Vote Lisa Weissman-Ward for SF School Board
is the parent of two public elementary school children. She lives with her family in the Mission District.
Lisa was appointed to SFUSD’s Board of Education in March 2022.
Lisa is also the Associate Director of the Stanford Law School Immigrants’ Rights Clinic. As an immigration lawyer and educator, Lisa teaches about the immigration system and supervises law students as they represent noncitizen clients.
She is a product of public schools and comes from a family of educators.
Why should voters elect you to the SF Board of Education?
Since my appointment, my priority has been to rebuild trust with students, families and educators.
I am committed to making sure we can provide a world class education to our students, which is what they deserve.
In just four months, we passed a balanced budget, rescinded layoff notices, hired a Superintendent, created a path to improve our high schools, and began student-centered Board governance training.
I am excited about creating a school district that we can be proud of and excited about!
How do you propose to address the learning loss and mental health issues affecting our kids?
Many students in SFUSD are experiencing learning loss and mental health challenges.
If students are not making progress in school, they lose confidence and motivation and are not able to learn.
If students do not feel safe, either physically or emotionally, they are not able to learn.
I am hopeful that the community-schools money the State has recently awarded to SFUSD will allow us to support our students’ social-emotional and physical well-being, along with their intellectual growth. I am also hopeful that the proposed Student Success Fund ballot measure will support learning environments where students feel safe, valued, engaged, and challenged.
As a BOE commissioner, I will make sure that the district spends money in ways that focus directly on students. I believe that we must constantly “check our work” and make sure that the programs we invest in are actually working.
Our students’ success depends on the adults in the room making good and smart decisions.
How do you propose to address the budget deficit affecting our school district?
In order to be financially responsible, we must make smart and transparent decisions about how to spend money.
More money coming into SFUSD is only helpful if it is spent in ways that actually improve student outcomes. I believe it is important to ask questions about the budget and to share budget information in a way that everyone in our community can understand.
When the budget numbers do not add up or are not consistent with putting our students first, it is the duty of the BOE commissioners to ask questions, figure out why, and fix it.
How do you propose to correct the educational equity gap in our school district?
Excellence and equity in education go hand-in-hand. You can’t have one without the other.
For far too long, these concepts have been pitted against one another and it has resulted in adults fighting and students getting further harmed.
I believe that all students, no matter what their background, have the capacity to be excited and engaged learners who can thrive in school. Students not thriving is not the fault of the students, but is the fault of the systems in place.
As an academic, I believe that we can and should learn from experts who have proven strategies about how to improve literacy and math levels. We can also learn from other districts which are doing a much better job at educating all of their students, no matter what their backgrounds are.
How would you address the Lowell High School admissions issue?
My first steps to address Lowell admissions were my two votes on June 22.
First, I voted to support the creation of a task force to develop community-led recommendations to improve all of our high schools. In a city like San Francisco, we should have an abundance of high schools with reputations for excellence.
I look forward to receiving recommendations from the task force about how we can grow and expand our rigorous academic programs. I also look forward to receiving recommendations about how we can explore additional opportunities for students who are interested in STEM, the arts, and trade school programs.
Second, I voted to return to the criteria-based admissions policy beginning in school year 2023-2024. I believe in creating more, not fewer opportunities for rigorous academic programs.
Tell us about a time when you had to overcome obstacles & build a coalition to get things done
When teaching, I tell my students: “Be careful! When you are holding a hammer, everything around you looks like a nail.” This is a reminder that not everything needs to be a fight and some of the very best decisions come from negotiation and consensus. I teach them that the best approach for hard issues begins with finding points of similarity rather than focusing on points of difference.
For example, when the Trump administration began enacting anti-immigrant policies, we organized a collaborative of more than 40 organizations to expand the capacity to push back on these attacks. I was co-chair of the collaborative’s steering committee.
While most of the organizations shared similar values, there were a number of big differences about priorities and funding. I led meetings and facilitated consensus-based decision-making processes. I was successful as a leader because I took the time to build trust and because I created space for all voices and opinions to be shared.