Funding SFUSD's graduation rescue

Sup. Jane Kim wants money to help kids graduate

The San Francisco school district’s achievement gap exploded into the news when district officials learned that as many as 1,900 High School juniors -- the vast majority of them students of color -- aren’t on track to meet the new graduation standards.

It’s a crisis: The district several years ago mandated that every high school graduate complete the A to G classes required by the California State University system -- essentially a requirement that every graduate be prepared for college. It was going to be a tough standard to meet -- and that was before the state whacked $77 million out of the SFUSD budget.

Now, with the new standards on the books, the class of 2014 is nowhere near ready. The city’s laudatory 82 percent graduation rate is at risk -- and more important, there’s a real possibility that hundreds of kids won’t get a high school diploma, which will severely damage their employment opportunities.

To make things worse, the district’s funding for after-school classes to help students who are behind catch up -- known as “credit recovery” -- is ending in December.

The statistics are alarming: More than 80 percent of African American kids and 70 percent of Latinos aren’t on track to graduate. And while Prop. 30 passed, preventing any more cuts, it doesn’t add to the district’s funding.

So Sup. Jane Kim is asking the city to pick up the $2.7 million tab for the credit recovery program, which makes perfect sense: If 1,900 kids don’t graduate from high school, the impacts on the city, from crime, unemployment, and social-service needs to homelessness, will vastly exceed that number. 

“It’s part of violence and crime prvention,” School Board member Sandra Fewer explained.

It’s also an issue of civic responsibility -- we, as San Franciscans, can’t just let those kids fail. “Remember, these are the ones who stuck it out, who are really trying,” Kim told me. “They aren’t the drop-outs.”

There is, of course, the question of whether this is going to be an ongoing problem -- what about the class of 2015? Fewer thinks the numbers will be a lot lower then: “”We’ve learned a lot,” she said. “We’ve had early warning indicators and I don’t think we’ll see these numbers again.”

Kim said that at first she thought the appropriation request would be noncontroversial -- it is, after all, a fairly modest amount of money, and the city’s budget picture is improving. “We’re doing fairly well,” Kim said. “One of the promises of all this tech growth was that we’d get some more revenue, and I think we need to spread that wealth.”

But the Mayor’s Office and some of her colleagues weren’t ready to go along. So, as often happens in these situations, somebody found some fiscal magic -- the Mayor’s Office folks “discovered” that the city had put an additional $1.5 million into the school district’s allocation from the Rainy Day Fund. Gee, maybe that could cover part of the cost.

Now it gets tricky.

The Rainy Day Fund, which Assemblymember Tom Ammiano created when he was supervisor, requires the city to set aside cash in flush years to use when times are tigher -- and part of it goes to the school district. That money has been used in the past few years to prevent teacher layoffs. (Another whole crazy issue -- the district has to issue layoff notices in the spring, and then rescind them, which sucks for everyone, but at least the Rainy Day Fund money has made most of the recissions possible).

So the teachers union isn’t thrilled with the idea of taking money that would prevent layoffs and using it for another worthy program. “We’re in support of the $2.7 million allocation,” union staffer Ken Tray told me. “We can’t fail these kids. But we’re afraid that the money that would go for this very good thing would lead to teacher layoffs.”

Sup. David Campos has concerns, too: “I think the Rainy Day Fund should stand on its own terms,” he said. “If any time something comes up we say let’s take it from the Rainy Day Fund, it can become a problem.”

He supports spending city money to help the students: “If it’s a crisis, we should handle it as a crisis.”

Which makes perfect sense to me. This IS a crisis, and Kim has properly identified a small amount of money for a one-time effort to address it, and in the end, her allocation would save the city way more than it costs. I can’t see why the mayor and the supervisors have to play games here; this is serious, serious stuff, and if the district thinks it can address it in a serious way for a modest amount of money at a time when the economy is picking up and the city budget is improving, why not just do it?


You admit it's a crisis. A rainy day fund is for crises, ergo we use the rainy day fund.

We shouldn't be using a contingency fund to prevent layoffs because having too many teachers is a permanent, structural problem, which a one-off solution cannot resolve, only defer.

