Left to Right: Stevon Cook, Myong Leigh, Shamann Walton, Hydra Mendoza-McDonnell (photo: VIva Mogi via Facebook)
I had my first board meeting January 10th, 2017 and the experience was absolutely fascinating.
We heard passionate public comment from parent groups related to issues happening at Glen Park Elementary and E.R. Taylor, there was an update on the San Francisco Pathway to Teaching Program, and our student delegates led a rally before the meeting to create awareness for their resolution to protect immigrant communities in San Francisco. There was also a change of leadership on the Board of Education where we unanimously selected Commissioner Shamann Walton as President of the Board of Education and Commissioner Hydra Mendoza-McDonnell as Vice President.
I also received numerous emails from parents and community members about different concerns. The volume of messages made it evident to me that I would need to build some systems to manage the information flow. It also highlights serious and longstanding resource gaps we have to solve to ensure we can be more responsive to the public. I’ve started a running list of questions and changes that I plan to go over with the Superintendent. My hope is to leave the institution in a much better place than how I found it.
As a Board, my colleagues have been cordial, generous, and informative. We are aligned on the major issues facing the district: improving outcomes for African-American students, increasing salaries for teachers/paraprofessionals, and creating housing options for teachers. There is a real commitment to making every public school great and solving the longstanding barriers affecting our low-income families.
Black Elected leaders being introduced at Third Baptist Church in Fillmore: Lateefah Simon, Stevon Cook, Shamman Walton and London Breed. Joined by Human Rights Commission ED Sheryl Davis. (photo: Keith Barack via Facebook)
At the end of the day, and I think my colleagues would agree, it comes down to results. Are students more likely to succeed as a result of the changes we implement? Can we fix the institutional barriers that stifle innovation? Will are students be ready to compete for the jobs of today and tomorrow? Can we recruit and retain the best educators in the country? I want to be held accountable to those outcomes.
Top Items from the Week:
I will start by stating that President Barack Obama has been one of the most inspirational figures of my life. I was glued to the television in 2007 and 2008 during his run for the presidency and often dreamed of the opportunity to work on his campaign or in the White House.
Even though I have great affinity for him as a person, I could not bring myself to watch the farewell address. It wasn’t that I wished his presidency wasn’t coming to an end, I just didn’t want to continue to hear him downplay the looming disaster that we face under the next administration. Also, I figured he would speak more to his accomplishments and not take responsibility for the some of the egregious policies that were continued or advanced under his presidency such as mass deportations, mass surveillance, failure to close Guantanamo, and the US drone policy. I could just as easily run off a list of his accomplishments -- I’m sure he spoke to those in his farewell address -- but we have to hold our government accountable for these failed policies.
There are a number of domestic issues that surfaced during the Obama Presidency that continue to be unresolved: the tenuous relationship between police and communities of color and the deaths of unarmed black men, the increasing number of mass shootings, the absence of action on breaking generational poverty, the lack of accountability towards Wall Street executives responsible for the financial crisis, and the ridiculous rising cost of college.
I don’t blame Obama for all of these issues. My desire to run for office was to be part of the solution in confronting these longstanding problems. More than anything, Obama’s entry into politics inspired me to take a more active role. Now that I’m charged with governing, I know how important it is for multiple stakeholders to be on the same page. But if we don’t get it right during our time in office, we should take responsibility.
Put Respek On His Name:
As we approached the MLK Day Holiday, the President-Elect began attacking Congressman John Lewis on Twitter for questioning the legitimacy of the election outcome. The intelligence community reports, not John Lewis, questions the legitimacy of the election outcome. Insulting Lewis as we celebrate the legacy of a civil rights icon is incredibly unbecoming. Also, creating this attack culture toward his political adversaries does nothing to solve his stated goals of bringing the country together.
This is behavior we’ve come to expect from the 45th President. I won't accept my elders being disrespected from the likes of people like DJT.
In honor of MLK Day, I have been highlighting black leaders on Instagram and Twitter that have a reputation of getting things done for their constituents.
Booker T Washington, Adam Clayton Powell, and Harold Washington are a few examples of leaders that were incredibly effective at creating opportunity for the people they served. They were brilliant leaders that really understood their time and the resources they could leverage to get things done. They also had integrity with the people and the power brokers of their day. Please check out the links I posted or do your own research on them if you aren’t familiar with their work.