San Francisco parents fed up with shuttered schools launched a campaign to recall three elected members of the local school board for their refusal to reopen campuses.
“The people and businesses of San Francisco have worked very hard, have sacrificed, to keep our Covid levels low, and our schools have been closed entirely throughout,” Patrick Wolff, one of the parents who started the Campaign for Better San Francisco Public Schools, said. “So just think of the harm that’s being done.”
Wolff and others said the school board is prioritizing social justice issues, such as renaming 44 schools it deems unacceptable while ignoring how children are suffering being isolated at home and separated from classmates and teachers.
George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Thomas Jefferson are among the names to be changed using the criteria of having links to racism, sexism, or slavery. Rock legend Jerry Garcia is among the names considered for replacement.
“They seem more focused—in my estimation, anyway—on symbols of equity rather than actual equity, which would mean getting schools open for all the children in San Francisco,” Jennifer Sey, another parent working on the recall efforts, said.
The San Francisco Chronicle reported on the development:
Two parents have launched a formal recall effort against three members of the school board, including its president and vice president, while another group is considering options that include asking voters to eliminate school board elections altogether.
The parent activism is the latest development in the escalating San Francisco schools-reopening saga. Public schools have been shut down since last March, and negotiations between the local teachers union and the district remain at an impasse despite San Francisco having low Covid-19 rates for a major U.S. city.
Under state guidelines, public schools have been allowed to open since last September. But teachers’ unions have balked, saying they will return only when the community spread of Covid-19 is lower, or teachers are vaccinated, and the school board hasn’t forced their hand. The inaction has angered many parents and Mayor London Breed, whose office doesn’t have direct control over schools.
The city also is pushing back. On February 3, the city sued the school district for violating state law by not making a viable reopening plan.
“This is not the path we would have chosen, but nothing matters more right now than getting our children back in school,” Breed said.
The Chronicle reported that school board President Gabriela Lopez, who has defended the renaming project, has now canceled renaming committee meetings and said in a statement “reopening will be our only focus until our children and young people are back in schools.”
“Parent Siva Raj and his partner, Autumn Looijen, said they filed the paperwork to initiate the recall of Ms. López, as well as Vice President Alison Collins and Commissioner Faauuga Moliga,” the Chronicle reported and added that those three are the only board members in office long enough to be eligible to be recalled.
One of the city’s teachers’ unions, the United Educators of San Francisco, is still negotiating about how many hours a week teachers would work when schools first reopen.
Last month the board approved a plan to return to in-person instruction for the district’s 52,000 students. But the plan is linked to the level of coronavirus infection in the city or if all teachers and staff have been vaccinated.
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