San Francisco Mayor London Breed announced and swore-in the three new members of the San Francisco School Board, filling in the vacancies caused by the successful recall three weeks ago.
The recall, caused by a growing, deficit, a large number of parents upset about the slow reopening of the system following the COVID-19 pandemic, a failed school renaming, plan, racist tweets by then- Board Vice President Alison Collins, the institution of a lottery-based selection for students at some higher-tier schools and other criticized Board actions, had quickly grown from a citywide issue into a race in the national spotlight last month with many political commentators seeing the race as the ‘starting gun’ into what many consider an election year full of change.
Then Board President Gabriela Lopez, and members Collins, and Faauuga Moliga were recalled last month following an increasing effort to remove them from office. All three members were voted out with more than 70% of the vote, beginning with Collins, upsetting the large Asian-American community in San Francisco who came out in large numbers to vote through her past tweets, getting nearly 80% of the votes in favor of a recall.
The decision to replace the members quickly fell to Mayor Breed, who was immediately pressured by many groups, including Chinese American and Black groups, to pick members of their community to properly reflect the makeup of the city. Most importantly to Breed, she needed to avoid the issues that caused the recall to happen last time and focus away from installing more progressive members and focus more on having parents who were closely involved in schools with more educational backgrounds.
After a three-week search, Breed brought forward Ann Hsu, a Chinese American entrepreneur who was heavily involved in the recall effort, Lainie Motamedi, an Iranian American who has been heavily involved in city Parent Teacher organizations, and Lisa Weissman-Ward, a Jamaican/Jewish American who is a law professor at Stanford University. All three new members have children in San Francisco city schools and all three had also spoken out against the previous School Board leadership and choices they made.
“The more I saw, the more I learned, the more pissed off I got,” said Hsu last month. “They didn’t care about the students.”
Announcing my three appointments to the School Board https://t.co/4YhByiIJb7
— London Breed (@LondonBreed) March 11, 2022
Three new School Board members in SF
Calling on the new members to help meet the “urgent needs” of students in the school system, Mayor Breed welcomed all three in a ceremony in the city.
“This is probably the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make as mayor because it is about the future of our children,” said Breed. “It’s time for this city and our public school system to get back to the basics of educating our children. These are three very strong, capable women. The new commissioners are willing to ignore the politics to focus on our kids.”
All three accepted their new positions noting that they are to focus on the children and education and not into politics that had damaged the Board before.
“I’m incredibly honored to be chosen to serve on the San Francisco school board and I know how important public schools are for children and families, and I also know how hard the last two years have been on so many,” added Motamedi. “Today we are turning the page.”
While the change in Board members was welcomed on Friday, many noted that there would be some concern in Breed appointing three new members at the same time.
“So it’s March, and all three will not face election for the positions until November,” said said San Francisco-based policy advisor Sharon Burke to the Globe. “That’s eight months. Now, all three were very much for the recall and have said they want focus back on the students, but we haven’t seen how they will vote. Will they be an extension of Breed? We don’t know yet. But they are in only for eight months, and if they piss off voters, they won’t get reelected.”
“Some things, like the school lotteries and replacing the name of Abraham Lincoln on a school will be deal breakers for many, especially since that huge voting bloc that ousted the three recalled board members, mostly comprised of white and Asian voters, is still lingering strongly there and all board members know that they will be watching them extra closely now. CNN covered a local city board recall. There’s no way you quickly turn attention away from something like that.
“Breed picked safe choices. Some of them were out there collecting signatures and rallying against the targeted board members in the recall, plus she listened to locals concerns on representation. She didn’t replace a Latino on the board, nor did she replace the man, so she kinda brushed off a few bigger voting blocs there too that could come back on her. For right now though, people are just happy those three are still out.”
Breed is also due to appoint a Police Board Commissioner and possibly a new City Supervisor in the coming months due to the resignation of Commissioner John Hamasaki and the possible Assembly election of current Supervisor Matt Haney. All three of Breed’s picks will face election in November.