The board reversed a criticised decision from January to purge 44 schools of names which are reportedly racist, sexist or unjust
The San Francisco school board formally suspended a heavily criticised decision to purge 44 schools of names which were reportedly racist, sexist, or unjust. The move was aimed to avoid costly litigation and tone down outrage at what critics have termed as ‘ill-timed activism’.
The city’s elected board of education had voted in January to strip schools of names of figures including Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Robert Louis Stevenson and Dianne Feinstein.
However, the board convened on Zoom on Tuesday and voted unanimously (6-0) to reverse the decision, and will only revisit the matter after all students have returned full-time to in-person learning.
The move to repeal school names was met with opposition by parents, students and elected officials for its targets and timing. The decision was made in late January, when all public classrooms in San Francisco were closed due to COVID-19. Mayor London Breed called it ‘offensive and completely unacceptable’ for the board to focus on changing names rather than getting children back to school.
A renaming advisory committee wrongly accused Paul Revere of seeking to colonise the Penobscot people and confused the name of Alamo Elementary School with the Texas battle rather than the Spanish word for ‘poplar tree’, leading to criticism for their research and historical inaccuracies.
Board president Gabriela Lopez said in February that the process would be paused till all students were back in school, and acknowledged that mistakes were made in the selection of schools, assuring that upon its return, the board would engage historians for a more deliberative process.
After over a year of distance learning, the city’s youngest students are expected to return to classrooms this month. However, there is no development on the same for middle and high school students.