It is time to recall the Board of Education


Photos courtesy of SFUSD

After a year of poor leadership by San Francisco’s Board of Education (BOE), it has become clear that certain members of the Board of Education must be recalled. The current recall campaign is focused on President Gabriela López, Vice President Allison Collins, and Faauuga Moliga, the only members that can be recalled because they weren’t recently elected. All of them should be removed.

Throughout the last year of distance learning, the Board of Education has repeatedly failed students. While social issues took center stage, the issue of reopening schools has languished on the sidelines. At one board meeting in October, it took five hours before reopening was addressed. Meanwhile, students have seen a decline in their learning, attendance, and mental health. Around 3,000 SFUSD students have been regularly absent from classes, and are receiving less education during remote learning. Schools also provide a haven for socializing that is missing during distance learning. Seniors are missing out on prom and graduation ceremonies, ending their high school careers behind a screen. Freshman have never met most of their classmates in person let alone been given time to make friends at school. Students are beginning, ending, and continuing their education without much contact or ability to spend time with their peers. The fact that the board has failed to prioritize the needs of students shows that they should not be in office.

Though concerns about delays in reopening were brought to the attention of the school board by multiple parents and students during meetings, the BOE did not make significant progress, to the point where the city government had to intervene. A lawsuit was filed by City Attorney Dennis Herrera to attempt to get students back in class. As a result of this action and board members being pilloried in the national press, the board decided to postpone all renaming efforts and focus on reopening. It’s ridiculous that it took a lawsuit from the city for the board to start putting reopening as its first priority.

Furthermore, if the BOE’s main goal is to advance social justice, reopening would be the most anti-racist thing it could do. Minority groups have been disproportionately harmed by distance learning. Attendance rates have dropped in minority groups and racial gaps in education have widened during the pandemic.

Furthermore, if the BOE’s main goal is to advance social justice, reopening would be the most anti-racist thing it could do.

Proficiency in math and reading are lower than grade level. Black and Indigenous students have fallen behind the most, and a majority of students with less than 40 percent attendance are minorities. Half of this demographic are Latino, a quarter are Black, and 32 percent are English learners. Though López has remarked that students are “just having different learning experiences than the ones we currently measure,” it is clear that these “different” experiences just mean that minority groups are being left behind.

Reopening, which directly affects all members of the district, should have been the Board’s priority since the day we closed March 2020. School groups, alumni associations, and parent organizations are frustrated at the Board’s inadequate response to this pandemic. Students and their families are hurting, due to the failures by those to whom they have entrusted with their education. This is not acceptable leadership.

Yet another reason why the four Board members should be recalled is because they have consistently failed to listen. During their public meetings students and community members have felt dismissed and ignored by those meant to represent them. “Going to the meetings, it seems kind of one-sided and they kind of have the decision made up before they even share the public comment,” sophomore William Cao told The Lowell in February. Parent groups, teachers, principals, students, and alumni called for the board to delay or end their effort to rename 44 schools this year, but the board repeatedly let their personal beliefs and ideas outweigh those of the community, which is not proper leadership. “Of course, I’m hearing what you’re saying, but I don’t think it’s going to change the outcome. People are still going to be up in arms when we’re doing this,” López told the New Yorker in February. If they cannot be trusted to listen to their constituents and represent the people then they should no longer be in charge.

As students, we need to take a proactive role in the recall effort. Reach out to the parent groups and help the recall movement gain traction. Soon, you will be able to vote for next year’s student delegates, who can represent your interests to the BOE. We have more input than we think we do. Taking an active role in choosing those who represent you ensures that future board members will have your actual interests at heart.