News

Committee majority: 'Yes' on renaming schools

Minority report disagrees: to rename would be to 'sever the connection with the past'

What started as one father's shock over his seventh-grade son's book report on David Starr Jordan's involvement in eugenics has culminated in a committee's recommendation to rename that Palo Alto Unified school, as well as two others named for men who promoted eugenics.

This story contains 1313 words.

If you are a paid subscriber, check to make sure you have logged in. Otherwise our system cannot recognize you as having full free access to our site.

If you are a paid print subscriber and haven't yet set up an online account, click here to get your online account activated.

Comments

161 people like this
Posted by ok great I go first
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jan 11, 2017 at 4:59 pm

With our current budget deficit I find it offensive the school district would spend one dime on this. If certain families and individuals feel so strongly about this figure out a way to pay for it!!!! And please PAUSD don't ask me for more money.


152 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 11, 2017 at 5:01 pm

Absolute waste of time, energy, money and everything else.

Now, if there were not any other pressing issues in the District ...

Boaty McBoatface


23 people like this
Posted by Old Steve
a resident of St. Claire Gardens
on Jan 11, 2017 at 6:04 pm

Old Steve is a registered user.

All three Stanford educators were honored for work at Stanford, not by PAUSD for their unrelated research interests. As a Cubberley Grad, I knew about the Ed School, but not about the other. As a Stanford Engineering Grad, in learning about Fred Terman, we were exposed to his fathers ideas, but not in any in depth way. Renaming Wilbur (to JLS) was something of a big deal at the time, but the angst seems to have faded with several generations of students. After PAUSD finds the money to fix last year's income glitch, maybe these expenses could be considered. The most important thing may be the idea that the academic work of young people can have an influence on their community. That is a good lesson, regardless of the outcome.


55 people like this
Posted by Reader
a resident of another community
on Jan 11, 2017 at 6:23 pm

Maybe they should just give them numbers, like P.S. 1, P.S. 2, etc. or name them after the streets or neighborhoods they are located, like Middlefield Community Center.

Or since Palo Alto is named after a tree, maybe they could just name them after plants or trees. Sequoia is already taken by a nearby high school but I think something like Wormwood would be a fine name for a PAUSD school.


43 people like this
Posted by Reader
a resident of another community
on Jan 11, 2017 at 6:31 pm

Also, think of all the revenue opportunities for a school named Wormwood. Bumper stickers that read "My kid is an honor student at Wormwood Elementary", T-shirts, sweatshirts, etc.

The possibilities are mind-boggling!


112 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 11, 2017 at 6:40 pm

If we are trying to support low-income and minority students, is spending almost $200K to rename middle schools really the best thing we can do? We have a terrible achievement gap, with lots of proposals of how to improve, that all cost money. This seems much more like a salve to liberal guilt than something that will actually improve the life outcome for low-income and minority students.


133 people like this
Posted by $250- 300k we don't have
a resident of Green Acres
on Jan 11, 2017 at 8:10 pm

I'm not going to defend David Starr Jordan but spending $250k on changing a school name is money not well spent. Don't we have other priorities. The committee estimates about $150k to change 2 schools, Jordan and Terman. (by the way the public is owed a full disclosure of those estimates and the source). History shows anytime public money is spent you need to build in huge cost overruns - If you are telling me $150k it will be much more

If this is approved i will stop donating to schools. Sorry i'm tired of my money being wasted.


92 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 11, 2017 at 8:14 pm

It just makes me sick that people go so extremely far out of their way to prove how NOT racist they are and how MORALLY PERFECT they are because they renamed a middle school. This is the kind of stuff that got our new president elected.

[Portion removed.]


55 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 11, 2017 at 9:00 pm

"If we are trying to support low-income and minority students, is spending almost $200K to rename middle schools really the best thing we can do?"

This sideshow is much easier, and lots more fun, than facing real issues.


97 people like this
Posted by mom
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Jan 11, 2017 at 9:28 pm



jordan middle school -as it is often referred to- has many more severe issues it needs to address before a name change

- let's solve the over crowding, bullying, and quality of teachers before the name change - no matter the name, key concerns don't go away


102 people like this
Posted by biased from the start
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 11, 2017 at 9:55 pm

As i called out in a post on an earlier article on this topic, I knew this committee was biased from the get go and would make this recommendation. Many of you will remember receiving a survey from the committee last summer asking about renaming the schools. What they failed to ask was for our opinion if we thought renaming was a wise use of funds, time, energy etc. You would have thought a natural question to include in a survey to solicit our feedback.

As I suspected they used the results of the survey to paint a picture of community support. If you read their report in section 5.7 they talk glowingly of the feedback they received and what criteria residents feel important in renaming a school.

But they never bothered to ask if we WANTED to rename schools. I can only gather they didn't want to find out the answer.


64 people like this
Posted by retired guy who follows the schools
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 11, 2017 at 10:24 pm

Am glad for the good hearts and consciences of the renamers but this seems to be something we can live with till we don't have the hole in our wallet and have hired the teachers to give our kids less crowded classes.


45 people like this
Posted by Barron Park
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 11, 2017 at 10:43 pm

Can the Barron Park elementary school get some of that money? I think it can be better used to address the achievement gap. This is so typical of PAUSD. As long as the surface looks pretty, why bother looking underneath? Gunn has issues, paint it a different color. Jordan has issues, lets just rename it and move on.

Terman, they are coming for you!


85 people like this
Posted by Just resume building
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jan 11, 2017 at 10:54 pm

It's part of history and none of the students are affected by the name. Only the student who started this controversy wins ; his college application will show leadership. Many buildings and streets are named after slaveowners; shall we change all those names too?


68 people like this
Posted by Gus L.
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 12, 2017 at 6:27 am

All of this time, Money and City Resources wasted on this, Its a shame Palo Alto has made this a Joke...
Bad Job City of Palo Alto, BAD Job...


61 people like this
Posted by Donkey Cart
a resident of Professorville
on Jan 12, 2017 at 6:39 am


Eugenics: the major Progressive idea of one century ago.

Had Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, Elizabeth Warren, and Bernie Sanders been around 100 years ago, they would've been ardent eugenics supporters.

Leave the school names as they are.


92 people like this
Posted by Cubberley Grad
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 12, 2017 at 9:25 am

My grandparents and parents are from Palo Alto. Grandfather taught at Stanford, Dad graduated from Stanford. My parents were married in the Stanford chapel. I was born in Stanford hospital. My mother was a Terman Gifted Child, the longest running study of gifted children in history.

