tv Government Access Programming SFGTV July 5, 2019 12:00pm-1:01pm PDT
>> piece and welcome. we are glad you are here. this is the regular meeting of the board of education of the san francisco unified school district. tonight is june 25th, 2019. roll call, please. >> thank you. [roll call] thank you. >> i would like to start this meeting in honor of alice walker , the most common way
people give up their power is by thinking they don't have any. section a., general information number 1. accessibility information for the public, section two, teleconference information. there is none tonight. section b., opening items. as a heads up, i am moving up section h. which is the discussion about the mural. i will give another notice at that time, but section h. is being moved up. let's see. section b., opening items, approval of board minutes, there is none tonight. speaker cards for the regular agenda and for closed session are necessary if you wish to address the board of education. members of the public are reminded that an individual can complete a speaker card prior to
the item being called and presented -- present it to our executive assistant. members of the public will have two minutes to address the board and/or the time as set by the president, importantly, according to board rules and procedures, speaker cards will not be accepted for any item already before the board. number 2, superintendent's report. dr. matthews? >> thank you. good evening, everyone. i am pleased to announce that the acute e.e.a. innovation award cohort of schools for the 2019, 2020 school year has been approved by the innovation award review committee. ten out of 18 schools were awarded the opportunity to solve foreign equity challenge to ensure that each and every one of the students realizes the san francisco unified school district's graduate profile. they will participate in any facilitated process to design, pitch, and implement solutions funded by the act over the
course of the coming year. the awarded schools are, thurgood marshall, john mclaren early ed, galileo high school, el dorado elementary school, tenderloin community school, balboa high school, john o'connell high school, cesar chavez elementary school, star king elementary elementary school and josé ortega. congratulations to all of these schools. [applause] for almost 30 years, our district and our district program, the lgbtq support services have committed to transforming schools into cultures of affirmation and inclusion for our lgbtq students and families. tonight, i want to acknowledge that the san francisco unified school district, with 250 members of our district community, will march in the
lgbtq pride parade this weekend to demonstrate our solidarity and commemorate the 50th anniversary of the stonewall riots. we believe that harvey milk once said, all young people, regardless of sexual orientation or identity deserve a safe and supportive environment in which to achieve their full potential. our participation in pride shows our ongoing commitment to create a society that acknowledges and celebrates lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender? or and nonbinary people. all san francisco unified schools will be closed on july 4 th. have a great summer vacation, we will see you back for school on monday, august 19th, at the next board of education meeting will be august 13th. have a great summer vacation.
>> thank you, dr. matthews. number 3, student delegate report, there is none tonight. number 4, recognitions and resolutions accommodations, there is none tonight. number 5, recognizing all valuable employees. dr. matthews? >> this evening we have one brave award special award winner this award goes to adriana vargas, she is a parent and community coordinator at the education placement centre and this will be presented by rosina tong who is the executive director. >> good evening, superintendent matthews, commissioners, colleagues and friends. and executive director at the e.p.c. i am elated to present this award to adriana vargas.
for the past six years, she has worked in the early education department and the educational placement center serving each and every family with kindness, understanding, and care. adriana warmly provides guidance and counciling to families around the student assignment process and school options. as the community member who nominated her stated, she has made a positive impact on people 's lives. she understands how important children's education is. she did everything for us to give the right information about the schooling, and the next steps that we should follow. our district is fortunate to have an outstanding employee in adriana who communicates positivity and is professional in each and every way. in addition to supporting families well, adriana is also a helpful colleague. she steps into support her fellow team members when needed and is generous with her time
section h., special order of business. number 1, important notice regarding public comment on item h. two, recommendation to remove from public view the mural at george washington high school. the board of education anticipates several speakers on this item in an effort to accommodate as many speak -- several speakers on this item. and it anticipation to address several speakers and the board will allow for one hour of public comment regarding agenda item h. two, recommendation to remove from public view the mural at george washington high school. the board will allocate one hour is public -- a public comment as follows. thirty minutes of speakers in
favor of keeping the mural in view, and 30 minutes for speakers in favor of removing the mural from public view. the board strongly recommends -- trailing her just speakers to collaborate and coordinate their messages in order to make the most efficient use of time. in the event that speakers do not coordinate the message, the board will call speakers individually and allow one speaker for up to 30 minutes per position as set forth above. individual speakers will be called in the order in which the speaker cards were submitted. the board of education will not accept speaker cards via telephone or e-mail in advance of the meeting. speaker cards on this item must be submitted in person. so we will be starting with names of folks in favor of not removing the mural.
