San Francisco Principal Withholds Results Of School Election After Students Fail To Elect Sufficiently Diverse Representatives

1442646280822.jpg_w235Everett Middle School in San Francisco’s Mission District is teaching its students a thing or two about democracy . . . or the lack of it. Parents were informed by Principal Lena Van Haren (left) that the winners of the recent student elections would not be announced (or possibly honored) after the election failed to produce a sufficiently diverse selection. The school is composed of 80 percent students of color and 20 percent white students. The students however appeared to pick their representatives based on their individual qualifications rather than their race and that was a problem for Van Haren who told parents that the results were “concerning to me because as principal I want to make sure all voices are heard from all backgrounds.”

The school is now reportedly moving to changing the make up of the school representatives to satisfy its diversity expectations. Van Haren called a meeting with all the student candidates and administration to talk about the best way to move forward. Here’s one suggestion: honor the results of the election and stop using race to penalize certain students based on the color of their skin. These kids campaigned and received the support of the majority of their classmates, who were not as preoccupied with race and de facto quotas as the school.

However, Van Haren refused to budge on the demand that representatives first and foremost must satisfy a racial quota. Yet, she insisted that “We’re not nullifying the election, we’re not cancelling the election and we’re not saying this didn’t count.” No, you are just refusing to announce the winners and changing the results.

In a truly chilling spin, Van Haren insisted “I’m very hopeful this can be a learning experience and actually be something that embodied our vision which is to help students make positive change.” Well, it is a learning experience . . . just not a good one. You are teaching students that race does matter and that it is not enough to simply secure the trust and support of your fellow students. You are teaching them that the color of their skin is the predominant criteria and, if the student body does not produce a representative body, the school will impose its own selection.

After an outcry, Van Haren back pedaled:

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.

It is certainly good to see why Van Heran understands now why her decision “create concern” but she clearly does not view her initial action (or the suggestion of dictating representatives on the basis of race) as wrong. Instead, she still wants the students to reexamine their decision (which she continues to view as problematic) based solely on the race of the winners. These is in fact an “easy answer.” Let the children select their representatives and stop imposing race quotas or criteria. Try teaching that students should be seen for their individual worth and not counted on the basis of their skin color. The simple answer to is stop imposing race-based rules or values on students who appear to be voting on the basis of individual merit. They do not need to “grow and get better at this.” The need for growth is clearly found with Van Haren and some of her colleagues in the San Francisco school system.

It now appears that the solution to democracy is that the school intends to simply add more positions that will be given to minority students to meet the de facto quota based on race.

Source: KTVU and SF Gate

68 thoughts on “San Francisco Principal Withholds Results Of School Election After Students Fail To Elect Sufficiently Diverse Representatives”

  1. I think it’s racist to wonder if kids voting for white kids in an election was the result of voter fraud.

    Why do people think it’s unlikely or suspicious that black kids would vote for kids who are not black? Such an assumption is very revealing as to the racist mindset behind it. Is your opinion of black kids so low that you would be gobsmacked if they voted for anyone who was not black? Is skin color really that crucial to you?

    Little Timmy: Mom, I was told I can’t enter into the election at school.

    Mom: Why? You are qualified to make an excellent leader.

    Timmy: I can’t because I’m white. Our school is 80% black, so we have to make sure that 80% of the student body is black. It doesn’t matter how good I would be at the job. I’m the wrong color.

    And people actually defend this mind set. I’m just floored. I just can’t imagine teaching my little boy that melanin matters.

  2. bettykath, You don’t want answers. You only want to pose smug, PC questions. That’s your specialty.

  3. How about simply reminding the winners that they represent all the students, not just the students who voted for them? if there was a lack of diversity in the results of the election, it was probably because not enough minority students were running. How about encouraging minority students to get involved and run for election? No, no, Principal Van Haren used the easy way out by teaching her students that their votes don’t matter, that an “authority figure’s” opinion is more important then their own.

  4. Mick,

    I’ll take that as a compliment.

    Here’s the short version:

    Eliminate unions for governmental workers.

  5. Blackstone,

    Why did you omit my favorite quote related to the superiority of a restricted-vote republic over

    one man, one vote democrazy – rationality over hysterical lunacy?

    To wit:

    “the people are nothing but a great beast…

    I have learned to hold popular opinion of no value.”

    -Alexander Hamilton

    1. Our founder were deathly afraid of democracy so they attempted a democratic republic and it was the Citizens that forced the Bill of Rights to be added.

      Of course I believe I am more afraid of a band of attorneys than any other group of people. They will try to convince me that is, isn’t or the term includes in tax law is a term of expansion in stead of a term of limitation since the definition can be either depending on how it used. As if we can include Canada, Mexico and Costa Rica under the jurisdiction of the United States IRC.

      As the example: Under IRC Section 7701
      (9) the term State shall be construed to “include” the District of Columbia, where such construction is necessary to carry out the provisions of the title.

      (10) the term United States when used in a geographic sense “includes” only the States and the District of Columbia.

      So what jurisdiction(s) do you think these definitions refer to?

  6. My question: How many kids participated in the election and who counted the votes?

    If only a few kids participated the results could be skewed, that’s Could be, not that they would necessarily be skewed. But then, it’s possible that those who didn’t participate don’t give a rat’s axx about student government. It’s also possible that those who were elected really were the choices of the student body, even if the entire student body voted. The principal and some folks here seem to believe that all kids will vote according to their race. That’s insulting.

