San Francisco Voters Fire 3 School Board Members

If you think Democratic politicians are moving too fast this month in dismantling COVID-19 limitations they erect every two years, wait until their bodies absorb yesterday’s historical recall of three supervisors of the San Francisco Unified school District (SFUSD). This was largely due to the topic of prolonged pandemic school closings.

Board of Education President Gabriela López, Vice President Faauuga Moliga, and controversial former vice president Alison Collins were sent packing by margins of more than 44 percentage points each in the same Democratic stronghold that once launched the political careers of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Gov. Gavin Newsom and Vice President Kamala Harris.

Siva Raj, co-organizer of the SFUSD Parent’s event and my interviewee shortly after it was announced that “We made History.” This is the first victory for the San Francisco people in many years. That’s what this is—it is ‘The People: 3, Politicians: 0.'” Autumn Looijen, Raj’s co-organizer and partner in organizing the event: “It is a victory for competence and doing your job.”

This was a clear resonance in a city rich on progressive rhetoric and short on real results.

“The City voters have given a clear signal that the School Board should focus on essentials in order to deliver a well-run schools system above all other,” Mayor London Breed stated Tuesday night. San Francisco believes in big ideas. But, these ideas need to be built upon a foundation that provides the necessary services.

This recall was rooted in a number of decisions the SFUSD made in January and February 2021. Previous fall, the Board of Education had set January 25, 2021, as the deadline to open a school that was closed entirely since March 2020. It failed to reach an agreement with the teachers union, which, as teachers unions in many Democrat controlled cities and states, used their considerable political influence to defer school reopening even after normalcy returned to most Republican-governed polities.

It was against this backdrop, with anguished public school parents pulling their hair out over the personal disruption, learning loss, and social dysfunction that comes with extended remote learning, that the SFUSD board made the fateful decision to rename 44 of its schools that still weren’t open, on the ground that those names—including George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, John Muir, Paul Revere, and Dianne Feinstein—were too culturally insensitive and/or unrepresentative.

Looijen explained Monday to me that “it was as if you had this house on fire and they were basically painting the entrance door.”

International ridicule quickly led to the cancellation of the decision regarding renaming. (López did not help her cause, then or now, by submitting herself to the Isaac Chotiner interview treatment at The New YorkerWhen repeatedly confronted with a multitude of factual mistakes the board had made in its initial renaming, the chairman offered this slogan: “The people that have contributed to this project are also part of an inclusive community who take it as seriously and as seriously as they would like to.” You should also acknowledge that they are contributing from diverse perspectives and different experiences, many of which were not acknowledged.

However, most San Francisco public high and middle schools were closed for the first half 2021. Private schools around the area and many public schools throughout much of the Bay Area were also open.

“I was comparing…roughly similar, top-10, top-25 school districts, and it shocked me to see that San Francisco was the only school district that was so far behind on reopening,” Raj said Monday. In fact, we were all virtual while so many schools with a higher prevalence of COVID were open. We were among the cities with the lowest COVID prevalence, but we were also the most behind on reopening schools.

Now, San Francisco is the third most significant political shock in America. It was caused by angry K-12 parents who want to take revenge on Democratic politicians for keeping schools shut down. The first was Glenn Youngkin’s upset win over Terry McAuliffe, a relatively unknown candidate for gubernatorial office. Next came New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s near miss reelection on the same day. Phil Murphy, who has since been the most prominent Democratic advocate for loosening state COVID restrictions in schools, is now Phil Murphy. As ReasonEric Boehm of UC Berkeley wrote Monday: “For once. We can be thankful that another electoral season is already upon us, since politics, the last realm in which the pandemic rules decision making.”

San Francisco’s local villains are nearly too comical to believe. Collins led the field with voter rebuke (79% of voters choosing to fire him), and has at different times euphemized COVID era learning loss by calling it “being a sham”.learning change,” characterized Asian Americans who were insufficiently anti-Trump as “house n****s,” and then, when rebuked by the SFUSD board for such racism, filed a bizarre $87 million lawsuit against her own Board of Education that was dismissed by an incredulous judge as lacking any supportive facts, though in the process it cost the very district she represents nearly $200,000 in legal fees.

Collins, defined as a high-ranking member of the elite because her husband is an entrepreneur who has made a fortune in real estate development in this city and they reside in Russian Hill. They have a $3.2million home in Russian Hill. Collins refused to apologize at any stage for closing schools. Last month, Collins said to The Associated Press that she was proud of her work as a board member. San Francisco ExaminerIt is similar to the San Francisco ChronicleHer ouster was enthusiastically encouraged by ).

“People want us to say we were wrong, we regret doing what we did, we’re sorry,” López said similarly on a recent Latina Latino Latinx News podcast. “That will never be something I will do.”

Unintentionally, this pre-election set of responses written to the Chronicle, the recall targets were alternately defiant (López: “I believe we were able to open schools for our priority students as soon as it was safe to do so”), delusional (Collins: “I filed the lawsuit because I needed to protect myself, my family, the work of the Board of Education. My right to free speech and position on the school board were declared ,”),.

The parents and other members of governance who are now confronted with local politicians because the pandemic has hit could feel confused. “I also have set up several protocols that truly center our students,” López wrote. Collins stated that “Across the nation, we are witnessing a dramatic rise in attacks against public educators and school board member who promote COVID safety in schools and racial equality in schools.”

The most important conclusion about the recall was that “blame Donald Trump” strategy will no longer work for Democratic politicians. It helped Newsom to survive the recall in September last year, but McAuliffe was not so lucky. The result proved disastrous for McAuliffe and led to an explosion of cigars in San Francisco. According to the ChronicleCollins instantly replied that Collins should not recall her: “People should follow the money. Billionaires come in trying to tell us how to do democracy.” That’s enough.

The Mayor London Breed will appoint three new members of the SFUSD Board to replace the recalled incumbents. Many of the city’s attention is currently on the recall election of Chesa Boudin, the controversial District Attorney. The feeling is strong that even Democratic locales where there are many visible governing deficiencies, the progressive jargon and its abstract race-based meaning will not be sufficient.

Raj explained to me Monday, “I have thought myself to be progressive all my life. But I no longer use this label as a way of describing myself.” “Because the people I consider progressive (and I particularly see elected leaders as progressive), they seem not to believe in the same values that I do. It is not progressive to stand back and do nothing while the most underprivileged kids in our city have struggled and suffered the most….It is not progressive to put your own political career above the interest of the people you’re supposed to serve. It is not progressive. It is clear to me that while there were a few idealists at the beginning of the 1960s and 1970s and 1980s, the current movement is dominated by opportunists. They only care about using progressive terminology to make their jobs easier, and have little interest in solving the actual problems our children are currently facing.