By Matt Alexander
I’m a parent with 20 years of experience as a San Francisco public school teacher and principal. Since the pandemic started, I’ve visited dozens of schools and talked with hundreds of parents, students and educators. This is the toughest year I’ve ever seen, with so many young people behind in their education and suffering from mental health challenges.
I know how rough things are for parents and kids right now. But recalling three of my colleagues on the San Francisco Board of Education – including two women of color and the first Pacific Islander elected official in the City’s history – is only going to make it harder to address these challenges. Let’s put our kids first and work together rather than supporting a divisive, politically driven recall effort.
The truth is that this recall is being driven not by public school parents, but by big money interests that want to steal our democracy.
Recall backers have raised over $1,100,000 – an astronomical sum in local school board politics. In last year’s school board race, my colleagues and I were allowed to accept a maximum donation of $500 per person, and we each spent around $45,000 to run grassroots campaigns; that’s what school board elections are supposed to look like.
But in a recall election, there are no local campaign contribution limits. So one man – billionaire venture capitalist Arthur Rock – has donated $400,000 to the recall effort. Rock has a history of attempting to buy local school board elections for candidates who want to privatize public schools. He lives in San Francisco, but last year he poured tens of thousands of dollars into the Oakland school board race to support pro-charter school candidates. He’s a “Lifetime Director” of Teach for America, a group that puts well-meaning but unqualified teachers into low-income classrooms.
After Rock, the next biggest recall backer is David Sacks, another venture capitalist who also gave over $100,000 to the recall campaign against Gov. Gavin Newsom. Sacks is the co-author of a book called “The Diversity Myth: Multiculturalism and Political Intolerance on Campus,” in which he wrote that a “multicultural rape charge may indicate nothing more than belated regret.” And he recently hosted a fundraiser here in San Francisco for COVID denier and Republican presidential hopeful Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
If you vote to recall my colleagues, you’re supporting a political power play by these billionaires against the most diverse school board in San Francisco history. If the recall succeeds, the voters don’t get to choose replacement Board members; they would be appointed by a scandal-ridden City Hall that’s been at the center of corruption charges.
In November, my three colleagues will be up for re-election. At that point, you can judge their performance, compare them to the other candidates and decide whom to vote for. That’s how the democratic process is supposed to work. The School Board should be chosen by the voters. Let’s reject pay-to-play politics by conservative billionaires and vote no on the recall.
Matt Alexander has lived in the Outer Sunset for over two decades and is a member of the San Francisco Board of Education.