Comments from educators, parents and union members during Tuesday’s rally to fund public education in San Francisco — before the Board of Supervisors meeting was shut down by demonstrators:
Susan Kitchell has worked in education for more than 20 years. Having been evicted before, the school nurse from Hilltop High School doesn’t know how much longer she’ll be able to remain in the city without the seven percent salary increase that Prop. G — which voters passed in June 2018 — would provide.
“We’re not saying we deserve more than the homeless or housing advocates or early childhood [education],” she said. “The issue is there needs to be a fair share for everyone.”
She feels the voters made a promise to educators by passing Prop G. “This was the will of the people,” said Kitchell, who also serves on the executive board of the United Educators of San Francisco. “It’s time to support the will of the people.”
Kitchell is holding a progress report of supervisors who, she said, have committed to supporting public-school funding. So far, that includes Gordon Mar, Matt Haney, Shamann Walton and Hillary Ronen — all of whom attended and spoke at Tuesday’s rally.
She hopes that all of the supervisors will uphold the will of the people.
Public education is the lifeline of future generations, said Van Cedric Williams, the treasurer for the United Educators of San Francisco.
“Prop. G was our first and best attempt to show a sense of respect to our teachers: to show that they matter and to show families that we want [teachers] to stay in their community,” said Williams.
He, too, would like the elected officials to show constituents that public education is important: “How much do they value investing in our future kids and our teachers?”
As president of the United Educators of San Francisco, Susan Solomon said that one way to prioritize students is to secure additional funding for teachers.
One major aspect of Prop. G was to increase educators’ salaries by seven percent, which, she said, would undoubtedly increase teacher morale.
“We know from hearing from our members that they’re more able to pay off their student loans. Some paraeducators can maybe give up their second or third job — and teachers, by the way,” said Solomon, who has worked in education for 41 years. “And that makes us more present for our students.”
Jerry Eaton, who is on the board of directors for California Teachers Association for District A, attended the rally to support his chapter.
By passing Prop. G last summer, he said it showed that “San Francisco was trying to take care of its own.”
Eaton said that while most parents know this, it’s worth noting: “Educators’ working conditions are the students’ learning conditions — and that’s why we’re here.”
“We’re tired of having to beg for funding for public education,” said Theresa Montaño, the vice president for the California Teachers Association. “When locals go the extra mile to work hard through electoral politics, to build coalitions, to convince the voters that our schools need funding, that vote should be respected.”
While she’s grateful for the funding that the supervisors are offering, she believes it is not enough. “It’s just not enough and we don’t need it a couple of years from now,” she said. “We need it now.”
Dana Rich, a paraeducator at John O’Connell High School, has worked in education for over two decades.
She attended the rally because she wanted to stand behind her fellow teachers. “We need to invest in our young people’s education,” she said. “And I think we need to have excellent public schools: that’s so important for a democracy.”
“I’m here to stand up and fight for my children because they’re the future,” said Sabrina Hall, a parent of three students who attend John O’Connell High, Everett Middle, and Paul Revere Elementary.
While she’s at the rally to support her children’s education, she’s also fighting for their teachers. “Our teachers are with our kids more than parents are with them,” she said.
Another parent also brought her children to the rally. “They’re the future of San Francisco,” said Kate Morgan.
“It’s very important for them to see that for our public education to thrive and survive, you have to put in the effort, show up, and support your teachers,” she said.
“They love their teachers,” she said. “Their teachers are with them every day and they change everything for a lot of kids, so I hope we can get them paid.”