School Board Recall 2022 Endorsements

The School Board Recall Election is happening between now and Election Day, February 15.  If you are voting by mail, your ballot must be postmarked on or before February 15.  You can also vote in person on Election Day, or beforehand at City Hall.

Three members of the School Board, Alison Collins, Gabriela López, and Faauuga Moliga, are up for recall.  Although López is the only one of the three who previously earned our endorsement, the SF Green Party has endorsed a "NO" vote on recalling all three of the Board members in this election (i.e., we support keeping them in office through the next regular election in November 2022).

If one or more of the Board members is recalled, the City Charter gives Mayor Breed the authority to fill each vacancy with one of her own hand-picked candidates.  Greens don't want our public schools to be subject to the same corruption as we see at other City departments run by the Mayor, such as the Department of Building Inspection, Recreation and Parks, and the MTA (which operates Muni).

As we wrote in our School Board endorsements in 2020, concerning our non-endorsement of Jenny Lam:

Our biggest concern with Lam is not the policies she supports, but rather her close ties to the Mayor's office.  The School Board is supposed to be an independent body from the rest of SF government, so having a Board member who directly reports to the Mayor is very problematic.

Having four such appointees would give the Mayor the majority of the seven seats on the School Board, allowing her to spend bond money and give out contracts to Machine-friendly companies without any public oversight.

Greens have long advocated for a charter amendment that would allow voters to choose replacements (using ranked choice voting) on the same ballot as the recall election.  Until that happens, voters who the Mayor does not listen to can not meaningfully exercise our constitutional right to recall elected officials.  Because the Mayor is the only person who gets to choose replacements for elected officials who are recalled, these elections (other than recalling the Mayor herself) can only benefit the Mayor and her supporters.

This is not to say that Greens are completely happy with the performance of the current members of the School Board.  In 2020, we wrote in our endorsements:

The biggest issue facing the School Board over the next year will be when, and how, to safely reopen SF's public schools.  Zoom classes don't work for young children, and keeping kids at home has had a serious impact on parents, especially on women, who disproportionately provide for childcare and homeschooling.

Based on research from UCSF that showed serious mental health impacts of Zoom school, and low in-school transmission risk, Greens advocated for reopening our elementary schools in the Fall of 2020.  We also advocated for SFUSD support for "pods" of public school students in all grades (TK-12) as a bridge to full school reopening, noting that SF's summer camps that were organized into pods of 12 kids did not result in any COVID outbreaks.

Although SFUSD failed to reopen schools in a timely manner, and lost many students to private schools, Greens think the majority of the blame lies with the Superintendent rather than the Board.  The Superintendent attempted to waste money on an outside consultant rather than taking free advice from experts at the Department of Public Health and UCSF.  Although the SFUSD central administrative budget (i.e., money not spent in classrooms) has ballooned under Superintendent Matthews, the public (including SFUSD parents, students, and teachers) have yet to see any benefits.

Members of the School Board also deserve some blame for their failed attempt to rename a number of public schools.  The centralized renaming committee, poorly managed and dominated by insiders, advocated renaming some schools based of inaccurate information, while being completely comfortable leaving "Willie Brown Middle School" in place.  This was a stark contrast to the process used to rename (the former) Drake High School in Marin County, which empowered the students at the school to participate in the process and therefore became a learning opportunity.

On the other hand, our Board had a major success in reforming admissions standards at Lowell High School.  For years, Lowell appears to have been in violation of the CA Education Code, which requires a "random, unbiased" process to determine which kids get to attend schools in high demand, and forbids admissions standards based on "academic or athletic performance."

Lowell's previous admission standards used a combination of GPA and standardized test (SBAC) scores to measure academic performance. Greens believe that standardized tests have significant racial and class biases, and are a poor measure of academic potential. We therefore applauded the School Board's change to change Lowell admissions to the lottery-based system used at other SF schools, which does not consider test scores.

With this change to admissions policy, racial diversity at Lowell improved dramatically, with the number of Black and Hispanic freshmen nearly double that of prior years. And despite the fears of those parents who opposed the change, academic standards at the school have remained high.

In summary, the current School Board has had some successes and some failures, which SF political groups should take into account when interviewing candidates for office in the next regular election in November 2022.  If voters instead decide to turn control over to our corrupt Mayor, it will almost certainly make things worse for our students and for the City as a whole.  Vote NO on all the recall questions.