PEPS is a community driven project devoted to strengthening San Francisco’s civic commitment to our public schools. We are not an educational reform initiative, nor do we hope to establish a new organization. We are a transparent, thoughtful process informed by a belief that a collective vision brought to life by collective action results in powerful social change.
When the citizens of San Francisco make a public commitment to public education, our schools will be equitably funded, our schools’ success stories will be celebrated and the community will feel an authentic connection to our public schools.
Interviews with Education Stakeholders
We began by conducting over 100 scripted, formal interviews with individual education stakeholders in our city, asking people what a wider civic dialogue about supporting San Francisco’s public schools might look like. We coded our results to create a system for examining and understanding what we heard. We wanted to find patterns in people’s responses that would indicate where these education “insiders” felt we needed to go, as a project, and as a city, to build support for our public schools. See who we interviewed.
After examining the results of our conversations, and learning as much as we could from the data we collected, we presented our findings to the public. Almost everyone we interviewed, or their designated representatives, attended our report-back session, and our audience included the heads of all the major education nonprofits in San Francisco, plus the leaders of our school district and teachers union.
We are asked to do more
One major finding was that education insiders wanted PEPS to fan out into new groups within the city—to reach people we called education outsiders or not the usual suspects. They wanted us to engage these groups in helping to develop a clear set of positive statements about how San Franciscans might, as a city, stand up for our public schools.
Engagement with Broader Community
PEPS developed a lively and engaging small group dialogue process to illicit people’s bold ideas as well as their practical insights about how the City’s relationship to our schools might evolve, and what we should expect of ourselves in backing our public schools. We held about 30 dialogue groups in partnership with community groups, businesses, and public agencies. Once again, we carefully documented and analyzed the results of each dialogue session.
What we heard
- People want our public schools to be equitably funded. That is, we don’t want some of our children attending schools with inadequate support, while other children attend schools with substantial supplementary private dollars (typically raised by parents).
- People want to hear good stories about public schools. We recognize that our schools face problems, but we also want to celebrate success stories and promote our “faith” in the power of public education.
- People want to feel connected to our public schools, so that our schools don’t exist as “strange islands” in our neighborhoods. We want to realize the win-win potential of schools as neighborhood assets.
PEPS is ready to put this collective vision into action. We are launching 2 pilot projects to demonstrate how these 3 goals can be realized at school sites. The pilots will increase the number of neighbors that participate in activities on school sites, increase the local investment in schools, and create a positive image of the school in its neighborhood.
Research indicates that meaningful community engagement is critical to school improvement. The school district and their partners are working hard to achieve educational equity and excellence for all students. It is our job to improve how we, as everyday San Franciscans, support our public schools. San Francisco has a small population of children, a large population of adults without kids in school, and a rich history of embracing social causes that have made us a global beacon of innovation. We’re ready, the City is ready. Let’s do this!