The national media has been talking a lot about the larger message of the fact that liberal San Francisco just recalled 3 school board members. As someone who lives in the City and has two grandsons in the SF public schools, I can say that the overwhelming rejection of the School Board’s behavior was not a general rejection of the idea of progressive policies in education, but rather a repudiation of this particular board’s consistent failure to prioritize running the schools — particularly reopening them safely — over political grandstanding.
As Mayor London Breed pointed out in an interview on Meet the Press today, San Francisco was very aggressive in confronting COVID-19 with stay-at-home orders and vaccination. Those efforts were successful as evidenced by low hospitalization and death rates in the City. But the School Board refused to follow the Health Department’s advice when it said that the schools could be safely reopened. (By then most private schools in the City had reopened as well as most districts around the state.) The Board also blocked the Superintendent from early steps to start planning for and moving toward reopening early in the pandemic
Instead, the Board spent meeting after meeting on side issues like renaming 44 (closed) schools or changing admission standards at (closed) Lowell High School.
If the Board had prioritized reopening the schools in accordance with recommendations from San Francisco’s (appropriately) cautious health department guidelines and put off the question of whether some schools should be renamed or other issues, there probably wouldn’t have been a successful recall.
In short, the vote was not a general rejection of progressive educational values; it was a rejection of a Board that wasn’t doing its basic job.