Parents in a liberal San Francisco suburb calling for “parent transparency” and political “neutrality” in the classroom are being accused of inciting a “right-wing takeover” by a group aiming to defeat some candidates for school board.
Mark Woolway, a tech executive and single father of four, is running for Acalanes School Board in San Francisco’s Bay Area after becoming frustrated with the “lack of leadership” and “failed job” of incumbent board members who imposed excessive school closures and put an undue emphasis on ideological “social issues.”
Though Woolway has received overwhelming support from parents in private, a vocal “fringe” movement has labeled him a “book banner” and “anti-DEI” for suggesting change is needed, according to Woolway.
Since the onset of the pandemic, parents have flocked to school boards over frustrations with COVID policies and ideologically-bent coursework.
Woolway’s campaign has drawn negative press for a $250 donation from Ginni Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and family friend of Woolway’s campaign running mate, Gabe Ledeen.
The donation has prompted reports from the San Francisco Chronicle, ABC7 and other local news outlets that a conservative insurgency is underway.
Woolway, a self-declared Independent who has never voted for Donald Trump, has said these claims are “preposterous.”
A group of activist parents in the district have denounced the campaigns of Woolway and others, calling for voters to “Reject the Right-Wing Takeover Attempt,” according to a petition posted to Change.org.
The parent leading the petition, Chad Curran, in an interview with a local news outlet compared Woolway’s call to get “back to education” to the “Make America Great Again” slogan, while also claiming that greater transparency for parents will mean “banning books” and “whitewashing the curriculum.”
Woolway’s priorities for the school district are to bring greater parent transparency to student’s curricula, prioritize “critical thinking over ideology” in the classroom, improve lagging academic performance and oppose equity-based grading that lowers standards for students.
“The lack of tolerance to any differing opinion or any sort of healthy debate is a big problem,” said Woolway. “The way kids are going to learn critical thinking is being exposed to different views and opinions.”
Acalanes School District is located in Contra Costa County, where President Biden carried roughly 75% of the vote in 2020 and is about 30-minutes from San Francisco.
Sophia Slacik is a production assistant for Fox News Digital.