Part of running a campaign is filling out club questionnaires. While these have provided a useful look into Stevon's policies for the many clubs that have endorsed him, we think it is important for everyone to have access to his answers. Selected answers, and links to full questionnaires, are below.
Why are you running for this office? What are your qualifications?
As a graduate of San Francisco public schools and having committed my career to supporting students in the SFUSD, I have a unique perspective on what students need to succeed, and have demonstrated a professional record of success in accomplishing those outcomes. Since starting my career working to improve public education, I have served as Co-Chair of the Prop H Public Education Enrichment Fund Community Advisory Committee (PEEF CAC), in providing oversight of over $30M in funding to support public education funding at the time. I have also built a scholarship organization called San Francisco Achievers that sends African American males that graduate from San Francisco Public schools to college, the vast majority of which are underserved, first-generation college bound students. Through my work at the San Francisco Education Fund I have worked collaboratively with principals, teachers, para-professionals and families to send more students to college. I firmly believe that in a city like San Francisco, with the right leadership and a clear understanding of what works in education policy, we can make significant increases in student achievement, attract more teachers to the professions and make our public schools a national model for effective community schools. Having overcome significant adversity through a troubled home life while growing up and attending many schools that were considered underperforming, my candidacy represents what’s possible through our public schools. I am running to ensure more students experience those opportunities and to champion the causes of educators, families, and our disenfranchised communities to maximize the student learning experience for all our students.
If/When you are elected to the Board of Education, what would be your top 3 priorities for the first two years in office?
One of the reasons I decided to run for school board was to address the most systemic issues affecting achievement for our most vulnerable student populations. As a product of similar circumstances, a graduate of this San Francisco public schools and having committed my career to this work, my priorities are grounded in a sense of responsibility to ensure this system is working for everyone student.
• Improving Teacher Retention: We lose 50% of our SFUSD teachers in their first five years of service. Our attrition rates are greatest at schools with higher concentrations of students living in poverty. Our best opportunity to interrupt these trends is to put our educators in a better position to grow professionally and give them meaningful access to experienced educators who can serve as mentors. In addition, they need frequent access to professional development and training to help them improve their practice. Part of teacher retention is also ensuring that the people we entrust with teaching and caring for our children are adequately compensated to live in a city like San Francisco. To that end, I will continue to support compensation levels for school district employees that are aligned with the rising costs of living in San Francisco. Finally, we need to ensure teachers have access to housing that gives them a real path to stability and homeownership. Any retention plan without the promise of a life as a resident is incomplete.
• Supporting Restorative Practices: I believe the culture we create for our students and how we engage them leaves a lasting impression on the way they approach school. The San Francisco Board of Education recently passed a Safe and Supportive Schools resolution that aims to shift the way educators engage our most vulnerable student populations. Ensuring that these practices are successfully implemented and that the district is providing school sites the support they need is going to be critical in these first few years. During my term on the board I will make the successful implementation of the policies set out in the Safe and Supportive Schools resolution a top priority.
• Strengthening Pre-Kindergarten system: Our earliest opportunities to address issues of achievement and parent engagement happen when families participate in our Early Childhood education programs. Research has confirmed how critical these early years are for children, but it also gives parents an opportunity to engage in their child’s education in a long-term way. We need to expand Pre-School access that more families can participate and build out programs to create parent leaders that can go on and meaningfully participate as leaders throughout the child’s education.
Are there particular "education reformers" or reform initiatives that you find convincing or compelling?
I have been following closely and been in communication with national thought leaders like Pedro Noguera and Jeff Duncan-Andrade that have been advocates for the need to better train teachers that work in low-income communities. In addition, they have spoken out against federal education policies that advance misinformed strategies that completely ignore the realities that students and educators face in many of their communities. Duncan-Andrade has developed an online teacher support system called the Teacher Excellence Network (TEN). TEN is a way to democratize the education process and provides an opportunity for teachers, students, and parents to give feedback on the work happening at the school site. If implemented properly, it will give teachers an opportunity to learn from one another across sites as facilitate the adoption of best practices.
In addition to these thought leaders, I have also been reading Kevin Kumashiro, Diane Ravitch, and Linda Darling Hammond, and I regularly attend conferences hosted by Teachers for Social Justice to hear about progressive education practices happening locally and nationally.
Please define your core values.
Humility: Much of my life has been committed to service and those that have always done it best have never been motivated by nor received the highest of accolades or prestigious awards. Having a true interest in the lives of people requires a strong sense of humility, empathy, cultural competency, and understanding that no person is bigger than the office they have been given the opportunity to serve.
Integrity: I was taught well before I ran for office that this was the most important aspect for one’s character, especially for people entrusted to serve the public and our communities. It’s imperative that I have integrity in my professional and personal life to be accountable to all the stakeholders, students, families, San Franciscans, and the SFUSD community I would be honored to serve if elected as commissioner.
Perseverance: I have spent much of my childhood and adult life overcoming tremendous adversity, but clear goals and drive have supported in guiding my career path, and I feel through my lived experience I am positioned to advocate for the healthy development of our youth. I am excited to bring my experiences and unwavering commitment to our youth to carry forward for the work I believe I was born to do, which is the improve the lives of our City’s students, marginalized communities, and underserved San Francisco residents.
Please see the following links for PDFs of Stevon's local club questionnaires.