Alison Collins’ Wednesday lawsuit vs. the San Francisco Unified School District and five of her Board of Education colleagues was so convoluted that it forced everyone to create a word problem of the sort we endured in junior high school to tally up its monetary demands.
If Alison sues the San Francisco Unified School District, City and County of San Francisco and five fellow school board commissioners, and seeks $12 million in general damages from each defendant and $3 million in punitive damages from each board member defendant, what are the total damages sought?
The trick here is that, while it’s confusingly worded, “City and County of San Francisco” isn’t actually a party to this suit (so far). So the equation looks something like this: 6($12 million) + 5($3 million) = $87 million.
The lawsuit was not delivered by a train leaving Cleveland at 60 miles per hour. Alas. You can’t have everything.
Reading through Collins’ complaint, however, she may end up with nothing. This lawsuit is an amazing document, and not in a good way — and all the more so because three different law firms were involved in its crafting. That’s on par with four writers being credited with the screenplay of Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights.
The legal text is scattered with biblical scripture and inspirational sayings of the sort one would expect to find on cross-stitch samplers; it opens, unsubtly, with the recitation of the illustrious Pastor Martin Niemöller quote regarding acquiescence in the face of Nazi atrocities.
This is an odd and grating choice in both style and substance: Whatever the hell is going on with our schools and our Board of Education, it’s not exactly as bad as Hitler.
Nor is this lawsuit. But it’s still bad: There are typos and misspelled names and nonsensical turns of phrase (“beyond a pixel of a doubt”) and pages upon pages of cut-and-pasted, irrelevant court decisions with the Westlaw citations still embedded within them.
But, more substantively, it’s bad on facts. And bad on law. And that’s just plain bad.
But, first, the backstory.
The year 2020 was rough for everyone. But for the school board, it was the 2020 of rough years.
There was the vote to rename 44 schools, despite provably deficient historical research, an arbitrary and sloppy process from the renaming committee, and despite the fact that, you know, all the schools are closed. There was the acrimonious decision to scrap the merit-based entrance system at Lowell High School. And there is the long-running misery regarding the city’s shuttered schools, spaced-out Zoom students, declining enrollment, parents’ (read: mothers’) imploding careers and the school board’s deliberate decision to not bring in a consultant to form pandemic plans.
And then, in March, 2021, came Alison Collins’ tweets.
The Dec. 4, 2016, tweetstorm — written two years before Collins was elected to the school board — laments anti-Black and anti-brown attitudes and behaviors at San Francisco public schools and, particularly, in among Asians. But, in doing so, Collins — the only Black woman on the school board — deployed sweeping generalizations that Asian Americans felt played into reductive stereotypes and negative tropes.
These tweets were unearthed by extreme partisans mounting a recall effort of Collins and two of her colleagues, and vehemently opposed to altering the status quo at Lowell. This was neither an organic nor a good-faith effort; the tweets were, additionally, dropped during a glut of anti-Asian violence, resulting in inevitable conflations of words written in pre-Trump 2016 and the volatile, post-Trump situation on the ground in 2021.
That was unfortunate. As was the decision by media outlets to reflexively label the tweets “racist,” and preclude a more complex discussion. It’s also unfortunate that partisan operatives essentially dictated a story and forced everyone to react.
But Collins’ behavior in 2021, at which time she is an elected official and overseeing a plurality-Asian school system, was perhaps the most unfortunate of all. Numerous Asian elected officials and/or community leaders said Collins either blew them off or was dismissive and defensive. Calls for her resignation soon grew nigh-unanimous among city leaders, who long ago lost patience with the Board of Education. On March 25, Collins’ school board colleagues voted to strip her of her title of vice president and her committee positions — though, it should be noted, not remove her from the board altogether.
Après ça, le déluge.
So that’s the backstory. But it’s at this point that, to employ a very technical legal term, the cheese slips off the plaintiff’s cracker. Because, reading through the suit, it well and truly appears to claim that the school board’s March 25 vote was the culmination of a conspiracy — perhaps a years-long conspiracy.
The suit recounts several lengthy 2016 instances of Collins and other Black public school parents speaking out against anti-Black and anti-brown attitudes and bullying.
And then this:
For all the world, this reads as if a group of future school board commissioners, who hadn’t been seated yet in 2016, hatched a conspiracy to sink Collins, who also hadn’t been elected or seated yet. Several of them would, in fact, endorse her in 2018.
And even if it’s just convoluted and poorly written and the alleged conspiracy didn’t commence until more recently, it’s still nonsensical. Three of the defendants who voted to bump Collins out of the VP slot also voted along with her to end merit-based admissions at Lowell.
It certainly must come as a surprise to Commissioner Kevine Boggess, who is a Black parent, to learn that he was party to a conspiracy to discredit Collins due to her advocacy for Black parents. Just as it must come as a jolt to Commissioner Mark Sanchez, a Latino, to discover he had it in for Collins due to her work on behalf of Latinos.
But it grows more nonsensical still: It wasn’t Collins’ colleagues on the Board of Education who “launched a scorched earth (sic) search for evidence to silence Ms. Collins, including raiding the Twitter account of Ms. Collins” (insofar as one can “raid” items posted on social media for all to see). And it wasn’t the school district writ large doing this.
It was the pro-recall, pro-merit-based Lowell partisans, who admitted it and even boasted about it.
God help us, but a lawsuit demanding $87 million in damages from a cash-strapped school system that hasn’t even managed to open its buildings, let alone properly ventilate them, doesn’t seem to know who it’s suing.
Perhaps the relevant documents were lost on that train from Cleveland.
Your humble narrator reviewed Collins’ suit with half a dozen Constitutional scholars. They were not amused.
“This isn’t really a lawsuit,” summed up UC Davis law professor Ash Bhagwat. “It’s more of an op-ed pretending to be a lawsuit.”
Among the more minor problems with this problematic suit is that Collins’ attorneys describe the school district, which pays board members $500 a month, as her “employer” — and structure their technical claims thusly. And yet, state law expressly exempts “persons elected by popular vote” from the definition of “public school employee.”
The suit’s defamation-like claims also baffled law professors; Collins’ colleagues are free to label her or her tweets as “racist,” if that’s how they see it (and vote accordingly). Collins, moreover, is a public figure — rendering the burden of winning on a defamation-like claim nigh-impossible.
“If Jerry Falwell can’t get damages for Hustler magazine and Larry Flynt saying he lost his virginity to his mother in an outhouse, I don’t know how she will recover from her fellow politicians saying ‘we think this was a racist statement and we don’t agree with it,’” summed up San Francisco State political science professor Nick Conway, a former attorney and administrative law judge.
Similarly, Collins’ claim of “intentional infliction of emotional distress” from her colleagues struck scholars as bizarre in the context of elected office. “This is absurd,” said Joel Paul, a UC Hastings professor. “You can’t complain when people express opinions about you that are hostile. That is part of the job of a public official.”
So, those are the smaller problems. A bigger, Constitutional problem is in Collins’ claim that she was denied due process and deprived of her property in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment. A government employee’s job is, in fact, considered “property” — but, remember, Collins didn’t lose her “job,” only her titles. She is still being paid, and is still voting (she even voted on the resolution stripping her of her titles).
Collins is entitled to be on the Board of Education; the voters put her there. But she is not entitled to any specific position on that board, especially a position chosen through an internal vote of board members. So, those claims crumble.
As does Collins’ overarching claim that her First Amendment rights have been trampled. Yes, there are Supreme Court cases protecting public employees from retaliation for their personal speech. “But that doesn’t apply to policymaking employees,” explains Zachary Price, a UC Hastings professor. “She’s more like a legislator. And legislators, I’m sure, get stripped of committee assignments all the time based on things they say.”
Indeed they do, and you don’t have to hunt far and wide for a germane example. In 2007, after Supervisor Chris Daly insinuated that Mayor Gavin Newsom was a coke fiend, Board President Aaron Peskin removed Daly from the consequential position of Budget Committee chair, stating that friction between Daly and the mayor’s office had grown untenable.
