San Francisco mayor London Breed has criticized the city school board’s decision to change the names of schools christened after historical figures who “oppressed” people while the board has not formulated a plan for in-person learning.
Students in San Francisco public schools have been learning remotely since the coronavirus pandemic forced a nationwide shutdown in March 2020. It is unclear when students will be able to return to class, although students in other cities such as New York have been able to participate in in-person learning.
However, the school board was able to pass a resolution on Tuesday night to change the names of schools named after 44 historical figures who “engaged in the subjugation and enslavement of human beings; or who oppressed women, inhibiting societal progress; or whose actions led to genocide.”
Those figures include George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Senator Dianne Feinstein (D., Calif.), among others. Washington, the first U.S. president, owned slaves, while Lincoln, who ended slavery, was included because of his policies toward Native Americans. Feinstein was included because of an allegation that she ordered the replacement of a Confederate flag outside City Hall during her tenure as San Francisco mayor in 1984, although it is not clear if the allegation is true and Feinstein eventually removed the flag.
“This is an important conversation to have, and one that we should involve our communities, our families, and our students,” Mayor Breed said in a statement on Wednesday. “What I cannot understand is why the School Board is advancing a plan to have all these schools renamed by April, when there isn’t a plan to have our kids back in the classroom by then.”
Breed added, “Our families are frustrated about a lack of a plan, and they are especially frustrated with the fact that the discussion of these plans weren’t even on the agenda for last night’s School Board meeting.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended that schools reopen with coronavirus mitigation measures; in July 2020, then CDC head Robert Redfield warned of adverse effects of school closures. Public schools in and around Las Vegas are attempting to reopen as much as possible after a string of student suicides that occurred since the school system closed.