Last week, the parents of San Francisco served notice on the educational establishment with its historic recall of Board of Education President Gabriella Lopez and members Faauuga Moliga and Allison Collins. The results were a landslide; around 70 percent of voters in this incredibly blue city chose to remove these three leftists from their positions of power.
Mayor London Breed is now in the awkward position of having to refill these seats at a time San Francisco schools are suffering from an enrollment crisis, which has provoked a budget crisis. If she chooses to side with concerned parents instead of the educrats, it will represent a seismic shift in the decades-old political alliance between the educational establishment and the Democratic Party.
A True Power Couple
It’s no secret that teachers’ unions and other education organizations are overwhelmingly leftist in both culture and politics. Less well-known, however, is the extent to which these organizations have financially supported their government allies and what they expect in return.
A recent report from the Government Accountability Institute reveals not only a dramatic increase in political spending from these groups, but also an increased radicalism on social and cultural issues. The report details how the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and the National Education Administration (NEA) unions have abandoned any pretense of reasoned discourse to embrace their destiny as culture warriors.
As then NEA President Lily Eskelsen Garcia admitted in a 2020 interview, the new focus of her organization isn’t “advocating for our members and negotiating contracts, etc.” like many affiliates believe it should be, but supporting radical movements like Black Lives Matter and LGBTQ ideology.
The report makes a point of highlighting how the educational establishment sought to leverage its power during the pandemic in order to “reimagine education.” A particularly disturbing aspect of this “reimagining” is the notion of “community schooling,” in which schools “partner with private companies, nonprofit groups, and other community stakeholders to provide a vast array of student support.”
This support, referred to as “wrap-around services,” includes not only traditional school functions such as tutoring and early learning programs, but also health care, laundry services, housing programs, and a bevy of training regimens meant to “educate the ‘whole child.’” In short, “community schooling” represents educrats’ wet dream: a world in which American children become wards of the government through their schools.
Trouble in Paradise?
Over the past few years, we have tasted the poisonous fruit of the close relationship between the educational establishment and the politicos on the left. Instead of learning to read, write, and calculate effectively, children are forced to “rate their privilege” and accept the lie that boys can be girls if they feel like it.
Instead of dealing with Covid-19 in a rational and compassionate manner, educrats closed schools and forced millions of students into ineffective “remote learning,” the poor results of which will be felt for years and possibly decades to come. When parents dared to complain about such missteps, they found themselves locked out of school board meetings, attacked by the mainstream media, and branded “domestic terrorists” by the Biden administration.
But it’s now clear the educational establishment has overplayed its hand. Parents transformed their anger into action. What’s more, the centers of this revolt were blue enclaves, such as Loudoun and Fairfax Counties in Virginia. Although the educrats and their apologists in the media tried to blame the uprising on right-wing extremists, the reality is that even parents who usually vote Democrat want to nurture and protect their kids, not surrender them to the not-so-tender mercies of the state.
Covid-19 may indeed rewrite the educational playbook in America, but not in the way the educrats hoped. The number of homeschooling families in the country has tripled since 2019, bringing the once distrusted practice into the mainstream. Support for parental rights in education, especially as regards curriculum, is growing across the board.
Most importantly, school choice initiatives, usually considered a conservative issue, has grown remarkably among registered Democrats. These changes in the mood of the electorate do not bode well for the educational establishment’s relationship with its favored party.
Divorces Are Always Messy
Whether she likes it or not, Breed is now sitting at the center of this potential political earthquake. Her office’s statement on the successful recall gives parents reason to be cautiously optimistic:
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…I want to recognize all the parents who tirelessly organized and advocated in the last year. Elections can be difficult, but these parents were fighting for what matters most – their children.
Although these words might be meaningless pandering, Breed notices which way political winds are blowing. Back in December, when many in her party stuck their heads in the sand while crime skyrocketed, she chose to reverse course on previously defunding of the police by making an emergency request to the city’s Board of Supervisors for more money to crack down on criminal activity, saying, “It is time for the reign of criminals to end. And it comes to an end when are we more aggressive with law enforcement and less tolerant of all the bulls–t that has destroyed our city.”
So far, Breed has been cagey about who she will choose to replace the recalled members of the school board. At a press conference the day after the recall, Breed said the question is “not about having a progressive or a moderate” and that her decision will probably be “one of the hardest…that I’ve ever had to make.” When asked whether she’s considering candidates who are pro-charter or pro-voucher, she claimed she is “not disqualifying anyone at this time.”
Whatever her personal views on education, Breed certainly remembers that whoever she chooses must face San Francisco voters this November. Should she appoint new members who are ideologically aligned with the radicals the voters recalled, they will almost certainly be removed by those same voters, which would damage Breed’s political capital and her chances for re-election in 2023.
School board recall elections are becoming more common throughout the country, so we should expect more showdowns like the one taking shape in the City by the Bay. If Breed and other Democrats truly value the opinion of their constituents, then they must be willing to treat educrats as the dead weight they are and cut them loose, if only for their own political survival.