I am excited to share the latest news about the San Francisco Unified School District’s work to transform public education, close the opportunity gap and improve lifetime chances for all of our city’s children.
This fall, the district (SFUSD) is launching Vision 2025, the result of a citywide conversation in which a broad range of San Franciscans worked with district leaders, teachers and students to create a shared vision of what graduating students must know and be able to do ten years into the future and what schools must look like to realize that. The vision is critically important because we can’t restructure the way schools do their work unless we all know where we are going.
To create the vision, the district used an innovative design approach that relied on extensive input from “consumer” voices—students and parents—and gave participants an opportunity to dream, visit promising school models, and re-imagine the entire education enterprise. I participated in these sessions, and I found that being asked to imagine the future free of present-day constraints allowed us to create a powerful and transformational image for our children and our schools.
Vision 2025 focuses on igniting every student’s special “spark” and revolutionizing teaching and learning so all students have the knowledge, skills, and abilities they need to succeed in college, civic life, and 21st century careers. The vision is this. By the time our children graduate from high school, all of them will understand their special talents and have a clear sense of where they are headed and how to get there. They will have mastered core academic subjects, speak at least two languages and have extensive experience working in teams on applied projects about real-life issues. They will also be fluent multimedia communicators who are civically engaged and globally aware.
Schools will have to change dramatically, and changing institutions is not an easy thing to do. Strong leadership is critical for making Vision 2025 real, so in addition to funding the visioning process, the Haas, Jr. Fund is also investing in the leadership necessary to transform teaching and learning in every school, for every child.
We are supporting the district’s strong executive team and the building of a performance management system to monitor and guide the transformation. We’re also supporting planning for becoming a digital district and strategic communications to engage diverse audiences in a unified change effort.
In addition, we’ve put significant resources into SFUSD’s PreK-3 Initiative and the success of its youngest students. The district’s work on PreK-3 bridges the long-standing chasm between what happens in preschool and what happens in elementary school. This is critical work because when teaching and learning are aligned between the early years and early grades, children are far more likely to succeed in school.
From its earliest days, San Francisco has been a city of entrepreneurs and innovation. It is home to some of the best cultural institutions and the most savvy and creative businesses in the world. At the same time, the gap between wealthy and poor residents is growing faster than in any other city in the country – over 60 percent of our public school students come from low-income families, and this percentage is increasing. We must ensure that our public schools give all our children a top-flight education, so they can become the doers, thinkers and leaders that our city will need in the future.
It’s time to turn the power of San Francisco creativity to support our district leaders and teachers and Vision 2025. This won’t happen unless we all come together as a city. In all of our work at the Fund, success has come when we have joined forces with other partners committed to the same goals. We are one of many partners that support SFUSD’s forward-thinking work, along with SalesForce Foundation, the S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation, Silver Giving, and others.
But the schools need your help, too. With your participation—whether as volunteers or donors—we know that Vision 2025 can become tomorrow’s reality for our children. Together, we can even the odds and improve life chances for every child in San Francisco.
Vice President of Programs