Calling on Californians


Alexa Druyanoff/Chronicle

When students aren’t back in in-person classes, parents have to make a choice between working or quitting their jobs to stay home.

Jack Coleman, Guest Editorialist

Gov. Gavin Newsom has failed Californians. It’s time to say goodbye.

On March 11 last year, we left school for what most believed would be a two-week experiment with online learning. As two weeks turned into months, and months turned into a year, our lives remain completely altered. Under the leadership of Newsom, California has suffered soaring COVID-19 case numbers and a painfully slow vaccine rollout. Indeed, the coronavirus pandemic has laid bare the extent to which our elected leaders have failed us. The only remedy is to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom.

Newsom’s most glaring failure has been his inability to reopen schools throughout the state. Reopenings are not a choice between our safety and our education–– clear evidence from the CDC suggests that schools can reopen safely, and Newsom’s approach seems to have been politically motivated. According to the LA Times, the biggest supporter of school closures, the California Teachers Association, was also Newsom’s largest donor during his 2018 campaign. Disastrously, Newsom has failed to stand up for California’s students against his pro-closure megadonors.

As online learning has dragged on, students have fallen dangerously behind, but the damage hasn’t been equal. A study by McKinsey and Co. that was mentioned in The Washington Post estimates that online school has set back white students by one to three months in mathematics compared to three to five months for students of color. Much of this divide is due to the different approaches of public and private schools; many private schools have continued full coursework on Zoom, but, at the behest of teachers unions, public schools have gotten by with offering pathetically little instruction that relies on often unsupervised students to complete asynchronous work.

The issue of schools harms far more than just students. School closures have contributed to California’s exceedingly high unemployment rate. When students aren’t back in in-person classes, parents have to make a choice between working or quitting their jobs to stay home. Without a ready workforce, we will not be able to recover from the pandemic.

This already disastrous situation has only been made worse by the snail-paced vaccine rollout. When the FDA approved the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine Dec. 11 as expected, California wasn’t ready. Despite knowing that a vaccine would eventually arrive, Newsom seems to have been caught off-guard. The state received millions of doses from the federal government, yet California’s poorly planned distribution program has left it behind 37 states, according to Beckers Hospital Review. For too long, Newsom refused to modify his plans even as other states proved more effective at vaccinating their populations. Now, overwhelmed by the failure of its online systems, the state government has waved a white flag by quietly turning over vaccinations to Blue Shield of California.

Finally, Newsom has lost the public trust of Californians. A recent University of California, Berkeley poll suggests that Newsom’s approval rating has dropped by almost 20 points since September. As Newsom begged people to stay home and suggested that Californians cancel Thanksgiving plans, he privately dined indoors with at least 10 people at The French Laundry restaurant. Since August, he has been sending his children to private, in-person schools while proclaiming that it is too dangerous for schools to reopen. It is no surprise that our cases have skyrocketed despite harsh lockdowns. How can we expect people to follow COVID-19 guidelines when our own governor flagrantly ignores them?

This is not a partisan issue. This recall movement is a broad coalition of fed-up Californians. A recall election in the fall is highly likely, and these are just a few of the reasons to recall Newsom. Each of us will have to make our own choice. If you believe that Gov. Newsom is the best California can do, then vote ‘no’ on the recall, but if you, like so many others, believe that the Golden State deserves better, then your only option is to vote ‘yes.’