To the limo liberals who believe they are moving cultural progress forward with these name changes......get a life. Spend taxpayer dollars on improving education rather than this wasteful, whiney nonsense. Scientific and cultural progress does not move in a straight line. There are dead-ends, U turns as well as new knowledge that moves lives forward. Notwithstanding their interest in arcane and forgotten interests, in the body of their work any one of these individuals made greater contributions to learning than all the misguided citizens on these committees put together. Respect and remember them for their accomplishments, which far outweigh minor side interests, spend taxpayer money wisely, in a way that will actually benefit children's lives, and vote down this nonsensical mission to change three longstanding school names.


77 people like this
Posted by Steve Wolf
a resident of another community
on Jan 12, 2017 at 9:57 am

I am a Cubbereley grad class of 1960. This activity by the PAUSD is a perfect example
of political correctness gone mad. Elwood P. Cubberley has countless schools named after him based on his contributions in the field of education. Get over the non PC stuff.


66 people like this
Posted by TorreyaMan
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jan 12, 2017 at 10:23 am

TorreyaMan is a registered user.

I won't waste time and space with repeating arguments above, I'll just say that I find changing the names to be completely NOT necessary.


12 people like this
Posted by Jameson
a resident of Professorville
on Jan 12, 2017 at 10:34 am

Cubberley Grad, I agree with what you said until you start blaming "Limo Liberals." Come on. Most of the Limo types I know are Conservatives.

Same with you, Steve Wolf. "Get over the non PC stuff." That's the same argument used to discriminate against groups conservatives don't like.

However, there is something "wrong" with more names in Palo Alto schools: Nixon, although it is not names after Richard Nixon, still has un unsavory connotation. Gunn, please let's rename that school with its tragic suicide rate, and JLS (pronounce Jail S). My son went to all 3 schools.

I agree that the money to change the names is problematic, and I think that the kids can be educated about the reasons for naming the institutions originally.


65 people like this
Posted by Mary
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 12, 2017 at 10:38 am

This is the kind of stuff that makes people vote for anti-PC candidates like Trump. Do the people pushing this nonsense know how ridiculous they look to the average Palo Altan, let alone to the rubes in Flyover country? Or do they just want to bask in the reflected light of their own moral preening?

I detest Trump, but if you want more Trump, this is how you get more Trump.


50 people like this
Posted by Embarrased PAUSD Parent
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 12, 2017 at 10:59 am

Embarrased PAUSD Parent is a registered user.

What a joke. Embarrassing waste of district time and resources. Sure, let's just rewrite history. Pretend we started out as perfect PA liberals and didn't evolve in our thinking over the years. The committee better rename Stanford University while they're at it (where there are also buildings named after Jordan and Terman). After all, Leland Stanford was a Robber Barron who built his outrageous fortune on the backs of little people building his railroads. As other readers have recommended, perhaps we should just give schools numbers. Numbers for everyone. We could just forget using names altogether and dehumanize everything and everyone so as not to risk invoking history or any possible baggage.


85 people like this
Posted by Megan Swezey Fogarty
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 12, 2017 at 11:01 am

I love Bryan Stevenson's advice on these issues. Instead of renaming, teach the history and put a plaque on the wall that says what history has taught us about these individuals. That way we don't cover up history - we teach it.


44 people like this
Posted by KDL
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Jan 12, 2017 at 11:10 am

"What started as one father's shock over his seventh-grade son's book report"

yup - parent driven

and same parent son are on committee - neutral????


30 people like this
Posted by Long Time Resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 12, 2017 at 11:15 am

@ Cubberley Grad.....you couldn't have stated your argument any better. This is a sadly pathetic example of liberal progressivism and political correctness run amok.

@ Jameson. Yours is a typical liberal argument. There are many more groups on the liberal side that discriminate against conservatives, right on up to the IRS. I believe the "Limo Liberals" reference that Cubberley Grad made, refers to the guilt ridden wealthy liberals who promote the white privilege narrative. Palo Alto has a large population of these types. At least that's how I interpret the comment.

I will agree with you that financing for the name changes is problematic and that the kids should be given a brief view into the history of their school name. But I also think the name changes are totally unnecessary and just another political posturing exercise. If this were put to a vote, my guess is that it would lose overwhelmingly.


49 people like this
Posted by Parent of Jordan student
a resident of Jordan Middle School
on Jan 12, 2017 at 11:21 am

I am so opposed to this renaming. The first priority for this district needs to be to educate our youth. With the budget shortfall, why would they even consider spending a dime on this. Why not have the letters stand for an acronym -- like JORDAN could be Joyful Open-Minded Respectful Diligent Academic Neighborhood-School.

Really, there are creative strategies that don't involve changing everything!!!


19 people like this
Posted by Ed Glazier
a resident of another community
on Jan 12, 2017 at 11:42 am

Hmm. Maybe rename Jordan to honor Texas educator, civil rights leader, and Congresswoman Barbara Jordan. Then you can still call it "Jordan" but feel better about it.


33 people like this
Posted by Rita Lancefield
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 12, 2017 at 11:53 am

Megan Swezey Fogarty - I totally agree. We can use this as a "teachable moment" to educate our youth about the complexity of human nature and of history rather than changing the surface naming of schools.


16 people like this
Posted by Racism or Cheapskates?
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 12, 2017 at 12:21 pm

How many people would argue it is too expensive to change the name of an Adolf Hitler Elementary? Or a KKK Middle School? Would money really be the objection?

I applaud the committee for their hard work. Eugenics is and was always offensive and immoral. Slavery was once "the rage" too.

Thank you to the committee for suggesting that more history about Eugenics is taught in our schools. It is important.


39 people like this
Posted by Downtown parent
a resident of Jordan Middle School
on Jan 12, 2017 at 12:25 pm

Let this father be proactive and aggressive in getting the funding as he was in pursuing his 15 minutes of fame.
I am not giving any more donations to the PAUSD!


1 person likes this
Posted by Stew Pid
a resident of Community Center
on Jan 12, 2017 at 12:28 pm

@Long Time Resident: You sound both gruntled and disgruntled. Liberal progressivism has brought us progress. And political correctness has eliminated implicit bias.

Don't blame those for your own problems.