Or of course the teachers' union could negotiate down their generous pension deal to allow more teachers to keep their jobs. Ha, fat chance.

Posted by Anonymous on Nov. 29, 2012 @ 4:25 pm

This comment show a lack of understanding of teacher pensions. You should compare City of SF public safety workers to Teachers - Teachers with 20 years experience get less than 50% of their salary. Police and Fire get 90%. Now THATS generous

Posted by Richmondman on Nov. 30, 2012 @ 10:31 am

I always felt that the pension debate got off on the wrong track since public employees were all lumped together as if they all received gold-plated pensions. That is simply not the case. There is a big difference between the salaries/ pensions of teachers and other lower-level public employees compared with that of public safety and management. I could have gotten on board with Adachi or Lee's pension reform measures if either of them gone after those who really do receive these ridiculous pensions. Instead, they bought into the right-wing rhetoric that demonizes teachers. And that's when I stopped listening because nobody wins when you play that game. The fact is, we are going to have to cap these inflated salaries at the very top, but no one has the political will to go after cops and firefighters. And probably never will because the people with power protect their own, while lower-paid workers are forced to make the greatest sacrifices.

Posted by Ana on Dec. 01, 2012 @ 2:59 pm

Adachi's measure.

I know a firefighter who was appointed captain in the SFFD in his last year so that his 90% retirement would be based on that pay scale even though the SFFD needed no more captains. I have little doubt that the same program is going on in the police department.

The fact is that *all* public employees make sacrifices for the public good and each deserves to be working towards a pension, but it is grossly unfair and divisive to blame one group for the excesses of another.

Posted by lillipublicans on Dec. 01, 2012 @ 3:19 pm

A muni bus driver who gets paid 60K pa to drive a bus when a private bus driver makes 30K pa is not making sacrifices at all - he is on easy street.

The rudeness of many staff at city hall is a wonder to behold - they are just in it for themselves, and can do what they like as they never get fired even when they are bad workers.

One way or the other, these gold-plated pensions for bureaucrats and pen-pushers have to stop. It may even take a city bankruptcy if the pols don't grow a spine.

And savings on pensions could easily fund this extra money for kids.

Posted by Anonymous on Dec. 01, 2012 @ 5:21 pm

numerous comments makes me believe that "you are just in it for yourself."

Isn't that what everyone is supposed to do in your "maximize your wealth, rising tide" fantasy version of reality? Or does it only apply to certain groups of which you approve while others are deemed too inferior to work for their self-interest?

Pensions are deferred wages to be available for retirement. They are also based on a contract between the employer and employee. Unfortunately, many pension funds and their advisors have moved the cash into risky 401K type investments at the urging of the Wall Street types looking to make a buck off the pool of money. When the market tanks (as it inevitably does in boom or bust capitalism), these pension funds suffer.

Now Wall Street is after Social Security because it's a huge pot of money that they can't get their greedy paws on. So they re-titled it an "entitlement" rather than the old age pension that it is and created a fake crisis to try to get control of it and suck profits from it.

Social Security is currently running a surplus, but since the Reagan years, the government has been using it to offset out of control military spending.
The FICA tax is regressive because it only taxes wages up to $110,100. Make it a flat tax (not even progressive) by eliminating the cap, and Social Security will be flush.

Posted by Eddie on Dec. 03, 2012 @ 2:23 am

They are instead a lien on future taxpayers in the wealth-producing sector who are being asked to pay for municipal and state workers' pensions even while they have to save for their own pension as well.

The sooner we move the public sector onto self-funded DC plans, the better. Otherwise we will see massive layoffs and cuts to services when the day of reckoning arrives.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 03, 2012 @ 7:14 am

that every resident needs the city to do, and well.

The rest of the city workers and bureaucrats are essentially discretionary, and could be outsourced if necessary. I include teachers in that category because we could privatize the schools and give poor people vouchers to pick their own.

Abandon school bussing in SF and then talk to me about improving teachers' situations. A teacher friend of mine just retired on effectively her full salary. Try getting that in the private sector.

