Parents at Everett Middle School in the Mission District of San Francisco were seeing red, and so were their children. They were angry over the actions of the school’s principal, Lena Van Haren, who decided to withhold the results of a student government election earlier this month. Her reason? The winners were “not diverse enough”! Thinking like that (if “thinking” is the right word) will get an invitation to the White House to meet Barack Obama.
Station KRON quotes one of the winners, seventh-grader Sebastian Kaplan, as saying, “I wanted to get more involved and change some things. I feel like it is disrespectful to all the people who were running.” Kaplan, who seems wise beyond his years, went on to observe, “The organizers are saying things like, ‘we want everyone’s voice to be heard,’ but in truth, the voters’ voices are not being heard. Most kids are in agreement that the results need to come out because kids worked really hard on it.
“The whole school voted for those people, so it is not like people rigged the game, but in a way, now it is kinda being rigged.”
Principal Van Haren, who seems very unwise despite her having lived 36 years, told the San Francisco Chronicle, “This is middle school. It’s not a presidential election. It was not about hurting democracy or putting diversity over democracy.”
It was precisely about putting diversity over democracy. (That remark should upgrade her taxpayer-funded D.C.-bound plane ticket to first class.)
Under pressure from parents and the district administration, Van Haren reluctantly revealed the election results Monday afternoon, going class to class with the information. The Chronicle notes, “While there was some diversity among the 10 winners, no English learners were elected, even though they make up about a third of enrollment. African American and Latino students were underrepresented, while white, Asian and mixed-race students, who are in the minority at the school, took the top four spots.
“’It’s not OK for a school that is really, really diverse to have the student representatives majority white,’ Van Haren said. ‘The easy thing would have been to announce the results and move on. I intentionally did not choose the easy way because this is so important.’”
I’m assuming that Van Haren lacks familiarity with the unliberal notion of voting for candidates for reasons other than ethnicity — based on qualifications, for example.
You’d think that as principal of all the students, she would understand this. The fact that she obviously doesn’t is grounds enough for the district to remove her from her post.