San Francisco school board admonishes member for racist remarks about Black families 

In a candidate questionnaire, Ann Hsu cited "unstable" families and "lack of parental encouragement" as challenges to educating Black and brown students.

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A San Francisco school board meeting was emotionally charged and at one point was halted for the room to be cleared before the board could take action against one of its members accused of making racist statements on a campaign questionnaire, the San Francisco Chronicle is reporting.

The board member, Ann Hsu, who has apologized for the comments and who was unanimously admonished (including by herself ), wrote on that questionnaire words about marginalized students that many felt were bigoted: “Unstable family environments” and “lack of parental encouragement to focus on learning” were among the biggest challenges in educating Black and brown students.

The San Francisco school board needed to denounce the “harmful stereotypes, systemic racism and the bias reflected” in one member’s words, the board president said.

“I misspoke while trying to discuss these issues,” Hsu said, referring to systemic racism, general poverty, housing insecurity and other issues facing marginalized children, the Chronicle noted. “I am truly sorry. I look forward to getting back to the work I and my colleagues have committed to do.”

Board president Jenny Lam said the action was necessary to send a “clear statement” to the community and to denounce the “harmful stereotypes, systemic racism and the bias reflected.” 

Hsu’s apologies and the board’s action were not enough for some parents, community members and teachers. Instead, during the public comment period of the meeting before the board vote, they called for her to resign. The Chronicle also noted that her comments on the questionnaire seemed to further inflame tensions between the Chinese American community and Black and brown communities.

The Rev. Arnold Townsend, vice president of the San Francisco NAACP, said that Hsu’s comments clearly suggested unfair treatment. “It would seem so obvious to me that what we’re calling for is the right thing to do,’ Townsend said, referring to the request for Hsu’s resignation, which also comes from the local teachers union. “Our children are not being treated the same and now they’ve made it blatant.”

 Hsu’s supporters — those who do not believe she should resign, including more than 300 who signed a letter to that effect  — also number community members, particularly various Asian American groups like AsianAmericanVoters.org, as well as students and parents.

A parent who identified herself as Ellie, who spoke after exchanges of verbal outcries between Hsu’s supporters and opponents led to a meeting recess, praised Hsu and criticized the board for lack of attention to student achievement.

“There is so much work ahead,” she said. “Stop with the theatrics. Stop with the hypocrisy. I believe Commissioner Hsu has the qualities of true leader: one who listens, one who learns, one who leads.”

Mayor London Breed, who is the first Black female mayor of San Francisco, appointed Hsu to the board. While Breed has criticized Hsu’s comments, she has not asked her to resign, according to the Chronicle.

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