18 people like this
Posted by carolskenyon
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 12, 2017 at 12:43 pm

carolskenyon is a registered user.

Megan Fogarty and seconded by Rita Lancefield, this is an educational opportunity to teach how history and people change over time. We do not know what these individuals thought as society evolved. This is the a great teaching situation.
The money should not be wasted on renaming but should be used for educational activities. Lets be smart.


3 people like this
Posted by greenmom
a resident of South of Midtown
on Jan 12, 2017 at 1:36 pm

Why so much money is needed to change a name? The idea is good, and will be a teachable moment, and we can honor other people that we would like to emulate, to highlight other values more in line with what we want to pass our children. The students themselves could be tho ones who vote for proposals. But why does it mean so much money? Just a vote for new possible names among the Palo Altans and thats it!
Everything is money money money. Not necessary. Skip the redtape involved if interested in the pursue.


Posted by Moral Clarity
a resident of Old Palo Alto

on Jan 12, 2017 at 1:55 pm


Remember me?
Forgot Password?
Due to violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are only visible to registered users who are logged in. Use the links at the top of the page to Register or Login.


24 people like this
Posted by Parent
a resident of Community Center
on Jan 12, 2017 at 2:40 pm

The costs of the name changes are listed in the report - signs, paper forms, the gym floors, sports uniforms. It adds up.

Some people prefer this dealing in symbols, I guess because it seems easy. Real change-makers - free preschool, after school tutoring, parent education and family support - are messy, cost money, and aren't as flashy. There are plenty of ways to spend $200K that will have more impact than changing a name that noone really cares about.


6 people like this
Posted by Name Options
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 12, 2017 at 3:49 pm

Name Options is a registered user.

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


8 people like this
Posted by Is this committee for real?
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 12, 2017 at 4:00 pm

Is this committee for real? is a registered user.

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


12 people like this
Posted by parent
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jan 12, 2017 at 4:04 pm

We prefer to keep the names, but have school lessons about the people the schools are named after, including a complete picture of what these people stand for. All of it is part of our shared history and not all history is bright and rosy.

Anyone else think it is curious that the school district is rushing through these name changes before Trump takes office?


5 people like this
Posted by Chinatown
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 12, 2017 at 4:07 pm

[Post removed.]


4 people like this
Posted by Jordan Alumnus 1970
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 12, 2017 at 4:28 pm

Raising money to rename the schools needn't be such a big challenge — just do what we used to do in the olden days: hold a bake sale.

The prices of everything in Palo Alto are so dad-burned inflated, you could probably sell cookies for $1,000 apiece. A pan of brownies would probably fetch $10,000. You would then have your money in no time.


33 people like this
Posted by Pie wants more money
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 12, 2017 at 4:42 pm

Just received an email from paly principal saying pie donations are down. Please donate he asks.


Interesting juxtaposition between that and this frivolous project if approved will cost $ 200k.


Mr. principal if you want my money please advocate for rejecting the committees recommendation. I'm tired of seeing wasted dollars.


1 person likes this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 12, 2017 at 4:43 pm

[Post removed.]


11 people like this
Posted by Jordan Alumnus 1970
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 12, 2017 at 5:14 pm

Was there a single person of color on this committee?

Palo Alto's population is 64% white. I have to wonder if this is a case of non-people of color and a parent with a bee in his bonnet forcing their P.C. agenda on others. It sure smells of liberal guilt salve.

Agreed that Terman should be named after Frederick Terman, fils, who is an important figure in the area.

Why not name Jordan as Google Middle School in exchange for a multi-million-dollar donation as is done with sports arenas?


4 people like this
Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 12, 2017 at 6:43 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

"Was there a single person of color on this committee?"

Yes, several.

Jerry Underdal
RSAC Member


5 people like this
Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 12, 2017 at 7:02 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

"Elwood P. Cubberley has countless schools named after him based on his contributions in the field of education."

Wikipedia records only two elementary schools, in San Diego and Long Beach, that are named for Ellwood Cubberley.

Stanford University's School of Education is partially housed in Cubberley Hall, the original home of the graduate program. It was built and outfitted with a proper library largely from funds provided by Ellwood Cubberley and his wife.


6 people like this
Posted by common sense
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 12, 2017 at 7:03 pm

If the school board wants to go ahead with changing the name, the restriction should be that Jordan Middle School be renamed with someone who has Jordan in their name (like Michael Jordan, Barbara Jordan, etc), and someone who is Terman.

The cost will be minimal, with changing the website, and perhaps a few printed materials.


11 people like this
Posted by PA Resident
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 12, 2017 at 7:30 pm

I agree with Megan Fogarty. If you change the school names, only the kids there now will vaguely remember any of this. Teach them the history. It will make more of a lasting impact, and a much more effective way to use our donations.


15 people like this
Posted by Rod
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 12, 2017 at 7:31 pm

Now that I just turned 65 I can apply for the exemption from the parcel tax for PAUSD. Thanks for the excuse to do so. Perfect!


30 people like this
Posted by Reader
a resident of another community
on Jan 12, 2017 at 7:59 pm

Previously, I had suggested that the PAUSD rename the schools numerically to names like P.S. 1.

I would like to revise that suggestion.

I think a more sophisticated numbering school numbering system should be employed, in spirit with the local high tech industry.

We should use one number to define the age range, the second to define the category (like a continuation school), and the third to identify the school in question.

Thus, we could have P.S. 1.1.1 or 1.1.2 elementary schools. A continuation school could be 1.0.1.

For high schools we would have P.S. 3.1.1 (Palo Alto HS, founded in the 19th century) and P.S. 3.1.3 (Gunn, founded in the 1960s). The closed Cubberley would be P.S. 3.1.2 (founded in the 1950s). That would make the community center Palo Alto C.C. 3.1.2.1.

This would be the most politically correct way of handling this horrible school naming dilemma.


15 people like this
Posted by Odd times
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 12, 2017 at 8:01 pm

Reminds me of what I was learning in grade school regarding Stalin. Stalin had a bunch of statues removed, because of political correctness. We learned that was wrong.

But now, it is right?


21 people like this
Posted by Wilbur Grad
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jan 12, 2017 at 8:03 pm

I am a Wilbur grad and still feel slighted that the name was not changed back to Wilbur when Jordan was reopened. South Palo Alto residents lost the connection to both Cubberley and Wilbur. Changing the name of a school does indeed cause a disconnection between alumni and the school.