be sure to hit the button when you start. >> this first letters from gordon knox, president from the san francisco art institute. the stricken of art never advances dialogue and never should be risk -- misconstrued of revoking facts of human history. i hear the deep part of students and others faced with painful imagery. artists can help us see our world in powerful and disturbing ways. the second letters from the california college of the arts. this is the president.
the injustices the murals invoke are difficult to look at and discuss and reckon with. this is exactly where their greatest value lies within the context of a high school where students are learning to exercise the powers of critical assessment and discourse, a space that respects each student 's history. to some it up, as the george washington -- is a george washington alumni board member, we know it is hard to look at, but we really believe in education and history, and that is why we would like to keep the murals up. thank you. [applause] >> we just got news today that thomas campbell, director of the fine arts museum of san francisco has written thus to us , while i respect the concerns of the protesters and understand the problematic issues, i do not believe that san francisco will be well served by the destruction of the mural series. the piece was originally
intended to promote the whole discussion around these exact issues. and while intent does not allay impact, it could have incredible value as a teaching tool for the generations. please listen to this. i would be happy to volunteer our staff to assist in the next steps following tuesday's meeting. last week, they presented a reasonable defence for george washington high school. a motion one today. i'm shocked that the board is considering squandering public funds to cover over the murals. and i would expect the exact same point of view as the critics. the mural -- i'm further shocked at the board appears to lack the courage to rise to the occasion. indeed i wonder how many of you actually have seen the murals. please consider the sheer cost of the proposed solution. dollars that could be invested in tutoring. >> thank you. >> teacher salaries, or native
american center. >> thank you. >> my mission neighbours are out -- [indiscernible] >> your time is up. [applause] >> next speaker, please. >> thank you for the time. every country has skeletons in the closet. i come from a country just like the united states that has genocide in its past. i come from turkey where armenian genocide happened and millions and millions of people have been decimated, but in turkey today, you cannot even say the word genocide. it is band.
anything that has to do with the armenians is band. their art is band, the culture is band, anything, even in the states here when i am saying the word genocide, if i was in turkey, i would get 20 years because i'm outside of the country, i will get 35 years of prison for saying this. this is where it goes -- once the genocidal people start answering the art that depicts this history, depicts the genocide, depicts the killing of the people, and it goes down from there. nothing -- >> thank you. your time is up. [applause] >> the murals represent social history. it provides -- they provide us -- they provide an inclusive and
truthful story of american history. they should not be removed. removing them represents censorship, as well as reactionary -- a reenact -- reactionary moment in time. what i do recommend is that the school board establishes some kind of multimedia display in the entrance of george washington high school that indicates the complexity and contradictions of george washington, the extraordinary history of it and as well as a discussion about the role of them in the 1930s to try and provide an accurate environment for people in this country. thank you. [applause] >> before we get started, i will read the rest of the names i have here.
i'm a projection artist based in san francisco. i'm a proud immigrant, citizen, an advocate of endangered euros. advocated for california's oldest mural painted by artist in 1791 and were concealed in 1796. this board has made a deliberate effort not to consider alternatives to censoring the mural. i see a opportunity to animate and give context to the mural and i propose a feasible dynamic and inexpensive solution, a projected video artwork permanently projected onto the mural itself that will bring diverse perspective to the mural without adversely affecting his historic fabric. figures inserted to the mural have -- >> thank you. next speaker, please.
