My Work

Alison Collins is an experienced educator and community organizer who has been working for education equity in San Francisco for more than 20 years.

Alison is committed to giving back to the public education system that helped her mother rise out of poverty, and helped her father become one of the first Black professors at UCLA. She is co-founder of the SF Families Union, a Parent advocacy organization committed to fighting for equitable, integrated, and inclusive schools. She is also the author of a blog, SF Public School Mom, focused on race, parenting, and education. She served as a founding member of the African American Parent Advisory Council in SFUSD.

She has conducted professional development for hundreds of educators across the Bay Area on topics such as bullying, anger management, and conflict resolution skills. She informed the development of an anti-bullying curriculum for Groundspark, and was a contributing author to the Peer Resources Peer Leader Training curriculum. She also co-authored curriculum used by UC Berkeley’s TRIO programs to help low-income first-generation college-bound students access higher education. This curriculum has been in use for over ten years and has been used by thousands of educators nationwide.

Advocating for parents and families as a parent organizer

Alison has consistently advanced and advocated for increased communication with families on multiple district platforms and in multiple languages including the district website, ParentVue Google Classroom and other parent/student communication systems.

She has consistently supported the expansion of language services available at BOE and school district meetings including American Sign Language interpretation.

Before Commissioner Collins was even on the Board, she worked as a parent advocate roughly ten years ago, to establish the district’s first SFUSD Parent Newsletter and District Google Calendar. She was also a strong advocate for the current parent helpline, now called the Family/Student Link Line, which began in the summer of 2020. It is available for families in multiple languages to 1) request devices and technology help, 2) ask questions about SFUSD academic or student support, and 3) receive referrals for external social service resources provided by city agencies and community-based providers such as food pantries, eviction prevention, and another support services.

Read more: Talk to the Hand — When Schools Dismiss Family Partnership

Accomplishments on the board

As an SFUSD parent and educator, she was elected to fight for equitable, inclusive, and safe schools, to ensure all students – not a select few – have access to quality education. Over the last three years, she has kept her promises to families. 

When the pandemic hit, she worked with staff to keep our communities safe, support families, and continue instruction. SFUSD partnered with the community and private sector to distribute over 36,000 laptops and 15,000 hotspots to bridge the digital divide for every student that needed it. When our communities were experiencing food insecurity, the district provided over one-million meals so no child went hungry.

During shelter-in-place, SFUSD distributed 24,000 backpacks and gave out over 30,000 books. Staff purchased 4,500 recorders and sent them to individual 4th graders’ homes.

Alison has also been a consistent and early advocate of healthy air in schools. In December 2020, she advocated for enhanced ventilation in all classrooms (rather than just relying on open windows), and also advocated for increased testing availability for students. In October of 2021, this advocacy paid off to ensure all classrooms are equipped with air filtration systems.

Family Communication & Partnership

As an SFUSD parent, Alison has a long history of advocating for families.

Alison advocated for more communication about student and parent rights on the district website related to instructional fees, sexual harassment, etc. See the parent rights information here.

During one of her very first Board of Education meetings, Commissioner Collins got a public commitment from the Superintendent to make Black History Month an explicit expectation for each and every SFUSD school.

As a parent leader, Alison filed a complaint about the practice of charging instructional fees for PE uniforms which led to a legal memo to all schools sites to discontinue the practice of charging fees for educational activities. This practice violated state law and was causing disproportionate harm to low-income and immigrant families.

A consistent advocate for family communication, Commissioner Collins has consistently advocated for translation and interpretation at Board of Education meetings and clear posting of board meetings.

Commissioner Collins advocated for grab-and-go meal service during the pandemic to include families previously overlooked in district planning, including: Chinatown, Tenderloin, SOMA, Treasure Island, Mission and Western Addition/Fillmore neighborhoods.

Alison continues to advocate to establish Vietnamese and Arabic Language pathways in SFUSD TK-12 grades

Alison advocated for child care to be available at SFUSD Board of Education meetings.

Health, Wellbeing & Safety

Roadmap to COVID Recovery Resolution

Primary author with Commissioner Gabriela Lopez, in partnership with SFUSD parents

The Roadmap to COVID Recovery Resolution articulates a district commitment to ensuring health and safety protocols are in place at each and every school. It also commits district staff to “work toward the opportunity to mandate full vaccination of District staff.”The Roadmap to COVID Recovery Resolution articulates a district commitment to ensuring health and safety protocols are in place at each and every school. It also commits district staff to “work toward the opportunity to mandate full vaccination of District staff.”

