(Courtesy Brooke Anderson/@movementphotographer)

(Courtesy Brooke Anderson/@movementphotographer)

If city leaders want kids back in class, they need to work with the district instead of attacking it

A Letter from SFUSD Educators to Mayor London Breed and Supervisor Hillary Ronen,

We, San Francisco public school educators, need to respond to the statements made by Mayor Breed and Supervisor Ronen. The Mayor’s statement falsely claims that SF public school educators can only do one thing at a time. We are, in fact, doing many things during this time, despite the limitations and hardships of schooling through a pandemic. Every educator is prioritizing the learning of our students. Many educators are also working tirelessly, in task forces, bargaining teams, working groups, to plan a safe return to school buildings.

The community volunteer-led task force on renaming schools was formed in 2018 and has not taken away ANY resources, time or energy into reopening schools. While there is always overlap in serving our young people of color and families on various issues and initiatives, the insinuation that the work that task force is doing is distracting from re-opening schools is false and rooted in that very same white supremacist culture SF educators are trying to dismantle in the work of this task force.

Let’s be clear. Educators agree that distance learning is far from ideal for students. We long to return to our classrooms, and if we thought it was safe enough for kids and for us to do so, we’d open up schools today. Families entrust their children’s safety and education to us, as well as an ever growing list of essential needs, which we have been begging for (smaller class sizes, social workers, counselors, etc). Our daily interactions with the 50,000+ students and families of SFUSD put us in a unique and privileged position to hold, honor, and respect them, their hopes, and their realities. And we also know that every family’s first priority is the lives of their children. This issue is not educators versus schools, nor is it schools versus families and students.

Logistically, we know our schools are simply not yet equipped to support a safe return in this moment. The result of decades of under-funding have decimated public school budgets, buildings, and workers. That’s why Prop J and Prop 15 are essential in bringing much needed resources to our students and families. Cumulatively, these Propositions can bring tens of millions of dollars annually to San Francisco.

We call on City leaders to work with educators in allocating time and resources to help find solutions to the follow challenges for reopening schools:

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  • How will City leaders support testing and contact tracing of students and staff?
  • How will City leaders plan to address public transportation of our students and staff?
  • How will students and staff have consistent access to the proper PPE & building ventilation?
  • How can City leaders support adequate supply of soap and sanitizer at every school?

SF public educators are fighting for our students and families every day and want to work alongside other City leaders in this work. We will not engage in blaming or pointing fingers, instead we are continually extending our hands out in collaboration and support. We SF educators will continue to prioritize the social justice values of our communities while working to reopen schools. Join us.

Sincerely,

Cassondra Curiel, 7th grade ELA teacher

Frank Lara, 5th Grade Bilingual teacher

Leslie Hu, Social Worker & Community School Coordinator

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