Daly did not sue his colleagues on First Amendment grounds and demand scores of millions of dollars. That would have been ridiculous: Deliberative bodies such as the Board of Supervisors and Board of Education are entitled to select the committee members, presidents and vice presidents of their choosing — or unselect them, as it were. Simply put, deliberative bodies tend to choose the leaders who reflect their preferred ideologies or worldviews. This is often a political matter. But it’s hardly revelatory that there’s politics involved in politics.
There’s also a relatively recent legal precedent that spells this out expressly — and is so analogous to the Collins case that it nearly beggars belief. That would be the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals’ 2010 ruling in the Blair vs. Bethel School District matter.
In this case, an elected member of the Bethel District (Washington) School Board named Ken Blair was stripped of his title of vice president in a vote of his colleagues, and then turned around and filed a suit claiming he was being retaliated against for his protected First Amendment activity.
Yes, that’s astoundingly similar: An outspoken school board vice president voted out of his position by his colleagues, but who remains a voting member of the board, and sues on First Amendment grounds.
He didn’t demand $87 million, no, but this is downright eerie.
And Blair lost. At every level. The 9th Circuit panel ruled that Blair’s First Amendment rights were not chilled, and his colleagues were entitled to strip him of his leadership position in favor of a “vice president who better represented the board’s majority view.”
The ruling finds that while “the First Amendment protects Blair’s discordant speech as a general matter; it does not, however, immunize him from the political fallout of what he says.”
And furthermore: “The Board’s action didn’t prevent Blair from continuing to speak out, vote his conscience, and serve his constituents as a member of the Board … [but] the First Amendment doesn’t shield public figures from the give-and-take of the political process.”
Blair (unsuccessfully) filed his suit under the very same federal statute Collins is deploying: 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Fascinating.
“If I was an attorney for the School Board,” says S.F. State’s Conway, “this is the first case I’d cite.”
So, that’s the good, the bad, and the ugly of this lawsuit. But, truth be told, there seems to be plenty more of the latter two.
“A lot of stuff in here seems highly extraneous,” sums up Bhagwat. “It makes one think the audience is not just the courts.”
If the legal experts are correct, the courts won’t think much of this lawsuit. So, it remains to be seen what the general public makes of it.
As such, we’ll learn how city residents respond to a suit aiming to siphon $87 million from San Francisco’s school system.
A prediction: Not charitably.
“Let me put it to you this way,” says Conway. “I have represented families of people who have been executed by the police in misconduct cases. And even in those cases we didn’t get a sniff near $87 million.”
George Floyd’s family, in fact, agreed to a $27 million settlement.
Collins has truly overachieved in personifying and popularizing a recall initiated by fringe political forces. This is part of why so many left-leaning figures had called for her to step down.
In the meantime, San Francisco students and parents eagerly await the day they can return to school in-person for truncated daily schedules, and from only two to four days a week. It’s a major haul to get everything into place in the coming days. And now, a school board, which has not exactly acquitted itself with distinction, is in the midst of tearing itself apart.
It’s going to get worse before it gets better. That appears to be beyond a pixel of a doubt.
Collins has now been recalled. The people have spoken.
Collins is married to real estate developer Chris Collins, a principal at Urban Pacific Development, LLC. She is the owner of a consulting company, Falcon Pacific LLC, which receives income from Urban Pacific. Wikipedia.
Joe Eskanazi, how dare you claim that the Recall BOE movement was started by “fringe” Asian “partizans” when you rightfully stated that Collins was “an elected official and overseeing a plurality-Asian school system.” That’s a racist framing of this matter. A plurality of voters are not “fringe”! Collins couldn’t have gotten elected if Asians didn’t vote for her! But then she turned around and bit the hands that fed her by pushing for a truly PARTISAN vote to end Lowell’s merit-based admissions, a racist PARTIZAN attack against Asians and another clear example of her brand of Black on Asian racism (which helped fuel all the Black on Asian violence were now witnessing). Then she doubles down on anti-Asian racism by suggesting that Asians themselves are racists for calling her out on her racist tweets and Lowell vote! Outrageous gaslighting. Collins seem to think that because she’s Black she can’t be racist and can’t be called out for racism. Wrong! Hey, Alison Collins, you’re an anti-Asian RACIST!
This was a well-written, enjoyable read. Thank you.
In this digital age of zeros and ones, it seems that culture has followed suit.
Everything is black and white, good or evil.
Except that life is made of grey.
Nuance is essential to understanding otherwise the mob rules.
This woman is awful.
Still trying to wrap my head around her unapologetic explicit anti-Asian bias in a school district with 30-40% Asian kids. Most of those kids are not from affluent demographics. Maybe she can’t see that from her Russian Hill perch? Even harder to wrap my head around is her kids appear to be triracial, just as much Asian as African American. Dissing or even erasure of her kids’ (and husband’s) heritage is not a good look now and will age even worse. Is she so self-absorbed she doesn’t see how extra crazy her accusations against an African American school board member/parent look?
Wow. Allison Collins, you should be really ashamed of yourself. THIS WILL BE YOUR LEGACY. This selfish ridiculous lawsuit will forever be linked to your ruined reputation. No one will ever take anything you say or do seriously. And stop with these ridiculous tweets about conspiracy theories, what you are again saying is you think you know better than parents in the district. You could’ve just gone down with the sinking ship that is the SF BOE, but no…you had to stand out, and now all eyes are on you. What a failure, what a disgrace, what a soiled legacy, and what an utter embarrassment for your kids.
As someone who has superficially dealt with Alison Collins before she became a commissioner on the BOE, I can say that she treated me like “The Help” and like I was a person of very little value. That’s why I was so shocked when she made reference to “the help.” I wasn’t arguing with her but I couldn’t get one single word in edgewise and the conversation and “collaboration” was all for her. She is quick to bring up her own children and drag them out to make her own point, but if you dare bring up her kids she gets very abusive. She is a person who has abused power and I’m saddened that she is still in office.
This horrible woman got a principal fired and then showed off about it on Twitter. Was there a restorative process for the principal? Did the principal have a family to support? Collins is a wannabe activist living in a mansion with a developer husband. Somehow she has become a hero for poor Black people? How desperate are they for leaders?
No school board should destroy one of the best performing schools in the U.S. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Lowell motivated kids to work hard. Rewards matter. Recall Collins. What she did to Lowell was evil. She did it based on someone, somewhere saying something racist on a blog. Her apology was insincere if she’s suing.
Can’t wait for this whole episode to be used as pretext to revoke our right to democratically elect school board members….
I completely appreciate the thoroughness of your article as you covered the good, bad and ugly of the lawsuit. It was such a great read and I’ll follow your work in the future. I like how you engage with readers in the comments and I chuckled when you called one careless reader “champ” for passing over the information you’d provided. However, I think your take on the inception of the BOE recall effort is facile and dismissing. Come on champ, you’re better than that!
@Melissa – Click on the “Families for SF” embedded link in the Engardio blog post linked above. Engardio’s post was promoted by Raj on Twitter. Raj also promoted a “TogetherSF” – who are Yimby backers – BOE forum, which took place the same day as Raj’s recall announcement. Following the link you can find “Families for SF” announcing their spin-off PAC, “Better Public Schools” – and their statement that they were creating the new PAC due to the fact that for “several months” they had been focusing primarily on a BOE recall effort. “Several months” would be September 2020, which I think was before Raj had even moved to SF.
“Families for SF”, a Yimby funded 501c4 that can endorse candidates – spearheaded the recall in 2020. Raj’s claim that he’s not affiliated with any political group is *facile*. Look at his twitter (especially the time surrounding his recall announcement on Feb. 16), he’s a Yimby, through and through.
I don’t know why Yimby brass is so bent on taking out three BOE committee members. Maybe they’re former teachers, or have young kids? Or maybe they’re pissed about the school renamings? Maybe all of the above, plus some. I don’t know.
The political class in SF can never see anything outside of the paradigm of progressives v. moderates. If they spent anytime in public school parent chat groups, they would know that parents across the political spectrum are feeling desperate and irate at a school board who is condescending and dismissive of their concerns.
@Otto – Regardless of Raj’s non-political claims or SF paradigms, the recall’s inception does not lie with him. That is an easily substantiated fact.
