Last week San Francisco residents “overwhelmingly voted to oust the only three board members eligible for recall, including the particularly divisive Alison Collins (79 percent voted for removal), board President Gabriela López (75 percent) and even Vice President Faauuga Moliga (72 percent) … who tried belatedly to distance himself from the others,” writes Clara Jeffery in Mother Jones.
What did these school board members do to provoke this unprecedented rebuke from the voters?
“They prioritized performativeness over performance,” Jeffery argues. “You need to understand that SF schools stayed closed until the fall of 2021, longer than most districts in America … there was seemingly little effort to even talk about scenario planning. Instead, in interminable Zoom meetings, the board focused on… a risible process to rename 44 schools.”
“The process was a crowd-sourced embarrassment that placed Dianne Feinstein, Abraham Lincoln and Paul Revere among the names to be stricken and got many basic facts and even full identities wrong,” Jeffery explains. “Nevertheless, the board stood defiant in its defense of this shambolic process, which basically made a mockery out of scholarship.”
At the same time, the board continued to undermine efforts to open schools. “In June 2020, Vincent Matthews, the superintendent of the district, asked—honestly, begged—the board to sign off on a consultant to help advise on how to safely reopen schools,” Jeffery writes. “Finally, parents hoped, somebody would be spearheading this process. But the board decided that, because the consultant had once worked at a charter school, they wouldn’t allow it—even though Matthews warned there was no time to find a replacement. And so schools didn’t reopen.”
The overwhelming votes to recall the three board members serve as a clear warning to school board members up for reelection this year across the country: get busy putting learning first or get ready to lose your seats.
Inspired to get involved in your school board elections? Download our step-by-step Guide to Political Advocacy for free, written by 50CAN Executive Vice President and veteran political strategist Jonathan Nikkila.
Last time in The New Reality Roundup, we explored the importance of seeing the potential in every child by spotlighting two stories: one, of our Board Chair Michael Phillips and another of a child in Georgia who was given a new chance through a special needs scholarship.
This week, we call attention to the importance of holding the line on learning time, as well as a unique opportunity for aspiring education leaders who want to raise their voices on behalf of kids.
FROM THE FIELD
This past week brought good news from the Land of Enchantment, where NewMexicoKidsCAN’s Executive Director Amanda Aragon obtained a key win in the last hours of the legislative session as she secured passage of HB43. The bill expands the facility funding for charter schools across the state and will be crucial in growing the sector and expanding options for kids. “I’m proud, most of all, that this bill passed with sweeping, bipartisan support,” Amanda told me. “It’s proof that good charter policy doesn’t have to be politically divisive.”
Things are heating up in the Peach State, as GeorgiaCAN and its allies are all-in on the push to secure passage of a bill that would create Education Savings Accounts (ESA) for Georgia families. The team hosted a legislative town hall with State Representative Wes Cantrell and tomorrow will lead a parent rally at the state capitol ahead of a crucial vote in the House.
The team at TennesseeCAN is driving forward the More Opportunities for Students in Tennessee (MOST) Act, HB2774/SB2389, that would establish a grant program to combat the learning loss challenges that students and families have experienced during the pandemic. The bill has been filed and assigned to the House K-12 Subcommittee and the Senate Education Committee.
At DelawareCAN, Executive Director Britney Mumford is fighting a request by the Christina School Board to have the state impose a charter moratorium. “Our focus needs to be on improving student outcomes within schools, rather than limiting parents’ choices.”
Moment of Resilience
HawaiiKidsCAN Executive Director David Miyashiro was recognized as one of the “20 for the Next 20” by Hawaii Business Magazine, which spotlights the leaders most poised to make a difference for the Aloha state over the next two decades. Hawaii’s economy has suffered more than nearly any other state the past two years, but its determination to lead through innovation has never been stronger. Mahalo David!