Tuesday night, the San Francisco School Board voted to accept the recommendations of a “renaming committee” and voted to officially rename 44 public schools bearing the names of “controversial” historical figures, including former Presidents Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and Herbert Hoover; Revolutionary War hero Paul Revere; inventor Thomas Edison; and longtime California Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein.
San Francisco commissioned the renaming committee in October of 2019, and the school board announced they were putting the committee’s name change recommendations to a vote back in December. At the time, the decision to rename the schools was not final. Tuesday’s vote made the 44 name changes official and set the committee’s recommendations into motion, according to NBC Bay Area.
The 44 schools will now have until April to come up with new names, the outlet notes.
As the Washington Free Beacon pointed out in December, some of the “controversial” names are considered controversial for strange reasons. Feinstein, for example, ran afoul of the committee for an incident involving a Confederate Flag, but it’s not clear Feinstein was involved in the incident at all.
“According to a 1984 copy of Workers Vanguard, ‘Dixie’ Feinstein raised a Confederate flag at San Francisco’s Civic Center while she was mayor of the city, and later replaced the flag after it was pulled down by protesters,” the Free Beacon noted. “This allegation led the school board to include the elementary school bearing Feinstein’s name.”
“The San Francisco Chronicle echoed the allegations, but according to SF Bay View, a progressive alternative Bay Area paper that fact-checked the allegations, although the Confederate flag did appear in front of San Francisco’s Civic Center as part of a display of ‘historical flags’ (and was, indeed, pulled down by protesters and later replaced), it’s not clear Feinstein had anything to do with the incident. The blame more likely rests with an aide in the city’s Recreation and Parks Department,” The Daily Wire reported in December.
Abraham Lincoln ran afoul of the committee despite his role in ending the practice of slavery in the United States because he “did not demonstrate that ‘black lives mattered to him.'”
“Lincoln, like the presidents before him and most after, did not show through policy or rhetoric that black lives ever mattered to them outside of human capital and as casualties of wealth building,” the committee noted, adding that Lincoln was also no friend to Native Americans and that Lincoln’s considerable achievements did not wash away his sins.
Not everyone is on board with the renaming process, however.
“Many San Francisco parents — as well as Mayor London Breed — argued the effort was ill-timed given the pandemic and the impact on children, especially students of color, and the fact that students are not even in the schools subject to renaming,” according to the San Francisco Chronicle. “Some criticized the board Tuesday for focusing on symbolism rather than the urgent reality facing struggling students, who are approaching a year in distance learning, with many struggling academically, socially, and emotionally.”
The move is also likely to cost San Francisco’s school district millions.