The latest news and updates relating to education and policy at the local, state, and federal levels. 

PPS-SF President's Corner: Statement Regarding DeVos

posted Feb 9, 2017, 10:40 AM by Robin Dutton-Cookston   [ updated Feb 9, 2017, 10:49 AM ]

February 9, 2017

Parents for Public Schools of San Francisco shares the frustration of many over the appointment of Betsy DeVos as secretary of education. While we are heartened by the closeness of the confirmation vote, we believe firmly that our national education secretary ought to have both experience and faith in public school.

The board of PPS-SF encourages you to stay aware of the education policy changes coming out of Washington. Our staff will assist you in this effort by continuing to shed light on these issues in the months and years to come. Please watch our newsletters and social media platforms for updates and related calls to action. Thank you for your unwavering support of our vision of a City where all San Franciscans are committed to the success of every public school. Strong Schools, Strong City.

Amie Latterman
PPS-SF Board President​

PPS-SF Recommends: Black History Month, DeVos, and More

posted Feb 8, 2017, 1:18 PM by Robin Dutton-Cookston

We are just a few days into Black History Month. Our students, like many across America, are learning about the profound contributions of African Americans, such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Zora Neale Hurston, Althea Gibson and Frederick Douglass (who was, as we are hearing more and more, amazing).

A solid list of exhibits, readings, and activities in the Bay Area, from Eventbrite.

A radio broadcast from Capital Public Radio.

The Senate on Tuesday confirmed Betsy DeVos to lead the Department of Education by the slimmest of margins, capping off a rocky, high-stakes fight for President Trump's pick. Vice President Pence cast the deciding vote on DeVos, breaking a 50-50 tie after Sens. Susan Collins (Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) became the first Republican senators to oppose a Trump Cabinet pick, joining all Democrats.

Earlier today, by the narrowest of margins, the U.S. Senate confirmed Betsy DeVos to serve as secretary of education. The 50-50 vote required Vice President Mike Pence to break the tie and end two months of acrimonious debate.

PPS-SF Recommends: Community Schools, SF Children, and More

posted Jan 31, 2017, 1:23 PM by Robin Dutton-Cookston

Our top three reads this week are all about San Francisco schools and making our city more attractive to families. 

To Read

The New York Times published a story over the weekend reporting that San Francisco has the lowest percentage of kids of any major U.S. city. The story titled "Where have all the Children Gone?" doesn't reveal anything any parent raising a city kid in the 21st century doesn't already know. Confronted with high-priced housing and a difficult-to-navigate education system, droves of new parents move from San Francisco to the suburbs to buy a home with a backyard and send their kids to a neighborhood public school.

In a compact studio apartment on the fringes of the Castro district here a young couple live with their demanding 7-year-old, whom they dote on and take everywhere: a Scottish terrier named Olive. Raising children is on the agenda for Daisy Yeung, a high school science teacher, and Slin Lee, a software engineer. But just not in San Francisco. “When we imagine having kids, we think of somewhere else,” Mr. Lee said. “It’s starting to feel like a no-kids type of city.” 

Two highways slice through the eastern half of San Francisco, stranding between them Potrero Hill. The north slope rapidly gentrifies while the south side of the hill continues to host the public housing projects where Danny Glover and O.J. Simpson lived as children. At the neighborhood’s heart sits Daniel Webster Elementary School, once described as a “dumping ground” but now part of a growing trend: groups of parents with the means to go private or move elsewhere instead making pacts to send their children to public schools together.

I’m a card-carrying member of three parent school associations. I write the weekly newsletter for the special-education parents’ group and help organize social events for disabled kids. But my involvement is minimal compared to the extraordinary efforts by others who raise money for schools in our town.

Delaine Eastin, the former state superintendent of public instruction, officially kicked off her campaign for governor of California on Thursday. Last November, Eastin indicated she intended to run for the post that Gov. Jerry Brown will vacate in 2018, but yesterday’s announcement made it official. Eastin was elected twice as schools chief, and served in the statewide position for eight years between 1994 and 2002. Her terms overlapped with the terms of Gov. Pete Wilson, a Republican, and Gov. Gray Davis, a Democrat. Eastin is the only woman to have served in the post.

Message from SFUSD Regarding Federal Enforcement of Immigration Laws

posted Jan 31, 2017, 9:37 AM by Robin Dutton-Cookston   [ updated Jan 31, 2017, 9:37 AM ]

For families who missed the notification over the weekend of January 29, 2017, here is a copy of the message that went out from San Francisco Unified School District:

Dear Parents & Guardians,

You may have concerns that President Trump is calling for increased enforcement of federal immigration laws. We want to assure you that President Trump’s executive order does not have any effect on how we respond to our students’ rights in San Francisco public schools. 

