Tag Archives: Public Schools

Yee Announces Plan to Strengthen San Francisco Public Schools

SAN FRANCISCO – Today, Mayoral candidate and Senator Leland Yee unveiled his policy plan to strengthen San Francisco’s public schools. The plan, entitled “It Takes a Community,” contains 22 specific commitments that Yee will embark on as Mayor to address the underlying problems facing the city’s school system and to help turn around public education within San Francisco.

Yee – the only candidate to attend San Francisco public schools as well as send his four children to public schools – unveiled his plan today along side teachers, parents and former students at Gordon J. Lau Elementary School (formerly Commodore Stockton School), where Yee was a student as a young child.

Yee’s plan includes policies to provide affordable housing for teachers, time off for parents to participate, free Muni for low-income students, community services through school programs, and more college savings accounts.

“The best way to keep families in San Francisco is to improve public education,” said Yee. “A fully engaged and committed Mayor, who works in partnership with the school district, teachers, and parents, can make a real difference. This 22 point plan will not only help our kids, but will help our entire community and improve our economy.”

Yee began his political career as member of the San Francisco Board of Education in 1988.  Prior to serving as a Commissioner, Yee was an educator and child psychologist in the public schools. As a state legislator, Yee has fought for students and teachers – from authoring legislation to increase mental health services to voting against budget cuts to education.

As a result of his experience and commitment to public education, Yee is endorsed by the United Educators of San Francisco, California School Employees Association, and the California Nurses Association.

Yee has also been honored as the “Legislator of the Year” by the California Association of School Psychologists, California School Nutrition Association, California School Employees Association, Faculty Association of California Community Colleges, Associated Students of the University of California, and the California Faculty Association, among others.

“Leland Yee has been a child psychologist, a teacher in the classroom, and will always be an educator in his heart,” said Kim-Shree Maufas, Board of Education Commissioner. “He’s one of us, he’s been there for us, and he’s the mayor who will be best for our schools.”

“Yee’s plan for schools demonstrates his commitment to education,” said Dennis Kelly, President of the United Educators of San Francisco. “San Francisco Teachers trust Leland to prioritize our kids and schools and we are proud to support Leland Yee for Mayor.”

The highlights of Yee’s plan include:


  1. Increase student success with wrap-around “community school” services
  2. Prioritize underperforming schools for community school reforms
  3. Reduce truancy and dropout rates, and expand programs for at-risk youth
  4. Free Muni for public school kids
  5. Promote school-based healthcare services for the entire family
  6. Expand nutrition education to improve healthy eating at home
  7. Bridge the digital divide
  8. Make college a goal for every student
  9. Make the Dream Act a reality
  10. Improve language proficiency for all students


  1. Expand teacher recognition and incentive programs
  2. Teacher Power: appoint educators to city boards and commissions
  3. Develop the best future educators by recruiting the best college graduates
  4. Real affordable housing for educators
  5. Help teachers pay for classroom materials


  1. Create network of community partners to expand reach of wrap-around services
  2. Expand and formalize partnerships with universities to share space, service-learning opportunities, and align strategic plans
  3. Expand partnerships with businesses to ensure college and career connectivity
  4. Create alliance of school and parent advocacy groups to improve connectivity and collaboration


  1. Time off to attend school functions and parent-teacher conferences
  2. Support and promote the SFUSD Parent Engagement and Partnership Plan
  3. Community school wrap-around services for parents

To read Yee’s entire plan, visit www.LelandYee.com.

Yee immigrated to San Francisco at the age of 3. His father, a veteran, served in the US Army and the Merchant Marine, and his mother was a local seamstress. Yee graduated from the University of California – Berkeley, then earned a Ph.D. in Child Psychology, and later served in various mental health and school settings. He and his wife, Maxine, have raised four children who all attended San Francisco public schools. Yee has served in the State Legislature, Board of Supervisors and Board of Education.


Progressive Infrastructure To Renew The California Dream

Dave Johnson, Speak Out California

Markos, in a post today about the state of progressive infrastructure compared to the right’s, Building machines,

[. . .] But that battle is no longer one-sided. Their machine may be bigger, but we have something. And that’s all we ever needed — a hint of a partisan progressive media machine, fed by research and investigative reporting from the likes of ThinkProgress and Talking Points Memo, to begin delivering our message in the face of their vast media machine, as well as ineffective CW[conventional wisdom]-meisters like Maureen Dowd, Mark Halperin, and David Broder.

Look what we have been able to get done in this country with only the smallest, minimally-funded hint at an infrastructure of organizations and media outlets working to counter the right that has been built up since we started this fight.  We fought back against the conservative machine and got the Democrats to start fighting back themselves.  We took the Presidency, increased our numbers in the House and maybe, just maybe took  enough senate seats to stop the filibusters.