12 people like this
Posted by Reader
a resident of another community
on Jan 12, 2017 at 8:07 pm

@Wilbur Grad:

We could combine my proposed politically correct numbering/naming system with the practice used to identify famous violins.

Thus, you might have "PS 1.1.2 (ex-Wilbur, ex-Jordan)" for archival references.


Posted by HUTCH 7.62
a resident of Old Palo Alto

on Jan 12, 2017 at 8:58 pm


Remember me?
Forgot Password?
Due to violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are only visible to registered users who are logged in. Use the links at the top of the page to Register or Login.


7 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 12, 2017 at 9:24 pm

"...we could have P.S. 1.1.1 or 1.1.2 elementary schools."

That's a bit tough for the cheerleaders. And would P.S. 6.6.6 violate the establishment of religion prohibition?


7 people like this
Posted by Native to the BAY
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 12, 2017 at 10:31 pm

Will changing the name of three school sites change the social selection happening at this very moment in Palo Alto? How about the practice of survival of the fittest? Yes. Eugenics was a sickening product of the 19th/20th Centuries. But there will always be the “haves the most” and those that don’t have anything and, the gulf widens. If these wealthy parents however, can't segregate themselves by home ownership alone, they'll do it by any means necessary: the newest technology gadgets, academic grades, over priced clothing, after-school activities ad-nausea. Has anyone determined how many of the 1% of the USA’s wealthiest live within this zip code?

The 1% ers will stop at nothing. They teach their kids that what matters most is a major advantage over the deprived, socially downtrodden child, adult, individual and family. No it's not about eugenics anymore it's about a self-prescribed highly, self-centered attitude of money and privilege. A blinding example of this is the horrid reality of a "self driving car" seen every hour on the streets around here. Yeah maybe it’s electric but it is still a one car, one driver universe. What about a, no car, no driver world. Has Google gotten behind this idea?

Don’t bother with eugenics – its now all social selection on a mass scale - all, in overly competitive environment for the very rich and mega rich.


19 people like this
Posted by Eileen Altman
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jan 13, 2017 at 12:21 am

I shall never forget my shock when, during a visit to Jacksonville, FL several years ago, I passed by Nathan B. Forrest High School. Nathan Bedford Forrest was a Confederate general and the first Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. I expressed my horror about the name of the school to my host, who noted that almost all of the students at the school are African American. The name would be horrifying no matter the make-up of the student body, but I was sickened for the students of the school who had to cheer for the Forrest Rebels at athletic events and tell others the name of their school. Yes, their mascot was Rebels and they used to fly Confederate flags.

It took MANY years of effort, persistence through negative school board votes, and community controversy before the school was finally renamed Westside High School in 2014. Many alumni opposed the change because of their connection to the name, but the school board finally voted to change it after 64% of the student body voted for the change. Almost immediately after the name change, the students voted to change their mascot from Rebels to Wolverines.

The two feeder schools for this high school are J.E.B. Stuart and Jefferson Davis. Maybe the community in Jacksonville can work on those names next...

I tell this story to illustrate the reality that changing school names is hard, contentious, and often slow. But sometimes it is the right thing to do.


17 people like this
Posted by mytwocents
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 13, 2017 at 8:37 am

Please publish the names of the committee members and how they voted. This information will be helpful in case any of them decide to run for School Board in the future.


7 people like this
Posted by Embarrased PAUSD Parent
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 13, 2017 at 8:45 am

Embarrased PAUSD Parent is a registered user.

Another thought . . . So who will define the new name requirements? Good luck agreeing on that. And then how many committee meetings, School Board meetings, Superintendent meetings, district surveys, more meetings, more surveys (into infinity) will it take to find new names that satisfy all said requirements? All at taxpayers' expense of course. And all while my students sit in classes that exceed sizes dictated by school district policy.

Suggested name changes that are free to the district and taxpayers:

Terman gets renamed to Terman (but we just say it's Fred Terman instead of his father Lewis Terman who it's currently named after; Fred was a keystone builder of science, silicon valley culture, and businesses. A perfect guy to name a school after. )

Jordan gets renamed to Jordan (but we just say its for Michael Jordan - the professor at UC Berkeley or Michael Jordan the basketball player)

Done. Free.


7 people like this
Posted by ugh this town
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jan 13, 2017 at 8:55 am

Coming soon: Dave Hitler Elementary School in Berlin. I mean, it's not Adolf. It's Dave. Dave was his cousin and he wasn't all that bad. Look, it saved money on shirts.

Also, Cambodia's Pot Stadium. It's not named after Pol Pot -- it's just named after a pot. Any pot. A cooking pot. Saved money on the signage.

[Portion removed.]


7 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 13, 2017 at 8:59 am

I think that "Embarrassed Parent" has the bigger picture just right.

We have no criteria how to choose a name and there will be all types of names suggested and I can't see a consensus on the choice. Somebody will be upset and who will get the last word on which names are suitable. Come to think of it, how do we know that any new name may not cause offense in the future?

The length of time it takes anything to get done, no new name will be chosen until at least the present MS students are in high school, if not graduated!

We have to stop this nonsense before it starts. I have always thought that naming a building after a person as a so called way to honor them is not a good idea. There are much better ways to honor someone. My personal view is that statues are a good way to honor someone and they are usually much better than some of the modern art we have in town!

This sounds like opening a can of worms. The choice of new names will be even more contentious than some of the other issues we have at present in the District.


18 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 13, 2017 at 9:22 am

I have been looking through past articles on this. This one is the most informative that I found. Web Link

I had hoped at the time that this committee would see sense, it seems that it did not.

Since petitions seem to be the way to do things nowadays and since the survey sent out didn't ask the right questions, is there any way we could start a petition drive to keep the names the same?

I would sign a petition and I bet most of the commenters on this thread would do the same.

I am very much against the idea of renaming the schools for all sorts of reasons, but expense and waste of time and effort are the highest.

Anybody with me?


6 people like this
Posted by Cubberley Grad
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 13, 2017 at 9:25 am

I will.


2 people like this
Posted by Miriam Palm
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 13, 2017 at 10:14 am

Miriam Palm is a registered user.

Stanford University has convened a naming committee, but its first steps are to establish principles and to survey the community.

Web Link


33 people like this
Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 13, 2017 at 11:20 am

This is almost comical. Why not just keep the names?

In Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, Mark Anthony famously lamented, "The evil that men do lives after them. The good is oft interred with their bones."

While the study of eugenics was certainly and hastily fool-hearty, it was common in those days. Planned Parenthood was largely founded upon ideals gleaned from eugenics. Surely this imperfection in his beliefs doesn't supersede all of the good that he might have done.

Where does it end?

- Do we rename the State of Washington (and the capital) because our nation's first president was a slave owner?
- Do we remove references to Thomas Jefferson because he was a slave holder?
- Do we rename Stanford because Leland Stanford once spoke some racially offensive words against Chinese immigrants?

At some point, this because a comedy in and of itself.

It makes me think about the Joel McHale NBC comedy "Community." The fictional "Greendale Community College" administration decided to replace the supposedly misogynistic "Grizzly" mascot with something non-offensive and politically correct. So, they eventually went with the "Human Being" -- a faceless and gender-ambiguous individual dressed in completely in a white leotard. Yet, even this offended some people.

That's the point. People will always find some way to be offended in life. No one is perfect. With enough effort, EVERY person can have a finger pointed at them.

Perhaps there should be a compromise. Those who want to change the name should be soooo offended that they should be willing to flip the bill for the changes. Otherwise, they should sit back with the rest of us and endure it.


5 people like this
Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 13, 2017 at 12:02 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

@mytwocents

"Please publish the names of the committee members and how they voted. This information will be helpful in case any of them decide to run for School Board in the future."

You can find that information and much more of interest in the RSAC folder on the PAUSD web site. Google PAUSD RSAC. The final report, 15 appendices with additional information, and 3 related correspondence files are all together in sequence at the end.

Jerry Underdal
RSAC Member


6 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 13, 2017 at 12:32 pm

This debate would not be happening if Jordan's mission had succeeded.


22 people like this
Posted by Sanctimonious City
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 13, 2017 at 5:52 pm

The name of our city "Palo Alto" is offensive and it should be changed for the following reasons:

1. It is Spanish and therefore represents the conquest, enslavement and decimation of the Ohlone Native American population through the Catholic Mission System and European diseases.

2. Palo translates to stick or tree which serves as a phallic symbol not so subtly promoting masculinity and the patriarchal power structure.

3. Alto means tall and thus discriminates against short people and implies that some social groups are superior to others as they are above them.

If people are always seeking offense then they never have to look too far. In the words of Dennis the Peasant in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, "Help, help, I am being repressed!"

Web Link


19 people like this
Posted by Jordan Parent
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 13, 2017 at 6:17 pm

Judging from the comments, it seems most people are against this. Obviously a waste of money during this budget crises. PIE donations are down. PIE is an important element of our kids education that makes PAUSD special. It provides art, band, and electives. If people hold back more donations because they think the district is wasteful, we will have to cancel band at Jordan. Wow, then we will hear about it.
Teach the kids the lesson on the names and leave it be. The committee was highly biased by the way with the person who started this whole thing leading it. I felt from the beginning it was a sham committee.


6 people like this
Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 13, 2017 at 7:29 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

@Curmegeon

"This debate would not be happening if Jordan's mission had succeeded."

Your one-line quip is as chilling as anything I have read in recent years. Perhaps I misunderstand your meaning. Would you please elaborate on your understanding of Jordan's mission. No one on the RSAC committee, including the most ardent advocates of retaining the names, would have made this kind of statement.

When I know what you meant, I'll be better able to respond.


Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jan 13, 2017 at 7:39 pm

If there's any school that needs to be renamed... it's GUNN all we need to do is change one letter to GUN and it will be more accurate (I would know because I attended)


Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jan 13, 2017 at 7:41 pm

@Jerry Underdal

Your sarcasm/satire/irony radar is badly in need of fine-tuning...


Like this comment
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 13, 2017 at 9:28 pm

"Your one-line quip is as chilling as anything I have read in recent years. ... When I know what you meant, I'll be better able to respond."

No chill intended, except on this strange process.

ait is admittedly a mite Delphic. Regarding it as a verbal Rorschach test, what does it mean to you?

(You must have at least some notion of Jordan's mission if you're trying to erase his name from a public facility.)


5 people like this
Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 13, 2017 at 9:45 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

@Resident

"Your sarcasm/satire/irony radar is badly in need of fine-tuning..."

You may have a point. I guess that given what I know about the eugenics movement, especially in California, I don't have much taste for dismissive remarks. I'll know better how to respond when I get more information about the meaning of the post.

It implies some understanding of the eugenics project for which isolation, segregation and sterilization were primary tools. No state went farther than California, with its 20,000 compelled sterilizations, in pursuing David Starr Jordan's quixotic goal of eliminating defectives (variously defined) from the gene pool.

At the end of the RSAC Final Report, there are many print and online resources for learning about eugenics, from early days to the present. The report itself has a lot of information. I urge people who feel strongly about renaming the schools to become better informed and by so doing elevate the quality of the district and community's debate.

If you have other sources to suggest please do so. Thanks.


3 people like this
Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 13, 2017 at 11:03 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

@Curmugeon

I was working on my response to Resident when your post came in.

So this is how I interpret what you said: The people who are taking this seriously wouldn't even exist if Jordan's mission to defend and upgrade the genetic stock of our country had been properly implemented because clearly they are descended from inferior genes that would have been been removed or not allowed to come into being in the first place.

Let's look at some of the ways that we (I'll include myself here) might have remained without existence--all advocated by eugenics associations that Jordan helped found, raise funds for and provide institutional support to for decades. Immigration restrictions to keep non-Nordics out, marriage restrictions to prevent interracial unions, institutionalization of "defectives", and sterilization. Euthanization was considered but not supported in the United States except by fringe members of the movement. But if, as you posited in your post, Jordan's mission had succeeded it would probably have involved euthanization as well as the other methods.

Now time for some nice words about David Starr Jordan. He kept Stanford alive when its very existence was in doubt. He was a charismatic advocate for education with a purpose. He supported the nascent environmental movement. He argued against American imperialism. There's much more--you can look at Edward McNall Burns's reverential biography to learn about his political philosophy (dimmed somewhat in Burns's eyes by Jordan's excessive focus on race and class.)

Note: A large majority of the RSAC members favored educating Palo Alto students about the California Eugenics Movement and Stanford/Palo Alto's role in it, regardless of where they came down on the name change recommendation. I hope that will carry significant weight as the debate goes forward.


