SF school principal suspends student council election outcome because results not 'diverse' enough

The children attending Everett Middle School in San Francisco’s Mission District just got an object lesson in liberal fascism.  Eugene Volokh, writing in the Washington Post, cites a report by KTVU television:

There’s a bit of controversy surrounding student elections at a San Francisco middle school after the results were immediately withheld by the principal because they weren’t diverse enough.

The incident happened at Everett Middle School in San Francisco’s Mission District. The voting was held Oct. 10, but the principal sent an email to parents on Oct. 14 saying the results would not be released because the candidates that were elected as a whole do not represents the diversity that exists at the school….

According to Principal Lena Van Haren, Everett Middle School has a diverse student body. She said 80 percent of students are students of color and 20 percent are white, but the election results did not represent the entire study body.

“That is concerning to me because as principal I want to make sure all voices are heard from all backgrounds,” Van Haren said….

“We’re not nullifying the election, we’re not cancelling the election and we’re not saying this didn’t count,” Van Haren said.

She said the school may possibly add positions in an effort to be more equal.

It is positively Orwellian to claim “[w]e’re not nullifying the election, we’re not cancelling the election and we’re not saying this didn’t count” while acting to do exactly that by means of adding hand-selected (by the principal, obviously) representatives to change the membership of the body.

Professor Volokh comments:

Well, the children’s voices were heard. They just seemed to be less obsessed with race than some administrators are. And exactly what “learning experience” would the children get this way, whether about racial tolerance or democracy?

The principal’s outrageous actions caused a bit of controversy, even in San Francisco, and as a result, she backtracked, somewhat, with this statement:

Everett Middle School is honoring the results of the Associated Student Body (ASB) elections. This is our first student council at Everett Middle School in recent history and we started up a student council because we want our students to have several ways to develop their leadership skills and be a part of shaping our school. We want a student leadership body that includes the range of perspectives and experiences of our students and we believe a representative body is an important part of democracy.

When we reviewed the results of our Associated Student Body (ASB) elections on Friday, October 9th, we saw that it was not fully representative of our school population. I made the decision to pause on sharing the results with the students in order to capitalize on a teachable moment. I wanted to have a conversation with all of the candidates and ask for their ideas to make sure that all voices and groups are represented in our ASB. In retrospect, I understand how this decision to pause created concerns. Today I visited classrooms to announce the winners of the elections.

There are many challenges and opportunities that this situation surfaces. Especially now, at a time when our school and community’s population is undergoing demographic change, I believe that we have a responsibility to take these conversations seriously, appreciating both their complexity and their urgency. There are no easy answers, so I am looking forward to talking as a community about how we can grow and get better at this for the rest of the year and into next year.

That is 264 words’ worth of pabulum that manages to obscure more than it reveals.  I think it means that she is backing off her overruling of democracy, but then again, she avers that “we have a responsibility to take these conversations seriously, appreciating both their complexity and their urgency.”  So what does that mean?

For the record, the Mission District, formerly a heavily Irish and Jewish neighborhood, transitioned to heavily Hispanic and is now rapidly gentrifying as many highly paid tech people move in.  The principal seems to imply that “students of color” are proliferating, but even taking account of the low incidence of childrearing among the youngish tech crowd, it would seem to me that in fact, the proportion of Hispanic students would be declining as the gentrification continues.  Incidentally, while there were no political protests when Hispanics displaced Irish and Jews several decades ago, the current transition of the Mission District has sparked outrage and even violent protest, as so-called Google Buses that transport employees to Silicon Valley jobs have been attacked.

If you want to find the hottest restaurants and bars in San Francisco, you go to the Mission.  It is the happening place.  But Principal Van Haren seems to be locked in a time warp, where omniscient and wise educrats dictate an ideal racial and ethnic outcome for elections and neighborhoods.

America’s public schools, the most expensive in the world outside Switzerland and Luxembourg, are failing our children, as the results of international comparisons of standardized tests reveals.  How could it be otherwise with people like Principal Van Haren leading them?

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