UPDATED 7:20 PM PT – Wednesday, January 27, 2021
Schools named after former presidents are set to be changed because school board officials in California claimed they symbolized ties to racism.
In a six to one vote Tuesday, the San Francisco City Public School Board announced its plans to change the names of 44 school sites. The school board members believed the names had dishonorable legacies, ranging from issues with the confederate flag to the treatment of African Americans.
One of the schools set to receive a name change was named after Abraham Lincoln. School board members and former students alike claimed Lincoln was not a true abolitionist.
Today I issued a statement on the need for our School District to focus on reopening our public schools, not renaming them. To address inequities, we need to get our kids back in the classroom. pic.twitter.com/nHnauVZzFe
— London Breed (@LondonBreed) October 16, 2020
Wilson Kong, a graduate from the class of 2005, said the name should serve as an opportunity for learning, not dismissal.
“Why don’t we take that as a lesson learned and teach an extra course on civil rights, on things they did back then in that time period?” Kong questioned. “[And] correct what happened back then that was uncomfortable to the student? Because that’s when I really learned about the history of America.”
The re-naming project will cost at least $400,000 with the potential to cost up to $1 million after re-branding uniforms, re-painting gymnasiums and installing new signage. The move is controversial, as many questioned why school districts were making this a priority amid a pandemic that has millions facing financial setbacks.
Critics called the move the latest instance of liberal cancel culture. They added the board jumped the gun on the issue without weighing the pros and cons of how each individual ex-president contributed to America during his time in office.
Each school has until April to decide on a new name. In the meantime, the San Francisco City Public School Board has yet to provide a timeline on when schools will reopen.