2 people like this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jan 14, 2017 at 4:39 am

Speaking of non-Nordics, how long will Paly remain the Vikings?

And speaking of marriage restrictions, many states still prohibit consanguinity (legal to a greater degree in California).

Eugenics is so fraught with baggage and negative connotation that no rational discussion is possible in a non-moderated atmosphere. What degree of genetic determinism are we prepared to accept, and what's to become of us going forward? Vis a vis the bioethics of reproductive technologies, embryo selection, germinal choice? Should pre-implantation genetic diagnoses be proscribed? None of this could be foreseen by the names in question, any more than they could conceive us landing on the moon. Sweep this legacy under the rug so our children can be sheltered until they reach college and then ultimately face their own procreative choices in an ever increasingly competitive world.


9 people like this
Posted by Not their role
a resident of Esther Clark Park
on Jan 14, 2017 at 8:34 am

1. The committee should have presented a well thought out process and criteria for assessing school name unsuitability. Instead, they argue their opinions on whether certain schools should have their names changed.

2. After Darwin, thinking and ethics about genetics were in a whirlwind. God's direct creation of equal humans was no longer tenable. It was logical to consider helping to accelerate nature's process of evolution, however abhorrent it is to us now that we have reconstructed a humanist morality without God.

3. What is it when a woman chooses a donor sperm? When we can edit genes of our offspring? The committee did not have a deep or well rounded analysis. It looked for arguments - logical and emotional - to support its opinions.

4. Named institutions provide ballast against politically correct winds. We can and should rail against Eugenics. But our heroes are flawed humans.


5 people like this
Posted by EasyPeasy
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 14, 2017 at 9:04 am

Rather than waste our time defending flawed heros, why not name it after something not flawed?

If you cannot imagine a person, the name it for a place, or an idea.

Grace, Hope, Charity, freedom, liberty, progress, innovation, or my personal favorite: Curiosity Middle School. Then we can have the Rover as the mascot!

Leave the argument about celebrities and flaws behind.


Like this comment
Posted by Not their role
a resident of Esther Clark Park
on Jan 14, 2017 at 10:02 am

Yes-

"David Starr Jordan Progressive Middle School."

It will inevitably evolve to "Progress."


3 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 14, 2017 at 4:07 pm

"So this is how I interpret what you said: The people who are taking this seriously wouldn't even exist if Jordan's mission to defend and upgrade the genetic stock of our country had been properly implemented because clearly they are descended from inferior genes that would have been been removed or not allowed to come into being in the first place."

That is a very negative interpretation of my comment indeed. Why did it occur spontaneously in your thought processes? Nothing in the comment itself would suggest it. You are right to be chilled, but for the wrong reason. Look inward for the root of your distress, not outward.

You are also very likely maligning David Starr Jordan extremely unfairly.

Here's the straight scoop. Had Dr. Jordan succeeded in his mission to improve humanity, people now would be too smart to waste their time on this unproductive activity. They would focus their energies on solving the very real problems which have been identified in PAUSD.

I assumed such a plain statement in the original post would be clipped by the moderator, hence the elliptical phrasing. Thank you for the opportunity to clarify. Do consider seeking help for that innate negativity tendency. Perhaps Chandrama Anderson's blog... .


Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jan 14, 2017 at 5:05 pm

[Post removed.]


9 people like this
Posted by Long Time Palo Alto Resident
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 14, 2017 at 5:11 pm

I was born and raised in Palo Alto and attended Jordan and Paly. I left for college and graduate school and then returned a few decades ago to raise my family here. I did so in part because I have always believed that this is a community of intellectuals who value diversity and are not afraid to innovate and change with the times.

It is hard to overstate how important I feel it is to change the names of both schools. Here's why: if you are a student of color, or a student with a learning difference, imagine what it is like to go to a school every day named for someone who not only believed, but frequently, ardently, and publicly stated, that people like you were second rate.

Jordan and Terman rightly teach their students to have a growth mindset, and to believe that with hard work and commitment, almost anything can be achieved. Knowing - as current Jordan and Terman students now do, without a doubt - that your school is named for someone who took the opposite approach, undermines the mindset these schools work so hard to foster. A mindset that is behind all the successes of Silicon Valley and Palo Alto.

For those of you who are focused on keeping these names for tradition's sake. please think a bit more about this. Would you argue that South Carolina should have kept the confederate flag flying over its capitol? If your answer is no, then why would you insist that tradition should triumph over fairness and justice here?


5 people like this
Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 14, 2017 at 6:33 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

@Curmugeon

Thank you for the explanation of your quip.

"You are also very likely maligning David Starr Jordan extremely unfairly."

You have been active on this topic for a year now. Please give some specific examples of how I am maligning David Starr Jordan extremely unfairly and provide better information from your research.

BTW: I am proud of the university Jordan launched and grateful to have gotten an education there. But multiracial, multicultural Stanford is a direct refutation of its founding president's core eugenic beliefs, as is Palo Alto itself.


19 people like this
Posted by Sanctimonious City
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 14, 2017 at 7:44 pm

Maybe Curmudgeon is on to something.

The ethical stain of Eugenics seems to have struck a nerve with the liberal elites. They can no longer mentally step over the issues like ugly mud puddles on their way to their ivory tower offices.

How could it be that the smartest, the highest educated and the most credentialed could have been so wrong? It forces them to confront that they are fallible and perhaps possess even worse flaws than the working class in the flyover states because it comes from a condescending and sanctimonious heart.

I suspect that the distress and inward negativity will eventually also be found in their latest theories of Globalism and Cultural Marxism. Their track record on "scientific" attempts at social re-engineering is not very good. History will look back on those other misguided ideologies about as well as we do now on Eugenics.


Like this comment
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jan 14, 2017 at 10:59 pm

The circumstances of this issue for two middle schools suggest an experiment. We could carefully and objectively quantify current student performance and well-being across a spectrum of parameters, including self-esteem, inclusivity, achievement gaps, and all the pitfalls of adolescence. Then change the name of just one school and remeasure after five years for a completely new cohort of students, or maybe eight years so we can assess college admission rates.

Would people expect any statistically different outcomes?

The result may conclusively support the renaming of the other school as well, or support returning the original name to the first school. Students here already know they are under the magnifying glass, so I doubt that awareness they are part of the control group or part of the treatment group would be of additional consequence.