There are existing laws that help keep your children safe while at school regardless of their immigration status and SFUSD staff will not cooperate with any official seeking information about your children absent a court order.

If you are an SFUSD parent and have questions or concerns, you may call the Office of Family Voice at 415-241-6150.

Myong Leigh, Interim Superintendent

Thank Your San Francisco Public School Teacher or Principal

posted Jan 24, 2017, 10:19 AM by Robin Dutton-Cookston   [ updated Jan 26, 2017, 8:15 AM ]

Our public school teachers and principals deserve our thanks! 
Student holding a chalkboard that says thank a teacher today.

The San Francisco Education Fund and Mayor Ed Lee are working together to honor public school teachers and principals as a part of the Thank a Teacher Today campaign.

Do you know someone at your child’s school that deserves the Teacher of the Year or Principal of the Year award? Nominate him or her by February 24, 2017, at or

You or your child (or both!) can also write a note of thanks to a teacher at

The teachers of the year will be honored at a Teacher Appreciation San Francisco Giants game during a home plate ceremony in May.

PPS-SF Recommends: Roll Over Easy, Systemic Segregation, California Budget, and More

posted Jan 17, 2017, 3:56 PM by Robin Dutton-Cookston

To Hear
The PPS-SF interim executive director, Annie Bauccio, spent last Thursday morning on local radio show Roll Over Easy. Annie debunked common myths and misconceptions about SF public schools, and answered listener questions. (Begin listening at the 32 minute mark for the PPS-SF segment.)

To Read
Betsy DeVos, a Michigan-based philanthropist and President-elect Trump’s pick for education secretary, will sit before the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee on Monday evening to answer questions about her education record. The conundrum for senators questioning her, however, is that her only record is as a philanthropist. She was not the CEO of a major school system — as Arne Duncan, Obama’s first Education Secretary, was — or an administrator and state education department commissioner, like Duncan’s successor, John King. Right now, the only way to understand her views on major education issues is by looking at the entities she and the DeVos family as a whole give money to.

Governor Proposes Minimal Funding Increase for K-12 Schools Next Year
Citing recent revenue declines and uncertainty about the future, Gov. Jerry Brown has lowered funding for schools by $500 million in the current year and is proposing little more than a cost-of-living increase in the 2017-18 budget that he presented Tuesday. And in a press conference surprise that will likely frustrate school districts and the construction industry, Brown said that his administration would not issue any of the $7 billion bonds for K-12 school facilities that voters approved in November until the Legislature established better auditing procedures to document how the money will be spent.

To Hear
Sixty-three years after the Supreme Court's ruling in Brown v. Board of Education, many schools across the country either remain segregated or have re-segregated. Journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross that when it comes to school segregation, separate is never truly equal. "There's never been a moment in the history of this country where black people who have been isolated from white people have gotten the same resources," Hannah-Jones says. "They often don't have the same level of instruction. They often don't have strong principals. They often don't have the same technology."

To Do
Gather resources and celebrate black families. Saturday, January 21, 9:30am-3pm, Willie Brown Academy.

A comprehensive gathering of arts education organizations in the Bay Area. Wednesday, January 25, 4pm-6pm, Asian Art Museum.

SFUSD Enrollment Survey

posted Jan 10, 2017, 3:10 PM by Robin Dutton-Cookston   [ updated Jan 10, 2017, 3:14 PM ]

Share your experiences on finding a San Francisco public school and enrolling at SFUSD by taking this survey. The results will help SFUSD improve the school discovery and enrollment process for families.

Please note: This survey is created and maintained by SFUSD, not PPS-SF. However, PPS-SF is listed as a primary resource in the survey for finding information about public schools.

If you have had a positive experience with PPS-SF, this is a great opportunity to share that feedback with the district.

Here are direct links to the survey in three languages:
- Chinese:
- Spanish:
- English:

PPS-SF Recommends: Jill Wynns, Betsy DeVos, and More

posted Jan 10, 2017, 9:55 AM by Robin Dutton-Cookston   [ updated Jan 10, 2017, 10:29 AM ]

To ReadAfter more than two decades on the Board of Education, San Francisco’s longest serving school board member finally saw a potential end in sight for school segregation. But that vision came crashing down in the November election, when Jill Wynns lost a school board race for the first time since 1992. read more 

National teachers unions are mounting an aggressive campaign against Betsy DeVos, President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for education secretary, arguing that she is an ideological extremist with a record of undermining the public schools her department would oversee. The National Education Association, the largest labor union in the nation, is mobilizing teachers to call and email their senators, urging a vote against DeVos’s confirmation. read more

AFT’s Weingarten Delivers Major Address on the Future of Public Education
In a speech today at the National Press Club, AFT President Randi Weingarten juxtaposed two approaches for education that would have vastly different consequences for America’s students. Either build on the bipartisan consensus of the Every Student Succeeds Act to provide all families with access to great neighborhood public schools, or promote the dangerous, destructive approaches that Donald Trump’s education secretary nominee advocates to undermine and privatize public education. “It’s our obligation, as a society, to provide all families with access to great neighborhood public schools,” said Weingarten. “The Trump administration can follow the will of the people and walk the path laid out by Congress a year ago. Or they can follow the destructive dogmas of the past and reignite the education wars.”

