My name is Alida Fisher and I’m running for SF Board of Education. I’m running because I’m a former foster parent, now adoptive parent. In the past 15 years my kids have attended 7 different SFUSD schools, I’ve been an active parent at each one. However, it was my journey into identifying their disabilities and learning differences that transformed me from active parent into parent activist.
Day after day, meeting after meeting, institution after institution, I see how our society marginalizes people who think and learn differently. I see how difficult it is for families to access supports and services for their children, their parents, and often themselves. We can and should do better. I firmly believe that education is a civil right. It should be the great equalizer. Instead, in our state and our country, our educational institutions further the equity divide. California is the world’s fifth largest economy, yet here in the US ranks 41st amongst states in education funding and dead last in special education funding.
I’m a special education advocate and data nerd. As the past Chair of the SFUSD Community Advisory Committee for Special Education, now the Advocacy Chair, I have been a collaborative partner who works to improve outcomes for our most vulnerable students and, in some cases, hold the district accountable when we’re not not providing the supports our students need. I’m a parent mentor with Support for Families of Children with Disabilities, a parent training center here in San Francisco. I’ve spent the past ten years advocating for and with families. Now it’s time to take my advocacy to the next level. It’s time to make sure that San Francisco Unified School District - a District representing more than 50,000 students and their families throughout San Francisco - prioritizes supporting our students who need us the most.
I’m running because I understand that our budget needs to reflect our values. For me, the past 15 years have been a real education in my white privilege. I’ve seen the disparities in outcomes for students depending on race, ethnicity, home language, and socioeconomic status. I know that all of our students are capable scholars. When we’re seeing such large gaps in outcomes between student groups, we really need to reflect on the problems with our system rather than blaming and punishing our students. We need more support systems in our schools, from reading interventions to mental health supports.
I’ve spent the past ten years attending Board of Education meetings and committee meetings, providing comments on policies and our budgets. Now it’s time to take it to the next level: Instead of commenting on the policies, I am ready to help write policies that put inclusion and support at the forefront. I will develop budgets that prioritize programs that improve outcomes for all students and help everyone reach their potential.