Siva Raj often receives gifts of thanks when he’s at farmers’ markets collecting signatures to qualify a recall effort of three San Francisco school board members for the ballot. Coffee, doughnuts, cookies, strawberries. “Everything!” he said with a laugh.
But a new memo from a top Bay Area pollster outlining very grim unfavorable numbers for the three board members and strong support for recalling them, particularly among parents of kids in the city’s public schools, proved especially validating.
“It doesn’t surprise us,” Raj said. “On the streets that’s exactly what we’re seeing. Pretty much anyone who is remotely aware of the situation is eager to sign.”
Raj and Autumn Looijen, his partner, launched the recall effort of Commissioners Alison Collins, Gabriela López and Faauuga Moliga last spring after a dire year of distance learning and a number of sideshows at the board, including renaming 44 schools that weren’t open, and changing the way students are admitted to Lowell High which, like all public middle and high schools in the city, has remained shuttered to the vast majority of kids since March 2020.
The recall campaign has until Sept. 7 to turn over 51,325 valid signatures of San Francisco registered voters to the Department of Elections. So far, they’ve collected about 26,000 through weekend volunteers and are now fundraising to hire professional signature gatherers.
If students return to school like normal or close to it on Aug. 16, the anger may ease. But dropping enrollment numbers and a looming budget crisis for the school district could make the picture even worse.
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