Posted on February 23, 2022

SF School Board Recall Shows a New Political Awakening of Asian Americans

Helen Raleigh, Newsweek, February 22, 2022

An overwhelming majority of voters in San Francisco just chose to oust three leftist school board members via recall. Apparently, even in the most progressive city in America, these board members’ ideologically driven policies and actions have gone too far.

The three school board members who lost their seats are Board President Gabriela Lopez and Commissioners Faauuga Moliga and Alison Collins. The city’s Democratic mayor, London Breed, who favored the recall campaign, will select three people to fill the newly vacant seats.

The recall campaign was the result of a grassroots effort led by local Asian American parents, who were frustrated over the school district’s extended COVID-induced school closures. Kids in San Francisco’s public schools didn’t return full-time to in-person class until last August, long after schools in many parts of the country had already reopened.

Besides prolonged school closures, parents were also upset that the city’s progressive school board had demonstrated more interest in performative social justice activities than in providing quality education for all. The school board had beclowned itself by trying to cover up a mural depicting slavery and Native Americans, as well as its renaming 44 schools named after such titans of American history as Abraham Lincoln and George Washington.

{snip} The school board had done everything in its power to lower education standards and hold students back, including its attempt to gut AP classes and dumb down math education in the K-12 system. Unsurprisingly, nine public schools in San Francisco ranked in the bottom five percent of statewide schools for academic performance.

The editor of the “Eyes on SF Board of Education” newsletter, Laurance Lee, pointed out that many fed-up parents had pulled their kids out of the city’s public schools. Consequently, the enrollment has fallen so much that the school district now faces a $125 million budget deficit.

Asian American parents are further distraught by the school board’s decision to eliminate the merit-based admission process to Lowell High School, one of the city’s top high schools. {snip}

Board President Lopez nonetheless insisted that grades and test scores were structurally “biased toward Whites and Asians”—even though students of color make up 75 percent of Lowell’s student body.

Commissioner Collins called merit a “racist construct.” She alienated Asian Americans further after some of her old tweets disparaging Asian Americans resurfaced. In one of those tweets, Collins had accused Asian-Americans of using “white supremacist thinking to assimilate and ‘get ahead.'” Collins offered a half-hearted apology but refused to resign from the board. {snip}


What has happened in San Francisco also carries critical national implications. First, the Left’s insistence on prolonged COVID restrictions in schools, as well as its divisive and race-essentialist education policies, have been proven to be highly unpopular even among traditionally liberal voters in a deep-blue city.

Second, competency matters. Voters are fed-up with institutional failures caused by elected officials who had neglected their essential duties to the communities they were elected to serve. {snip}

Last but not least, the success of the recall campaign has ushered in a new political awakening for Asian Americans. Traditionally, Asian Americans have been considered a silent minority, because most are not politically active. Running a political campaign was unthinkable to many Asian Americans before the onset of the pandemic. But through the recall campaign, in Fong’s words, Asian American parents “have found fire in the belly.” In other words, they won’t remain politically silent any longer. And such a political awakening will undoubtedly influence America’s future.