Posted by Anonymous on Dec. 01, 2012 @ 5:18 pm

and impies that 40 years carries full salary (and of course healthcare) for life.

Cops and fire is different as their working lives are shorter - not many cops and fire guys can work past 50.

Posted by Anonymous on Dec. 01, 2012 @ 5:16 pm

This was the disaster:

"The district several years ago mandated that every high school graduate complete the A to G classes required by the California State University system."

Many (most?) high school students are not qualified to pass three years of Algebra/Geometry/Calculus courses and three years of hard science (bio/chem/phys).

By mandating that they take these courses does not mean that the kids can pass the tests. Failure loomed...on so many different fronts.

Jane Kim helped created this problem while on the school board. Now she has to deal with her own shitfall.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 29, 2012 @ 4:50 pm

to the Board of Supervisors and then the Mayor's office - don't hold her responsible for anything she did while she was there. You really must understand it's just a rest stop (like SFCC) for machine candidates as they drearily await the next stop on their scabrous climb to the top of San Francisco's political dung heap.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Nov. 29, 2012 @ 5:45 pm

We need to see political leaders in action - make tough choices, build alliances, articulate a vision. It makes sense they start at policy levels that are important such as school boards, but are not nearly as vital to the city as BOS or the mayor's office.

She's done well and made some good decisions, even if there are at least a half-dozen votes I'd have made differently. Those are one of the wonderful perks of winning, however.

If the contest for mayor in 7 years is between her and Scott I hopes she wins.

You're just negative about anyone who might be sharp enough to figure out how to turn the tide of the destruction of SF families caused by landlords and property speculators over the past 40 years. Landlords can never seem to get enough - more rent, more house rules, more rent, lower capital gains, more tax write-offs. More, more, more. Money, money, money.

You've won a thousand times over. Now go be happy with tens of thousands other economic success stories who live in SF and leave us alone.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 29, 2012 @ 6:56 pm

blow job skills. Something Jane Kim has become a superb practitioner of. Her transition from Green Party firebrand to Democratic cheerleader has been epic. She won't stop until she hits the mayor's office - of course there's that small matter of the Mirkarimi vote which may cause her problems in her run for re-election as well as citywide...

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Nov. 29, 2012 @ 7:55 pm

not think her original vote pardoning Ross will count against her in a future mayoral race. And Kim has made some good votes on the Twitter tax break and 8-Wash.

I can't help but feel that Scott's instincts may be a little more aligned with the silent majority who decide mayoral elections. Wiener versus Kim would be a decent bout.

Posted by Anonymous on Nov. 30, 2012 @ 7:17 am

Kim did not "vote to pardon" Ross Mirkarimi.

Ross Mirkarimi did not recieve a pardon.

(Is this too esoteric for you, basic facts? Does it help if they are stated in a variety of ways?0

Ross Mirkarimi was convicted *and* sentenced for his terrible act of turning the van around.

Kim voted against upholding the mayor's attempt at piling-on punishment to the misdemeanor crime.

Kim voted to save the city from certain increased costs which certainly have been incurred if the charade had gone on to the courts.

Ross Mirkarimi for mayor!

Posted by lillipublicans on Dec. 01, 2012 @ 6:40 pm

natural result of his crimes - the loss of his job. But at least Kim made it clear that she will support the recall. Like Mar and Olague, Kim fully understands where the voters are on this issue.

Posted by Anonymous on Dec. 02, 2012 @ 7:49 am

"It makes sense they start at policy levels that are important such as school boards"

Oh yes, as the daughter of a well-off lawyer in New York who never went to public school in her life, and has no children of her own...

...she knew what was best for working-class kids in SF

Posted by Guest on Nov. 29, 2012 @ 8:01 pm

Which is what ALL politicians think. They ALL think they know better than their constituents what is best for them. San Francisco's school board is just the most blatant example of that - Jane Kim being, as you said, a product of public schooling and then of Stanford. At least she did attend Boalt Hall.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Nov. 29, 2012 @ 8:51 pm

It is foolish to believe every student will pass all of these requirements when so many can't read, write or do math at a high school freshman level. Passing these classes requres homework - something that not so many HS students are forced to do by their parents or guardians.

