Natasha Hoehn School Board questionnaire

Natasha Hoehn School Board questionnaire

Postby Jeff_W on Mon Aug 16, 2010 6:49 pm

Name: Natasha D. Hoehn

1) Why are you running for The Board of Education in the City and County of San Francisco?

There is no more important issue for our future as a city and as a democracy than ensuring we are providing high quality public education to all our children. I have worked in the field of public education for the past 15 years, and been very active in helping to craft San Francisco education policy for some time. I am a former public middle school teacher with a strong education policy background. I will bring fresh energy, progressive ideas, thoughtful leadership, and strategic focus to the School Board.

2) What is your background in Public Education?

My professional career is in public education. I began as a public school middle school English teacher in the Bronx and now lead a nonprofit education organization. For more than 15 years, I have advocated for education policy change and programmatic improvement at the local, state, and federal levels. This experience has given me a deep understanding of what works and what doesn’t in education. I have classroom-focused expertise about effective in teaching and learning and have extensive experience working with parents, teachers, nonprofits, city partners, and community members for positive change in our public schools. I have been a leader in raising over $1 billion dollars for SFUSD schools through Prop A 2006 and Prop A 2008, and will continue to demand improved funding for schools.

3) If elected to this position, what are your top three priorities for improving public education in the City and County of San Francisco?

The mission of SFUSD is to ensure that all our students graduate prepared to go on to college and a successful career. To get there, my top three priorities are to:

· Increase support for teachers through high quality, relevant professional development and peer-to-peer mentorship;

· Engage and empower students, families, and community partners in the education experience; and

· Protect and increase resources for schools and classrooms from a local, state and federal level, spent appropriately and with clear accountability.

4) What is your strategy for reducing, or completely closing the learning gap between students of different ethnicities and income levels?

As a community, we must close the opportunity gap by changing systems and practices that continue to leave some of our students behind. We can do this by:

· Expanding access so that all students have access to high quality preschool;

· Empowering parents with information; engaging parents in School Site Councils and PTAs to make decisions that are best for their children;

· Implementing a high-quality, engaging, rigorous, relevant curriculum PreK-12 that prepares student for college and career;

· Making sure that the most effective teachers are teaching in schools most in need; and

· Demanding accountability

5) Do you believe Teacher and Principal Retention is important for student achievement? If so, what will you do to increase the retention of Teachers and Principals in the San Francisco Unified School District, should you be elected to the San Francisco Board of Education?

Yes- retaining quality teachers and principals is vital to student achievement and should be one of our highest priorities. We made strides forward in increasing pay, creating mentorships positions and improving professional development through the Quality Teacher and Education Act (Prop A 2008), but that is only the first step. We need to keep building a coherent, teacher driven system to recruit, support and retain the best educators in the nation. I would support more efforts to provide high quality, relevant professional development, the creation of more opportunities to have leadership roles without leaving the classroom, and opportunities for teachers to give and receive feedback with their peers.

6) Special Education in public schools is essential for students with disabilities to achieve academically. However, most often the program is underfunded, or there is an unwillingness to make the reasonable accommodations needed for the students with disabilities to succeed. What plans do you have to mitigate this inequity in San Francisco’s public schools should you be elected to the San Francisco Board of Education?

SFUSD has recently hired a new Executive Director of Special Education and is undergoing a review of current practices now. The District must aggressively move to enact the recommendations that expand opportunities for students in the special education program to learn in classrooms with their non-special education classmates and those recommendations that increase the ability of the department to spend less on expenses that are not directly related to student learning (legal costs, transportation, etc.). At the same time SFUSD must be a vocal advocate of increasing funding to support the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

7) The San Francisco Unified School District in recent years has developed policy to ensure a safe environment for Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual and Transgender students in San Francisco’s public schools. Can you summarize your understanding of these policy objectives? What are your plans regarding this policy should you be elected to the San Francisco Board of Education?

I understand that this policy calls for a half-time staff position to help with schools’ Support Services for LGBTQ youth, which complements the website that covers a LGBT curriculum and ways to address harassment. In addition, the policy calls for the continuation of a LGBTQ history and literature course and a packet to be funded and distributed to parents and guardians that discusses issues of gender identity, sexuality, and safety. Without a doubt, in order for all of our students to succeed, all of our schools need to be safe, supportive environments. This policy is step in the right direction and an appropriate response to the data that reported that one out of every four of the district’s students reported hearing other students make harassing remarks based on sexual orientation. As a board member, I would ask that the data be reported back on a regular basis to monitor the effectiveness of these policies and ensure that the efforts are yielding a supportive learning in all our schools.

8) What role if any, do you believe Charter Schools play in the public educational system of the United States?

There is a place for charter schools within California’s public school landscape when they are supported by children and families they serve, advance student success, and help the system as a whole improve over time by sharing new ideas and technologies.

9) What is your position regarding the privatization of public education?

I am 100% opposed to any and all efforts to privatize the system. Public education is a PUBLIC good.

10) Do you favor the use of Project Labor Agreements in the San Francisco Unified School District? Yes. The PLA agreement in place for the SFUSD bond program has brought stability, reliability, quality and long-term value to the program. The PLA has been highly valuable for project planning, ensuring the work stays high quality, on time, and on budget.
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