Most frustrated parents would look to pressure a school board to re-open schools, not create a recall petition a month after they started complaining on Twitter, and two months after they moved to town.
Raj’s first tweet from his ‘Recall’ Twitter account was Feb. 16. His personal Twitter account during the month prior bears an influence of multiple partisan political operatives; operatives who walk lockstep with “Families for SF.”
Thanks JE for a great article. Just want to add that this whole sad situation is further pitting Black Vs Asian. Damage done.
racist? well, she was trying to make a valid point about conflicts between groups based on skin color and heritage–but if someone had called HER those names, she would have punched them right in the nose while we all held her coat. so, yes.
Maybe she and others should focus a little less on race and a little more on, you know, things like quality and achievement?
mature? in service to others? honest/humble? We’d be better off to hand leadership over to the Kinders.
SFUSD has long been a swamp. Loquacious Mayor comments “this is embarrassing”-And for once, I concur. Same profoundly “embarrassing”, disappointing & shameful as when the CAO office just sued SFUSD. Attention seeking political BS stunts our children/futures good growth and deepens the divide we whine about. Whats the opposite of a Good Govt Award? lets vote.
ax Denbigh and all who feel thatawy as we all do sometime …
“That’s on par with four writers being credited with the screenplay of Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights. ” I may laugh all night over that line.
Thank you and thank you to Peter Sagal.
Changing Lowell hurt thousands of families who had sacrificed effort and time worth hundreds of thousands each to let in kids who didn’t try. She doesn’t want equality for black and Latino kids. She never supported charter schools which help black kids achieve. She blew off the idea of spending only half the increase on teacher salary increase and the other half to tutor low income black and Latino kids 3 hours a week. She never made a speech urging black kids to study as many hours as Asian kids, which they don’t, which they could and choose not to to do more fun things. She called people racist for just saying black kids study less when all teachers know this. She should have urged black kids to study 20+ hours a week to prove the content of their character so many in the 60s died for them to prove. If you study 5 hours a week and don’t read all summer and watch shows and play video games the content of your character is mediocre. More Asians prove high content of character than whites by their actions. Ali Collins never discussed the fact that Asians tried harder and tried to come up with a plan for the kids in elementary and middle school who don’t study and the kids whose parents don’t teach them to learn from those who do prioritize school to become Tiger Parents and Tiger Kids and study very hard to earn a spot in the middle class. In America, if you don’t study long hours and are poor you have to stay poor. It takes effort, tremendous effort, to move up. She never advocated black kids work harder and there’s no way outside of fantasy land you can have educational equality without effort equality. She’s an idiot if she thinks blacks can get an equal education without equal sacrifice. Maybe one will be a genius, but among thousands, you won’t have equal test scores, grades and adult income and college graduation without equal study hours over childhood. She hurt thousands of kids who earned a spot at Lowell worse than a carjacking. She is a bad person who hurt everyone. She just wants attention. She showed no curiosity how people succeed. She follows a dumb, outdated narrative of individual without studying group effort dynamics. She should have convinced more blacks to do what it takes to get into Lowell with the old colorblind meritocratic system. She never once admitted black kids study less or black men abandon their kids more or black parents teach their kids less than Asians, which everyone knows is true.
You name the problem they are trying to solve: One need not sacrifice one’s youth to get into Lowell to have a chance at a middle class life.
Americans want kids to be and live as kids, not get their start in the cut throat capitalist sweatshop at an early age. There were broad social movements that addressed child labor. Those movements prevailed and contributed to making the middle class which attracted so much migration.
Dude, I mean Person, you decidedly do not speak for “Americans.”
In reviewing the ethnic makeup at Lowell, Lopez and Collins are correct to point out a huge disparity of the ethnic makeup of the school: 1.7% Black, and 10.4% Hispanic.
But they fail to acknowledge that it is up to students and their parents to apply to this high academic school. The variables which need to be shown are how many qualified Blacks and Hispanics applied and what percentage was admitted based on academic credentials?
The other question that needs to be asked is do they want to be there? In looking at the chronic absenteeism rate for Lowell, Black students are 40% chronically absent.
Greg, those demographic numbers for Lowell are not out of line, given that blacks are about 3% of SF population, and Hispanics are about 12%.
And not every school has to exactly mirror SF racial demographics anyway, given that schools skew towards local populations.
Thank you. I don’t have anything else to add because you said it all…and well.
Collins’ whole loud and longstanding shtick is about poor Black students not getting a fair shake when in reality it boils down to how much time and work a student puts in hitting the books.
“In the first place God made idiots. This was for practice. Then he made school boards.” ― Mark Twain
Alison Collins is a Racist & Bigot she needs to be removed
She is but does not know it. Standing up for one minority group does not mean you can’t be racist against others. You can try to help one group without having to tear down everyone else.
“There may be people who are partisan and support the recall…”
Ya think? Maybe this whole thing was spearheaded by a certain San Francisco PAC? Maybe the SF Republican Party is playing a furtive hand?
Could be the Trump loving Epoch Times will weigh in any minute.
Siva Raj is a pawn in the game. A recent transplant who seems to love the limelight. A guy who thinks SF was born from a start up, who writes of the “tyranny of nimbys”, and who laments billionaires sidestepping feces. Someone who has little concept of how SF plays the game.
Diane Yap’s views on Blacks are archaic. She undoubtedly is “vehemently opposed to altering the status quo at Lowell.” She absolutely has bandied about the concepts of “critical race theory” and “equity.” She is the perfect example of, as @marcos theorized, the heir “to those who sued to blow up the desegregation consent decree.” (Ho vs. SFUSD)
Collins gave the highly partisan recall groups a political gift, and you
don’t see it. As Joe states, they were gunning for not one but three committee members, and that was months before Collins’ tweets came to light. Conflation? Nah. Big money, opportunistic groups? Yeah, they know how to play the game. One down, two to go.
I am writing as an SFUSD parent to voice my incredulity at the recent lawsuit filed by SFUSD School Board member Alison Collins. My studious Latina daughter was attacked and stolen from in an SFUSD high school and not by Asian-American or white students of which there were very few. I did everything I could as a parent to protect her, including contacting the school administration repeatedly to air our grievances, and exercising our free speech in thoughtful and caring ways. The administration took no meaningful action. Quite a few of her classes were chaotic and teachers spent a good portion of the class time addressing behavior issues ranging from distracting to violent. Fortunately, my daughter is tough and got through it to go on to higher education and a meaningful and challenging professional life serving her community. But in college she felt the glaring gaps in her high school education and had to work hard to overcome them by utilizing every available resource. Other students from her background didn’t do as well. Some had to drop out after having a taste of their and their families’ dreams of high education; they just didn’t have the academic preparation necessary to succeed. This was not only heartbreaking for the students but for their families as well, who had invested so much hope in their children’s education and trusted the schools to educate their children while working multiple jobs and caring for extended family.
One particular grievance was that her teachers at SFUSD again and again asked her to “teach” the other students in her classes who were struggling. She did it because she is the type of person who wants to help. But having to fill that role compromised her own academic aspirations while leaving her feeling that her teaching wasn’t really helping anyone. At the time, I explained to her that young people are shaped by the family and societal circumstances they grow up in and that we need to be sensitive to that, that we need to work towards lifting everyone up. I explained that teachers are overworked and doing their best in most cases. She voiced her concerns that her role was not to be a substitute teacher, and that she also had a right to an education suited to her needs, but nonetheless embraced the perspective.
My daughter was pointing to systemic issues at SFUSD that need to be addressed by its leadership. By the time she was a high school junior, I was no longer able to help her with her advanced math and science courses in spite of my college education and I didn’t want to hold her back. I assume this is a situation many parents find themselves in: Many parents don’t have the resources or time to ensure their kids are well taken care of at school, and we depend upon the public school system to educate our students, and also to teach them tolerance and the skills to co-exist with others in kind and supportive ways and advocate on behalf of those who have suffered injustices. We need both; unfortunately, SFUSD often falls short on both fronts.
Many Asian (not a monolithic group, by the way, though Ms. Collins seems to think so) parents are struggling just like everyone else. Why wouldn’t we support all parents in their efforts to ensure their kids have a solid education? Why wouldn’t we work toward engaging all parents in discussions of race and equity?
