Members of San Francisco’s school board unanimously voted to admonish commissioner Ann Hsu over her controversial comments about equitable education.
Last month, Hsu was criticized for her answers to a questionnaire from the SF Parent Action. Responding to a question about educating marginalized students, Hsu wrote that the biggest challenges for Black and brown students are “unstable family environments” and a “lack of parental encouragement to focus on learning.” According to Hsu, such conditions force teachers to work harder in a manner “that is not fair to the teachers.” Advocates and organizations, including civil rights group National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), have condemned her comments and demanded her resignation. Following the growing backlash, Hsu updated her responses and posted an apology on Twitter on July 20.
“I was trying to understand and address a serious problem and seek solutions, and in so doing I said things that perpetuated biases already in the system,” she wrote. “My statements reflected my own limited experiences and inherent biases. I made a mistake, and I am deeply sorry.”
San Francisco Board of Supervisors President Shamann Walton also spoke out against Hsu, calling her comments “flat-out wrong and racist.”
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“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.”
On Tuesday, the school board held a special meeting to address the issue, which resulted in the vote to officially admonish Hsu.
The commissioner, who voted for her own admonishment, apologized for her statements.
“I said things that perpetuated harmful stereotypes,” Hsu was quoted as saying. “I made a mistake, and I’m deeply sorry.”
However, she added that she would not resign, noting that she still plans to run in the upcoming school board election.
Before the meeting, Hsu’s critics held demonstrations outside, with NAACP’s Rev. Arnold Townsend and other advocates calling for her resignation.
Despite the controversy, Hsu has gained supporters who cite free speech and call out “cancel culture.”
The Chinese Parent Advisory Council, the Chinese American Democratic Club and AsianAmericanVoters.org were among over 300 signatories of an open letter in support of Hsu.
According to her supporters, they do not believe Hsu should resign and that the issue should be a “teaching moment” for her.