A top San Francisco official is calling for the resignation of school board member Ann Hsu following her controversial comments that “perpetuate harmful stereotypes on Black and Brown students and their families.”
In a statement on Wednesday, Board of Supervisors President Shamann Walton called for Hsu’s resignation, describing what happened as “disheartening.”
“Yeah sure, thank you for the apology, but at the end of the day this is probably reflective of how a person really feels,” Walton said. “It’s disheartening that someone like that is in a position to make decisions for our children.”
Walton also called Hsu’s comments “flat-out wrong and racist.”
Hsu was one of the three school board members sworn in by Mayor London Breed to replace recalled members following a special election in February. Commenting on the controversy on Wednesday, Breed described Hsu’s words as “wrong and hurtful” but did not urge her to resign.
“There’s a difference between recognizing systemic inequality and perpetuating harmful stereotypes,” Breed said. “But it’s important that she apologized and committed to working with members of the community to understand and learn. She needs to follow through on that and really listen and reflect, especially as someone who represents all children in our school district.”
The controversy started after Hsu’s responses to a San Francisco Parent Action Coalition questionnaire were shared over the weekend. Hsu reportedly implied in one of her responses that “marginalized students especially in the Black and brown community” are not fully supported by their families.
“From my very limited exposure in the past four months to the challenges of educating marginalized students especially in the Black and brown community, I see one of the biggest challenges as being the lack of family support for those students,” Hsu, who became a board member in March, wrote.
“Unstable family environments caused by housing and food insecurity along with lack of parental encouragement to focus on learning cause children to not be able to focus on or value learning,” she continued. “That makes teachers’ work harder because they have to take care of emotional and behavioral issues of students before they can teach them. That is not fair to the teachers.”
Hsu eventually apologized for her comments in a Twitter thread on Tuesday, explaining that she “made a mistake” when she answered the questions “How can SFUSD (San Francisco Unified School District) increase academic outcomes for the most marginalized students?” and “How can SFUSD challenge and create learning opportunities for higher achieving students?”
“My statements reflected my own limited experiences and inherent biases. I made a mistake, and I am deeply sorry,” Hsu wrote. “I am committed to listening, learning and growing as a person. I’ve heard valuable feedback from BIPOC families and will be prioritizing and centering their voices in my work on the BOE through listening sessions and community outreach as we move forward.”
[1/8] Last week, I submitted my candidate questionnaire to SF Parent Action. After hearing feedback from the community, I revised one of my answers to reflect a deeper understanding of the challenges facing BIPOC students.
— Ann Hsu (@AnnforSFboe) July 19, 2022
New school board member Lisa Weissman-Ward said Hsu’s answers were “upsetting, harmful and disappointing.”
“Her answers perpetuated and reflected biases and caused harm to Black and brown students and their families and also to me personally — as a half-Black woman,” Weissman-Ward added.
Hsu, Wessman-Ward and Lainie Motamedi, who were all appointed as board members by Breed in March, are currently campaigning to retain their positions as the board’s November elections are on the way.
Board of Supervisors member Hillary Ronen suggested that it should be up to voters to decide whether to factor in Hsu’s comments as they make their decisions during the upcoming election.
“The voters should decide because she is so new and did unequivocally apologize,” Ronen said. “However, because her comments are flat out wrong and reveal a shocking lack of understanding about systemic racism and generational poverty, I will not be voting for her or endorsing her candidacy.”
Featured Image via Mayor London Breed