 words or less: Ensure rigorous, relevant college and career preparation for every student, preschool through 12th grade, by supporting great teaching and leadership, empowering parents, building partnerships and improving fiscal accountability

Omar Khalif

Date of birth: July 16, 1962
Neighborhood: Bayview
Occupation: Community organizer
Platform in 20 words or less: My platform is only focusing on the needs of the students first, then families

Kim-Shree Maufas

Date of birth: Dec. 21, 1962
Neighborhood: Mission
Occupation: Board of Education commissioner
Platform in 20 words or less: Social justice issues, underperforming schools, funding and addressing our ability to educate students so that they don’t have to take remedial courses at the high school or post-secondary levels

Hydra Mendoza

Date of birth: Jan. 7, 1965
Neighborhood: Bayview-Hunters Point
Occupation: Mayor’s education adviser, vice president Board of Education
Platform in 20 words or less: High-quality preschools, college and career opportunities for all students, stronger partnerships and investments from the greater city, revenue alternatives

Emily Murase

Date of birth: Sept. 20, 1965
Neighborhood: Lakeshore
Occupation: Executive director, San Francisco Department on the Status of Women
Platform in 20 words or less: As a public school mom, I stand for a world-class public school system that works for San Francisco families


Date of birth: Decline to state
Neighborhood: Castro-Mission
Occupation: Erotic companion-masseur-model-exotic dancer
Platform in 20 words or less: Let every student attend his/her first-choice school, expanding popular schools to meet demand and closing unpopular schools

Jamie Rafaela Wolfe

Date of birth: July 1977
Neighborhood: Haight-Ashbury
Occupation: Educator
Platform in 20 words or less: Ensuring equitable access to high-quality education for every child in San Francisco

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