Endorsements 2012: San Francisco races - Page 8

Rizzo and Selby for D5 supervisor. Our top choice in D1 is Eric Mar

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That said, there are serious issues facing the district. The bitter fight over layoffs this spring has left the board, the administration, and the teachers union on terrible terms. The student assignment process, the budget, school transportation, the meal programs, the future of honors tracking, and immersion programs all present massive challenges. And in the middle of all of this are 55,000 students and their families, who can't afford to wait around while the elected officials and administrators figure out what to do.

That's why we're endorsing a mix of veterans and newcomers, people who aren't always on the same page politically but who share a commitment to public education and who offer both institutional memory and new ideas.

For the record: We have immense respect for the teacher's union, the United Educators of San Francisco, and we (properly) take what the union says very seriously. It's rare that we disagree. But the union has taken one issue — the vote to skip seniority and preserve the jobs of 70 lower-seniority teachers in a handful of underperforming schools — as the single litmus test for this election. That's meant opposing all the incumbents — even if it means endorsing candidates who have opposed much of what the union stands for and who are otherwise unqualified for the job. We recognize the importance of seniority and the problems with that vote, but it's only one of the many factors we considered in our decisions.

There's nobody in this race we consider a flawless advocate for progressive school policies and reform. But four people are going to win, and we're going with the best four.

Sandra Fewer was elected four years ago as the consensus candidate of the entire San Francisco left, and in some ways, she's lived up to her promises. She's been a leading advocate for restorative justice in the school disciplinary system, got ethnic studies added into the high school curriculum, and has made LGBT issues a priority (including training for gym teachers on trans youth). She was on the right side of the JROTC vote and is a strong advocate for students of color. She's well informed and does her homework.

She also led an embarrassing and unproductive effort to keep Margaret Brodkin, an eminently qualified candidate, off the board two years ago, hurting her credibility in a lot of circles. She infuriated the teacher's union by joining the majority on the skipping vote. Still, Fewer's been a valuable voice on the board and deserves another term.

Jill Wynns is often at odds with Fewer and other progressives. She was utterly wrong on JROTC, pushing to preserve a military recruitment program in the public schools. She supported the horrible superintendent Arlene Ackerman all the way to the bitter end, damaging the district's reputation (and her own). She's been on the board for 20 years and there are a lot of people, many of them our friends and allies, who say it's time for her to retire and make room for new blood.

If this were a one-person job, we wouldn't be supporting her.

But Wynns has immense institutional memory, she cares deeply about the district and its students, and she represents a PTA-parent constituency that deserves a voice on the board. She's serving as the president of the California School Boards Association, and has moved that conservative organization a few millimeters to the left. We don't always agree with Wynns, but we're supporting her re-election.

There are a number of credible challengers this year. Shamann Walton and Matt Haney are our favorites.

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