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For several months now, parents, community members, and labor leaders in San Francisco have been pushing back on a billionaire-backed “astroturfing” organization that has received hundreds of thousands of dollars from Walton Family Foundation (think Walmart) and the Silicon Valley Community Foundation (think Schwab, Goldman Sachs, etc.) to “organize” and “innovate” public education in the Bay. Under the guise of a grass-roots Black/Brown family empowerment organization, Innovate Public Schools is engaged in a self-proclaimed “air and ground war” to create thousands of new charter seats in San Francisco Unified School District. Using its million-dollar budget, and a staff of PR, communications, and campaign experts, they have been convening fake parent education events, handing out misleading reports and posting negative Face Book ads about schools serving Black and Brown students.
This spring, KIPP Elementary, a new charter pushed by Innovate Public Schools, defied community organizations, labor leaders and democratically elected Board of Education officials denial of their new charter and went to the state Board of Education for approval for their school. Much of the rhetoric given as a reason for approval of their new school, was that Bayview schools “are failing” and parents are demanding a choice.
These claims could not be further from the truth.
Bayview Families Speak Truth to Power…
San Francisco Families Union, Coleman Advocates, and other community-based organizations are listening to the true voices of Bayview families and community members. We believe their voices, not voices of Silicon-Valley outsiders need to be heard. Below are three voices from that community.
Charters displace local communities
James Mabrie Jr. is a longtime resident of San Francisco who has witnessed the gentrification and displacement of his community. As James says, Ben Franklin used to be an SFUSD school serving primarily African-American students in the Western Addition. The school has long been shut down. In its place, a charter school remains. Ben Franklin school was located in the Western Addition neighborhood, much of which has been rebranded as Hayes Valley. What many folks don’t realize is charters are mechanisms of gentrification and displacement. What has happened to the Western Addition is now happening in the Bayview. Now Malcolm X is next, as KIPP plans for forcefully co-locate this fall, pushing out much needed programs and services for students.