Benefits of a Public Dialogue

What is the Value or Benefit of Having a Public Dialogue about our Public Schools?

When asked about the value or benefits of having a public dialogue about San Francisco’s public schools, many respondents gave answers around a few key themes. Below are those themes, and some selected quotes. Download a full list of responses.

  • Increasing dialogue/ public knowledge about school successes and challenges/Raise Awareness about Public Education as an Issue
    “I always feel like I want to take people on a field trip to see what’s really happening, some of the wonderful things and some of the not so wonderful things; to get on the same page about what the purpose and mission of public education is in San Francisco. Public education is the cornerstone and foundation of San Franciscans. I’m hoping we’re not so divided in thought about this. “
  • Clarify roles/coordination of stakeholders (business, school district, families, CBOs)
    “Everybody has a role to play and people don’t understand their roles. There’s a lot of stuff people don’t realize about our community—the interdependence—and people don’t know the role of the family, SFUSD, business/industry, etc. Very few people are doing this on purpose. We need a coherence of understanding across a lot of stakeholders, who could do things a littel bit differently and the schools can change dramatically.”
  • Increase % of SF families that choose SF public schools
    “It’s disconcerting that every year we have fewer and fewer people coming to public schools. We have excellent elementary schools, excellent middle schools and the principals of the high schools are working very hard to create great programs in their schools. When people come to tours, I talk as much about the other high schools as I do about [my school]. I tell them about the competition. I think people rely a lot on perception and their own experience and they need to come see the schools to see all the great things going on.”
  • Central Vision/Create consensus
    “What I’ve seen in the 2 years I’ve worked in this city, there’s a lot of discussion and lots of opinions and no real way to corral that. There are a lot of individual opinions and lots of individual organizations that have opinions, missions and a desire to support public schools. But no way to band it together and move it in a unified direction.”
  • Increase # of families who stay in SF because of public schools
    “The blatant reality is that we push families out of SF, because of how they’re treated in our schools, how their kids are treated in schools. A basic level of respect – there are some inhumane things that some kids are experiencing. If it was right – it would be a different dialogue. I hope a dialogue can speak to that truth – it’s becoming the daily experience for certain populations.”
  • Increase support for children and families in SF
    “You can’t have a strong community unless you put your focus on public education and families in general. It has a domino effect on the whole community.”
  • Increase private funding for SF public schools/Not enough private support
    “Companies are looking for kids who can do math and science. There isn’t a large corporate investment in the public schools. Everyone has to be a part of changing what is happening. I want people to realize they’re going to destroy SF if they don’t invest in the 54K students in public schools.”
  • Increase public funding/ public support for SF public schools
    “Everyone in SF can be a part of [making our schools better], through mentorships and real world education. We have an embarrassment of resources here in SF to improve our schools and we can be a real model to the rest of the country if we get it right.”
  • Increase volunteerism/civic engagement in SF public schools
    “If it’s a dialogue about how to build power amongst people—a movement that brought their voices forwards to articulate what public education is for, it would be valuable.”
  • Increase equity in SF
    “The urgency is – I don’t think anybody in SF wants to lose cultural diversity. People love that. However, if we value that, we have to value it in our public schools. In order to have civic engagement dialogue, to bring unity in SF at that level, we have to start with – we believe public schools can be quality for every student, regardless of neighborhood, background, how they look, how they talk. That’s the urgency of why it’s needed.”