As an advocate for public education, I am appalled that Ms. Collins would file this lawsuit, especially at a time when SFUSD schools, staff, students and parents are struggling so much. (Although, frankly, I would find the lawsuit appalling during better times, too.) It raises many questions. Will any student or teacher benefit from the lawsuit, or is it simply an exercise in personal vindication. Should a school board member not experience some consequence for maligning an ethnic group? If a board member had posted tweets similar to Ms. Collins’s but replaced Asians with Latinos (or any other group), would not we all still be justifiably outraged?
Ms. Collins’s lawsuit is an expensive distraction from the pressing issues at hand: opening schools, promoting equity in education and a spirit of working together, and moving towards a better school system where ALL students receive a high quality education in safe and supportive environments. (I assume I don’t even need to mention the crumbling shared books my daughter had in her classes, or the unhealthy school lunches.)
As people who don’t have the time or money to wage lawsuits, Ms. Collins doesn’t speak for me or many other current and former SFUSD parents. I don’t want my hard earned tax dollars to go towards her lawsuit if she is successful. I want my money to go towards a functioning school district. Ms. Collins cannot fix the deeply entrenched public education problems in SF via her lawsuit. I hope she will apply her intellectual gifts and passions, as well as her family’s ample financial resources towards the greater good, and find less hurtful and more inclusive ways of doing her work as a school board member. I spent hours writing this post with the help of a friend who is a strong writer on top of working 10-12 hours some days. I will no doubt be attacked by some as an example of a privileged parent who is out of touch. That is quite far from the truth.
Little bear, thank you for writing so eloquently about your daughter’s journey. It’s almost identical to mine. My daughter is currently in college and majors in science. However, the education in SFUSD she received truly can not compare to those who are from private schools. More than once she told me how Common Core Math has held her back. When she was in high school, disruptive classroom behavior was common at her school, and she too, had to “teach” others. Just like you, we taught her the value of social interaction and tolerance in public education, but now she is seeing herself behind her peers in college. It makes one cynical to think that our public school system holds back some kids while the rich and elite can easily have their children inherit high-earning, exciting STEM careers.
Collins’ actions speak louder than her beliefs. She has demonstrated a type of diva persona in the woke world. If she was misunderstood, instead of writing clearly again and again to appeal to the general public to convey her sentiment and real intent, she sues. She comes across as the privileged diva that you’d think she would abhor, and we can only laugh. Does she really care about numerous working-class families and their kids lamenting the loss of hope that one day they can attend Lowell and feel inspired and challenged instead of being in a continuously disruptive learning environment? Obviously not. She saw a rigorous and safe school that allowed mostly Asian kids to thrive, and she felt compelled to dismantle it.
“One particular grievance was that her teachers at SFUSD again and again asked her to “teach” the other students in her classes who were struggling.”
Christ… Glad your daughter was able to move onto higher education. Although my partner and I are both products of public education in SF, we are putting both our kids in private school starting this fall.
EVERYONE I know and I mean literally EVERYONE is trying like crazy to get their kids out of SFUSD.There are no academics in that entire school district. All it has is drama, fiscal waste (more than a Billion bucks a year for that dumpster fire) and wasted student talent and opportunities. Every single scoundrel that works on Franklin Street (which is pretty much everyone there) should be fired and held accountable for dereliction of duties.
Thank you for sharing your child and your experience with SFUSD. Many others share similar sentiments. SFUSD should be establishing meaningful partnerships with all the Bay Area Universities to bring college student tutors for SFUSD students. They should also provide access to after school programs similar to Kumon to continue to help build and improve on the low English and Math proficiency scores our Black and Hispanic have achieved. It can also look to provide access to IXL type of online supports as well. They should provide single and non-English speaking parents more support through parent mentorship to help them better engage in their children’s academic progress and achievement. But the SFUSD is too busy engaging in politics, race wars, and doing nothing but implementing useless cosmetic changes that do not really help make a difference. Things need to change now…and quick for the sake of our students and parents if we are to see progress.
Littlebear, thank you for your thoughtful comment. Far from being out of touch, I feel your experience and opinion echoes that of many, many parents and families at SFUSD, who tend not to speak very loudly but do see what is happening around them, or us, I should say. I am sorry your daughter had that experience and am glad she succeeded in college. It is a disservice to students when they are effectively used as “substitute teachers”, which, I may be wrong but, seems to be a built in feature to the common core, at least in math classes where students are placed in groups for “problem solving”. In middle school my daughter was initially at a table where she said everyone could do the work, and the next week every student at that table was placed at different tables; she was instructed to help her table mates if she finished her work. She declared at the end of the semester that she learned nothing and hated math. I am not certain the teachers are aware what they are doing to students who want to learn, and can do more. I empathize that sometimes the classes are rowdy and much time is spent on just behavior, but there needs to be a solution that involves helping kids that need it and challenging kids that can do more. I don’t understand why it is inequitable to provide differentiated teaching to meet students at their level. But I digress. At the end of the day, it shouldn’t be about race; that just makes everyone angry and takes away from the actual needs of the students. Ironically AC’s lawsuit will probably now fuel racial tensions between Black and Asian students even further.
@Littlebear. You and your family are a gift to our district. As an immigrant and as someone who has experienced prejudice and bigotry myself I am deeply impressed with how beautifully you articulate the principles that should guide us- justice and fairness. Victimization and personal vendettas are useless responses to inequity. Moral courage and clarity of purpose elevate us. Thank you for playing your part. I hope when Alison Collins term expires you consider taking this role.
My daughters 1st grade SFUSD classroom is going to be in person, 5 days a week, 8:30-1:30pm, starting Apr 19. Technically it is a truncated schedule (pre-pandemic school ended at 2:40) but “two to four days” is factually incorrect.
That’s great! Most schools seem to be going 2 days, with an A & B group. At least ours is …
The article refers to “extreme partisans mounting a recall effort of Collins and two of her colleagues, and vehemently opposed to altering the status quo at Lowell.” There may be people who are partisan and support the recall and are vehemently opposed to changing the Lowell application process… but the recall movement is not partisan and is not even about Lowell. Please don’t conflate the two things.
Joe, I just want to point out that underneath the title of your story you have this: Eerily similar 2010 precedent does not bode well for embattled S.F. Board of Education commissioner. The year should be changed from 2010 to 2016.
Thank you for keeping an eye out for me.
But I am referring to the 2010 precedent: The 9th Circuit Court’s “Blair” ruling.
I am so relieved to read your article, Joe, as I thought I might be the only person not supporting her. Starting from the beginning when she said her comments were “taken out of context” I could not envision any context in which they would be justified. And now this outlandish lawsuit. It is depressing to see the Progressive community rally (literally) behind her. No one who cared enough to run for the board should be destroyed financially over their opposition and taxpayers should not have to carry the burden of lawyers’ fees to defend SF.
“No one who cared enough to run for the School Board…” Would that it were so. For too many candidates, the School Board is just a stepping stone to a larger political career.
Joe Eskenazi is the modern day San Franciscan Charles Dickens. I really enjoyed this article.
Let’s ignore this and turn media attention to single-minded pressure on ensuring that BOE commits to all SFUSD kids are back to school day one of fall. The writing is brilliant, articulate and insightful, and I really appreciate understanding AC’s depth of greed and self-absorption. But the essence of the situation is that it’s all a publicity stunt for a political celebrity hopeful…if she doesn’t get attention she’ll wilt, and the machinations of due process will squash the suit for all the salient reasons outlined here.
18th century English polymath Samuel Johnson said: “When a man [sic] knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully.”
Johnson forgot to add, “otherwise they lose their mind, flailing in the tumbril, lashing out in a desperate attempt to deny the inevitable.”
Another breathtaking article from Joe. It only gets better with the great comments (from different perspectives) . A+ reporting on the dysfunctional family that is the School Board. We clearly can’t elect competent people to this board, so lets recall them, change the voter election aspect, and have the mayor do a do-over. (while calling out those who endorsed Collins in the first place – its a long list!)
