S.F. voters oust three school board members in landslide recall election

The liberal bastion of the West Coast surprised national watchers by dumping school trustees and clamoring for a return to the school district’s fundamentals.

The majority of San Franciscans who voted in Tuesday’s special election were in support of recalling three San Francisco school board members, with 79% voting to oust Alison Collins, 75% saying yes to recalling Gabriela López and 72% opting to remove Faauuga Moliga, according to tallies by the San Francisco Department of Elections.

Mayor London Breed will now appoint board replacements to serve until another election in November. 

Parents in the politically liberal city launched the recall effort in January 2021 out of frustration over the slow reopening of district schools while the board pursued the renaming of 44 school sites and the elimination of competitive admissions at the elite Lowell High School.

“The city of San Francisco has risen up and said this is not acceptable to put our kids last,” said Siva Raj, a father of two who helped launch the recall effort. “Talk is not going to educate our children, it’s action. It’s not about symbolic action, it’s not about changing the name on a school, it is about helping kids inside the school building read and learn math.”

One of the first issues to grab national attention was the board’s January 2021 decision to rename 44 schools they said honored public figures linked to racism, sexism and other injustices. On the list were Abraham Lincoln, George Washington and Feinstein. The effort drew swift criticism for historical mistakes. Critics said it made a mockery of the country’s racial reckoning. Angry parents asked why the board would waste time renaming schools when the priority needed to be reopening classrooms.

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