SFUSD Vision, Values, Goals, and Guardrails

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Dear SFUSD Community,

We are excited to share updates regarding the work we are doing to focus on student outcomes. 

On July 17, 2022, the San Francisco Board of Education took part in a daylong workshop to create a draft version of a district vision, values, goals, and guardrails, as well as a community engagement plan to gather feedback on them. 

Why are we doing this? Put simply, we can do anything as a district, but we can't do everything. Our process will help us prioritize our actions to improve student outcomes. 

To do that, we need to do four things:

  1. We need to know the San Francisco community's vision for their public schools.
  2. We need to know the values behind that vision.
  3. Based on the community's vision for their public schools, we need to have a small number of goals for what students should know and be able to do.
  4. We must have guardrails to ensure the community's values aren't violated while pursuing our goals. 

We want to stress that what we created is just a draft. It's not final. We won't create a final version until we've gathered extensive input from the community.

Because we believe transparency and inclusion are critical for our success, a recap of our meeting, its outcomes, and the next steps in our process are below. To learn more about our approach to improving governance, check out our short explainer, long explainer, and FAQ.

Recap and outcomes from July 17, 2022 Workshop

We began our meeting by defining why school districts, school boards, and superintendents exist. It may sound simple, but interrogating our assumptions focused our discussion on student outcomes.

Vision

Next, we drafted a vision for San Francisco's public schools based on a Community Voice Summary from past engagement efforts. Ultimately, it's the board's responsibility to represent the vision and values of the community. Without taking the time to listen to community members and define their vision and values, it's impossible to represent the community faithfully. Below is our working vision:

"All SFUSD students will graduate as independent thinkers with a sense of agency who have mastered academic and creative skills to lead productive lives and contribute to our community."

The vision is meant to be long-term and aspirational–something we want to see realized in 10-20 years. 

Goals

Next, we drafted goals using our Student Performance Analysis as our guide. We need to have a small number of goals for what students should know and be able to do to give us focus, show us if we're making progress, and allow us to change course if not. Once we have measurable goals in place, we can marshal the power of our passionate educators and align our financial resources to accomplish them. While we didn't land on specific goals yet, we plan to create them around literacy, math, college and career readiness, and our Graduate Profile. Our immediate next steps are to share specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) goals with the board for their feedback in advance of our community engagement events. 

Values

After drafting goals, we began surfacing values in the SFUSD's Vision 2025, the district's internal Core Values, the 2022 Superintendent Search report, and the LCAP development process. Not surprisingly, the values student-centered, collective, integrity, and equity rose to the top.

Guardrails

Third, we must have guardrails to ensure the community's values aren't violated while pursuing our goals. Just as it's essential to know what to do to achieve our goals, it's also important to know what not to do. Guardrails prevent the superintendent from violating the community's values to achieve a goal.

For example, suppose one of the community's values is to provide input on important policy issues. In that case, one of the guardrails might be, "The Superintendent will not propose major decisions to the Board without first having engaged students, parents, community, and staff." Again, we didn't finalize our specific guardrails, but we zeroed in on effective decision-making, resource allocation, treatment of students, and effective instruction as areas where we'll focus. Our next steps are to finalize specific guardrails and have the board review them before sharing them with the community.

Next steps

We began planning a community outreach and engagement plan to share our draft and gather feedback. There will be multiple opportunities for our community to provide feedback on our draft vision, values, goals, and guardrails between now and the end of October. We'll revise our draft based on what we hear and aim to adopt a final version at our regular board meeting on October 25. 

We look forward to hearing your feedback over the coming months, and we're confident this process will give us a strong outcome that will guide the district over the next few years.

We commend our colleagues for their thoughtfulness, productive exchange of ideas, and focus on improving student outcomes and look forward to working together on focusing the work of our district.

Sincerely, 

Board of Education President Jenny Lam
Dr. Matt Wayne, Superintendent