Mr. Eskenazi, you said, “the decision by media outlets to reflexively label the tweets “racist,” and preclude a more complex discussion [was unfortunate]. It’s also unfortunate that partisan operatives essentially dictated a story and forced everyone to react. ”
I feel like you’re trying to obfuscate the simple truth here:
1. There were tweets made by Alison Collins
2. The press published those tweets.
3. Virtually everyone considers them racist.
There’s no narrative being pushed by the anti-Collins side…
The “story” being told by “partisan operatives” is literally, “Here are some tweets by Alison Collins”
Mr. Eskenazi, you stated the “tweets were unearthed by extreme partisans mounting a recall effort”. and “a recall initiated by fringe political forces”
Um, no. (1) The tweets were unearthed by an Asian American woman who lives in San Francisco and supports the recall effort and was offended by the tweets, but she isn’t mounting the recall herself. And (2) what definition of ‘partisan’ and ‘fringe’ are you using? These are parents who think that SFUSD should have a plan to educate children. This isn’t the Republican-led Recall Newsom campaign. This isn’t even the somewhat-political Recall Chesa campaign, which is more focused on policy/criminal justice reform/etc. This is just parents in San Francisco who want their public schools to open. And if I had to guess, mostly, these the same people who voted for Mayor Breed, Scott Weiner and Gavin Newsom. Not sure how that could be considered ‘partisan’ or ‘fringe’.
Also, I think considering how you portrayed the recall campaign, you had a journalistic duty to at least ask them for comment. Siva/Autumn (the actual people behind the recall) have literally said they will do interviews with ANYONE who asks. Doesn’t matter how small the news org or whether they agree/disagree on the issue. Please re-evaluate how you portray San Francisco parents who just want a good education for their children.
Thank you for that comment. As a SF parent, completely agree with your points.
Tweets were unearthed by the conservative Chinese Americans who are the political heirs to those who sued to blow up the desegregation consent decree and who now have the gall to play the race card on mere language.
The degree of anti-Black hatred at play here is only eclipsed by the opportunistic sensitivity of the right wingers who that are fanning the flames.
Eh, to be fair, it’s only that Allison Collins happens to be black that you can call it anti black hatred.
At this point, it’s just anti-Allison Collins, unless you think everyone else that’s black that called for her resignation is anti-black.
Collins tweeted about the tensions with Asian kids that her kids faced as Black students in the SFUSD.
I guess the only thing worse than denying tensions between Blacks and Chinese Americans, between the permanent US underclass and more recent migrant newcomers, is trying to shift the blame onto Blacks.
she used clearly racist invective to denigrate an entire community of people who she is responsible for representing. come off it man!
She tweeted her and her kids’ lived experience as a private citizen.
Quit trying to cloak your anti-blackness in woke anti-racism.
But then she went on to call Asian Americans ‘house n****s’. How would you feel if I go from condemning black people who have been caught on camera assaulting Asian Americans, and then go on to call blacks ‘n****s’?
As far as the entirety of the political class that got paid to steward San Francisco to where it is now demanding Collins resign, they’ll do what they’re told to because, after all, VC Lives Matter.
so its anti black hatred for a group to take offense at being called “house Ni553rs”? the mental gymnastics youre practicing are truly world class. and before you go claiming that its a malcolm x quote just stop. A multimillionaire, half white, political grifter is not malcolm x no matter how hard you wish it to be so.
More anti-asian hate speech.
“More anti-asian hate speech.”
Nice effort to cloak conservative Chinese American anti-blackness in pan-Asianism. I’m not seeing Japanese-, Indian-, Thai-, Vietnamese-, Laotian-, Korean- or Tibetan-Americans running alongside the KKK and nazis in opposing desegregation.
These are conservative Chinese Americans blowing up desegregation and raging as Lowell is being desegregated so that it finally looks like San Francisco.
Allison Collins sends her own kids to Ruth Asawa School of the Arts- the whitest high school in the city, where white students are 3X overrepresented. How come she , or you, never agitated to make SOTA ‘look like San Francisco’?
Marcos, do you notice black kids on average don’t study as many hours as Asian kids? Do you think they should have to sacrifice those hours to have equal income as adults? Can you honestly claim black kids don’t have the ability to study more and choose not to study as much as Asians?
So criticism of a black person being racist about Asians is itself racist?
Only white people can be racist, right?
I want a good education for all students in SFUSD. Let’s start by addressing the 12.4% Math proficiency, 19.7% English proficiency problem we have with Black students in the system. We can begin by getting them into the classroom, because there is a high incident of chronic absenteeism (e.g. Washington High has 45% chronically absent). Then we can assess the impact of single parent family struggles where 64% of Black students in the US live in single parent families). Let’s start with addressing root cause societal issues and then provide the supports needed to help. Rather than pull the race card, blame, and be entitled, and bring down academic standards or poo poo the success of those who worked hard to achieve academic success.
A return to your usual high quality reporting.
Tweets were racist, unless racialized, negative generalizations about groups of people are now allowed. This woman is just an egomaniac. She somehow convinced Black families in Bayview that she was one of them, just like how Trump convinced working class white folks that he was one of them. It’s almost funny.
When are reporters going to write about her consulting work for her husband’s company? When are you going to talk about how little actual teaching experience this person really has? Dig deeper. This person is a fraud.
I truly love these sorts of articles primarily for the comments. The district has been a hot mess for a while, where were these parents then? They weren’t concerned because they’re largely single issue parents whose primary engagement with their school focuses on raising as much money as possible via the PTA so their children have what they need. Who care if Black and Latino children can actually read and achieve. These parents are mad due to the changes to Lowell’s admissions. But please, continue to explain to me how Black Lives Matter.
Collins called the Lowell parents racist on a hot mic. She didn’t apologize. Most people are sympathetic to having more Black and Latino kids attend Lowell. Changing the rules in the middle of a race is blatantly unfair. Rather than having the board use Covid as an excuse to abandon existing requirements, a well thought out policy with the backing of all stakeholders and a future implementation date that didn’t impact current Lowell applicants playing by the rules would have been much wiser. The Lowell fiasco is similar to the renaming of the schools disaster, an insular board with monopoly power dictacted policy without any public input or support. Collins has no one to blame but herself for her inflammatory rhetoric and poor leadership.
Her views and statements about Asian students, teachers, and parents have been repeated. It’s not a single incident in 2016. That was her then, and it is her today. We don’t need a racist, Anti-Asian School Board Member overseeing policy making decisions that impact the single largest ethnic group of students in the SFUSD.
Most parents in public schools are busy working parents. They put trust in a school system that is supposed to have the best interests of their kids in mind. To state that when parents raise money for the PTA it is only for their own kids and thus they don’t care about other people’s children seems far fetched. All parents want their kids to do well, and if those kids have the work ethic to get into Lowell and take AP Calculus, good for them. You can care about BLM and your own kids. That’s not mutually exclusive.
All Lives Matter , the academics differs based on economics , and family dynamics. It is important to note that there are few Asian Single Mothers in SF compared to Black Single Mothers , and having 2 parents makes a huge difference when it comes to the future of Youth. The issue is not the color of skin, but rather horrible life decisions promoted due to ill thought gov policies.
Regarding the BoE, most parents and SF voters have no idea of who they are voting for. The candidates make some platitudes regarding how important education is, and then bid their time for higher political office. I can assure you that if the candidates are forced to state if they support 1) neighborhood school assignments, 2) teaching of algebra in middle school, 3) renaming of schools, and 4) racial quotas for Lowell the BoE would look very different.
The concerned parents realized long ago that very little was going to change in San Francisco. The ones with enough money either send their children to private schools or move out to a suburb with better public schools. I’m sure Collins would see this behavior as racist. Everyone else just sees it as common sense.
How about a link to the lawsuit so the rest of us can read it?
It’s in there, Champ. Here it is again: https://www.scribd.com/document/501127022/Collins-Lawsuit
In San Francisco, people who don’t agree with your preferred narrative are “extreme partisans” (in Joe E.’s words) or “house n****rs” (in Allison Collins’ words).
But nice legal analysis. I appreciated that part.
