Sandra Fewer

Students fight suspensions targeting young people of color

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Sagging pants, hats worn indoors, or having a really bad day -- the list of infractions that can get a student suspended from a San Francisco Unified School District school sounds like the daily life of a teenager. The technical term for it is “willful defiance,” and there are so many suspensions made in its name that a student movement has risen up against it. 

The punishment is the first step to derailing a child’s education, opponents said. 

Student activists recognize the familiar path from suspensions to the streets to prisons, and they took to the streets yesterday to push the SFUSD to change its ways. Around 20 or so students and their mentors marched up to City Hall and into the Board of Education to demand a stop of suspensions over willful defiance.

A quarter of all suspensions in SFUSD for the 2011-12 school year were made for “disruption or defiance,” according to the California Department of Education. Half of all suspensions in the state were for defiance. 

When a student is willfully defiant and suspended, it’s seen as a downward spiral as students are pushed out of school and onto the streets, edging that much closer to a life of crime.

“What do we want? COLLEGE! What are we gonna do? WORK HARD!” the students shouted as they marched to the Board of Education’s meeting room, on Franklin Street. 

They were dressed in graduation gowns of many colors, signs raised high. They smiled and danced and the mood was infectious. One driver drove by, honked and said “Yes, alright!” Assorted passersby of all ethnicities cheered on the group. Read more »

Endorsement interviews: Sandra Fewer for School Board

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The San Francisco School Board has long been a fractious crew, with members sharply disagreeing on a lot of issues. They still disagree -- but according to all the board members we've interviewed, there's a much-better working relationship these days. Sandra Fewer, who has served for four years, talks about that -- and restorative justice, ethnic studies and how she wants to build on her accomplishments in a second term. You can listen to the entire interview after the jump. Read more »