Three members of San Francisco’s Board of Education were removed from office after a landslide vote in a recall election held on Tuesday.
The result brings a sense of relief for activists who have pushed for the members’ recall over misplaced priorities, including what many perceived to be “anti-Asian” policies. Last year, Asian American parents were outraged after the school board introduced a lottery system in the admissions process at Lowell High School, whose student population is over 50% Asian.
Lowell has a century-long practice of merit-based admissions, which helped it earn a reputation of being the city’s top public high school.
“We must recognize the need for a culture shift in our schools and address racism,” said then-Board President Gabriela López, who led the introduction of the lottery system. López was among the three Democrats ousted in Tuesday’s recall after a 75% vote.
Commissioners Alison Collins and Faauuga Moliga were also recalled with 79% and 75% of votes, respectively. In March 2021, Collins was removed as vice president for her 2016 tweets that many deemed racist toward Asian Americans.
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All three ex-members, however, were primarily criticized for pushing to rename 44 schools instead of getting children back into classrooms in January 2021. The schools in question were originally named after key historical figures, including Abraham Lincoln and the three other presidents found on Mount Rushmore.
At the time, Mayor London Breed, a Democrat, said she could not understand “why the school board is advancing a plan to have all these schools renamed by April, when there isn’t a plan to have our kids back in the classroom by then.” Breed became one of the recall movement’s top supporters. In a statement after the election, she pointed out that while she believes in big ideas, essentials must come first.
“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,“ she said. “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. I want to recognize all the parents who tirelessly organized and advocated in the last year. Elections can be difficult, but these parents were fighting for what matters most – their children.”
Recall SF Board, a nonpartisan group of parents, teachers and concerned residents who advocated for the recall, welcomed the yield of their hard work and thanked everyone who joined their cause. “San Francisco – you’re making history. Thank you for standing up for our kids when our elected leaders completely failed them,” the group said in a tweet.
Nainoa Johsens, director of the Asian Pacific American Media of the Republican National Committee (RNC), also released a statement commenting on the election:
“Last night’s decisive results in the San Francisco school board election prove that Asian American families reject the radical Democrat agenda of school closures, forced masking, and renaming schools to appease woke activists. Just like in Virginia’s gubernatorial election, Asian parents in San Francisco stood up to Democrat politicians who put radical ideology and scoring political points ahead of their kids.
“Even in deep blue San Francisco, Democrats are proving they are out of touch.”