SAN FRANCISCO—The San Francisco Unified School District is considering renaming 44 of its 125 schools. A panel of 12 community members appointed by the school district’s superintendent believe that names such as “George Washington”, “Abraham Lincoln”, and “Thomas Jefferson” are too problematic to be featured in the name of schools, mostly because of the connections that can be made to slavery and oppression.
The panel was originally formed in January, and has met 10 times over the year. The most recent meeting occurred three weeks ago, when officials from the San Francisco Unified School District asked parents to come up with new names for the schools.
According to an official, long list of renaming criteria released by the San Francisco School Names Advisory Committee, schools meeting the following criteria will be put under review for renaming:
- Anyone directly involved in the colonization of people.
- Slave owners or participants in enslavement
- Perpetrators of genocide or slavery
- Those who exploit workers/people
- Those who directly oppressed or abused women, children, queer or transgender people
- Those connected to any human rights of environmental abuses
- Those who are known racists and/or white supremacists and/or espoused racist believes
Some of the schools that are under review for renaming are:
- Balboa High School, named after Spanish Explorer Vasco Nunez de Balboa
- Abraham Lincoln High School, named after U.S. president
- Mission High School, named after Mission Dolores
- Junipero Serra Elementary, named after a Spanish priest
- George Washington High School, named after first U.S. president
- Sanchez Elementary, named after Spanish missionary Jose Bernardo Sanchez
- James Lick Middle School, named after a land baron
- Paul Revere K-8, named after American Revolution patriot
- Alvarado Elementary, named after Spanish conquistador Pedro de Alvarado
- Dianne Feinstein Elementary, named after U.S. senator and former S.F. mayor
The list goes on, however, on October 16 Mayor Breed publicly criticized the school board’s decision to rename the schools, saying in a statement that “In the midst of this once in a century challenge, to hear that the District is focusing energy and resources on renaming schools – schools that they haven’t even opened – is offensive”, Breed’s statement read.
“But the fact that our kids aren’t in school is what’s driving inequity in our City. Not the name of a school. We are in a pandemic right now that is forcing us all to prioritize what truly matters,” Breed concluded in her statement.
Currently, it remains unclear whether or not the schools will be renamed for certain. The process for re-naming would be a long process, with the school board having to vote on any recommended name changes in January or early February. After that, it could take weeks to finalize the decision and officially rename the schools. However, in the meantime each school on the list is expected to come up with their alternative names by December 18.