With the generalized socio-political angst currently afoot, razor thin, contested elections, questions about the future of democracy, and even whether the United part remains in our nation’s name, it is heartening to see a diverse community come together as one and deliver a landslide vote as San Franciscans did Tuesday.
City voters voted overwhelmingly – by margins of between 3 and 4 to 1 – to remove three of the seven members of San Francisco’s school board. Some observers believe that the other four could also have been recalled if they had served enough of their terms to make it legally permissible to do so.
The heart of the parental revolt could be said to be one of priorities. San Franciscans were appalled that the board spent months and millions on a farcical school name changing plan (even at one point considering taking Abraham Lincoln’s name off of a high school because he was not a committed anti-racist, especially when it came to indigenous peoples issues) while barely addressing the issue of re-opening the schools during the pandemic.
Additionally, an attempt to shift the city’s premier selective public high school, Lowell, to a lottery system in large part to create “equity” by vastly reducing the percentage of Asian-American attendees caused a furor across racial boundaries and, indirectly, led to the public release of a text message of now-ousted Board member Alison Collins that said Asian-American’s use “white supremacist thinking” to their societal advantage.
All of this against a backdrop of increasingly frustrated parents wondering when their kids, like the children in the vast majority of local private schools, could go back to class.
Anti-recall forces had initially attempted to portray the effort as part of the vast right wing/pro-Trump totalitarian conspiracy, a tactic that had worked so well of Governor Gavin Newsom’s anti-recall campaign. But that argument fell utterly flat as, to even those inclined to support the board understood that there are barely enough hard right, pro-Trump San Franciscans to fill a batting cage. Once voters – across class, racial, and political lines – focused on the issues at hand the anti-recall campaigns did not stand a chance.
The nature of the vote should have elected progressive educators across the country deeply worried because if one of the most woke cities in the nation can vote overwhelmingly to remove extremely woke school board members specifically for pursuing a woke policy agenda than it can happen anywhere. The vote is as out-of-character for San Francisco as it would be for AOC to get elected as Wyoming’s only member of Congress – essentially unthinkable…until now.
The results also do not bode well for another San Francisco politician, District Attorney Chesa Boudin, who is facing a June recall vote himself. Boudin’s overtly soft-on-crime approach has been rightfully cited as one of the major reasons the once-magnificent city has become a cesspool of open-air drug use, shoplifting, organized smash and grab looting, and human waste.
As Boudin’s own website states that his recall is a “Republican-led and fueled by fear-mongering and dangerous misinformation,” he does appear to be going down a campaign path that was thoroughly and unequivocally rejected by city voters Tuesday and it is unclear if he has any remaining room to maneuver, other than to go all in on his escalating firefight with the police department.
What this vote makes clear is that communities can – even in these divisive days – come together across every conceivable demographic line, tune out the political noise, focus on the facts, and do what’s right. When it comes to their children, San Francisco voters have just drawn a line in the sand…and that’s a good thing.