Decades down the road, our students could claim they were in the famous "Palo Alto Experiment".


13 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Community Center
on Jan 15, 2017 at 12:30 am

It's sad the things that get people excited in Palo Alto. People get energized about middle school names (poster above wrote "It is hard to overstate how important I feel it is to change the names of both schools"!) and how we report student's GPAs! Things that have next to nothing to do with how well or what our students learn. Who has time to actually care about education issues - we can argue about empty issues like these!


20 people like this
Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 15, 2017 at 8:45 pm

@ Resident - Well, many of us are able to multitask. We can care about education AND be annoyed and frustrated when a small group take it upon themselves to decide that the name of schools in Palo Alto should be changed to avoid offending a small handful of easily-offended people.


Like this comment
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 16, 2017 at 12:08 pm

"Please give some specific examples of how I am maligning David Starr Jordan extremely unfairly and provide better information from your research."

What I said was, as you correctly quote: "You are also very likely maligning David Starr Jordan extremely unfairly."

Note I did not say you WERE maligning Dr. Jordan. When one is passionately committed to an idea, as you evidently are, objectivity is more likely to be compromised than in a dispassionate approach. Your biased misread of my statement evidences that.

I am advising you to examine your position very carefully in light of the objective facts. In particular, you need to carefully examine Jordan's motivations and intentions. Consult a competent professional ethicist.

Now that a committee has voted to proceed with the staining of Dr. Jordan's name, it is precisely the time to pause, stand back, and review the case from first principles. Your action will have a lasting import. Don't be stampeded by the herd's impulses.


18 people like this
Posted by Priorities Please
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jan 16, 2017 at 9:59 pm

I also responded to the re-naming survey and thought that it was very poorly designed. It clearly had an agenda to promote name changing without giving the alternate view - Leave It Alone - as an option.

This is a ridiculous distraction right now in the district.
Focus energy, time and yes! Money! on the important issues of education.

The fact that frivolous topics like this incite people to re-think donating dollars to our school district is a very real concern.


9 people like this
Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 17, 2017 at 2:04 am

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

"I am advising you to examine your position very carefully in light of the objective facts. In particular, you need to carefully examine Jordan's motivations and intentions."

I have just spent more than a year doing just that because I wanted to be sure I understood the multiple aspects of the eugenics movement, who the key figures were and how it was spread and sustained long after scientific validation of the concept had collapsed. Jordan was not a working scientist any longer in the latter stages of life but a public intellectual urging a progressive vision of an American race worthy of the role history had presented of keeping democracy alive in America by protecting itself from degradation by unsuitable breeding and coddling of the unfit.

There are many considerations that haven't gotten much attention in Town Hall discussions. One is that not all northern Europeans fell within the charmed circle of those with suitable genes. A notable exception was the Scots-Irish of Appalachia, who experienced the same kind of disdain and pursuit by eugenics officers in the east that poor and lightly schooled Latinos, Blacks, Asians and others experienced in the south and west.

Resentment of racial disparities in treatment by agents of the law and of the school is an important part of our current political setting. So is resentment of elites who are suspected of not being concerned about people who are losing their hope of a middle-class lifestyle. Race and class. We know what the eugenicists said about both. It hasn’t proved to be very helpful.

Another fact I learned is that better baby contests, eugenic marriage counseling and popular science magazines were important avenues for getting Americans enthusiastic about the great gains that could be obtained for the nation and the American race (such a nebulous term!) if it hewed to its Nordic roots.

I'm white, Nordic (Norwegian, English, Scottish, and Welsh, that I know of), and protestant--a slightly ethnic (because of the Norwegian bit) version of a WASP. I felt insecure about being a student at Stanford for a number of reasons (I learned later that almost everyone has to get over that feeling of inadequacy.) I mention this because race, ethnicity, religion, culture or language were not among those reasons.

What a luxury, compared to the experience of those who had the drain of mental and emotional energy needed to protect themselves against stereotyped expectations and lack of understanding, all while dealing with the same academic and social demands the rest of us had to worry about. The community learned a great deal at the Town Hall Forum about how this impacts students at all levels from Joseph Brown, a Stanford expert in Stereotype and Identity Threat.

Stanford has made enormous strides in getting beyond the parochial perspective of its first president. It's a world-class, multicultural institution that expects all of its admits to succeed. And they almost all do. Jordan's ideas about the genetically-based capacities of different races, ethnicities and social classes seem quaint rather than menacing at Stanford because they are so obviously backward and just plain wrong.

But PAUSD is different. Kids go to our schools because they live here, not because they've been selected. All students deserve the support that comes from knowing that, of course, they are considered full members of the community, and that differences in the background, abilities and experiences of their peers are precious opportunities for learning. If the name of a school conveys a different message, that full membership entails having the right genes, it would be better to change it.

Something is lost when names are changed, but something is gained as well. I hope the board will decide with an eye to the future of PAUSD, not to its (not well-remembered) past.


9 people like this
Posted by ARB
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 17, 2017 at 8:30 am

ARB is a registered user.

What people need to remember is that there was a charge from the School Board to the Committee. That charge was "Research and review the names of PAUSD schools and submit recommendations for renaming one or more of the
schools for the Board's consideration by December 31, 2016."

Members of the committee that took the time (their own personal time as well as in scheduled meetings, accumulating hundreds of hours of research) came to their conclusions, along with a survey of the community on naming of schools. In doing the proper research the majority of the committee reached the conclusion they did because the research indicted absolutely unbearable, unexplainable, and disgusting beliefs that do not align with the PAUSD mission statement. It's as simple as that. Yes it can wait until proper funding is available. No changing the root of the name to a different person with the same last name isn't going to change any views. This committee was not tasked with creating new names nor creating a process to do so. Please take the time to read or skim the report as there are many important details, including adding curriculum to educate students on these issues as they are part of the history of their school and town.

Before you start insulting people or their decision, try doing at least 1/100th of the research that the members did to educate yourself.


10 people like this
Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 17, 2017 at 12:36 pm

@ARB - I guess that the school board is to blame for this and not the committee?

What motivated the school board in the first place?
How many complaints did they receive?
Who submitted those complaints?
Why do their opinions matter more than the opinions of the rest of us?

Since the committee is taking recommendations: Can I recommend that the new name of David Starr Jordan Middle School be "David Starr Jordan Middle School?"


