Denver Newsroom, Oct 22, 2020 / 14:01 pm
A San Francisco public school district committee this month recommended that 44 schools with “inappropriate” names be renamed, with Junipero Serra Elementary School near the top of the list.
The district’s superintendent appointed the School Names Advisory Committee in 2018 to assess which schools, if any, ought to be renamed.
Among the committee’s recommendations for schools that ought to change their names were schools named for George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Rooselvelt, Robert Louis Stevenson, John Muir, and Francis Scott Key.
St. Junipero Serra, an 18th-century Franciscan priest and missionary, has been criticized by some activists as a symbol of colonialism and of the abuses that many Native Americans suffered after contact with Europeans. However, historians say Serra protested abuses and sought to fight colonial oppression.
Among the criteria that the committee reportedly used to asses school names were those of "anyone directly involved in the colonization of people, slave owners or participants in enslavement, perpetrators of genocide or slavery, those who exploit workers/people, those who directly oppressed or abused women, children, queer or transgender people, those connected to any human rights or environmental abuse [and] those who are known racists and/or white supremacists and/or espoused racist beliefs."
The panel has requested schools share alternate names by Dec. 18, with the school board voting on proposed new names in January or February of 2021, the Chronicle reported.
San Francisco Mayor London Breed last week criticized the advisory committee’s decision to recommend dozens of school name changes in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.
In a statement to local media, the school district said the schools are “not required or mandated to participate” in the renaming process.