The focus of the resolution is on requesting that the Superintendent draft plans to assess current capacity and what is needed from City, State, and community partners: 1) To provide heightened testing and tracing protocols for staff and students; 2) To provide support for schools that wish to increase the use of outdoor space for instruction and eating when it is feasible. This support may include: procuring tents, increased custodial and lunch monitor staffing; 3) To provide a full-time staff member to serve as a district liaison for our most vulnerable youth and families, including those living in SRO’s and low-income supportive housing. 

Additionally, the resolution directs staff to do the following: 1) Work in collaboration with official district parent advisory bodies and labor partners and with the San Francisco Health Department to establish a clear and anonymous complaint system for students, families, and staff for reporting non-compliance. 2) Develop a public assessment for “providing high-quality remote learning options for all families who desire it with no penalties for enrollment in online learning (students won’t lose enrollment in their previously assigned schools)

Read more:

Our Healing in Our Hands SFUSD Resolution: Creating Schools as Spaces of Student-Driven Healing, Transformation, and Growth

Co-author with Commissioner Faauuga Moliga, and Jenny Lam, in partnership with youth leaders from Chinese for Affirmative Action (CPA) Arab Resource Organizing Center (AROC) and Coleman Advocates for Youth and Families – unanimous approval

This resolution increased funding to support preventative wellness services for students. It expanded student voice and skills as leaders and decision-makers and gave them a seat at the table to inform wellness and healing in their schools. It directed the district to hire more wellness staff, including therapists and social workers. It also directed staff to implement peer-led coaching programs with support from CBOs to integrate culturally responsive and linguistically diverse mental health curriculum that address root causes of racism, xenophobia, and sexism.

This resolution was youth-led and was based on a report which outlined the disparate access that students have to mental health services. It specifically called out the lack of access to culturally competent mental health services for students who speak languages other than English. This report also specifically named the overrepresentation of Black and Latinx students who are referred for discipline and the underrepresentation of Asian American students in referrals for mental health support.

Resolution 204-14A1, To Establish Policies and Procedures for the San Francisco Unified School District to Provide Trauma-Informed, Coordinated Care that Promotes Resilience and Healing During and After the COVID-19 Pandemic

This resolution adopts a coordination of care plan designed with an equity lens and cultural humility, implementing a Needs Assessment to meet the needs of students, families and educators as well as provide organizational support for all educators and staff and administrators around burnout and secondary traumatic stress. SFUSD will provide wellness mental health support during the COVID-19 pandemic for Educators and staff. Including ongoing and consistent mental health coaching for school site administrators and Educators from clinical SFUSD will support and cultivate its pre-existing Crisis Team and include social workers, health workers, nurses, and community partners and utilize needs assessment to assist in creating programming and shift instructional practices to further support the development of healing-centered schools.

In Support of Black Lives in SFUSD and the Abolition of Armed Law Enforcement in Schools #BlackLivesMatter #DefundThePolice #InvestInCommunities #BlackMindsMatter,”

Primary author, coauthors Mark Sanchez and Jenny Lam – unanimous approval

The resolution declared schools a sanctuary space from law enforcement so that we can continue to create safe, healthy, and equitable schools for all SFUSD students. It also calls on support from the City to set policies that align with SFUSD’s goal of protecting youth and families from unnecessary contact with police, such as by investing in Community School Coordinators who can serve as a mechanism for bringing more resources into schools. The resolution also calls on the City to support community and City partners by reinvesting funds currently used for policing and investing those resources into youth development, mentoring, community-based violence prevention, and other social services.

Read more:

It is time for a change. #DefundThePolice #InvestInCommunity #InvestInOurSchools

Academic Opportunity & Racial Equity

Arts Equity Resolution 

Lead author, Co-author Gabriela Lopez, Unanimously approved

(See discussion here starting at 4:00:42

When Alison’s daughter was in fourth grade and showed her that the district art department was excluding low-income and immigrant students from arts education by requiring families to rent instruments and violating state law, she didn’t just speak up, she did something about it. When she got on the Board of Education, she and President Gabriela López wrote the Arts Equity Resolution. It directed district staff to design a plan to provide quality arts instruction for all children. This also included ensuring students who are in middle school English Learner and Special Education programs (who are almost entirely excluded from participation in arts and music instruction due to scheduling) are included. (This is also education discrimination and a violation of the California State Education Code.)

