Friday, October 22

San Francisco Prepares to Reverse Purge of 44 School Names “Linked to Injustice” | San Francisco


The San Francisco school board is poised to reverse a much-criticized decision to purge 44 schools of names it said were linked to racism, sexism or other injustices, including Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Robert Louis Stevenson and Dianne Feinstein. Longtime California Democratic Senator.

The change is aimed at avoiding litigation and attenuating outrage over what critics called ill-timed activism.

Just over two months ago, the city’s elected board of education voted to strip the schools of the names. Parents, students, and elected officials condemned the board for some of its goals – Lincoln, for example, was the president who defeated the Confederacy and ended slavery – and for his opportunity.

The decision in late January came while all public classrooms in San Francisco were closed due to coronavirus restrictions. They still are. Mayor London Breed, among others, called it “offensive and completely unacceptable” for the board to focus on changing the names of schools rather than getting children back into classrooms.

Some of the city’s youngest students are expected to begin returning to in-person instruction this month after more than a year of distance learning. There is no schedule for middle and high school students to return.

The name change effort was also criticized for shoddy research and historical inaccuracies. An advisory committee that changed the name wrongly accused Paul Revere, a leading figure in the Revolutionary War, of attempting to colonize the town of Penobscot. He also mistook the name of Alamo Elementary School for the Battle of Texas in 1836, instead of the Spanish word for “poplar.”

In the midst of the protest, the president of the board, Gabriela López, said that the process would stop until all the children returned to school. López acknowledged in a statement that mistakes were made in the selection of schools and said that when the board returns to the subject, it will involve historians in a “more deliberative process.”

The board was scheduled to vote Tuesday on a resolution to rescind its decision and re-examine the matter after all students have returned to full-time in-person learning.

The board has faced multiple lawsuits, including one from the city council and the mayor to pressure the school district and board to reopen more quickly.

Another was filed in March, alleging that the school board’s name change decision violated California’s open meetings law and did not involve the community. San Francisco Superior Court Judge Ethan Schulman asked the board to do what the lawsuit asks: rescind the vote and dissolve the name change advisory committee, or show by April 16 why it shouldn’t be there. forced to do so.

The resolution to be considered Tuesday did not address the criticism, but denounced the lawsuit, saying it “wants to avoid distraction and waste of public funds in frivolous litigation.”

The school board has also been widely criticized for a plan to end merit admissions to San Francisco’s top public high school, Lowell, and use the same lottery-based system that admits students at other high schools.

Tuesday’s meeting will also be the first since the board voted last week to remove a member, Alison Collins, from her role as vice president and other charges for tweets about Asian Americans dating back to 2016.

In tweets, Collins said Asian Americans use “white supremacy” thinking to get ahead. He has resisted calls for his resignation and last week sued the school district and five of his six colleagues, accusing them of violating his right to freedom of expression. She seeks $ 87 million in damages.


www.theguardian.com

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