Posted by Richmondman on Nov. 30, 2012 @ 10:33 am

Finally - someone is considering The Children.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Nov. 29, 2012 @ 5:10 pm

then need more money to fix it.

Posted by matlock on Nov. 29, 2012 @ 5:54 pm

Get rid of tenure, Last In First Out (LIFO) layoff practices, and seniority rules, and I'd support more money for schools. As the matter stands, we're just feeding a rotting system. There is no justification for teachers to have jobs for life after 2 years (it's effectively after 18 months, given when California holds its review process). It's impossible to get rid of the bad teachers. Every time there is a reform proposal, the teachers union is against it. The whole system is designed to preserve adults' benefits over students' education.

Posted by The Commish on Nov. 29, 2012 @ 5:55 pm

“We’re doing fairly well,” Kim said. “One of the promises of all this tech growth was that we’d get some more revenue, and I think we need to spread that wealth.”

I wonder how painful it was for Tim Redmond to have to include that in his post.

Meanwhile, it's just another example of why it is such a good thing that he has been completely trivialized. Ron Conway and the others are doing their thing and as a result we have some resources that we can use for education.

Posted by Troll on Nov. 29, 2012 @ 6:32 pm

instead of putting our resources towards making MUNI free for kids, we should be putting them towards making sure they can spell it first

Posted by guest on Nov. 30, 2012 @ 9:44 am

THEN the kids are ready to learn.

We've got to get kids to school cheaply and safely. Thus, giving them free MUNI passes is a no brainer. (Hopefully MUNI saftey issues will continuously improve.)

And people (and especially kids) need good nourishment before their brains can work properly. Since many kids come from homes where good nutrition isn't possible, free nutritious food for the kids when they get to school is a no-brainer.

And because study after study shows that kids who receive significant nurturing and love in their lives do much better at learning, and since not every child gets these needs met at home, the school needs to step up and make sure these too are provided. Again, a no-brainer.

THEN, after safe transportation, healthy food, and a nurturing environment are provided, we can expect children's brains and psyche to be in a place much more receptive to learning.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 30, 2012 @ 1:05 pm

Absolutely, lotsa free stuff is needed

The city's General Fund is busting with surplus cash.

City-family workers need better pensions, and we all need more lotsa free stuff

Posted by Guest on Dec. 01, 2012 @ 8:03 am

Much cheaper in many ways.

Posted by matlock on Dec. 01, 2012 @ 1:13 pm

And all we have to do is tax the rich. We won't actually have to pay for any of this.

Posted by Anonymous on Dec. 01, 2012 @ 5:14 pm

to pay for mandatory abortions and spaying.

Posted by matlock on Dec. 01, 2012 @ 5:39 pm

Interesting that both Tim and Sandra Fewer recognized the link between blacks, Latinos, and crime. Unusually un-PC.

Posted by Chromefields on Nov. 30, 2012 @ 12:09 pm

If you don't agree with progressives on many subjects, you are talking about it the wrong way and are probably no better than Hitler or David Duke.

They can blabber on all they want on many subjects safely knowing that when challenged they have their fall back plan, screaming and attacking.

Posted by matlock on Dec. 01, 2012 @ 1:18 pm

As Tim and Sandra pointed out, we don't need additional black and Latino criminals on the streets.

Posted by Chromefields on Nov. 30, 2012 @ 12:17 pm

She'll never get elected beyond where she's at. The Mirkarimi vote will haunt her.

Posted by Madison on Nov. 30, 2012 @ 6:50 pm

I love how some (most?) of the commentators here are essentially One-Note Molly's, making the same tired political point over and over. An electorate, fortunately, is not nearly as one dimensional since we focus on at least a half-dozen major issues in relation to a candidate before deciding how to cast our ballots.

Do a small percentage of the voters obsess over one issue over all others? Yes, but they hardly amount to a percentage point or two, and they are often offset by the obsessives on the exact other side of the issue cancelling out the votes of each other.