thank you. speaker, please the timer is continuing to go, if you continue to speak, you'll be taking up from the people behind you. thank you. next speaker. >> my name is jack, i am a retired member of the longshore users. i want to address my remarks to the students because i want to use this as a teaching moment because apparently the school board hasn't done their job to teach the students what these murals are about. in 1934, there was a general strike in this town. i don't know if the students are aware of that, but what provoked the general strike was our union and siemens unions were striking to have a union hiring hall for jobs, and the police killed two
strikers. that provoked the general strike that lasted for three days and it changed the whole atmosphere in the city of san francisco. it is what made san francisco a uniontown. it was really a very violent clash because the police and the national guard were called out. at the same time, in 1930 -- >> thank you. next speaker, please. >> my name is michelle. i am scared. i have been an activist in the city and for people around the world my whole entire life. i am 66. it is a very complex issue. the issue of the mural, whether it stays or leaves and what the
images mean because we are under attack by our president and by the climate in the world today. it is one which makes you question everything, so the tendency to revise what actually is his is right out there, and the sides that you get on are pretty clear, but i think it's because of all that that it's very complicated, and i feel like there's several measures that haven't been exhausted to, like contextualizing the mural, which i think some people have attempted to describe today, when it was made, what its intent was, and how it exists today, actually countering a lot of the things that people are speaking up for now. finally, i think that. >> thank you. >> well! >> as a reminder, we have 30 minutes total allotted. each speaker has one minute. please state your name for the record.
>> my name is robert. i want to remind you all that there are 13 separate murals. your agenda item speaks of the mural. there are 13 separate murals that make up the life of washington. they are all historic resources. they all fall under ceqa. if you are going to make changes to any of them or all of them, by covering them with a solid panel, you will be removing them as historic resources. you need to file an environmental impact report if you are going to do this, and it should include a discussion of the alternatives that you have considered, and why you have rejected each of the alternatives.
i have not seen anything to suggest that you have done any of that work, so i think it is premature to be voting on anything. [applause] >> my name is toby from the world socialist website. i strongly oppose any removal or painting over of the murals. it has nothing to do with social progress or writing past wrongs. the murals have important historic and current value. if people don't want to see unpleasant or potentially offensive images, they should just stop studying history altogether. despite the justifications that have been presented, this is no better than book burning or other reactionary forms of repression and censorship.
ultimately, it is aimed at blocking the population from understanding american society's contradictory social development something which has been and continues to be nuanced and complex. the past must be studied and must be critically thought about , it must be understood in order to improve the present. ignorance never helped anyone. we can't erase history and i encourage people who are interested in speaking to workers around the world and youth to contact me. thank you. [applause]. [please stand by]
my name is dean. i'm a father of two recent graduates of washington high school, which is incidentally, the best school. i'm speaking with regard to victor who is, of course, the painter of these murals. he was part of the communist party. they were all american champions of the black liberation movement they defended many individuals wrongly accused of capital crimes. he would have painted murals celebrating the lakers -- legacy of slavery and racial oppression he was a committed communist, and none of these are crimes against people of color. there is evidence of his commitment to antiracism.
we got it. thank you very much. [applause] >> excuse me, excuse me. >> my name is carol. i was an art teacher at washington high school for many years. i always took my students to you to discuss the murals. so they could know about the wta many of you know about the wta, the depression, we talked about the depression, the contributions of artists who created these murals and the development of our young nation
as well as the mistakes we made along the way. i have follow-up discussions that include the inhumanity of slavery and the cruel abuse of native americans. it is all in the murals. our hollow points and our low points it would be unconscionable to destroy or cover up the washington murals for all the points i have stated above peak these valuable murals are companions of the murals in many other locations in san francisco and the cities throughout our country. [applause] >> you turned your make off. >> i'm james davis, i am no alumni of george washington high school, a lifelong citizen of san francisco, and frankly, i'm embarrassed to say i may -- i am listening to this censorship. i was thinking of when i went to the legion of honor and saw the
holocaust memorial, and i find that very distressing and difficult to deal with, but to take that down, for -- to erase the holocaust that has occurred, a much more mature response would be what a dr. did in the 1970s, and there was a similar protest in the african-american community and they gather together and painted another mural which stands in washington high school as a counterpoint to this mural. i would just like to remind you that i voted for most of you in the last election. please show me that i did not make a mistake. i live in san francisco, and i vote, and i will do my best to make sure that this discussion is made public to all the san franciscans that you really are oppressing free speech. was pause. >> good evening, my name is robert. i just wanted to make one comment first. i didn't appreciate being called a white supremacist because i am
