The “A.L.L in for SF Kids” website, pushing the candidacies of mayoral Board of Education appointees Ann Hsu, Lainie Motamedi, and Lisa Weissman-Ward — the A., L., and L. in this acronym — has gone dark.
Multiple calls to all three school board members have not been returned. But multiple sources tell Mission Local that Motamedi and Weissman-Ward have distanced themselves from Hsu and split up the three-woman slate.
Hsu ignited a firestorm when she recently filled out a questionnaire for San Francisco Parent Action, in which she stated that the “biggest challenges” facing Black and brown children are “the lack of family support for those students. Unstable family environments caused by housing and food insecurity along with lack of parental encouragement to focus on learning cause children to not be able to focus on or value learning.”
These statements were taken as a slap in the face by members of San Francisco’s Black and brown communities. Instead of focusing on the district’s longstanding discrepancies and challenges, a sitting member of the Board of Education was fingering bad parenting as the major driver of poor outcomes for San Francisco’s disadvantaged children.
In the past week, an increasing number of San Francisco political organizations and elected officials have called upon Hsu to resign. Following an in-person Friday meeting between Hsu and the local NAACP’s executive board, the organization this weekend voted 105-0 to call for her to step down.
“She did apologize, but we didn’t feel her apology,” summed up Virginia Marshall, the chair of the local NAACP’s education committee. “Children do not control what their parents do. We want parental involvement, absolutely … but that should not be held against a child. This is not a ‘teachable moment.’ Our children’s lives are at stake. And not just any child — children at the bottom of the rung socially, academically, emotionally.”
Hsu, Motamedi and Weissman-Ward were, in March, named to the Board of Education by Mayor London Breed to replace recalled board members Alison Collins, Gabriela López and Faauuga Moliga. Hsu was a key volunteer in that recall effort.
Collins’ behavior served as a catalyst to drive the recall; she refused to apologize or resign after old tweets of hers were unearthed in which she accused “many Asian Americans” of using “white supremacist thinking to assimilate and ‘get ahead.’ … Being a house n****r is still being a n****r. You’re still considered ‘the help.’”
The parallel of an African American school board member insulting Asians and the Asian school board member who led the charge to replace her insulting African Americans has been lost on few.
Numerous calls to Hsu, Motamedi and Weissman-Ward have not been returned. But multiple sources close to the latter two Board of Education members confirmed that the two have pulled the plug on the three-person slate of mayoral appointees, though will likely continue to work in tandem.
Our calls to the mayor’s office have also not yet been returned. But it is clear that Breed, at the very least, knows about this move, and has, apparently, offered no pushback.
Hsu has not given any indication that she intends to resign or withdraw from running for a full four-year term on the school board in November. While Breed has chided Hsu’s remarks, she has not yet called upon her to step down or withdraw from the race.
If Hsu opts to do so, she must hurry: The deadline for a candidate to declare for office for the Board of Education is Aug. 12.
In apparently tacitly supporting her appointees Motamedi and Weissman-Ward’s desire to split from Hsu — yet not calling for Hsu to step down — Breed may be playing a delicate game. All three candidates may yet win. Hsu, a District 1 resident, is seen as a potential candidate for higher office. Her many supporters in the city’s Chinese community would not be alienated and, down the road, all fences could be mended.
Members of the NAACP, meanwhile, lamented that the paltry number of African Americans in this city meant that Hsu’s comments were by no means a deal-breaker for advancement.
“When you look at the Black community, there’s not enough of us to be a threat to anybody with our population in this city overall,” said the Rev. Amos Brown, the local chapter’s president. “My God. What’s happened to Black folks in this town?”
Update, 3:10 p.m.: Motamedi sent Mission Local the following statement:
“I am campaigning as an individual candidate appointed by the Mayor. My focus — in partnership with a board that shares these values and respect for our diverse communities — continues to be ensuring all of our students are supported and successful in their learning, our district is run for the benefit of our students, and our finances reflect our student priorities.”