By Larry Sand
It has been a remarkably dysfunctional year for the San Francisco Unified school board.
It started in January 2021, when the school board in San Francisco decided to rename 44 public schools, claiming their namesakes were “unworthy of the honor.” The names of such American icons as Abraham Lincoln, Paul Revere, Thomas Edison, Daniel Webster, Francis Scott Key, et al. were to be placed on the chopping block.
February was no less contentious – and at the same time provided some comic relief – when the art department of the school district bizarrely announced that acronyms such as VAPA (visual and performing arts) are “a symptom of white supremacy.” The month also saw the school board decide that top-rated Lowell High School should no longer admit students based on their academic performance. Instead, the school was to use a lottery to admit them. This, of course, was very discriminatory toward Asian American students who made up 50.6 percent of its student body at the time. And if February wasn’t already absurd, the city government of San Francisco sued its own school board to reopen schools. After 327 days the city fathers and mothers decided that enough was enough. But in reality, kids, especially minorities, were not terribly well educated in Fog City before the shut down – just 19 percent of blacks passed a recent state test in reading – so perhaps the school board figured eliminating in-person learning couldn’t do that much more damage.
Then, in March, it was revealed that school board member Allison Collins had made some rather nasty comments on Twitter about Asian Americans in 2016, and left the posts intact five years hence. She accused them of many things, including the use of “white supremacist thinking to assimilate and ‘get ahead.’” The school board was pretty much forced to do something, but they didn’t fire her or take away any of her six-figure salary; they merely removed her as vice president, and stripped her of committee assignments. March went out like a lion when Collins filed a lawsuit against the district and five fellow board members, asking for $87 million in damages for violating her free speech rights. Among other things, her lawsuit alleged that the demotion caused her a significant loss of reputation, severe mental and emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life, humiliation, and – I am not making this up – “spiritual injury to her soul.”
In April, the school board decided against renaming the 44 schools – not because it was a terrible idea to begin with, but rather to avoid a costly lawsuit, which alleged that the board violated the Brown Act, which requires local government business to be conducted at open and public meetings. In fact, no input from the community was sought in this instance. The board went into an immediate snit, calling the lawsuit “nothing more than a transparent attempt to thwart a lawful and duly-noticed action with which it disagrees,” and also explained that it wanted to avoid “the distraction and wasteful expenditure of public funds in frivolous litigation.”
To continue reading, go to https://www.forkidsandcountry.org/blog/the-sandstorm-frisco-frolics/