for keeping those murals up. i'm speaking as an elder of a first nation peoples of oklahoma as i said last week, those murals are our visual history that genocide was there, it shows it in those murals. to take those down, you are taking a visual record away, and if you are thinking that to take those down based on their showing of white supremacy, it is just hard for me to fathom that, i am a first nation people , too, and i hear where these activists are coming from. i get angry when i see it, but i don't get offended because i get angry when i hear about what happened to my mom on sporting schools when she spoke a language. it helps to take me in a direction to strategize how we can overcome that. [applause]
>> my name is harvey smith. i want to underscore a point i made last week and that is it is totally possible to put these murals in context. i did interpretive signage at the tower. you can do it here, too. i also want to speak as a former oakland teacher. when i was in oakland teacher, i taught a class called multicultural studies, and they were four units. we looked at the japanese american internment, the black panther party, native occupation of alcatraz, and the united farm workers. along with other teachers, we did reach students, and we did have deep discussions about these issues. we took a look back, and i don't know what's going on here in san francisco, it doesn't seem to be happening here. also, i have done tours of murals all over the city, and i
stood in front of murals with people, and we have had very deep discussions about what made -- what may be in the murals and what may not be in the murals. they always become a talking point and a beginning point. thank you. [applause] >> my name is carol, and i am an artist who is experienced -- who has experienced censorship. when i first wrote to you, i offered to buy anyone of you or all of you a copy of this book about victor and the politics of art. it is really worth reading, especially in this moment. i really want to encourage you not to make a decision tonight, but to wait until you've had a chance to learn more thoroughly about the life of an artist who went out of his way to illustrate genocide, racism, and make sure his work was consonant with social justice. thank you. [applause]
>> many myths do. hold this board and -- i hold this board and dr. superintendent matthews responsible for this mess because why wasn't there any information about the murals for the students that came to this? just watching it now, without understanding that, you are responsible for letting students know what this we are represents , you didn't do that. you set up the committee without any alternatives to provide the information about this mural. it is a committee that allows you to announce that you will vote to cover these murals, to censor them, to destroy them. frankly, that will cost millions of dollars because people will sue and we will end up spending millions of dollars defending the taking down of these murals. who is responsible for that? the money should be spent on teachers, building a cultural native american history centre at the school that provides this
so every student at san francisco unified school district should be required to go to the murals to get an education about this history, this great art that shows the history of the united states. that's what we should be doing. [applause] >> joel britton. i am opposed to censoring the mural. the board should vote to not painted over, cover it up, or anything else. leave it be. this antiracist, and i genocide mural could not have been painted if it had not have been for the working class upsurge of those times. the san francisco general strike , the minneapolis teacher strike of 1934 paved the way for the industrial reunions in this country. it was a tremendous development. it made it possible for the
artist to paint this historic fresco. don't painted over, don't cover it up. [applause] -- don't paint it over, don't cover it up. >> next speaker, please. we have about ten minutes remaining. >> my name is gene. i am a citizen of san francisco. this reminds me of a cliché for people my age one mark twain debated -- they debated whether mark twain should be taught in schools because he referred to african-americans, slaves that one of his characters was with, by the name that was used at that time, and it was horrifying to some people. it remains something that we are all ashamed of, but the idea of taking down mark twain because he was painting the picture of the way the south was then, the idea that that should not be taught and we should never know
what those words were is absurd. i think it is frankly ignorant, and i'm glad that mark twain was never censored. i hope you will not censor this painting. it has profound implications and it portrays an aspect of our history we are embarrassed about and ashamed about. some of the aspects, in a portion of the mural, but i certainly hope you will never take it down. [applause] >> is that it? speaker, please. i called all the names with the cards, i'm taking all the speakers and i will close public comment. if you hear your name called and you are not limed up, please make your way. -- if you are not lined up, please make your way. >> excuse me, my name is leo and my name wasn't called. >> your name wasn't up there, go ahead. >> thank you.
i am a graduate from george washington high school, class of 1961. there's a craze going around the country, it is spreading like wildfire across america to take down statues, monuments, and religious artifacts. where did our country go wrong? we must preserve history so we as a society do not repeat it again. the only thing i have to say is this. of san francisco school board decides to destroy the murals, why don't you also rename george washington? he was a slaveholder, thomas jefferson was a slaveholder. [cheers and applause]. >> please, stop the timer. >> why don't you rename george washington tupelo see high school? i'm sure nancy will be thrilled to have her name on the school. thank you.
