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Students Best Interests? Just Politics on San Francisco School Board

People ask, why are there more dogs in this City than children? Why do parents who can afford to do so tend to avoid sending their children to San Francisco’s public schools?

I don’t have a crystal ball to tell you the answers to those questions, but I do have a notion that it may have something to do with the School Board members’ political aspirations and not serving the best interests of the students and parents in the District.

Out of the blue, the school board gave a 24-hour notice for a meeting yesterday without a specific meeting time. The goal of the meeting was an attempt by the politicians on the Board to eliminate physical education credit for the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps program that some of them are trying to eliminate from the schools all together.

Let’s talk about integrity …
Current School Board members Eric Mar and Mark Sanchez want to be City Supervisors. Eric is running in District 1 (Richmond) and Mark is running in District 9 (Bernal Heights, Portola, portions of the Mission). Democracy depends on information being readily available (thank you for freedom of the press). Democracy also depends, in large part, on allowing the voices of the people to be heard by their elected representatives. A surprise meeting on this topic did not allow much time for folks to become aware of the meeting and to plan on attending it to voice their opinions. Shame on you Eric Mar. Shame on you Mark Sanchez.

Let’s talk about why I support the JROTC program …
I support the JROTC program because it provides young people with an alternative means to learning discipline, to feeling the security provided by a structured environment, and to learning and practicing leadership skills. It is nice that it also provides physical education, but that’s an aside from my point of view. Many young people in San Francisco lack supportive parents/guardians, lack structure, and lack discipline – but the JROTC helps to make up for what these kids are, in some cases, not getting at home. Where do we find some of the kids who are seeking the security of living with a structured group that provides some certainty about how things work – we find some of those kids in gangs. What happens to kids in gangs? Read the crime pages – they either shoot others or they get shot themselves.

If the JROTC can provide an alternative to gangs to provide kids with the structure and discipline that all kids need to feel safe and to grow into adulthood with the esteem that they’ll be okay, why in God’s name is this School Board trying to kill the program?

My understanding is that these politicians’ explanations for trying to kill the program is that that JROTC is related to our military, and they believe they can score personal political points for their future political careers by killing this program. The spin in San Francisco is partly based on the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell homophobic policy. This is bunk because openly gay and lesbian students are welcomed in the JROTC program in San Francisco. I again ask you to question the integrity of Eric Mar and Mark Sanchez …. do you want these guys on the Board of Supervisors starting in January 2010?

Let’s see … closing government to limit citizen participation (suprise meeting, granted the rules allow it with 24 hours notice) and ignoring the best interests of the students in order to make personal political gains on their quest to move up the next rung in the ladder to Supervisor. Gee, Eric Mar and Mark Sanchez sound like real winners to me …. they’re Republicans, right!?! Nope! These guys hang out in the Democratic and Green Party circles. Shame on you Eric Mar. Shame on you Mark Sanchez. Democrats and Greens support open government. Democrats and Greens support public policies to benefit the most number of citizens possible … not just a few individuals’ political careers.

What can you do? You could send them an email saying “Shame on you!” to Eric Mar mare@sfusd.edu and to Mark Sanchez SanchezM5@sfusd.edu for working against open government policies and ignoring the best interests of students for their own personal, political agendas. You could also show up at the next SFUSD Board Meeting and tell them what you think of their actions and their integrity to their faces.

However, I would suggest picking one of the candidates running against them in November and begin working for their campaign now. The earlier you can help campaigns with fundraising and building up voter awareness, the more valuable that early foot work becomes to the campaign come November 4th.

Please, fellow San Franciscans, we all deserve better than the spineless politicians we’ve been electing in the past who make decisions based on their political aspirations instead of based on the best interests of those they serve.

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