UC Student Association director runs for San Francisco Board of Education

Mathew Haney/Courtesy

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University of California Student Association Executive Director Matt Haney is running for a spot on the San Francisco Board of Education.

Haney filed paperwork indicating his intention to run April 11, joining five other candidates who will square off in November for four seats on the board.

As executive director of the UCSA, Haney has advocated for causes ranging from the recently passed California DREAM Act — which grants undocumented students who meet certain criteria access to financial aid — to the Middle Class Scholarship Act, which aims to reduce tuition costs for students from middle-class families. He said he will retain his position at the UCSA even if he is elected to the board.

“My experience has taught me how to organize and advocate effectively for public education,” Haney said in an email. “I know what it looks like when governing boards or decision-makers are not as responsive or inclusive as they should be.”

But competing candidate Dean Clark said his experience as a teacher makes him better able to represent people from lower socioeconomic backgrounds.

“I think we need a varied and diverse background,” Clark said.

Clark said he has had the opportunity to work with at-risk youth and people with special needs, which gives him an important perspective to offer to the school district.

Gladys Soto, a parent with two children in the San Francisco public school system, is “running to represent the Latino Community, a vital perspective that doesn’t currently exist on the board,” according to her website.

Despite their differing backgrounds, the candidates are relatively unified in their belief that the school district is in need of significant changes.

“It is unacceptable that in a city with as much knowledge, innovation and resources as San Francisco, that we are not leading the state, country and the world in level of educational opportunity that we provide to our residents,” Haney said in the email.

A report by The Education Trust-West — a California policy and research organization — gave the district an “F” for the district’s racial achievement gap in 2011 between white students and their Latino and black classmates.

“There’s a lot of room for concern,” Clark said. “There’s a lot of room for improvement, and there’s a lot of room for change.”

Haney said in the email that his platform consists of three major goals. He aims to “bring in more resources, through local funding mechanisms and increasing strategic partnership” and “advocate for an engaging standards based curriculum that ensures college and career readiness for all.”

Keeping with his experience at the UC Students Association, he said he also hopes to “fight to make sure that students have a seat at the table and that they are involved in the important decisions that impact their lives.”

Haney said his first campaign event brought about 300 supporters.