>> my name is kathryn. the artist had the guts enough to paint something against george washington at the george washington school. the reason is that he really wanted students to know not the rosy picture of george washington's history, but the reality. the real history of the u.s. american government. and that is why he wanted to do it with that period, and this founding father of george washington, i don't know what
the people think of him, but the reality is not that rosy. that's what he really wanted students to learn by looking at the painting. >> thank you. [applause] >> i am the vice president of george washington high school alumni association. we stand with many in preserving the priceless murals at george washington high school. i asked you last week to consider delaying this vote. it could be a death sentence if you decide to do what you're talking about, and i just want to make sure that before you do anything that you all take a technical tour of the murals.
i recommend the videos that i was not allowed to show last week, that you review those, and the audio shows that many participated. i ask you to follow, whatever you decide to do, i ask you to follow all the sequel protocols, capital protocols and other protocols. and que. >> thank you. my name is lydia and after being accused of being a white supremacist, i am here to fight for the humanity for everyone who spoke before me and is in support of the mural staying up. i said there's a better world that has collaboration and compromise. a world that looks to honor all cultures and all peoples, not by destroying them.
last week i talked about my father who was a civilian survivor of a forced labor camp during world war ii with the nazis. he came here to give me a better life. i was born here, i am a native, but the symbol that stayed with him is that not see his him. i dare not say anything other than this experience is evoking such deep pain and i am hoping we can honor all people, provide -- it says my heart is smothering in its own blood. i ask you, collaborate, compromise, seek a solution that honors all people. thank you. [applause] >> i will now read off a list of names of people that are in favor of removing the mural. when you hear your name called, please make your way to the podium. again, we will allow a total of 30 minutes.
with those please begin. >> good evening. my name is paula. -- >> just one second. please start your time, please. >> good evening. i am the program coordinator here for the indian education program for sfusd, a proud member of the pit pitt river nation of northern california. representation matters. it is not a matter of censorship , it is a matter of human rights. the rights to learn without hostile environments. even the best intentions do harm one's intent does not do gate
all the lived experience that we live every single day of our lives. you are not with our children, you do not see how they carry themselves every day, how they are attacked, targeted, hunted, sent to places that were meant to destroy them. continuing every day that trauma and expected to smile and be okay about it. the tides have turned. the world is not how it once was >> thank you. [applause] [cheering] [please stand by]
>> one thing i know, is that george washington, after he became president, is to kill all indians, men, women, and children within 200 miles after he became president. in the united states, very soon, they'll be a minority of occidentals and majority of people of color. we are on a direction of change. let's hope this board does that, also. >> hello. my name is jasmine harvey.
i am strongly for painting it and covering up for good. our children need positive images and encouraging images every day that they enter school. like i said, it's already hard enough for them to go to school, and to see oppressive images is bad. my father has a cleaning business, and there's no way it can be that outrageous amount, not even a quarter. so i feel that needs to be relooked at, too, and yes, paint it down. like i said, more to say, but paint it down. >> hello. my name is sher long, and i think this painting, it's offensive, the thing i've heard
about how it's hurting them instead of helping them. i don't believe it's erasing history, it's just, you know, doing the right thing. like, it's obviously not, you know, really -- you know, doing anything positive, so i'm just for taking it down. thank you. >> hi, board of education. my name is karen, and i've just graduated galileo high school. i didn't need a mural to know that genocide happened to the indigenous people in this land. everyone knows that george washington is a controversial figure today. i understand that when my community tells me they need me the most, i must listen. today, you are the ones with power to decide the outcome of
this resolution, so please listen to the students who need it the most. please paint it down. >> hi, commissioners, my name is lu, and i am here today to implore, please, just listen. i know -- i know you've heard of so many different sides. i am a chinese american, a chinese american who is a settler on this land. i know when people talk about the right to create, where was the right to create, where was the right of the indigenous people, the black folk, to decide how they wants their history, the -- they wanted their history, the humanity? this is the smallest thing you can offer to a community who needs it so much. for maybe some people, this is will sensorship, but -- about
sensorship, but this is about reparations. paint it down. [applause] >> my name is rachel, and i speak with the chinese american association. i'm talking about paint it down. first of all and foremost, this is a well-researched topic. if you all want to educate yourselves, read stories of indian chiefs, of warriors, of indian princesses. i'm here today because i'm for things, like, these students -- i hear things like these students are ignorant. 80% of curriculums do not cover indian history past the year 1900, and 62% of