In just one year the rental policy was eliminated and thousands of instruments were bought, and participation went up. Even during the pandemic, 4,500 recorders went home. This year  SFUSD purchased 2,552 violins, 110 ukuleles, 150 trumpets, 100 flutes, and 200 guitars. Year after year, more children participate in music education, and the type of music education was more culturally inclusive.

Read more:

What if every school had a full-time arts teacher?

Equity Studies Resolution 

Primary author, coauthors Mark Sanchez and Jenny Lam – unanimous approval

This resolution calls for decolonizing instruction Pre-K through 12 grade by teaching about historically underrepresented communities and cultures and commits to removing oppressive curriculum, books, activities, school celebrations, and other school practices.  This humanizing curriculum is based on the principles of Knowledge (and Love) of Self, Solidarity between communities and with the most marginalized, and Self-Determination. This resolution calls for mandatory professional development on anti-racist educational practices at all levels including central office leadership. It also established a permanent Equity Studies Team to identify the most effective practices in developing educator leader capacity to address the issues of race/ethnicity, language, culture, gender identity, expression, and sexual orientation, ability, and underserved populations as they impact instruction in the classroom. 

Commissioner Collins also worked with the SF Human Rights Commission to establish an Equity Studies Community Taskforce to ensure community input and accountability of this work. The task force includes representation from students, families, site-based educators, and community members. Cultural groups that are highlighted are Asian American, Black, Latinx, Native American, Arab, and other underrepresented cultural groups. This group is currently developing a district calendar and curriculum resource guides to highlight celebrations of all cultures PK – 12.

Read more:

Finally, we are moving equity to mainstream curriculum

In Response to Ongoing, Pervasive Systemic Racism at Lowell High School Resolution

Primary author with Commissioner Gabriela Lopez and Matt Alexander, in partnership with the Lowell Black Student Union, BLADE alumni association, African American Parent Advisory Council (AAPAC) and  SF Naacp – approved 5 (Collins, Lopez, Alexander, Sanchez, Moliga) – 2 (Lam, Boggess)

The resolution, which was authored in response to calls for action from the community, initiates a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the SFUSD and the Education and Civil Rights Initiative (CRI) of the University of Kentucky College of Education, Lexington KY, in collaboration with the SF NAACP, California NAACP, and National NAACP to facilitate the creation of an Equity Audit Taskforce. This community task force is charged with defining and overseeing a district-wide equity audit and the resulting action plan to “address the exclusion and ongoing toxic racist abuse that students of color, and specifically Black students” across SFUSD with a specific focus at Lowell High School.

It also eliminates selective enrollment based on standardized test scores and grades which has led to the underrepresentation of Black, Latinx, Samoan Pacific Islander students as well as students in Special Education and English Language Learner programs, many of whom are Asian-American newcomer students.

Watch the video about this.

Read the resolution here.

Read about the Equity Audit & Action Planning Committee.

Read more:

Native American / Native Alaskan Resolution

Coauthored with Mark Sanchez in collaboration with the American Indian Parent Advisory Council – unanimous approval

For the first time, San Francisco Board of Education formally apologized to Native American families for the pain and trauma caused by racist imagery, textbooks, and mascots in district schools. SFUSD acknowledged consistent erasure of American Indian and Indigenous students by omission in data collection and demographics reporting and committed to removing stereotypes and misinformation about American Indian, Alaskan Native, and all Indigenous people from school walls, celebrations, and textbooks, including the current United States History textbooks. This resolution was notable in that it was written with not for the community it is meant to uplift.

Read the resolution here.

SFUSD’s Expanded Early College Interns program for high school and transitional age youth 

Collaborated with Supervisor Gordon Mar and Matt Haney to author a Board of Supervisors Resolution – unanimous approval from Board of Supervisors

With support from Commissioner Alison M. Collins, Supervisors Gordon Mar and Matt Haney connected with SFUSD staff, including Linda Jordan, to explore opportunities for expanded high school learning. Before this resolution was introduced, funding for expanded learning programs at the high school level had been excluded from city budget conversations and faced severe cuts. This resolution called for city funding of SFUSD’s Expanded Early College Interns program in the summer of 2021. Supervisors Mar and Haney successfully advocated for $2.7 million in funding to bolster this program which provided for 800 internships in July and August 2021, ranging from 35 to 150 hours.

Read more here.