Now, imagine what we could do if we actually started funding serious progressive infrastructure organizations and building an ecosystem in which our writers and advocates could actually make a living, sell enough books to start receiving advances, get paid reasonably to write articles, receive speaking fees from organizations and some of the things right-wing advocates take for granted…  Imagine tens of thousands of young activists being trained every year.  Imagine progressive non-profits having the budgets to pay people more than minimum wage and provide benefits and get things done.  Sheesh.

Imagine what we could get done in California if we put together solid organizations that could reach out to all of the public and explain the benefits of progressive values and policies.  I mean progressive policies like good, well-funded public schools and low-cost universities, a health care system that works for the people, help with child care, a transportation infrastructure that gets people where they want to go in a timely manner, energy alternatives that cost less and do not pollute and employment rules that bring us reasonable wages and benefits in good jobs that also give us time to have fulfillment in our lives.  These are all possibilities, in fact these are all things that we were within reach of obtaining in California not too long ago.  These are things thaqt we can dream about again.

Barack Obama was able to raise millions of dollars in small donations, and this has helped the country to start to restore democracy.  We can do this in California, by sending $10 or $100 or more to help organizations like Speak Out California and others, and doing this as often as you can.

It is time for us to begin to renew the California Dream.

Click through to Speak Out California.

Speaking Out Against The Governor’s Budget Cuts

“The Governor can’t manufacture money” is what one person said after I described how his cutbacks will harm our schools.  I replied, “Yes, but he can manufacture leadership.”  

The preceding is from an Op Ed I wrote for my local paper recently.  I serve on a school board in San Leandro, California.  All Californians need to speak out against the Governor’s proposed budget cuts.  We need to pressure him and the Legislature to develop solutions to the revenue shortfall that do not harm our children and the most vulnerable of our society.

Here is my Op Ed on the 2008 State Budget Crisis:

My oldest daughter will start Kindergarten in public school in San Leandro next August.  I know she will receive excellent instruction from dedicated and caring teachers.   Her education, however, will not be shaped solely by my wife and me, her teachers, principal, other involved parents and school board.  

The federal government has intruded in education through the No Child Left Behind Act.  NCLB establishes wholly unrealistic standards of performance for our public schools.  When schools do not meet these standards, they are labeled failures, triggering a set of escalating sanctions ending in the conversion of our public schools into charter schools.  

Congress is debating whether to reauthorize NCLB.  If Congress applied the same performance measurements to itself, Congress would receive an “F.”  The federal government should offer a helping hand to schools in need, not punitive sanctions.

Decisions made in Sacramento in the coming months will also greatly impact our schools.  California has a centralized system for funding public education.  The Governor and Legislature, not local school boards, determine the amount of property taxes and state aid each school district receives.  This is why even when property tax receipts increase, our schools do not necessarily benefit.

Sacramento deserves an “F” in the category of school finance.  According to Education Week, California ranks 47th in the nation in spending per student when accounting for regional cost differences, spending $1,900 less per student than the national average.  West Virginia, Louisiana and Mississippi all outrank California.  

What do these statistics mean?  The 6.3 million children in California public schools attend some of the most crowded classrooms and have the fewest counselors and librarians in the nation.

Last August, Governor Schwarzenegger signed a budget that he called responsible, noting it limited “spending growth to less than 1 percent.”  Since then there has been a meltdown in the housing market.  State revenues have dropped precipitously.  Nevertheless, Governor Schwarzenegger claims state expenditures are excessive.  He proposes cutting billions from K-12 education to balance the budget.

“The Governor can’t manufacture money” is what one person said after I described how his cutbacks will harm our schools.  I replied, “Yes, but he can manufacture leadership.”  Upon taking office, Governor Schwarzenegger reduced the vehicle license fee. That created an annual $4 billion hole in the budget, about the same amount he now seeks to slash from education.

Governor Schwarzenegger once promised voters he would “protect California’s commitment to education funding.”  Our public schools are the only state-funded agency that depends upon car washes, bake sales and magazine subscription drives to function.  Yet, the Governor rules out any tax increases to address the revenue shortfall.   His call for 2008 to be the Year of Education has become a cruel joke.  

Leadership is ultimately by example.  The Schwarzenegger household will be unaffected by the budget cuts.  His children attend a private school that charges over $25,000 a year in tuition.  In San Leandro, spending per student in 2006 was $6,916.  

Our society will not flourish if only the children of the rich attend schools that offer quality teaching in small classrooms, music and arts education, foreign languages, sports, access to technology and well-stocked libraries.  California’s future depends on our public schools receiving the resources necessary to succeed.  

Please note, I am speaking for myself, not the San Leandro School Board.