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.
The Plan: The Collective
We at PEPS believe that no one organization in our city is able to take up all of these goals, but that together we can successfully move forward. Everything we need to achieve these goals already exists in the unfathomable richness of our city’s cultural, intellectual and material resources. Rather than reinventing the wheel or creating yet another organization to carve out a piece of the pie, PEPS plans to launch a public education collective, a new collaborative structure of education stakeholders that will routinely work with each other to support our public schools.
The public education collective will be an open space that engages our creativity, sparks improbable conversations, and unleashes our collective power in a sustained effort to fundamentally shift our relationship, as a City, to our schools.
The Collective will
- Dramatically increase public support for public schools
- Explore innovative ways to increase neighborhood/school relationships
- Enable our community to equitably increase private and public funding for our public schools