Communication, Transparency & Fiscal Responsibility:

Commissioner Collins consistently advocates for transparency and accessibility for families and community members. Most notably she called on the district to create a page highlighting Student and Parent Rights which include but are not limited to Bullying, Hate Speech and Harassment, Sexual Harassment, Gender and Sexual Identity Harassment. 

In Support of Increased Oversight, Transparency and Accountability for Charter Schools in Relation to Fiscal, Educational, and Socio-Emotional Impacts on SFUSD Students, 

Authored by Commissioners Mark Sanchez and Stevon Cook, in collaborations with SF Families Union (Alison Collins) and Coleman Advocates for Youth and Families

In the fall of 2018, before Commissioner Collins joined the Board, she worked with Commissioner Sanchez to draft this resolution which establishes a Charter Oversight Committee that is open to community participation, and which specifically reviews the following: 1) Demographics of students served at each charter school, disaggregated by subgroup; 2) Demographics of students who leave each charter school each year disaggregated by subgroup; 3) Demographics of students retained year to year, by grade-level, at each charter school, disaggregated by subgroup; 4) Teacher credentialing and “proper assignment” and retention rates at each charter school; 5) Parent and staff representation in charter school governance; 6) The reasons for student transfer to SFUSD from charter schools, where applicable; 7) The provision of services to the charter school’s students with IEPs by the school’s Special Education Local Plan Area; and 8) Investigations of complaints received by SFUSD concerning the charter schools.

SFUSD Data Access, Inclusion, and Partnership to Enhance Student Success Resolution

Primary co-author with Commissioner Faauuga Moliga, with Commissioner Jenny Lam

In an effort to better reflect the diversity of the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) and capture the true identities of the student population, the District revised its data collection systems to maintain more specific racial/ethnic, national origin, language, and gender-specific data. Commissioner Collins worked with community-based organizations including Arab Resource Organizing Center (AROC), Chinese for Affirmative Action, Chinese Progressive Association, and others to author the “SFUSD Data Access, Inclusion, and Partnership to Enhance Student Success Resolution,” This resolution ensures data collection allowed communities to be seen who were previously invisible including Vietnamese, Arab, and other Asian American communities that were previously invisible. The cultural identities of multiracial students also become more visible. For example, students who are mixed, Samoan Pacific Islander, and Black previously only showed up in one or another report, now students who identify as multiracial will appear in multiple reports by the cultural/racial groups that align with their identities.

Other policies I’ve supported

Resolution In Support of the Achievement and Success of All Latinx Students in the San Francisco Unified School District (Lopez/Sanchez).SFUSD will prioritize Latinx student achievement and opportunity to access high-quality academic opportunities and socioeconomic and social-emotional supports. Read the full resolution here.

Resolution for a Safe Return to In-Person Learning. Co-authored by Vice President Gabriela Lopez and Commissioners Jenny Lam and Stevon Cook. Unanimously approved. Directs SFUSD staff to develop and present to the Board of Education an SFUSD Return Plan, including a phased plan and timeline for grades PK-12. The plan also ensured that students and families who wished to continue with remote learning could do so. 

Resolution Providing SFUSD Schools the Means to Close the Opportunity Gap. Authored by Commissioners Gabriela Lopez, Faauuga Moliga, and Mark Sanchez. This resolution updated and expanded Weighted Student Formula to include students who are residing in public housing, students who are homeless or in transitional housing, students with incarcerated parents/guardians and students in foster care, and holding schools harmless following the 10-day count. Read the full resolution here

Resolution In Support of Creating a K-12 Black Studies Curriculum that Honors Black Lives, Fully Represents the Contributions of Black People in Global Society and Advances the Ideology of Black Liberation for Black Scholars in the San Francisco Unified School District. Introduced by Commissioner Stevon Cook with a focus on addressing the academic disparities amongst Samoan students through a PreK-14 pathway rooted in Samoa Aganuu indigenous practices, authored by Commissioner Moliga-Puletasi.

In Support of Utilizing School District Property in Conjunction with Citywide Plan to Establish Safe Sleeping Sites for Unsheltered People, introduced by Commissioners Mark Sanchez and Gabriela Lopez

In Support of the September 16, 2019 “Free Our Children” Day of Action. This resolution was written to protest the encaging of our children, migrant family, and friends. We are in crisis with what is occurring at the border, and at detention centers housing young children and adults in inhumane conditions! CLOSE the CAMPS! FREE the Children! Amnesty Now!

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