When San Francisco-based Everett Middle School held its recent school council election, its principal, Lena Van Haren, refused to release the results, saying she was concerned that the winners were not diverse enough.
While she would ultimately relent and release the results, her decision spurred anger among parents and kids who felt that the principal was putting diversity ahead of democracy.
Critics compared her to a dictator who scraps elections when results don’t go her way...“The whole school voted for those people, so it is not like people rigged the game,” seventh-grader Sebastian Kaplan, who had run for class representative, told KRON 4, yet had no clue a week later if he won. “But in a way, now it is kinda being rigged.”
The controversy began as soon as the Oct. 9 election results rolled in. The principal was disturbed by the lack of diversity among the winners, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. The school sits in San Francisco’s Mission District, a historically diverse neighborhood that has recently struggled with both gentrification and gang violence. Everett is as much a melting pot as the community, with 80 percent of its population comprised of students of color. Only 20 percent of students are white, Van Haren told KTVU.
So what’s the problem? An open, fair election was held, candidates openly competed, the student body voted, their votes were counted, and a disproportionately high number of non-minority students happened to win.
“It’s not okay for a school that is really, really diverse to have the student representatives majority white," the principal told the San Francisco Chronicle. "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.”
So let’s get this straight. The election results were “not okay," even though it was freely determined by the diverse students themselves who they wanted as their student council? What's more important than honest displays of democracy in this case?
Students who had run for office were left in limbo, wondering if they had won or lost and if it even mattered anymore. “I wanted to get more involved and change some things,” Kaplan, the seventh-grader running for class representative, told KRON 4. “I feel like it is disrespectful to all the people who were running,” he said, adding he felt discouraged and didn’t really even want to be involved anymore.
As one parent, Todd David, put it to the Chronicle. “It’s really, really disturbing to me that withholding the results somehow equals social justice or equity.”
After relenting and publishing the results -- in which "white, Asian, and mixed-race students" were statistically over-represented -- the school's (white) principal pronounced herself "concerned" about whether students' "voices are all heard.”
Yes, their voices were heard. Their voices are just under an attempt to be silenced by a politically correct administrator who seems more obsessed with race than the students clearly are.
Nevertheless, said administrator is reportedly considering adding seats or roles to the student council as an ex post facto means of mitigating this imaginary problem.
It’s too bad that the principal herself is displaying the typical liberal trait of stonewalling and manipulation when things don’t go their way. Democracy was alive and well in this school, but liberalism tried to squelch it under the stifling chains of political correctness.
The bottom line is -- Lena Van Haren, not the vote or the election's outcome -- is the problem. Van Haren should be fired for teaching dishonesty rather than celebrating the electoral process, which sometimes provides results that disappoint some people. Heaven knows, I've been disappointed since 2008.