Last fall, writer Andrea Gaber observed: “America has entered a dystopian dark age, one fueled by bigotry and a celebration of ignorance. Schools must promote the love of knowledge and intellectual exploration over hate and philistinism. And they must relight the flame of democracy via classroom curricula and their governance structures.”
In The American Legion Magazine last month, Arizona State University Professor S. Adam Seagrave described teaching his undergraduate course, “Race and The American Story,” noting: “The storm clouds of polarization, fragmentation and threatening disintegration of American society have been building for quite some time.” Former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor called it a “quiet crisis” which the professor believes “has become a deafening one.”
Public education in San Francisco and elsewhere has failed; “dumbing down” is an epidemic. The San Mateo-Foster City Elementary School District proposed in April putting all sixth graders into one mathematics class and eliminating accelerated mathematics, claiming it will result in more “equity,” because accelerated mathematics decreases “diversity.”
One abomination of hand-wringing modernists emanates from turning definitions on their head. “Equity” has unwittingly supplanted “equality” in public institutions, like schools. The word “equal,” however, means the “quality or state of being equal,” according to Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, Tenth Edition. “Equity,” on the other hand, is defined as a “system of law originating in the English chancery,” “…. a body of legal documents,” “justice according to natural law or right,” “the money value of a property or of an interest in a property in excess of claims or liens against it,” and “the common stock of a corporation.”
The language destroyers decry “equality,” as in “equality of opportunity” (long an American virtue), replacing it with “equity,” which means a result, not simply opportunity.
Thus, the San Francisco Board of Education, already sued successfully by attorney Paul Scott for repeal of its January 26 resolution renaming 44 public schools, adopted last month a deceitful resolution characterizing Scott’s lawsuit as “frivolous.” It now faces a similar lawsuit by Friends of Lowell Foundation, the San Francisco Taxpayers Association and Lowell Alumni Association to compel repeal of another flawed resolution abolishing Lowell High School’s admission based upon grades and examination scores and substituting a lottery! Diamond Heights lawyer Christine Linnenbach, Bradley Hertz and this columnist represent petitioners, alleging another Board violation of California’s open meeting act and due process on Feb. 2, 2021. COVID-19 isn’t the only cause of declining public school enrollment.
Similar insults to the vox populi occur in Washington, D.C. President Biden’s “Infrastructure Bill” – characterized by The Wall Street Journal as “Biden’s Multitrillion-Dollar Gamble” – only includes $621 billion for infrastructure, with $400 billion increases for disabled and aging care; $580 billion is bestowed upon manufacturing and $300 billion for affordable housing, paid by tax increases on corporation profits and foreign earnings, plus individual tax increases. Calling it an “infrastructure” measure constitutes deceit like replacing “equality” with “equity” in the new lexicon of presidential executive orders.
This column has long reminded readers our national and state highway systems were financed by “user” fees, meaning the gasoline tax, presently 18.5 cents per gallon federally since 1993, plus California’s 55.5 cents per gallon. With development of electronic vehicles, many more motorists, nationally and statewide, avoid any user fee. More Americans evidently realize the advantage of a mileage tax replacing gasoline taxation. The Mineta Transportation Institute started polling support for a mileage tax in 2010. Only 33% supported it. By March 2021, dubbing it a “green mileage fee” and representing about 3 cents per mile travel as the cost, 53% of respondents supported it. Bicyclists, increasingly preventing cars from using San Francisco streets, would pay a mileage tax for repair and maintenance of San Francisco streets they use (I can hear the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition wailing about such common sense.). I realize bicyclists and electric vehicle operators will have epilepsy over automatic mileage calculation by a GPS since they’ve been using city streets paid for by other people. Let’s hope environmentalists realize the logic of mileage taxation.
City Hall continues to reek of criminality with a supine district attorney, now the subject of two recall movements. Another Recology vice president was charged with bribing the shameful former director of Public Works with $20,000, marking the 11th person sued criminally by the United States attorney since January 2020. Meanwhile, neither the Board of Supervisors nor the mayor acts to repeal the voter-approved 1932 law granting Recology a monopoly on trash collection, later extended to recycling. City Controller’s report, buried by mainstream media last month, recommends consideration of changing the 1932 Refuse Collection and Disposal Initiative Ordinance, yet the Board of Supervisors refuses to act. Instead, Supervisor Aaron Peskin advocates municipalization of garbage collection and suggests forming a “study” committee to advise City Hall! It’s axiomatic the best way to avoid action at City Hall is formation of a “study committee.”
A February 2021 City Controller report highlighted Municipal Transportation Agency waste of money and time in projects, such as the Twin Peaks Tunnel, Green Light Rail center track replacement and 5-Fulton Outer Route Fast Track “enhancements.” That doesn’t include the MTA’s Van Ness Avenue or Central Subway boondoggles. Yet Peskin, who demanded “marked improvement in MTA’s performance,“ seeks municipalization of garbage collection, not private enterprise competitive bidding to benefit ratepayers with lower rates.
President Abraham Lincoln declared in 1860: “We the people are the rightful masters of both Congress and the courts, not to overthrow the constitution but to overthrow the man who would pervert the constitution.” It’s regrettable San Francisco ratepayers and taxpayers must suffer City Hall “masters.”
Quentin Kopp is a former San Francisco supervisor, state senator, member of the SF Ethics Commission and retired judge.