The San Francisco Board of Education voted 6-0 on Tuesday to rescind a decision to rename 44 school buildings named after historical figures with “dishonorable legacies,” following widespread criticism among parents, the city government, and national media.
The vote postpones a final decision on whether to rename the schools in question until after all students have returned to in-person learning.
No San Francisco public school student has received in-person instruction since March 2020 when the coronavirus pandemic forced a shutdown, and while some younger students are returning to class this month, there is no timetable for middle and high school students to come back to class.
Seeyew Mo, head of Families for San Francisco, applauded the board’s vote.
“I’m glad they’ve come to their senses — after lawsuits, and public pressure,” Mo told the Associated Press. “A lot of people agree with the idea of revisiting names, but they just disagree with how it was done.”
The renaming process targeted schools named after historical figures “engaged in the subjugation and enslavement of human beings; or who oppressed women, inhibiting societal progress; or whose actions led to genocide.” Schools named after Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and even Senator Dianne Feinstein were among those slated for renaming.
San Francisco mayor London Breed has criticized the renaming effort, saying in January that she couldn’t understand “why the School Board is advancing a plan to have all these schools renamed by April, when there isn’t a plan to have our kids back in the classroom by then.” The city has sued the school board to reopen classrooms, so far without success, while parents have initiated a recall effort for the board members.
Meanwhile, board member Alison Collins was stripped of the title of vice president in March after a 2016 tweet thread by Collins surfaced in which she appeared to compare Asian Americans to “house n*****.” Collins has refused to resign and sued the district for $87 million in damages, saying the board engaged in “intentional infliction of emotional distress.”
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