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News + PoliticsEducationWhat the big money behind the School Board recall means

What the big money behind the School Board recall means

The very rich who are pouring more than $1 million into getting rid of three board members have an agenda that goes far beyond the San Francisco schools.


Why is a billionaire venture capitalist who has no children but loves charter schools so interested in removing three members of the San Francisco School Board?

I don’t know. But Arthur Rock has given an astonishing $399,500 to one of the recall committees.

Billionaire and charter-school fan Arthur Rock is the biggest donor to the School Board recall effort. Wikimedia Commons image

Why is David Sacks, who once wrote a book attacking diversity on college campuses, so concerned that he gave $75,000?

Why has the California Association of Realtors given almost $90,000?

Why is a group funded by right-wing billionaires and millionaires that was founded to keep progressives off the Board of Supes and keep the mayor in control at City Hall—and is now funding the Chesa Boudin recall—giving $238,000?

Why is there more than $1 million pouring into this recall?

It boggles the mind.

Yes: Some of the money raised by the recall committees has come in small amounts, from parents who are unhappy about the board’s performance during the pandemic.

If you want to get into the details of the data, Will Jarrett at MissionLocal has a pretty deep dive here.

But there’s clearly more going on here than a group of unhappy parents.

A few political takeaways here:

If you set aside the pandemic and the renaming of schools and look at the long term, one of the major issues facing San Francisco Unified School District, and other districts around the country, is the rise of charter schools.

Charter school proponents, led by the likes of Michael Bloomberg and Betsy DeVos, are in essence trying to privatize public education. They want to create a market system where parents get vouchers and can send their kids to private schools or public charters (which typically do not have unionized teachers), starving the public-school system of money.

We all know the outcome: The charters and private schools, which set their own admission policies, will take the students who have the most advantages and need the least help. The public schools will wind up having to educate, with far less money, the most vulnerable populations, who will wind up will lower-quality schools—and economic inequality will get worse, which is fine with the billionaires.

Rock is a big charter-school and voucher proponent.

Again, set aside the pandemic for a moment. The current members of the SF School Board who are facing a recall have been dubious, at best, about charter schools. That may mean a lot more to Rock and his pals that whether Lincoln High School gets a new name.

More: The folks from Neighbors for a Better San Francisco are allies of Mayor London Breed and have supported her candidates for supervisor. Think about it: Where do candidates for SF supervisor come from?

Well …. Matt Haney, Shamann Walton, Eric Mar, and Jane Kim, to name a few recent examples, got their start in electoral politics as members of the SF School Board.

And what happens if three elected members are recalled? Breed gets to appoint their replacements.

Which means she gets to name people who would be in a position to run for supe at some point, if history is any indication. So whatever your position on the COVID schools opening, and the renaming, and Lowell High School admissions, there is more going on with this recall. And it could have lasting implications on local politics and local (and national) education policy.

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Tim Redmond
Tim Redmond
Tim Redmond has been a political and investigative reporter in San Francisco for more than 30 years. He spent much of that time as executive editor of the Bay Guardian. He is the founder of 48hills.


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