Yeah, Diane Yap really sounds like the most impartialest sober-minded non-partisan to have ever uhhhm definitely not engaged in the exact same behavior she’s screaming about. Why would anyone cast those kinds of aspersions on her sterling character? https://twitter.com/uhshanti/status/1374153131760623617
This is a very good piece.
One quibble… the motivations of those who quoted this lady’s noxious twitter posts don’t matter. She posted them publicly specifically to make them publicly available. No one else bears an iota of responsibility for Alison Collins’ hate speech… it’s all on her.
Yes, I’m not sure what the point of that part was. Of course people on opposite political sides will try to use each others words against them…
Although not in agreement with most points, appreciate your deliberation regarding the matter. Agree “That was unfortunate. As was the decision by media outlets to reflexively label the tweets “racist,” and preclude a more complex discussion. “ Yes, a more complex discussion remains appropriate.
A more complex discussion? You mean to say that we should all discuss and agree that it’s okay for Blacks to make racist remarks against Asians, but it’s not okay for Asians to make racist remarks against Blacks. Yes, we should have that discussion right away to expose you and others who think in this manner for the hypocrites you are.
I’m guessing that the person who posted above you is an active UESF member. Some of them seem very loyal to the board member who helped them get paid for more than a year to sit home and teach behind a screen.
Collins is San Francisco’s Donald Trump. Too much money, too much ego, too much tweeting.
Yes, the more complex discussion is what Collins intends to due about the REAL crux of the problem: 12.4% math proficiency scores, over 40% chronic attendance issues, lack of parental involvement from many single parent families, and lack of supports for our single parents and their students. Let’s talk. She isn’t doing anything about it other than paint lipstick on a pig by changing the names of schools and lowering admission standards.
As a teacher in the district, I have witnessed the gradual change in the last decade of our educational mission in San Francisco. Schools are adopting, hiring and promoting employees who embrace critical race theory. Some administrators and teachers treat concerned White/Asian parents as nuisances while always seeking out more Black and Brown representation in the PTSA. The school wants the White/Asian fundraising parents to bring in money, but they don’t want to address their concerns. Why? Because the white and Asian parents care more about the lack of academic standards and school safety issues. The dwindling enrollment of the White population in the district over the last decade is evidence of dissatisfaction; people vote with their feet. Alison Collins has ridden the woke wave, getting rid of admissions standards at Lowell and lowering standards for all in order to achieve superficial racial equity. Anyone who stands in their way will be labeled racists and that’s the end of any rational discussion. The achievement gap widens year after year. Collins’ drama holds a mirror for all of us to reflect on our tendency to embrace superficial radical ideas without data to support meaningful change that addresses the needs of all students.
This is a very good summation and matches what I’ve heard from teachers and parents of school age children. But to be fair – one hears what one wants to hear.
Nevertheless – thank you for your input.
The key word is “superficial”.
Addressing San Francisco’s systematic disenfranchisement, theft of wealth and ghettoization of the African American community over many, many decades is a mighty mountain of issues to climb.
Renaming schools or tribalistic lashing out against other communities will do nothing to address the never ending, generational cycle of poverty we subject our black brethren to.
Amen to that.
The “achievement gap” and standards-setting is a false narrative. Schools do not make children ‘smarter’ or ‘dumber’ based upon academic standards or racial mix. This is the real dilemma facing achievement-oriented parents who compete with each other for attention – none of that matters. Graded schools were created and rolled out during the “white supremacy’ political and cultural movement of the early 20th century. Though these plans were not ostensibly ‘racist’ that is exactly how all of this plays out when we assess who should receive the benefits of government and public policy. Policies that open enrollment produce better mixes of outcomes socially (without unnecessary academic rigor) for K-12. These maps to the open-access policies of people with disabilities, special education needs, etc. Ms. Collins touched the 3rd rail of elitism in education.
Bravo, Jackson! Well iterated.
Collins has demonstrated enduring racism against the Asian American community with her actions and language. She should be recalled and not allowed near a public office again. No one calls Asians “house n**rs” and gets away with it. Collins should have to pay for the defendants’ legal costs for her frivolous lawsuit.
We do need to remember that this shit show was not a 1 or even 2 woman show. The superintendent and his cronies i.e. Daniel Menezes the person in charge of the COVID response, have been central in this insanity imposed on the entire city. It took a village to mess it up this badly.
“ That was unfortunate. As was the decision by media outlets to reflexively label the tweets “racist,” and preclude a more complex discussion. ”
Just stop with the idea that extremely racist statements about Asians are somehow less derogatory and somehow require greater scrutiny. You don’t have to throw the Progressives a “both sides” bone in this situation. Not is it fair to paint those of us who want Collins out as part of a “fringe.” If you think the entire SFUSD administration standing against her is fringe then you have a bigger article to write.
The city is angry because schools have been closed way longer than they should have been. Supe Vince Matthews has been an expert at evading responsibility for his foils and that’s what’s happening here. If we had a competent school district, schools would have opened in October.Everyone knows the extended shut down has been about incompetence and not safety. 555 Franklin is filled with the biggest mysogonistic fools you can ever imagine and they need a scapegoat. Alison is an easy scapegoat because she acts like Cruella de Vil and she acts like a classic Mean Girl but she isn’t the reason schools were shut down and most people know it. Schools were closed because Vince Matthews and his team have zero operational skills or abilities or even desire to do what it takes to manage a school district. Mark Sanchez has been running SFUSD into the ground for 20 years. Alison and Gabriela and annoying but they aren’t the reason we have no schools for over a year.
All of the above but the cherry on top was she took an isolated incident at Francisco involving a some Asian students, and spewed racist vitriol against all Asian students, teachers and parents, and attributed their success to White Supremacy values. That is textbook racism. On top of that, she hides behind the shield of Malcolm X. In his speech delivered at Michigan State University in East Lansing Michigan in 1963, he provided a parable that spoke of the difference between the “House Negro” and the “Field Negro”. He explained that the slaves who worked in the house dressed nicer and may have felt more “in” with the master, but at the end of the day, was “still the help”. Collin’s use of Malcolm X’s anology for her own racist views against Asians is a shame and insult to Malcolm X.
Not that Sup. Matthew’s is my favorite person but he should get a little credit for trying to bring in a consultant on reopening last summer, on grant for that matter, but the current board voted against due to a stated misguided altruistic reason that the consultant had worked with charter schools in e past. Throwing the baby out with the bath water, or deliberate so as to have less reason to move toward reopening and have more time to spend on things like renaming schools?
Her comments were not extremely racist. They simply require an somewhat complex racial analysis. What’s more, is that she seems to have been so right – she was arguing that Asian communities should stand with other communities of color, because as the winds shift, the violence and injustice could be directed at them. And behold 2021, the year Republicans decided anti-Asian rhetoric was fun again resulting in immeasurable pain and tangible harm to Asian communities. Anyone who has done a moderate amount of reading about racial justice can see that those tweets were arguing for a coalition, rather than competition among underdogs. How sad that so many missed the call then, and are killing the messenger now.
Elizabeth, your ideology (and that of Madame Collins et al, stemming from Critical Race Theory) is racist in and of itself; to the bone. This is why it is and will continue to implode. Blaming ‘White Supremacy’ for all the ills of non-White people is racist (not only against White people), vindictive, reeks of resentment and will never succeed — it will only create more problems. Try to see the world through the eyes of humanity, not skin color.
Mr. Eskenazi, thru his contacts, connections and diligent research skills honed over many years has basically given a road map for the defense.
The case may be spurious on the surface but there is a probability of settlement.
Maybe that’s what they are shooting for.
Do the defendants, the already scandalized School Board and The City (forever mired in one scandal or another) want this lawsuit and courtroom drama taking over a big chunk of the political news cycle for months to come? The narrative of a black women fighting the historical oppression of the African American Community in San Francisco armed with a huge amount of material to work from. The lawsuit as a stage and threat – the case may go down in flames but I’ll take you with me unless ….
No problem! They’ll simply raise our property taxes to pay off the lawsuit.
Land of the free, home of the litigious.
I hope whatever judge gets the unenviable task of tossing this frivolous lawsuit out while keeping a straight face also invokes the “English rule” and awards the defendants their legal costs.