    My point about who counted the votes is that sometimes there are those with an interest in skewing the vote during the count. We have no information to answer that question. Actually, we don’t have enough information to answer either part of my two-part question.


    Progressive parents fight integration in their children’s public schools.

    Of course they want integration, they’ll tell you, but only if it entails no sacrifice on their part. “It’s more complicated when it’s about your own children,” says one Dumbo parent. Well, yes, it is more complicated, and that is exactly what every parent believes, whether they are in Brooklyn or South Boston or Kansas City.

  8. “The greatest tyrannies are always perpetrated in the name of the noblest causes.” Thomas Paine

    “There is no greater tyranny than that which is perpetuated under the shield of law and in the name of justice.” Charles de Montesquieu

    “Of liberty I would say that, in the whole plenitude of its extent, it is unobstructed action according to our will. But rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add ‘within the limits of the law,’ because law is often but the tyrant’s will, and always so when it violates the right of an individual.” –Thomas Jefferson to I. Tiffany, 1819

    “The road to hell is paved with good intentions” St Bernard

  9. Those who can: do.
    Those who can’t: teach.
    Those who can’t teach: teach teachers.

  10. Dust Bunny, the option to vote or not gives one the opportunity to choose to waste time voting where the outcome is predetermined by those who are the richest, or to choose to do something more productive with that time and actually accomplish something beneficial. Believing that voting can actually have some positive results is simply a delusion. The only possible exception might be a very small town election where all the voters know the candidates and the issues to be decided. MAYBE then the voting will be relevant.

  11. Nick:

    I’ve had public school teachers who read novels during class while we just read the textbooks every day. That’s tenure for you.

  12. How can you get a job like hers and be so dumb.
    Teaching the kids what to think not how to think.

  13. Students are the most important component of the educational process.

    Any teacher could have taught Einstein and Lincoln.

    Not so much, teaching fork lift drivers and dental assistants.

    Radical, extremist, lazy, greedy striking teacher unions threaten public schools on almost a weekly basis.

    Teachers have no adverse working conditions, such as those related to strikes in the industrial age.

    Teachers don’t work in chemical plants, load 500 engines into cars everyday or breath the dust of a dark,

    dank coal mine for 16 hours a day.

    “Teacher strike” is oxymoronic. “Teacher strike” is a contradiction in terms. “Teacher strike” is a joke.

    Teachers don’t know what bad working conditions are.

    The only reason prima donna teachers strike is because the educational requirements are designed to keep

    managers from hiring replacements.

    The first principle of public school must be NO unions and no contracts.

    The curricula must emphasize the three r’s and eliminate indoctrination and the superfluous.

    Profiteering from the public education by lazy, greedy teachers unions must be prosecuted.

    How immoral is it to profiteer off the nation’s innocent and vulnerable children?

    Teachers whose goal is to obtain wealth must do so in the private sector.

    Educational requirements must be lowered to facilitate hiring of strike replacements

    and commensurate with the product – the dropout rate and student success.

    Wages must be only those necessary to retain a military-like work force.

    Eliminate the Dept. of Education and completely “localize” public education.

    Finally, “comparable pay” must never be used to set wages or justify a raise.

  14. wonderer, Thanks. But the liberal weenies will find some other conspiracy to claim because they are like this insane PC principal.

  15. hsk, I was a teacher w/ real world experience. Kids loved me because they knew I had something about the real world to teach them. Kids want to learn, they don’t want boring union teachers who just teach the books and show movies. People have no idea how many movies are shown in classrooms. There are legit reasons to show movies but there are some teachers who do it every week.

  16. A couple of folks have questioned whether all of the students voted (or had the opportunity). The kids filled out their ballots in their homerooms, so every student voted or had the opportunity. Which makes the principal’s action even worse.

  17. The principal totally missed the real teachable moment in this scenario. If you desire a different voting result, you must support your candidates and vote. I wonder if the majority of the student body is upset with the results. If they are, the solution is that next year when a new student council is elected they should organize and vote for the candidates of their choice. If the principal jerry-rigs the current student council by adding additional members (like FDR’s proposed court packing fiasco), the majority will learn that they do not have to do the election leg work and just wait until someone else fixes their problem. The principal’s knee jerk reaction only kicked herself in the you-know-where.

  18. She must have an advanced degree.

    The requirement to be a teacher is a bachelors or advanced degree.

    Not to accomplish tasks of teaching,

    but to assure that replacement workers for striking teachers cannot be hired.

    The first ridiculous point of public school is that unions are allowed for these governmental workers.

    The next is that it takes any education beyond a high school diploma and teaching certificate to teach public school.

    America doesn’t need unions for teachers and shouldn’t tolerate teacher strikes.

    America doesn’t need teachers with more than a high school diploma to teach public school.

    1. The best teachers would perhaps be people who have real life experiences and adventures to teach our children about how the real world works.

      Of course it is so much easier to control the curriculum when you take snot nosed college grads with no life experiences to teach children what they were taught. A cycle of regurgitating government approved text books, that the busy parents must then read and fight to have removed if they do not meet their approval.

      A grand multi-layer centralized system that isn’t working very well. You have the Federal Department of Education, the State Department of Education, the Country Departments of Education and we still have one of the highest dropout and truancy rates in the world. Poor people in India sent their kids to private schools because public educations is so poor. The smart parents in this country either send their children to private schools if they can afford it, or home school them if they cannot.

      My Sister-in-law Dana was told by a State college in So. Carolina that the school prefers home schooled students to those from public education. Both my nieces were homes schooled and received full scholarships.

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