The latest parental backlash resulted in three San Francisco School Board members being ousted Tuesday due to a long list of grievances including failure to reopen schools for months last year.
Schools nationwide have faced increasing backlash from parents since the start of the pandemic over a multitude of issues, from slow or bungled school reopenings, to controversial mask mandates, watered down admissions policies, and curricula that rewrite history and villainize non-minority groups.
The latest parental backlash resulted in three San Francisco School Board members being ousted Tuesday due to a long list of grievances including the elimination of merit-based admissions policies, failure to reopen schools for months last year, and controversial school “renamings” in the midst of the pandemic.
In February 2021, parental ire reached a boiling point when the city of San Francisco sued its own school board in an effort to force the board to act on reopening schools.
The city’s Attorney Dennis Herrera, supported by San Francisco Mayor London Breed, sued the San Francisco Unified School District and Board of Education as a last resort to compel them to act.
Herrera said at a press conference last year, “not a single San Francisco public school student has set foot in their classroom in 347 days. More than 54,000 San Francisco schoolchildren are suffering,” he added. “They are being turned into Zoom-bies by online school. Enough is enough.”
On top of stalled school reopenings, San Francisco parents were also angry about the removal of merit-based admissions policies at high performing high schools.
In February of last year, the San Francisco Board of Education voted to end Lowell High’s merit-based admissions policy, citing “pervasive systemic racism”, and replace it with a lottery system. The board was promptly sued by two alumni groups and the Asian American Legal Foundation, but threats to merit-based admissions policies continue to divide San Francisco parents.
The elimination of standardized testing and merit-based admissions policies continue to push Asian, Indian, and many Hispanic voters into the arms of the conservative base.
On top of the school board dragging its feet on reopening and threatening merit-based admissions policies, the board wasted time and resources on a witch hunt to “rename” schools named after American historical figures.
In January 2021 – with no reopening plan in sight – the school board voted to rename 44 schools with such controversial namesakes as Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, and Paul Revere, saying they would rename any school named after a person who “inhibited societal progress”.
A San Francisco school named after Sen. Dianne Feinstein was also marked for “renaming” because the Democratic Senator apparently returned a confederate flag to a city historical display in the 1980s after it was removed by a protestor. No one, it seemed, was safe from the board’s draconian zeal to erase American history while standing in the way of children’s return to the classroom.
The board received so much backlash from parents during the controversial “renaming” of 2021 that it eventually reversed its decision, but the damage had already been done.
San Francesco parents finally had enough and more than 70% of voters supported the recall of School Board President Gabriela López, Vice President Faauuga Moliga and Commissioner Alison Collins as of Wednesday.
San Francisco Mayor London Breed, a Democrat who supported the recall, said in a statement, “the voters of this City have delivered a clear message that the School Board must focus on the essentials of delivering a well-run school system above all else. San Francisco is a city that believes in the value of big ideas, but those ideas must be built on the foundation of a government that does the essentials well,” Breed added.
The results of the San Francisco recall vote and the string of school board missteps that led up to it demonstrate even in a progressive stronghold, there is such a thing as going too far. San Francisco parents have endured enough, and like parents across the country, they decided allowing an out-of-control school board to dictate policy is intolerable.
As Market Research Foundation noted last November, threats to merit-based admissions policies and fair education standards played a big role in pushing Asian, Indian, and some Hispanic voters away from the Democratic Party in the Virginia Governor’s race. MRF showed high-minority precincts in Fairfax County saw some of the greatest shifts toward Governor Glenn Youngkin. Hindu voters in Loudoun County also shifted toward the GOP in 2021, driven largely by education issues.
Market Research Foundation Chairman Bill Wilson said, “as long as the Left wants “equity” instead of “equal opportunity” the movement away from the Democrat Party and its leftist advocates will continue.”
Parents’ rights and the fight for responsive school boards, fair admissions policies, and accurate curricula will continue to play out in the midterm elections, but as San Francisco shows, these issues are no longer partisan.
Market Research Foundation’s mission is to combine big data and predictive analytics with grassroots contact methods.
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