Greetings SFUSD Community:
Today marks my first day as the new San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) Superintendent, and I couldn’t be more excited to get to work. When I walked into the building, I got to see the wonderful diversity of our district firsthand. We are enrolling families new to SFUSD, and the first floor of our administration building was full of families from all over the world speaking different languages. I had a chance to speak with parents moving from Southern California eager to enroll their student in high school as well as a family that recently immigrated to the United States from Central America. This was an immediate reminder for me of our responsibility as educators to provide each and every student, regardless of where they are from or what language they speak, with the opportunity to learn the skills they need to thrive in school and beyond.
As I start my tenure in SFUSD, my goals for the next few months are simple: to listen and take action on the district's most urgent and important issues.
Listening to SFUSD students, families, staff members, and community organizations is my first priority. My intent is to understand our collective vision for our students, where we’re meeting their needs, where we’re falling short, and your ideas for how we can provide every student with the education they deserve. It would be a mistake for me to propose extensive solutions without deeply understanding our context. From my tenure as SFUSD’s Executive Director of Elementary Schools from 2010 to 2012, I know that many of the challenges we’re facing have existed for years. I also don’t presume that new ideas alone will resolve our challenges. In my experience, solutions often come from building effective systems and ensuring sound implementation.
Some issues, such as the EMPowerSF payroll situation, must be addressed immediately, and I will balance my listening with action. I have already begun talking with SFUSD staff to identify these issues, understand what is currently being done, and ensure we will resolve the issues as quickly as possible. I also am joining SFUSD as the Board of Education begins working on effective governance and updating our vision and values and developing goals for student outcomes. I am pleased to engage in this process with them over the next few months so that we may focus our efforts on what matters most: educating students.
While there is immediate work to be done, the past few years have stretched educators in ways that are unsustainable. Going from one crisis to another prevents us from being able to focus on our core responsibility of teaching and learning. I am taking this time to listen and learn because my goals as superintendent are for SFUSD to be more strategic, stable, and effective. This will take focus, patience, and, at times, the courage to make difficult decisions that put students first. Most importantly, it will take all of us doing our part.
I’m ready to begin, and excited for what’s to come.
Thank you for the warm welcome I’ve received so far and I look forward to meeting as many of you as I can in the coming months.
Dr. Matt Wayne