San Francisco recalls school board deemed too focused on racial justice

Preliminary results showed the vote to oust each of the school board members leading 70 percent. Those who lost their seats are school board president Gabriela López and members Alison Collins and Faauuga Moliga.

The recall effort was launched by a couple frustrated by the council’s failure to reopen schools last year. Even though other districts opened or expanded hybrid in-person and remote systems, and private schools in the area operated in-person, San Francisco remained remote for nearly all students, who only returned in the fall.

At the same time, the council embarked on measures to advance racial equity that critics say were divisive and ill-advised, especially during a time when schools were closed and damage academic and emotional to the children of the city were piling up. For example, the board spent months deliberating on renaming 44 schools after a committee found their namesakes had links to slavery, oppression and racism, although many of the links presumed to be slim or, in some cases, historically questionable or inaccurate.

The board also argued that Lowell High School, an elite program populated overwhelmingly by Asian American and white students, needed an admissions system that would better represent the city’s black and Hispanic residents. The board’s abrupt decision to change admissions rules to a lottery infuriated San Francisco’s large Chinese-American population.

Other city leaders were also frustrated. The superintendent of schools resigned and was only persuaded to return by council members agreeing, in writing, to focus on reopening schools. Mayor London Breed, a Democrat, endorsed the recall campaign, saying it was important the school board not be “distracted by unnecessary influences or political agendas”.

Leaders of the recall movement said the vote showed a thirst for schools to focus on educating children.

“In this deeply divided city, in this deeply divided country, it shows that there are things we can all agree on. Skilled leadership. Good public schools. Protecting our most disadvantaged children,” said Siva Raj and Autumn Looijen, who spearheaded the recall effort, in a statement Wednesday.

Breed will appoint replacements for the ousted school board members.

“Our children have suffered tremendously during this pandemic,” she said in a declaration after the results. “It is time to refocus our efforts on the foundations of quality education for all students.

The decision to change admissions criteria at Lowell High School proved extremely controversial. Admissions to Lowell through the lottery increased representation among black and Hispanic students.

But critics of the decision, including many of the school’s alumni and parents, claimed the change was anti-Asian. They also argued that it would weaken the academic standards that had made the school a superb place to learn.

Anger was further fueled by anti-asian tweets by Collins which were published in 2016, before she was a board member but discovered last year. They accused Asian Americans of benefiting from the “model BS minority” and using “white supremacist thinking to assimilate and “move forward.” She also suggested they weren’t standing up to President Donald Trump, using a racial slur to describe them.

The school board voted to strip Collins of her position as vice president, and Collins responded by suing the school board, producing further turmoil unrelated to the children’s education.

The Chinese American Democratic Club urged voters to support the recall. The election, unlike many others in the city, appeared to galvanize Asian voters. Ann Hsu, a parent and organizer for the Chinese/API Voter Outreach Task Force, said the vote was a repudiation of anti-Asian actions. She pointed to the Lowell decision and said the council had “bulldozed our concerns.”

“The recalled school board members are paying the price for their actions which were grossly discriminatory against the AAPI community,” she said.

yet another controversial that engulfed the council concerned his efforts to paint Depression-era murals considered offensive to blacks and Native Americans. Eventually the council agreed to conceal but not destroy the historic murals.

President Biden won 86% of the vote in the liberal city of San Francisco. But the school board’s actions alienated voters who agreed with an increasingly common criticism from the left that it was working too hard on racial equity measures and not hard enough to mitigate the toll of the pandemic on schools and children.

Recall movement leaders Raj and Looijen fueled a sense of common cause with the Tories when they appeared on Glenn Beck’s radio show in a segment about parents pushing back on schools, drawing criticism at home.

Months after the recall effort began, Virginia’s gubernatorial race showed the power of education as a political issue when Republican Glenn Youngkin won with a strong focus on school shutdown issues. schools and race.

Jenny Lam, a San Francisco school board member who was not subject to the recall, suggested in a declaration that the election was a wake-up call. “With tonight’s election, we are changing course. We must now move forward to focus our energy on our students and our schools.

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