SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – The San Francisco Schools Board stands ready to reverse a heavily criticized decision to purge 44 schools of names allegedly associated with racism, sexism or other injustices, what critics have denounced as outmoded activism.
A little over two months ago, the city’s elected school board voted to strip schools of personalities including Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Robert Louis Stevenson and longtime California Senator Dianne Feinstein.
Parents, students and elected officials blew up the board over some of its goals – and timing. The decision was made in late January when all public classrooms in San Francisco were closed due to coronavirus restrictions. You still are. Mayor London Breed called it, among other things, “offensive and totally unacceptable” that the board focused on changing the names of the schools rather than bringing the children back into the classrooms.
Some of the city’s youngest students are expected to return to face-to-face teaching this month after more than a year of distance learning due to the pandemic. There is no return schedule for middle and high school students.
The renaming efforts have also been criticized for poor research and historical inaccuracies. A renaming advisory board falsely accused Paul Revere of wanting to colonize the Penobscot people. It also confused the Alamo Elementary School’s name with the battle of Texas rather than the Spanish word for “poplar tree.”
Amid the outcry, CEO Gabriela Lopez said in February that the process would be suspended until all the children were back in school. Lopez admitted in a statement that mistakes had been made in the selection of schools and said when the board came back on the matter it would involve historians for a “more deliberate process”.
The board is expected to vote on a resolution to overturn its January decision on Tuesday and re-examine the matter after all students return to face-to-face learning full-time.
Since the renaming, the board has faced several lawsuits, including one from City Hall and the mayor to pressure the school district and board to reopen classrooms faster. Another motion was filed in March by San Francisco attorney Paul Scott, whose children are attending public schools. The school board’s renaming decision violated the California Open Congregation Act and did not involve the community.
San Francisco Supreme Court Justice Ethan Schulman issued a ruling urging the board to do what the lawsuit calls for – to overturn the vote and dissolve the advisory committee on the renaming – or by Jan. To show April why he shouldn’t be forced to do so.
The resolution, which will be examined on Tuesday, does not respond to the criticism but denounces the lawsuit, saying it wants to “avoid the distraction and wasteful spending of public funds in frivolous litigation”.
In other recent controversies, the school board has been criticized for wanting to end performance-based admissions at San Francisco’s top public high school, Lowell, and use the same lottery-based system that admitted students to other high schools.
Tuesday’s meeting will also be the first since the board decided last week to remove one of its members, Alison Collins, from her role as Vice President and other titles over her 2016 tweets about Asian Americans.
In the tweets, Collins said that Asian Americans are using “white supremacist” thinking to get ahead. She defied calls to resign and last week sued the school district and five of her six colleagues on charges of violating their freedom of speech. She is demanding $ 87 million in damages.