Teachers and students protest the tentative agreement at district headquarters

On Tuesday, Feb. 22, high school teachers and students in the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) held a protest at 555 Franklin, the main office of the school district, to voice their opposition to the tentative agreement between the district and the teachers union. This agreement includes a one-year pause in Advanced Placement (AP) funding, which is expected to decrease Lowell’s funding by $2.6 million dollars and cut as many as 22 teachers, according to Principal Joe Dominguez. The teachers and students gathered to protest the approval of the contract by the San Francisco Board of Education, which had been slated to vote on it. The vote has now been postponed until Thursday, Feb. 24. 


Through chants like “Fund our futures” and “save our new teachers,” protest signs reading “we need our teachers!”, and encouraging honks from passing cars, the protesters stood united with hopes of preventing the tentative agreement from passing. Michael Ungar, an humanities teacher at Lowell, feels that the quality of education at Lowell will be hurt by the budget cut. “All across the board we’re going to be hit significantly,” he said. “The education that we’re going to be able to offer the students is going to be decimated.” Ungar says that within the humanities department alone, they are expecting to lose three or four teachers. Those cut would be younger, untenured, staff members who he feels are the future of the department.


Rae Wymer

Students also showed up to protest the tentative agreement, including members of JROTC, a program that is expected to lose funding if the agreement pases. Lowell senior Pradipti Lama and junior Ben Chen were protesting the decrease in JROTC funding across the district. Chen is upset because, in his experience, a majority of the students enrolled in JROTC programs are students of color. “The Board of Education members always say that they stand for racial equality, but by getting rid of JROTC, they are doing the exact opposite,” Chen said. He is also worried about how the funding cuts and loss of a substantial number of teachers will impact Lowellites’ education. 


The Board of Education’s vote has now been delayed until Thursday, Feb. 25 because BOE members failed to announce the meeting agenda ahead of time. This was in violation of the Brown Act, meaning that any decisions made or votes held would have been illegal. Junior Cal Kinoshita, who attended the protest today, recognizes that the Board is rightfully following the legal procedures but is concerned that the delay in voting will negate the impact of today’s protest. “I do worry that the delay will allow the BOE to disregard today’s demonstration at 555 Franklin and the outcry in student public comment when they actually vote on the agreement this Thursday,” he said.