San Francisco board votes to strip names of Lincoln, Washington from local schools

Greg Nash

The school board in San Francisco has voted to do away with the names of dozens of schools in the district that some have deemed hold offensive histories. 

Among the schools set to have their names changed are Lowell High, Lincoln High, Washington High, Roosevelt Middle, John Muir Elementary and Feinstein Elementary School, according to local media reports

Feinstein Elementary is named after Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) who is among the longest-serving members in the upper chamber.

“It’s a message to our families, our students and our community,” said board member Mark Sanchez, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. “It’s not just symbolic. It’s a moral message.”

Lincoln’s name was recommended for removal from one of the city’s high schools due to his reported treatment of Native Americans, NBC Bay Area reported.

Some community members voiced opposition to the move.

“I must admit there are reasons to support this resolution, but I can’t,” local resident Jean Barish told the newspaper. “These are not decisions that should be made in haste.”

Debate over the names of schools in San Francisco has been going on for some time. In December a committee’s recommendation to rename many of the schools there drew some backlash, including from former President Trump, who at the time called it “so ridiculous and unfair.”

London Breed, the city’s African American mayor, has previously voiced opposition to renaming the schools, saying the board should instead focus on reopening their buildings to students and dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.

“It’s offensive to me as someone who went to our public schools, who loves our public schools, and who knows how those years in the classroom are what lifted me out of poverty and into college,” Breed said last fall. “It’s offensive to our kids who are staring at screens day after day instead of learning and growing with their classmates and friends.”

A task force recommended Feinstein’s name be taken off the list of 44 schools set to be renamed, a recommendation the board ultimately ignored. Critics have said the school should be renamed because of Feinstein’s decision to replace a Confederate flag that was vandalized in front of city hall during her time as mayor there, the Chronicle reported.

Renaming the schools could cost as much as $1 million, the newspaper estimated.  

Tags California Donald Trump San Francisco

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