School names in San Francisco, California, that honor past American leaders are being removed due to their connection to slavery, including; Presidents George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson.

John Muir, Francis Scott Key, and Catholic Priest Junipero Serra also made the list.

44 schools will have to be renamed. Critics of the decision cite, the committee tasked with picking the schools, did not receive enough information  from experts and had a lack of knowledge about the current school names.

“In one instance, the committee didn’t know whether Roosevelt Middle School was named after Theodore or Franklin Delano,” the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

Critics question whether or not this is the best time to address this, considering the coronavirus pandemic, the ongoing homeless issue, and widespread drug usage, the city’s school board thinks that it’s not spreading itself too thin.  

The Chronicle reported on the name changes, which also includes removing the school named after sitting Sen. Dianne Feinstein because as Mayor she replaced a Confederate flag that was vandalized at City Hall:

 

The months-long debate garnered national attention, with former President Donald Trump tweeting about it, stoking an ongoing culture war that has intensified in recent months.

 

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. 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.

 

And the renaming is likely to be costly. It’s unclear how much the district will spend on new signage, repainted sports fields or gym floors, athletic, band or other uniforms, and other administrative costs. But based on other districts across the country, it could cost San Francisco at least $1 million to rename the 44 school sites and potentially significantly more. The district faces a significant budget deficit, which could reach $75 million next school year. The board’s Tuesday night agenda did not include items related to the academic or health impact on students or about reopening schools to the youngest or most vulnerable students.

 

The board unanimously decided to give a formal apology to the Native American families for “land theft and the pain and trauma caused by racist imagery, textbooks and mascots, while allocating $200,000 to the district’s American Indian Education program.”

The board also demands that the school district remove all Thanksgiving stereotypes, and to remove “misinformation” from textbooks, including that Pocahontas was a “willing and curious prisoner.”

The San Francisco school board voted to change the following school names:

Balboa High School, Spanish explorer Vasco Nunez de Balboa

Abraham Lincoln High School, U.S. president

Mission High School, Mission Dolores

George Washington High School, first U.S. president

Lowell High School, poet/critic James R. Lowell

James Denman Middle School, founder of first S.F. school

Everett Middle School, Edward Everett, American statesman

Herbert Hoover Middle School, U.S. president

James Lick Middle School, land baron

Presidio Middle School, S.F. military post

Roosevelt Middle School, Theodore or F.D., both U.S. presidents

Lawton K-8, U.S. Army officer Henry Ware Lawton

Claire Lilienthal (two sites), S.F. school board member

Paul Revere K-8, American Revolution patriot

Alamo Elementary, a poplar tree or the site of Texas Revolution battle

Alvarado Elementary, Pedro de Alvarado, conquistador

Bryant Elementary, author Edwin Bryant

Clarendon Elementary Second Community and Japanese Bilingual Bicultural Program, Edward Hyde, Earl of Clarendon, English politician

El Dorado Elementary, mythical City of Gold

Dianne Feinstein Elementary, U.S. senator and former S.F. mayor

Garfield Elementary, James Garfield, U.S. president

Grattan Elementary, William Henry Grattan, Irish author

Jefferson Elementary, Thomas Jefferson, U.S. president

Francis Scott Key Elementary, composer of “Star Spangled Banner”

Frank McCoppin Elementary, S.F. mayor

McKinley Elementary, William McKinley, U.S. president

Marshall Elementary, James Wilson Marshall, sawmill worker at Sutter’s Mill

Monroe Elementary, James Monroe, U.S. president

John Muir Elementary, naturalist

Jose Ortega Elementary, Spanish colonizer

Sanchez Elementary, Jose Bernardo Sanchez, Spanish missionary

Junipero Serra Elementary, Spanish priest

Sheridan Elementary, Gen. Philip Sheridan

Sherman Elementary, Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman

Commodore Sloat Elementary, John Sloat, Navy officer

Robert Louis Stevenson Elementary, author

Sutro Elementary, Adolph Sutro, S.F. mayor

Ulloa Elementary, Don Antonio de Ulloa, Spanish general

Daniel Webster Elementary, U.S. statesman

Noriega Early Education School, unclear

Presidio EES, S.F. military post

Stockton EES, Robert F. Stockton, Navy commodore