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San Francisco school board pauses plan to rename high schools

San Francisco school board pauses plan to rename high schools
© Greg Nash

The recently elected president of the San Francisco Board of Education has postponed the process of renaming schools, writing in an op-ed for the San Francisco Chronicle that she is first concentrating on reopening schools.

"There have been many distracting public debates as we’ve been working to reopen our schools. School renaming has been one of them,” Gabriela López, the school board's president, wrote. “It was a process begun in 2018 with a timeline that didn’t anticipate a pandemic. I acknowledge and take responsibility that mistakes were made in the renaming process.”

The School Names Panel recommended renaming 42 schools in the San Francisco area in November of last year, garnering bipartisan criticism. Among other suggestions, the panel recommended renaming schools named after Abraham Lincoln, citing his treatment of Indigenous people as a reason to remove his name.

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“We are deeply grateful for the work of the renaming committee and many schools are as well. They are excited about the opportunity to uplift communities that have previously been underrepresented. Our students need to attend schools where they feel valued and seen. This work is anti-racist and we’re proud of that,” López continued.

“But reopening will be our only focus until our children and young people are back in schools,” López added. “We’re canceling renaming committee meetings for the time being. We will be revising our plans to run a more deliberative process moving forward, which includes engaging historians at nearby universities to help.”

López added that she would not comment any further on renaming schools until they were reopened.

San Francisco Mayor London Breed (D) spoke out against renaming last year, calling it "offensive" and saying the move should not be prioritized as governments attempt to reopen schools.

Many schools across the country have begun considering new names as a way to move away from historical figures who are seen as problematic by modern-day standards.

Students at T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria, Va., submitted more than 50 names to replace their current school name. T.C. Williams was superintendent of the Alexandria public school system for several decades and was a known segregationist. Among the names recommended were George Floyd, Ruther Bader Ginsburg and Meghan MarkleMeghan MarklePrince Harry: British press 'was destroying my mental health' San Francisco school board pauses plan to rename high schools Prince Harry, Meghan Markle donate money to Texas women's shelter MORE.