The San Francisco School Board has put controversial plans to rename 44 schools on hold until students are back on campus after more than a year of virtual learning during the coronavirus pandemic. Jeff Chiu / AP Hide caption
Jeff Chiu / AP
Jeff Chiu / AP
The San Francisco Board of Education will ultimately retain the names of dozens of public schools when it comes to high stakes.
The board had advanced a controversial plan to change the names of 44 schools honoring those associated with historical racism or oppression. However, on Tuesday the board unanimously voted to suspend efforts when it passed a resolution saying “avoid the distraction and wasteful spending of public funds in frivolous litigation”.
The reversal met with relief and enthusiasm from various critics, who agreed in their opposition to the project. Conservatives called the effort a culture rampage, while Liberals criticized the extremely poor research by the Blue Ribbon Panel that resulted in the long list of school names being changed.
For example, President Abraham Lincoln, whose legacy is defined by the emancipation of black slaves, was put on the list because it was decided to permit the execution of 38 Santee Sioux convicted of the rape and murder of white settlers. However, critics say the panel failed to consider that the state of Minnesota would have executed 300 Santee Sioux if Lincoln had not intervened and commuted their sentences on their behalf, sparing all but the 38 who were hanged.
SFist also reported, “The Board Committee mistakenly assumed that the Alamo Elementary School was named after the battle of Texas, rather than the Spanish word for” poplar tree, “Maine Penobscot people – the 1779 Penobscot expedition he participated in was actually an unsuccessful battle with the British who landed on Penobscot territory and “captured” it a month earlier. “
San Francisco Mayor London Breed has been reprimanding the board for months for prioritizing the project in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic shutdown.
“What I fail to understand is why the school board is pushing a plan to rename all of these schools by April if there is no plan to have our children back in the classroom by then,” Breed said in a January statement.
“Our students are suffering, and we should talk about getting them into classrooms, helping them with mental health, and giving them the resources they need during this challenging time.”
Other critics, including Attorney Paul Scott, who filed a lawsuit against the district on behalf of the SFUSD Alumni Association’s Abraham Lincoln High School, said the board did not involve the community in the process.
“That approach of basically suggesting that they have the corner of morality and dictating everyone else top-down … that’s not an acceptable approach,” Scott told NBC News.
Board chairwoman Gabriela López took note of the complaints in February, saying the process started in 2018 and preceded the pandemic.
I want to make sure that as many people as possible can see my statement about the board’s focus on reopening our schools. pic.twitter.com/8aJvMdNNPT
– Teacher and President Gabriela López @ (@ lopez4schools) February 22, 2021
“I acknowledge and accept responsibility for mistakes made in the renaming process,” she said in a statement.
López added that the board will “pursue a more deliberate process that includes the involvement of historians at nearby universities”. She also noted that the renaming committee had been suspended indefinitely. She said the school board will use its energies to get students back into personal study.
Elementary school students are expected to return starting this month. The board of directors passed a resolution on Tuesday in which a personal full-time class for all K-12 students will be determined at the beginning of the next school year in August.
The renaming will not be carried out again until this happens.