Whenever I hear the word 'haunt' my one-track brain always recounts one of the most passionate speeches ever made in City Hall. I'm not sure how it has worked out for the speech maker since then, but it does remind us that we should add David Chiu's name along with Jane and Scott to the current crop of politicians with a current inside track for Room 200 in 2018.

Say what you will, but Daly is smart and prescient: "Ed Lee will work for the other side" has been repeatedly proven over and over this past year.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 01, 2012 @ 8:14 am

Yes, the Konged Donkey from Fairfield is "prescient". [sic]

Truly proven over and over Guest, who is not a One-Note Mole.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 01, 2012 @ 8:43 am

This is a classic example of good intentions gone wrong, and leading to disastrous consequences for minority children. Janet Schulze, the assistant superintendent of high schools says, "Our commitment is really to make sure every kid has the opportunity to experience" a college-prep course load. We're not wavering from that." Well and good. But it's obvious that these policy makers had no real plan that would provide real support to help the kids get where they need to be in order to graduate. Even without money or resources, you can always recruit students at bay area colleges and universities for a corps of volunteers to help with after-school programs. Why didn't they do that? Instead they let this slide until it was obvious that they had a problem. There is NO excuse for this...absolutely no excuse for failing our kids.

Tim is right: This is a crisis so the city needs to come up with the money. $2.7 million is not a lot to ask. These are our children and their future is at stake. And, believe me, you ARE going to pay for this one way or the other.

Posted by Ana on Dec. 01, 2012 @ 4:12 pm

I guess that's why SF still has 1970-s-era school bussing huh?

Oh, and I love your throwaway line at the end, implying that these brown and black kids will obviously be criminals if we don't throw good money after bad. Blackmail is always so persuasive.

Posted by Anonymous on Dec. 01, 2012 @ 5:13 pm

It must be comforting to live inside such an insulated little bubble that you know virtually nothing about the history of racism towards POC in this state. But ignorance is expensive (and frankly it amazes me that in this day and age, anyone could be this ignorant). So, do me a favor, will you? Look up Williams v. California (2000), which was settled in 2004 under Schwarzenegger (no liberal, that one). The settlement provided up to a billion dollars to purchase educational materials like textbooks, to fix deteriorating schools and to hire qualified teachers. Ask yourself why this was necessary. Or why 90% of the school population in the deteriorating schools was non-white. The case began right here in San Francisco. You should know about it.

And here's something else you should know about your history (the history of this state)~ For decades, some California schools were as segregated as those in the deep South. If you care to educate yourself, I can direct you to some good reading material. You can go to the main library and check out Wherever There's a Fight (2009) by Elaine Elinson and Stan Yogi. Read Chapter 4, "Under the Color of Law" and then get back to me. Perhaps then we can have an intelligent discussion on this issue.

Posted by Ana on Dec. 02, 2012 @ 5:30 pm

Pterocarya fraxinifolia is a species of tree in the Juglandaceae family. It is commonly known as the Caucasian wingnut.

Posted by marcos on Dec. 02, 2012 @ 6:08 pm

Such is all too often a rarity.

Posted by lillipublicans on Dec. 02, 2012 @ 6:08 pm
Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Dec. 02, 2012 @ 6:10 pm

particular, is I am sure white and so doesn't give a crap about "POC" (may god strike down whoever invented that odious acronym).

No, All Ana believes in is big government and pendering to minorities - exactly the polices that americans routinely and rightly reject at the polls.

Ana, justify school bussing in SF to me - I dare you.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 02, 2012 @ 8:03 pm

It was a bit awkward at first, of course, but after getting the hang of it, it was nothing but nice.

Posted by lillipublicans on Dec. 02, 2012 @ 8:53 pm

part of town but want to go to school as if you weren't.

Heck, it's like being rich without having to work. Oh wait, that's what Progressives believe anyway . . .

Posted by Guest on Dec. 02, 2012 @ 9:23 pm

When he was in grade school.

They weren't.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Dec. 02, 2012 @ 9:56 pm