It is also disheartening to see key members of the SF chapter of the NAACP supporting Ms. Collins delusion. In fact, the head of the Education Committee and the President of the chapter can be seen and heard applauding her efforts and rallying to her defense, yet they never have spoken up about the over one year long closure of schools and the disproportionate adverse effects on kids and families of color. She and others of the “fake woke” gang need to go.
It’s incredible to me that you think they are a better arbiter of what is racist behavior than the venerable NAACP, which has been at the forefront of civil liberties for 115 years. You really have some amazing hubris.
yeah, how dare they have an opinion on the actions of those individuals. unreal!
Many of the NAACP chapters also supported policies to prevent Gay Marriage and to absolve the Murder of Gay Men using the defense of panic to justify their Bigotry.
The NAACP focuses on Straight Blacks often at the cost of other groups. So I care not who they support, there are organization chapters that put politics before humanity as we currently see happening with Cuomo in NY.
Local NAACP leaders disagreed with Collins and Lopez on changes to Lowell admissions. The same leaders also disagreed with Collins and Lopez on the murals. Collins rolled her eyes at Brown then. She has no respect. She treats him with disdain. Now, she has manipulated him into offering support.
The NAACP has done NOTHING to support the advancement of education for Black student, rather, they have continued to cycle of blame, entitlement, and lowering of standards. They sidestep the root causes of the contributing factors that result in only 19.7% English proficiency and 12.4% Math proficiency. They choose to hide test scores, statistics that show high chronic absenteeism, and do not offer supports to single parent families (over 60% of Black families are single parent) and students. Their idea of “progress” continues to be entitlement, blame, and looking in the past and not forward, and bringing academic standards down. That is not progress.
You have a great talent for incorporating hilarious references and humorous commentary into political writing. You should be writing for Stephen Colbert to supplement your income.
This lawsuit is an anvil atop the proverbial straw. Collins needed a crisis control manager, not a team of lawyers.
As the old adage goes, it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it. Collins is so confrontational with her rhetoric that it undermines her leadership. She has alienated parents, board members, the district, and with this lawsuit, she has backed herself into a corner. All she had to do was give a sincere apology to the Asian community for her inflammatory comments and tone down her act. Instead, she doubled down on stupidity. Pride comes before the fall.
One thing ive come to realize reading through this article and its accompanying comments, is that racist egomaniacs like James Ausman and Allison Collins have zero capabilities of self reflection. Whether its ego, mental illness, self hatred or some other nasty, emotionally driven desire to destroy, these kinds of people will not rest until they have made everyone around them as miserable and envious as themselves.
Collins treated Asian families who pressured their kids to study 10,000 hours more as morally equal to families who barely study because it’s hard and not fun, and destroyed Asian families by making Lowell a lottery school. She hurt many Asian families more than a carjacking would have. If her precious students wanted Lowell, they had a choice and could have studied many more hours. She hurt Asian families due to racism and lack of respect for their sacrifice and morality.
Never forget that she voted to scrap the merit-based entrance system at Lowell High School, but not at her child’s merit based public high school (SOTA).
Can I buy an San Francisco Themed T-Shirt with this article printed on it? (NFTs are not for me)
Plus her case is subject to the anti slapp statute, at least for the state claims. If granted she will not may have to pay the defendant fees.
Please do a follow-up outlining how much money the school district will loose defending itself from this ridiculous suit.
Although Mrs. Collins is married to a multi-millionaire real estate developer who can afford to fund frivolous lawsuits aplenty—-our school district can barely afford paper towels for the kids bathrooms. Her tantrum of a publicity stunt costs our children’s resources.
I wonder if her dream team of lawyers advised her that CA’s Anti-SLAPP statute could result in Collins having to pay the legal fees for EVERY defendant she dragged into this frivolous and ridiculous lawsuit.
Do we know if any of the law firms representing Collins are working on a contingency basis? I doubt that they are as those law firms would surely assess the probability of winning and collecting damages so that they would be paid.
So my guess is that the conclusion must be that Collins is paying those firms at their hourly rate. And will only recover those costs if she goes to trial and wins, a possibility that seems negligible.
Would be fun being on the jury for this one, not that it will ever get that far.
Yet another fine column by Mr. Eskenazi.
I loved this article. Really well written.
collins and her attorneys: defiance, unwillingness to admit wrongdoing and defeat.
please spare us, all races, nationalities and colors, her family and the twins, children everywhere the indignity of her
claims. pixel dust.
today is Good Friday, let us all think on the Good.
JE, great article. Appears to be a great first summary. Thank you. I was very unhappy with the Lowell changes and I emailed Ms. Collins stating as such – no response. I voted for her; I regret that decision. I find her lawsuit above extremely rude. I am sad the district has to expend resources defending itself. Ms. Collins is malignancy. I hope we, as a city, can focus on improving SFUSD. My three children attended SFUSD and loved our teachers and principals. It’s sad Ms. Collins has made this a personal joke.
I don’t think it’s accurate to say the Recall is initiated by “fringe” political forces, except in so far as parents are are on the fringes of the historical locus of power in the city. At this point, the Board has alienated so many parents with incompetence, that the recall is being supported by people with a wide range of opinions, not just those upset about Lowell admissions or school renaming. Most parents involved are upset that the schools are closed and see the board as failing to do enough to reopen them.
I fully agree. Every parent I know, public and private, has signed on to this recall effort. It isn’t a fringe movement at all.
Many involved SFUSD parents have known Collins for many years and she should have never been elected. Her tweets are only a small portion of the things she’s said over the years.
Spot on. This is the pixel that broke the camel’s back in a long line of offensive pixels.
It’s impossible to keep up with all of the candidates for me so I generally vote School bureaucrats and judges according to the suggestions of the ‘League of Pissed-Off Voters Guide’ or the Berniecrats …
Can anyone supply a link to just who those two Guides had to see about these last candidates.
They usually know more than I do and I only carry signs and flack for a couple …
Like, I support Chesa Boudin because I worked with gangster kids and young adults most of my life and Decarceration is the answer.
We should not lead the world in people behind bars!!
Berniecrats? They are 100% in favor of Alison Collins. You’re on the wrong side of common sense if you’re using these sources to influence your voting decisions.
Here’s their voter guide:
They recommended Alison Collins, Gabriela Lopez, and Faauuga Moliga.
To their Credit, under ‘Pissed Off Voter guide November 5, 2019 they did not endorse anyone for School Board and went out of their way to trash Jenny Lam.
So, I’m old but still not too brittle of mind to change candidates or sides on issues.
The old Catholic countries of Europe have a tradition called, ‘Name Day’ by which whatever Saint’s birthday you were born on becomes your ‘Name Day’ and is celebrated like your birthday.
That’s probably all gone aside with computers.
Joe, what you make of Al Saracevic going over to Clint Reilly, and, with a portfolio that includes some Editorial work?
Hi H. Brown. They endorsed Collins. Which is a reason you should not use the League of Pissed of Voters endorsement packet to judge school board candidates. Most of these candidates have such skimpy or poorly visible records to go on, so voter pamphlets are basing their recommendations on endorsements from, say, the teacher’s union or the Berniecrats or the DCCC. And often that’s because those organizations donated to the candidates campaigns and therefore think they’re going to do their bidding. So it really is voting for candidates because they are “in the pocket” of some powerful interest group, rather than voting for someone based on any actual record demonstrating the actual abilities needed on the school board. (Most of what BoE does is managerial and administrative and not political.) So what we wind up with are political operatives with ambition for the Board of Supes, who have no ability to balance a budget, manage and communicate with staff, listen to and respond to constituents, or actually fix the staggering problems of the district. Maybe Collins et al would have been tolerable in a normal year, where the district mostly runs on autopilot. They would have taken symbolic actions — name changes and Lowell admissions changes — and then run on a platform of dismantling the white supremacy in schools, even if they were barely proficient at running the nuts and bolts of a big district (even with a huge staff to do most of the work for them.) But the glaring fact that NO KIDS are in school while they are prioritizing all these symbolic actions just makes it clear how ill suited they are for the job. In any case, don’t use those pamphlets for BoE races.
