Moving Forward…

Reflecting on the Results of the SF School Board Recall

Ali M Collins
4 min readFeb 16, 2022
For 25 years I have been an educator, parent, and fighter for quality public schools for every child. My work is focused on forward progress, and uplifting the voices of those who have too often been ignored.

I’m a product of the “Loving Generation” (Loving v. Virginia 1967). My mixed-race parents got married when it was illegal in many states. I am also a product of public schools that were desegregated due to Brown v. Board of Education. Public education helped my parents rise from poverty to attain doctorate degrees and provide for a better life. I honor them every time I stand up and fight for (against efforts to restrict or roll back) advancements in civil rights and equal access to educational opportunity.

A childhood photo of me with my parents in the early seventies.

Black History Month reminds us of the contributions and resilience of Black Americans in the continuing struggle to make our nation live up to its values. Like many Black parents, my father taught me that when you speak up you are going to get targeted. And when we speak up and make change, there will be pushback. We see this playing out across the country. Do we as a nation want a more equitable, just, multiracial democracy, or do we want to go back to the “good ol’ days?”

The fact that my grandmother was not allowed to go to high school due to Jim Crow laws didn’t make her ignorant. Nonetheless, her lack of access to higher education relegated her to working as a domestic worker.

The outcome of the School Board recall effort is not surprising. Many like to believe San Francisco is exceptional, but this city is not so different. The local recaller backlash shares traits with broader efforts to “take our country back”. Nationwide there are efforts to roll back voter rights, repeal abortion, restrict LGBTQ rights, fight mask mandates, and remove curricula centering the history of non-white Americans. Here in SF, the issues have been renaming schools, murals, school closures, Black Studies, and desegregating Lowell. Each of these was met with aggressive, often angry reactions which animated the recall election.

Me, my girls and my friends (SF Families Union represents!) at the #DumpTrump rally in SF in January 2017.

Some will try to justify the recall as a necessary response to a school board that was too “woke” for its own good. This argument is misinformed. Creating safe, equitable educational spaces is a top priority for the board and district. We’ve made great progress and the results are seen in the number and diversity of students taking advanced math, and in improved academic outcomes for Black students. We did this while fighting for enhanced safety during the COVID pandemic. It is a discredit and a disservice to 2SLGBTQIA+ communities and communities of color who for decades have been advocating for change, to suddenly craft a narrative that these are ideological time wasters by the board. Going backward is not what San Francisco is about.

For 25 years I have been an educator, parent, and fighter for quality public schools for every child. My work is focused on forward progress, and uplifting the voices of those who have too often been ignored. I’m grateful for those who see through the hype and manipulation, speak truth to power, ask tough questions, and uplift those who are struggling right now.

Me and SFUSD families at a Schools and Communities First rally promoting increased funding for our schools.

Recallers have no policy proposals and they have no candidates. The campaign focused on personal attacks, misinformation, tearing things down, and going backward. Now we know what it costs to buy an election in San Francisco. Charter interests, Realtors, Visa, PG&E, and tech billionaires contributed to the nearly $2 million raised to fund this recall. This stands in stark contrast to the money raised by 38 candidates in the last four school board elections who collectively spent $1 million. This is a misuse of the democratic process, and there are people who are going to be harmed by the outcome.

I’m proud to be on the right side of history. We will continue to fight for the children and families most in need, for our educators, and our public education system — we’re still here and we are not giving up.

The Recallers have big money and connections to buy great consultants and give them talking points. Needless to say, there is a lot of misinformation about the recall. As an educator, I encourage you to do your homework and learn the facts:

Who is funding the school board recall? — Will Jarrett, Mission Local

Who is Arthur Rock, the school board recall’s biggest backer?—Will Jarret Mission Local

Silicon Valley Super-Rich Fund School Board Recall Election to Oust Progressives

Campaign to Recall Three San Francisco School Board Members Vastly Outspending Opposition—Guy Marzorati

Latinx community fights back against school board recall effort in special election



Ali M Collins

mom of twins. education nerd. public school warrior. reformed cat-lady. amateur urbanist. social justice addict. BLERD. & most recently Board of Ed Commissioner