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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

‘Incompetence, arrogance, woke rhetoric’

An issue at the heart of the recall election was the school board’s attempt to abolish merit-based admissions at Lowell High School amidst claims meritocratic policies were “racist.” Lowell alumni filed a lawsuit, which succeeded. The new school board will decide Lowell’s fate.

The San Francisco school board’s vote to abolish merit-based admissions at Lowell High School amidst claims merit is “racist” angered many parents and Lowell alumni.

Bluer-than-blue San Francisco isn’t turning red, I write in a story on the school board recall in San Francisco, now up on Education Next.

Residents of nearly every neighborhood voted overwhelmingly on February 15 to recall Gabriela López, Allison Collins, and Faauuga Moliga. The recall “was launched and supported by independents, moderates, and progressives who were infuriated by a toxic mix of incompetence, arrogance, and woke rhetoric.”

San Francisco’s coronavirus rates were lower than those in other cities, its vaccination rates higher. Yet the public schools remained closed longer in San Francisco than in any other major city. . . . Elementary-school students were out for a year, and the city had to sue to force the district to reopen. Middle and high schools didn’t reopen until fall 2021. (Two high schools opened with “supervision”—but no teaching—for two weeks in May, to qualify for a state grant.)

The superintendent raised private funding to pay for a reopening consultant, telling the board “there is no Plan B.” The board said no because the consultant had worked for charter schools.

While district schools remain closed, the school board voted to admit students by lottery to what had been the city’s selective high school, to whitewash a historic mural at Washington High School and then to “rename 44 schools based on a muddled and historically inaccurate process that declared Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, Paul Revere, Dianne Feinstein, and others insufficiently pure.”

“Education is a fire-in-the-belly issue” for Chinese parents, said Bayard Fong, president of the Chinese-American Democratic Club and the father of three children. His wife works for the district as an administrator. The school board “acted as though some students mattered more than others,” said Fong. “We were being ignored or treated as though we were the problem.” The club provided 100 volunteers to gather signatures for recall petitions. . . . The Chinese-American community will have more clout going forward because of the landslide recall vote, Fong said. “We won’t be silent anymore. We’re standing up.”

It’s not just the Chinese, of course. The school board managed to persuade nearly everyone that it cared more about virtue signaling than educating students.

Mayor London Breed replaced the ousted members with three parents, Lainie Motamedi, Lisa Weissman-Ward, and Ann Hsu, who campaigned for the recall. They’ll select a new superintendent and tackle the unbalanced budget and declining enrollment.

Merit admissions are likely to return at Lowell High, the formerly selective school. District data show a sharp rise in D and F grades for students admitted by lottery.

I don’t foresee a wave of school board recalls nationwide — it’s too difficult — but it’s clear that unwoke parents are mobilizing to field school board candidates.

San Franciscans will decide whether to recall its very progressive district attorney, Chesa Boudin, on June 7. Polls say he’s a goner. Again, there is no battalion of secret conservatives in San Francisco: People want the streets to be safe, which means they want criminals prosecuted, convicted and jailed.

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