Politics is a serious hobby and I don’t agree with everything that the League or Bernies do but, for the League, I’ve worked with them individually and that’s why I take their word muchly.
They certainly did, as Thomas Wolf said in ‘The Right Stuff’ …
They certainly “screwed the pooch” this last candidate cycle.
I will vote against any Recall, but w/out passion
and, only because Breed could do much worse?
It wasn’t that long ago when I was one of the suckers who voted to give Willie Brown huge mayoral powers.
“He’d snap the whip for a legacy!”
He not only did not clean up his act …
It was, as Abdulla A’Angari who said but spelled differently.
“It was like Ali Babba and the 40 Thieves!!”
Take it from an old Special Ed teacher and teach em to eat bark.
Totally. Not sure why Mr. Eskenazi refers to the recall effort as partisan or fringe. He doesn’t explain or backup that claim. Maybe he doesn’t mean it in the traditional political sense… The way I see it, the same people who came out to vote for Mayor Breed and Scott Weiner, not to mention Gavin Newsom, are likely aligned. So why call that partisan or fringe? More like, ‘mainstream Democrats’? Or ‘Moderate Progressives’?
…or maybe he just means “partisan” in the dictionary definition: “a strong supporter of a party, cause, or person.” In which case… duh, of course people sponsoring the recall are strong supporters of the recall.
I’m against the Recall because if it succeeds the Mayor will appoint replacements.
You think these are bad?
Some of the Mayor’s appointments gave Dick Blum a hundred million of SFUSD property to sell thru his CB Richard Ellis brokerage.
All about privatization to make the rich richer.
“As was the decision by media outlets to reflexively label the tweets “racist,” and preclude a more complex discussion.” – Joe Eskenazi
Her tweets were racist. Plain and simple. There is no more nuanced discussion necessary.
Stop normalizing a double standard around racism. It’s a terrible look.
The first half of her tweet thread touched on material that does need some nuanced discussion. In better hands, some of what she said could have led to something constructive. Check out The Black & Asian podcast between Jay Caspian Kang and Darrell Owens.
If she is racist then Malcolm X is racist. But you probably think that. How many times did you vote for Trump?
yeah, a multi millionaire half white lady property developer with an axe to grind against asian americans is totally the same as Malcolm X. for sure. you must not think very highly of Malcolm X is the only logical takeaway from your statement. great job.
Half-white? You just surrendered any credibility on a race discussion with that one compound word. The lawsuit is problematic, sure, but I think the years since those tweets have simply proved her point – that POC who think they are not subject to white supremacy, because of how they are being treated today, should be reminded that until white-supremacy is dismantled, some future day the hate will come for them. We are living through a period of horrible anti-Asian violence brought on by the same people who previously lifted Asians up as an example while they wrought violence on other communities of color. Many Asian people I know always linked their struggle with other racial minority groups, but others prefer to distance from other minority groups who are poorly treated in the hope that they can elevate themselves above the threats. White Supremacy depends on playing groups against each other this way. And now the pendulum has swung back into anti-asian sentiment. All people should be fighting against White Supremacy. That was literally Alison’s point.
Asians make more than whites on average. Your comments are idiotic. No one wants to use anyone for any purpose. Any individual who works hard can succeed in America. Immigrants come from Africa and thrive because they believe in America. Anyone can do it. Stop blaming other people. Asians don’t owe anyone anything but themselves and neither do whites. Blacks must study long hours if they want high income, even if it’s less fun than TV, etc. You can’t study 3 hours a week as a kid and expect to earn as much as a kid studying 20 hours a week. You got the childhood, they got the future. If you don’t like it, stay up late and spend Summer studying. If not, accept your poor choices gained you in the short run and hurt you in the long run and you are responsible for your own poverty.
Precisely the opposite. Allison Collins was whipping up anti-asian sentiments among her black and brown constituents. This has led to what you see today- a disturbing number of violent anti-asian incidents perpetuated by black offenders.
Also- for Collins to equate doing well in school as a form of ‘White Supremacy’ was beyond ridiculous. She was confirming the stereotype of black people dragging good students for ‘acting white’.
Unreal. Your ” white supremacist” tunnel vision is really remarkable. You’re literally incapable of viewing an issue outside of this lens. Here we have an example of a wealthy woman, who has white skin, white textured hair and predominantly white features, acting with blatant disregard to the damage she is doing to children of color and your reaction is that “white supremacy” is the cause of both her racism, and the backlash to it. You ignore that almost all of the current anti Asian violence comes from black communities. You ignore that alison collins regularly eschews nuance in her own crusades against “racists” and you further demand that everyone stoop to your level in casting ” white supremacy” as the villian in a matter where whites only show up as allies of black people. Perhaps it’s time you examine some of your own biases before commenting on a matter where you find yourself quite clearly out of your depth.
Except Alison Collins is a Racist & a Bigot , she must be removed
comparing a narcissistic racist like collins to malcolm x is a disgusting insult to malcolm x. unreal!
You just spelled out the reality.
This woman is a hypocritical opportunist.
Greed above all.
Asians work hard,study long hours,live in substandard housing ,and this high income black woman is a blatant racists.
I’m Jewish, will she be coming after Jews next because we too have worked hard for what we have reaped.
I believe in meritocracy very strongly.
I’m fortunate my daughter went to a predominately Asian high school. You can’t be a slacker in that environment or you’ll fail.
If a white child performs poorly in school ,and a black child excels given the same opportunities , then the black child should be in the best school.
Conversely this idea of “White Supremacy” dictating advancement is racist to the core.
“ White People The New Scapegoat “
yes, because allison collins and malcolm x are the same. thanks for that well thought out comparison.
That’s your argument? Pathetic.
It is easy to identify was her remark racist. Walk up to any black fellow and call them a “House Nigger” and watch the reaction. Remember to tell them they are hearing it out of context while you are dodging their right haymaker.
The words are certainly increasing in toxicity and while they were always racists, it used to be OK to use them at times when no other words or phrases just didn’t explain certain characters or situations.
Dick Gregory even wrote a book titled: NxxxxR and said that it was his hope that from then on when his mother heard that word that it would most likely be because people were discussion his book.
Maintain Justice Reform on all levels!
Hold on just one second there. It’s one thing for a black person to call another black person the N word. It’s a totally different thing for a black person to call Asian Americans ‘house N****’. That is 100% racist. Just as an Asian american calling black people ‘n****’ would likewise be 100% racist.
No comments yet? Let me be the first to say that this is not a good look for a multi-millionaire real estate developer family attempting to suck the last life out of the barely surviving SF school district.
Yes, #AliMTrump is obviously only in it for her own self interest and ego.
All this, and they’re real estate developers too? What’s the history of her family’s involvement with the most altruistic, equitable and beloved professional field in San Francisco– property flippers?
How dare people make disparaging remarks about a struggling BIPOC woman of color! This money was going toward a good cause and was sorely needed! Do you have any idea how expensive political campaigns cost? Think I’m wrong? “A lot of stuff in here seems highly extraneous,” sums up Bhagwat. “It makes one think the audience is not just the courts.”
People like Alison Collins have mapped out their political futures. Fully intending to ride the golden gravy train, called “Victim” (curiously popular in California…,) she has her bags packed for a brief stop in Sacramento and a final destination in Washington, DC. This recent bit of unpleasantry forced her to see the writing on the wall, and the feces on the sidewalk, and she needed a back-up plan. Since another California BIPOC woman of color had already used oldest political trick in the book, she had to think fast. “I know, I’ll sue!” And she did.
Poorly. Crafted to be a grandiose melodrama of hateful lies, spiteful deception and endless human suffering, the lawsuit ended up being nothing more than “You’re mean! I’m BIPOC! You’re racist!” That was the entirety her case. Surely the court of public opinion would take pity and prevail in her favor. Thankfully, the “real” Court couldn’t be bothered. And dismissed, as it should have.
People across the country have finally had enough. People are fighting back. Self-serving, power-hungry “public servants” pushing their own agendas days’ are numbered. Public funds, public policy and the control over people’s lives are slipping from their control. And the tyrants are panicking and doing outrageous things. Like filing outrageous lawsuits.