Three members of the San Francisco Unified School District Board of Education have been recalled by a joint vote of residents who believed the members were putting efforts into unnecessary actions rather than what was best for education. Amid calls for all 7 of the board members to be recalled, President Gabriela López, Vice President Faauuga Moliga, and Commissioner Alison Collins were the 3 that got the most votes by residents, to be recalled.
The last election recall in San Francisco was in 1983, nearly four decades ago, aimed at removing then-Mayor Dianne Feinstein from the seat. Progressive politics and disregard of educational needs that neglected the actual priorities, were quoted as reasons behind the recall effort. A special election was held by the San Francisco Department of Elections, and an overwhelming majority voted in favor of the recall.
It all started when the board decided to rename 44 schools in the district as a way to address the names that honored problematic historical figures linked to sexism, racism, and other social issues. Parents criticized the plan, accusing the board of wasting time when the priority should have been to reopen schools.
“The voters of this city have delivered a clear message that the school board must focus on the essentials of delivering a well-run school system above all else. San Francisco is a city that believes in the value of big ideas, but those ideas must be built on the foundation of a government that does the essentials well,” SF Mayor London Breed said in a statement, also confirming that new members will be appointed as replacements until elections in November.
The recall effort was launched in January 2021 by residents organized by parents Autumn Looijen and Siva Raj, collecting 51,325 signatures in favor of recalling. Later the petition to “Recall SF School Board” reached 70,000 signatures for each member of the board, ultimately leading to the special elections that voted the three members out via recall.
“When we started this recall, we were told that one out of 10 recalls makes it to the signature gathering stage. Of those, one out of 10 makes it to the ballot. And of those, only one out of 10 passes. If even one of our recall measures passes, it will be a small miracle — and we’re confident we will recall all three,” said Looijen, one of the key organizers for the recall effort.
Opponents of the recall effort believe the entire election and campaign has been a waste of time and money, as higher priorities of the budget deficit of $125 million and appointing a Superintendent replacement still remain unaddressed.
The San Francisco Examiner quotes the entire spectacle to be a “populist coalition of parents,” sponsored and promoted by “right-of-center millionaires,” who have no connection or ties to San Francisco or the schools. While the popular politicians support the recall effort, United Educators of San Francisco, a teachers union from San Francisco city is critical of the funding behind the recall effort, and the power the new decision of appointing new replacements will give to the mayor.