Plans to rename 44 San Francisco schools, which would have honored figures linked to racism, sexism and other injustices, were put on hold after a vote.
The city’s school board held a virtual ballot on Tuesday and voted unanimously to reverse its decision to strip the names of about a third of the San Francisco public schools, which critics say have gone too far.
The move was originally proposed last year, and among the 44 schools some were named after former US presidents Abraham Lincoln, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.
The unanimous decision means the school board will reconsider the issue once students return to full-time in-person learning.
His initial decision in January to rename schools was criticized after it was made when all classrooms in the city were closed due to coronavirus measures.
Mayor London Breed, among others, said it was “offensive and totally unacceptable” for the council to focus on changing school names rather than getting children back to classrooms.
Some of the city’s youngest students are expected to start returning this month after more than a year of homeschooling.
The plan to rename the schools was also criticized for historical inaccuracies and shoddy research that included consulting Wikipedia rather than historians.
The reversal was welcomed by Seeyew Mo, head of families in San Francisco, who said: “It feels like the truth has won this time around. I’m glad they’ve come to their senses – after lawsuits judicial and public pressure. A lot of people agree with the idea of reviewing the names, but they just don’t agree with the way it was done. “
The group had opposed the name change process and called attention to the flawed research.
The city’s school board established a task force in 2018 to assess the names of schools as a result of deadly clashes at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia
The 12-person committee recommended that 44 schools change their names due to links to controversial historical figures.
Abraham Lincoln’s name – who issued the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 that freed slaves during the American Civil War – had to be removed from a high school due to the treatment of Native Americans during its administration.
“I know people want to be inspired and don’t want to worship false idols … but, honestly, for me, there is still no better example of American history at its highest level of idealism. than Abraham Lincoln, “said historian Harold Holzer, a Lincoln scholar and director of the Roosevelt House of Public Policy Institute at Hunter College.