San Francisco to vote on 8th-grade math ballot measure

Welcome to the Wednesday, February 14, Brew. 

By: Mercedes Yanora

Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. San Francisco to vote on 8th-grade math ballot measure
  2. Two candidates running in March 5 Democratic primary for Texas’ 7th Congressional District 
  3. 92 candidates filed for congressional and statewide offices last week

San Francisco to vote on 8th-grade math ballot measure

Last month we looked at Proposition B, which would amend San Francisco’s charter regarding minimum police officer staffing levels and establish a fund for police officer recruitment and staffing. Today, we will learn about another measure appearing on the March 5 ballot: Proposition G, which would issue a policy declaration on the school district’s mathematics curriculum.

Under Proposition G, San Francisco’s official policy would encourage the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) to offer Algebra 1 to students by eighth grade. According to the U.S. Department of Education, 80% of eighth graders in the country had access to Algebra 1 during the 2015-2016 school year. 

Proposition G cannot bind the school district to change policies as the school district is independent of the city government. Supervisor Joel Engardio, who sponsored the proposal, said, “The Board of Supervisors does not have control over the school district. Our schools are governed by an independently elected school board. But every resident of San Francisco is our constituent, including parents and students. Their voices deserve to be heard.”

The SFUSD operates the San Francisco public school system and currently offers Algebra 1 to students beginning in ninth grade. In 2014, the SFUSD delayed offering algebra courses until the ninth grade with the stated intent of closing racial disparities and increasing Black and Hispanic success in math courses. Opponents of the curriculum change said delaying Algebra 1 made it difficult for students to complete math courses needed for college. One study found that “the percent of Black students enrolling in any AP math course [had] remained statistically significantly indistinguishable from the pre-policy period while Hispanic student enrollment in advanced math increased by 1 percentage point.”

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted 10-1 to place the measure on the ballot. Engardio said, “We make everyone wait until 9th grade because some kids aren’t ready for algebra sooner. Let’s better prepare all students instead of holding back kids who love math. …. In San Francisco, Algebra 1 is not offered until 9th grade. We stopped offering it in 8th grade because not every student was prepared for it. How is that a solution? We should do better to prepare all students for algebra — and not punish kids who can handle it earlier.”

Supervisor Shamann Walton voted against the proposition, saying, “I don’t like misleading the voters in making them think that we’re putting something on the ballot that has any teeth or that actually does anything, because this measure does not do anything.”

The San Francisco Democratic, Republican, and Green parties support Proposition G.

Apart from Proposition G, San Francisco voters will decide on six other ballot measures on March 5, including one bond measure, one charter amendment, and four ordinances.

From 2010 through 2022, San Francisco voters decided on 151 local ballot measures — an average of 14 per year, including odd and even-numbered election years. Voters approved 103 (68.21%) and defeated 48 (31.79%).

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Two candidates running in March 5 Democratic primary for Texas’ 7th Congressional District 

Throughout the year, we’ll bring you coverage of the most compelling elections — the battlegrounds we expect to have a meaningful effect on the balance of power in governments or to be particularly competitive. 

On Monday, we previewed the April 2 nonpartisan mayoral election in Anchorage, Alaska. You can catch our previous coverage of other battleground races here.

Today, we’re looking at the March 5 Democratic Party primary for Texas’ 7th Congressional District, where incumbent Lizzie Pannill Fletcher and Pervez Agwan are running.

Local political analysts say redistricting is a central dynamic in the race. Rice University professor Mark Jones said, “Under the previous configuration of the district, [Fletcher] had a very solid message to the primary electorate, that, ‘I’m a Democrat, and I’m your best chance to maintain District 7 in Democratic hands,’… Now that’s gone, because whatever Democrat wins is going to win District 7.” 

Before Fletcher’s successful bid in 2018, Republicans had represented the district since 1967. In 1963, The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas ruled in Bush v. Martin that Texas’ congressional districts were unconstitutional because they violated the one‐person, one‐vote principle. The U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the decision and court-mandated redistricting occurred in 1965. Partisan control of the district shifted from Democratic to Republican following the redistricting.

Agwan’s campaign has emphasized the district’s ideological shift since Fletcher was first elected. Fletcher is a member of the New Democrat Coalition, an organization describing itself as a center-left group of “pragmatic House Democrats who work across the aisle and across the Capitol to advance innovative, inclusive, and forward-looking policies.” The group’s PAC is supporting Fletcher. 

Agwan, a self-described progressive, said he is running to create “a movement to return power back to our people, and to working families.” Agwan said he supports ending U.S. aid for Israel and that Fletcher’s support for Israel is out of step with the district’s voters: “Most people want the United States not to be sending aid to countries that violate human rights.” The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) endorsed Fletcher.

We’ve previously written about these other races where the war in Gaza has become an issue: New York’s 3rd Congressional District special election and the top-two primary for United States Senate in California.

Looking at year-end FEC filings, Fletcher has raised $1,289,340 to Agwan’s $1,151,062. Notable endorsements for Fletcher include national organizations like Planned Parenthood Action Fund, Congressional Black Caucus PAC, and Emily’s List. Agwan’s notable endorsements include a state officeholder and local party branches such as Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison (D) and Fort Bend Tejano Democrats.

As of Feb. 6, The Cook Political Report with Amy Walter, Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales, and Larry J. Sabato’s Crystal Ball all rated the general election Solid/Safe Democratic. In the 2020 presidential election, Joe Biden (D) defeated Donald Trump (R) in the district 64.2% to 34.5%.

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92 candidates filed for congressional and statewide offices last week

Ninety-two people declared their candidacies for congressional or statewide offices in the past week, 12 more than last week. All of these candidates declared before their state’s official filing deadline.

Thirty-seven of those candidates are Democratic, while 49 are Republican. Six are minor-party candidates or running in nonpartisan races.

Thirty-six candidates are running for Congress, 52 for state legislatures, two for governorship, and two for a lower state executive office. 

Since the beginning of the year, we have identified 425 declared candidates for congressional and statewide offices. At this time in 2022, Ballotpedia had identified 207 declared candidates for 2022, 2023, and 2024 races.

An official candidate is someone who registers with a federal or state campaign finance agency before the candidate filing deadline or appears on candidate lists released by government election agencies. A declared candidate is someone who has not completed the steps to become an official candidate but who might have done one or more of the following:

  1. Appeared in candidate forums or debates
  2. Published a campaign website
  3. Published campaign social media pages
  4. Advertised online, on television, or through print
  5. Issued press releases
  6. Interviewed with media publications

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