The Optics are Bad; the Reality is Worse
As you’ve probably heard, all members of a San Francisco Bay Area school board resigned days after they were heard making disparaging comments about parents at a virtual board meeting they didn’t realize was being broadcast to the public. The four members of Oakley Union Elementary School District Board stepped down within two days after growing outrage from the public.
The comments below show a school board out-of-touch with what parents and their kids have gone through during the pandemic for about one year. Parents have had to put their lives on hold – especially those who work full-time – to school their kids. Zoom doesn’t cut it unless parents are involved every step of the way. Moreover, kids are suffering not only educationally but emotionally. The lack of socialization may stifle their emotional growth and lead to unwanted behaviors including suicide. Let that be on the consciences of the S.F. school board.
School Board's Irresponsible Behavior
What was so bad that the four members had to step down? Well, you read on and be the judge.
Trustees were awaiting the start of the meeting when they began discussing parents’ letters and social media posts about reopening schools. One member defended herself against a parent who had criticized her on social media for going to a party during the coronavirus pandemic after declaring it wasn’t safe to return to school. “I wasn’t doing anything bad – I honestly don’t care about that part – but are we alone?” she asked the other trustees. “B-----,..If you call me out, I’m going to f---you up.”
“Sorry, that’s just me,” she added. After some laughter, another trustee chimed in to commiserate with others about the growing criticism they’ve faced over closed schools, suggesting parents really want schools to reopen so they get their babysitters back. Another suggested parents wanted their free time for other reasons.
“My brother had a delivery services for medical marijuana. The high clientele were parents with their kids at school. When you have your kids at home,” it’s more difficult to get the marijuana, was the implication.
The remarks were met with swift condemnation, including calls for board’s resignation – including the Oakley mayor.
The question now is what, if anything, to do about not only the Oakley school board but all of the SF school districts that clearly are blocking the return to school of those in pre-K to the 12th grade. I have a grandson in the district and know first-hand about the lack of responsible and caring behavior of the teachers, or at least the teacher’s union, and their lack of concern for the educational achievement, emotional behavior, and wellness of the kids.
Is it Safe to Reopen?
That particular school board has all sorts of reasons to remain closed. They say it’s unsafe. Well, they’ve had a year to make it safe. They say everyone must be vaccinated before each school should reopen, Well, Anthony Fauci, the medical adviser to President Biden and the government’s leading infectious diseases expert, poured cold water on the prospect of every teacher getting vaccinated for the coronavirus before schools reopen. Fauci in an interview on CBS last week expressed support for teachers getting bumped up on the priority list for a shot but said their vaccinations should not be a blanket prerequisite for schools to reopen.
“I think if you are going to say that every single teacher needs to be vaccinated before you get back to school, I believe quite frankly … that that’s a non-workable situation. I think teachers should absolutely be priority among those who we consider essential personnel, and you should try and get as many teachers as you possibly can vaccinated as quickly as you possibly can,” he said.
Suing the School Board
The school boards are so dysfunctional that the city attorney for San Francisco, with the support of mayor London Breed, has sued S.F. United and its school board over prolonged campus closures, saying school leaders “have no meaningful plan” to reopen classrooms.
The lawsuit alleges that school officials have wrongly resisted campus reopening despite public health advice that says it’s safe. “I know this is a drastic step, but I feel we are out of options at this point,” Breed said at a news conference. The lawsuit seeks to compel S.F. Unified schools to reopen, citing state laws that say districts should attempt to do so to the best of their ability.
Changing School Names
There are other actions of the S.F. school board that have those like me shaking our heads about what their priorities are during the pandemic. Board members last month decided former Presidents Lincoln and Washington should no longer have schools named after them and recommended changes. Washington’s name was struck because he held slaves. Lincoln’s because of his politics toward Native Americans. Senator and former SF mayor Dianne Feinstein’s was canceled because over forty years ago she had a confederate flag that was part of a Civic Center display replaced after a protester took it down, a charge that has been refuted.
Calling Out Governor Newsom
I am calling on Governor Gavin Newsom to appoint a special commission to review the behavior of the S.F. Unified school board for their irresponsible behavior and come up with suggestions to make it more accountable to the public. This should include the influence of unions on decision-making. His role as Governor is to protect the public interest and, clearly, the school board and union are failing miserably in that regard.
I don’t hold out much hope that Newsom will do anything meaningful because the unions are huge financial supporters and he can’t risk alienating them. He’s just another politician who has lost sight of their primary responsibility to maintain the public health and welfare during these troubled times and, instead, he and others focus on self-preservation.
Posted by Dr. Steven Mintz, aka Ethics Sage, on February 22, 2021. You can sign up for his newsletter and learn more about his activities at: https://www.stevenmintzethics.com/. Follow him on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/StevenMintzEthics and on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/ethicssage.