Former San Francisco School Board President Gabriela Lopez, who was among three School Board members ousted in the February recall election, announced on Friday that she will be running again for the Board.
Lopez, a long-time teacher, was elected as San Francisco School Board President in 2018, starting her term in January 2019. Over the next few years she led the Board in giving some of it’s most controversial moves to date, including heavily delaying city schools restarting following the COVID-19 pandemic, trying to rename dozens of schools within the city despite wide public opposition against it, being in favor removal of “offensive” murals despite them being praised for showing an honest look at California’s history, a massive system-wide deficit, and eliminating a merit-based system for some schools in favor of a lottery-based system. Recall election efforts were underway by the next year due to Lopez and the other Board members decisions.
However, outrage grew exponentially following the reveal that School Board Vice President Alison Collins had written numerous racist tweets and disparaged Asian-Americans. While most city officials immediately opposed Collins after this, including Mayor London Breed and Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), Lopez was one of the few to publicly support her. This only added fuel to the fire, and in February, Lopez, Collins, and fellow Board member Faauuga Moliga were ousted in a landslide recall election.
Publicly disgraced, Lopez renewed her teaching credentials and found work at the University of San Francisco as a tutor. Meanwhile, the replacement Board members picked by Mayor Breed, including a few who had been in favor of the recall, rapidly began reversing many of the policies spearheaded by Lopez, quickly eliminating any legacy.
However, Lopez did not like where the new direction of the Board was going, saying that it was undoing important work and that issues such as teachers pay and racial disparages needed to be addressed. The admonishing of replacement Board member Ann Hsu over perceived racist remarks on a questionnaire earlier this month also contributed to Lopez’s dissatisfaction with the current Board, leading to Lopez’s election announcement on Friday.
Lopez enters the SF School Board race
“I am running for a seat on the Board of Education to bring us together, to continue to listen, to care and to ensure that these spaces are welcoming for all of our families. It has only been four months with a newly appointed Board of Education and it is clear that our district is headed in the wrong direction,” said Lopez in a statement on Friday. “Teachers are still not getting proper pay. Racial conflict has escalated from our schools into the boardroom. And there is a lack of transparency and communication with families. It has been sad to watch hardworking students and their families be disparaged by School Board members and we cannot allow those who seek to divide us to set the narrative for our city.”
“Parents, students and educators have been fighting for true justice and equity for those who have the least within our school district, and I am a firm believer that everybody benefits when we uplift the needs of students and families who have been historically underserved by our public education system. As an experienced educator and former classroom teacher, I am committed to realizing that.”
“My responsibility as a teacher is to learn from experience and grow. The meaning of this last year is that we need to bring our communities together to face difficult issues, not let them become aggressive spaces. But that is what is happening today. It’s hurting our schools and our City.”
After much thought and consideration, and consultation with community leaders, families, students and teachers, I have decided to pull papers to rerun for a seat on the Board of Education.
Here is a statement on why I am running.https://t.co/RXEp9I4qqz
— Gabriela López 🇲🇽 (@lopez4schools) August 12, 2022
While Lopez now comes into the race with a built-in, albeit diminished, base of support, many have noted that the feelings against Lopez and the other recalled board members is still strong.
“She thinks that everyone is just going to forget the fact that she was incredibly unpopular and led some of the most disastrous and harebrained measures while Board President,” San Francisco-based policy advisor Sharon Burke told the Globe on Friday. “There is a reason why 3 out of every 4 San Francisco voters wanted her gone.”
“Lopez does have a few things going for her. She has some support from the Latino community, she is still liked by some teachers, and at least one slot is up for grabs due to the Hsu incident. But that might not be enough. The public still largely hates what she did during her tenure and the United Educators of San Francisco is not endorsing her. Out of the six other candidates, they are backing the other two of Breed’s appointees, Lisa Weissman-Ward and Laninie Motamedi, as well as Alida Fisher.”
“This won’t just be an uphill battle for her. It’s more like an up-mountain battle what with all she has to overcome. I just don’t see this working out in her favor in November unless she has ideas good enough to, you know, make voters forget about the whole recall thing. But right now she is trying to stand on activism, and right now, that isn’t exactly winning out in San Francisco.”
The San Francisco School Board election will be held on election day in November.
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