A father running who is running for a San Francisco area school board said he has been accused of devising a “right-wing takeover” after suggesting the schools should focus on academics said his race is “reflective” of the broader divisiveness in America.
Mark Woolway, a father of four, is running for Acalanes School Board in San Francisco’s Bay Area. His frustrations with the Acalanes Union High School District (AUHSD) mounted during the pandemic, which brought to light what he called a “lack of leadership,” he told Fox News Digital.
“I just want what’s best for the kids,” Woolway said. “I decided to run because I have four young children and … I want the schools to be as good as possible for them.”
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In October 2020, the AUHSD school board made the unanimous decision to keep children out of school for “far longer than necessary” which was “a tremendous disservice to the children,” Woolway said.
Despite students being allowed back in school, Woolway decided to take a deeper look at the district’s leadership, which prompted him to run for school board.
“Hopefully the COVID situation is behind us, but the decision-making that the board had, to me, is reflective of what they’re going to do going forward, and I can’t have any confidence they’re going to make the right decisions for the kids,” he said.
Woolway’s number one priority is to get the focus back on academics, which he said has incited a tremendous amount of criticism from his opponents.
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Not long after announcing he would run for school board, Woolway’s campaign made headlines because he worked on the transition team of the Treasury Department between President Obama and President Trump. Woolway’s running mate, Gabe Ledeen, is also family friends with Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’ wife, Ginni, who made a $250 courtesy donation to the campaign, Woolway said. Critics cite the two instances as evidence of “some sort of right wing conspiracy to take over the schools and undermine diversity, equity and inclusion at the expense of academics,” he added.
Despite attacks from his opponents, Woolway described DEI initiatives as “very important” and stressed the importance of tolerance toward a diversity of thoughts and opinions.
“That’s a reflection of this broader problem that there is no diversity of opinions and thoughts,” he said. “All these school board votes are five to nothing. Again, reflecting this monolithic worldview that is being imposed upon the kids.”
In private, parents are extremely supportive of what Woolway is trying to accomplish, but in public, community members are more hesitant to show their support due to the “tremendous social pressure” to hold certain views, he told Fox News Digital.
“That social pressure is insidious and silent, but it’s real and people don’t want to offend their neighbor by speaking what they really feel,” he added. “I’m not afraid to do so and that’s why I decided to stick my neck out to try to improve the schools.”
Woolway believes his race is reflective of a lot of broader issues nationwide, which he said has made people more divided and polarized. He said that just because his focus is on improving schools and putting the focus back on academics, that doesn’t mean he also wants to dismantle all the proposed social initiatives that are underway.
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“I think that when the current administration derides any of his [Biden’s] opponents as MAGA extremists that empowers people out here in the community,” Woolway said. “This is a nonpartizan school board race. But again, just because of the issues that we have talked about and the fact that I have a slightly different opinion than the education establishment out here, that makes me … a MAGA extremist.”
“I think that this divisiveness is very unfortunate and it’s counterproductive,” he added. “But again, I think that this is reflective of a lot of the broader issues that are happening in the country.”
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Fox News’ Sophia Slacik contributed to this report.