To Listen
Teaching Moment (From KQED Perspectives)
The results of this year’s Presidential election left many in shock. The day after, it seemed everyone was searching for reasons, explanations, predictions of what’s to come. This was especially true in schools across America. At work, I was greeted by 30-something dazed faces each period. Kids were crying. Teachers were crying. It was tough. read/listen more

To Read/Watch
Clarke Community Schools in Osceola, Iowa is a pretty typical Iowa school district. Osceola is a town of about 5,000 people about 40 miles south of Des Moines. Like many schools around the country their student population is becoming increasingly diverse. Like schools throughout the country they are being asked to provide more services for all types of learners with finite resources. I have had the privilege of knowing several teachers from the Clarke Schools during my career. In the best possible way, they represent the kind of teachers whose feet are on the ground in our public schools every day. read/watch more

PPS-SF Recommends: African American Male Achievement Program, Arts Ed Fair, School Choice, and More

posted Jan 3, 2017, 1:04 PM by Robin Dutton-Cookston

To Read/Watch

Launched by the Oakland Unified School District in 2010, the African American Male Achievement program wrapped up its first semester at Mission High School in San Francisco this month. According to the OUSD website, the program’s stated goal is to “stop the epidemic failure of African American male students” and is designed to improve their academic and life outcomes. After several academic years in Oakland, the program expanded across the bay to San Francisco for the first time this fall.

To Read
Education Myths to Leave Behind in 2016–8 Dearly Held Beliefs That Aren’t Necessarily True (From The 74)
The new year is a great time for reflecting on deeply held beliefs that might not actually be true. To that end, I’ve compiled eight ideas that are put forth by many in the education policy debate but lack good evidence. These pieces of semi-conventional wisdom — myths, if you will — pop up again and again in the education debate, often asserted as statements of fact. Some of them I’ve tackled before; others are new.

To Listen
Every year for the past few years, I've dusted off my crystal ball and offered a few predictions for the new year. Back on Nov. 9 though, I threw out the ones I had been working on and started over. The election of Donald Trump altered the landscape for K-12 and higher education and created greater political uncertainty in the debate over how to improve schools. Here's my revised, updated list of predictions for 2017.

To Do
Arts Education Resource Fair, January 25 
For parents, teachers, administrators, teaching artists, and arts education advocates to meet representatives from a wide range of arts provider organizations in the bay area. Plan field trips and create partnerships. Become an arts education advocate. Bring the rich artistic diversity of San Francisco to your classroom. January 25 at the Asian Art Museum. 

To Watch

Charter schools. Vouchers. Tax-credit scholarships. Education savings accounts. What are these things and how do they relate to school choice? Education Week reporter Arianna Prothero breaks down the different forms of public and private school choice.

PPS-SF Recommends: UC Data, Discipline, Mindfulness, and More

posted Dec 14, 2016, 10:08 AM by Robin Dutton-Cookston   [ updated Dec 15, 2016, 8:59 AM ]

To Read
The University of California released its admissions data for the fall 2015 term and revealed which UC campuses accepted the most students who attended San Francisco public high schools. For the 2015 academic year, the UC schools that accepted the most applicants from public high schools in San Francisco were UC Merced, UC Riverside and UC San Diego, with about 55, 49, and 44 percent of the applicants being accepted, respectively. read more

I have every reason to quit my job except that when I consider doing so, I have palpable guilt at the thought of the students I might be letting down. They’ll still get a pretty good education, sure, but I have to think that the number of times I speak with students and rationally discuss their typical adolescent behavior that others might not see as typical is worth something. For the last seven years, I have talked myself out of quitting. read more

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We’ve all been there. And so have our kids. Someone says something really offensive: "Retard!" "Fatso!" "So gay!" "Go back to your own country!" Hurtful words and hurtful thoughts. How do we help children understand that words can hurt? How can we help our schools become more inclusive? read more

Say the fourth-grader was tussling with his on-again, off-again buddy on the playground – a taunt here, light shove there. He’s agitated. Stomping, huffing. At most schools, governed by a traditional disciplinary approach, the offender would land in the principal’s office, likely followed by a few days of detention: an hour after school, empty classroom, utter silence. read more

We live in a world of screens. And in this digital age — with so many devices and distraction — it’s one of the things parents worry about most: How much time should their kids spend staring at their phones and computers? What’s the right balance between privacy and self-discovery? read more

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