2 people like this
Posted by Here's an Idea
a resident of another community
on Jan 17, 2017 at 12:40 pm

Why not name one of the schools for Michelle Dauber. She's such a wonderful
role model for young girls, being a Law Professor. Also, she's an eagle-eyed watchdog of the judiciary.


Like this comment
Posted by Dick Maaer
a resident of Stanford
on Jan 17, 2017 at 1:43 pm


Outlandish, arrogant, and ignorant; teach those name changer folks some real history!!! Dick


Like this comment
Posted by Dick Maser
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 17, 2017 at 1:46 pm



Outlandish, arrogant, and ignorant; the name changer cadre must learn some history in context. Dick


2 people like this
Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 17, 2017 at 3:05 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

**Props to David Starr Jordan**

On a day when Betsy DeVos, Donald Trump's pick to become Secretary of Education, is making her case for privatizing public schools of the nation to the greatest extent possible with vouchers and for-profit charter schools, it's appropriate to remember and honor David Starr Jordan for his insistence that America's system of public education was crucial to sustain democracy,


4 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 17, 2017 at 5:08 pm

"I have just spent more than a year doing just that [carefully examine Jordan's motivations and intentions] because I wanted to be sure I understood the multiple aspects of the eugenics movement, who the key figures were ..."

You completely missed the challenge. It is not the time invested that counts in the real world, it is the result achieved. Exemplary snow job, though.

Again, I am advising you to examine your position very carefully in light of the objective facts before you pass judgement on someone who is, in terms of documented achievements, vastly superior to yourself. In particular, you need to carefully examine Jordan's motivations and intentions. Consult a competent professional ethicist.


14 people like this
Posted by ok I hope I post last
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jan 17, 2017 at 5:48 pm

As the first poster on this chain, I'm happy to see overwhelming rejection of the idea we should be using funds to rename our schools.

I'm a parent of two kids who are now in their last few years in the PAUSD and have seen the incredible waste of my donations. Last year we stopped donating to schools except to sports boosters. That way I know the money is being directed as I wish and for good use.




15 people like this
Posted by Sanctimonious City
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 17, 2017 at 10:27 pm

@Jerry Underdal is correct.

A strong public education system that teaches the core civic values of the U.S.A., ensures equal and safe access for everybody and enables a level playing field is essential to a functioning democracy.

Unfortunately, much of the public school system has been hijacked by unions and an ultra progressive ideology. Rather than teaching democracy, capitalism, freedom of speech, the rule of law and the three R's we get Cultural Marxism (political correctness) indoctrination, Social Justice Warrior Bootcamps, Microaggression seminars and gender fluidity workshops.

Sadly, starving the beast by stopping donations and pushing for school choice is seen as the only option to change the trend because school boards have refused to listen. The California school system went from first to worst in only a few short decades.

With the curriculum being politicized how long will it take PAUSD?


5 people like this
Posted by sunshine
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 18, 2017 at 8:12 am

Onc again PAUSD is giving up an excellent learning opportunity for students and the community in favor of deciding to protect the sensitivities of a few ultra-PC people. From kindergarden on, the school name can be a student learning opportunity. Students must learn to rise above someone's insensitivity. The names in question belong to persons who were once important in the learning environment and leadership in the community.
Are you going to leave Palo Alto students to develop into adults without learning about the past, whether you consider it appropriate or not?
When I worked at SJSU I heard some adult students discussing a familiar book that at one time was considered an American classic about life in the southern states. Certainly it is familiar to you: Mark Twain's Huckelberry Finn. The word in question was a now derogatory term for persons of dark skin. I lived in a New England state and had heard the word, but it was not commonly used as it was considered rude in the 1940s. They were astonished to learn that the word was used in a book that was required reading.
It is possible to be too protective of the sensitivities of your children. I think it is far better to discuss things more openly so that when your children get to adulthood they are not surprised by a new word.


2 people like this
Posted by What's in a name
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 18, 2017 at 8:26 am

What's in a name? My school was named after somebody's two pet goats. Had a nice ring to it and most hadn't a clue where the name came from.

Don't name after people in the first place. Name after animals or other neutral things.


2 people like this
Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 18, 2017 at 2:11 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

@Sunshine

"Are you going to leave Palo Alto students to develop into adults without learning about the past, whether you consider it appropriate or not?"

Heavens, no. What gives you that idea? Look at Section 5.12 in the RSAC report (link in story.)

5.12 Recommendation G

The committee recommends including the study of the American Eugenics Movement and Palo Alto’s leadership role in its promotion in secondary level social studies curriculum.

● Yeahs: 11; Nays: 1; Abstain: 1;

The committee member who voted against this recommendation is in favor of teaching science and the scientific method but expressed concerns that such a curriculum may not provide an unbiased assessment of the complexity of eugenics and the genetic contribution of intelligence.

The committee member who abstained is not opposed to the teaching of any science but felt this recommendation was out of scope for our committee and would be more appropriate coming from experts in curriculum design.

Where do we disagree?


4 people like this
Posted by Parent
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 18, 2017 at 2:41 pm

The problem, of course, Jerry, is if they change the name, they will never follow through on teaching the history year after year - and why would anyone care, since the name was changed anyway? Does anyone really care about dead eugenicists who have their names stripped from middle schools? So yes, the learning opportunity will be lost, and no kids will benefit. But the thrill of MAKING A DIFFERENCE will be there for all the adults to enjoy.


5 people like this
Posted by Parent
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 18, 2017 at 4:49 pm


With the budget shortfall common sense should prevail, and the money should not be spent to rename schools. Makes it really difficult to donate to PIE when the school district makes decisions like this.


2 people like this
Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 18, 2017 at 7:14 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

@Parent

"The problem, of course, Jerry, is if they change the name, they will never follow through on teaching the history year after year - and why would anyone care, since the name was changed anyway?"

If the lessons about the California eugenics movement and Stanford/Palo Alto's role in it are well embedded in the curriculum you don't need to worry that no one will care. **This is true whether the names are retained or removed.** I taught high social studies for many years. Engaging students in topics that deal with human and civil rights, as eugenics does, is both relatively easy to do and enormously worthwhile. The local angle would certainly add interest in Palo Alto, but I think lessons that addressed questions of race, ethnicity, disability status, inherent intelligence capacities, genetic marriage counseling, the development of genetics, biotechnology . . . would be relevant in all secondary schools.

We have a problem explaining the tenacity of disparities across a broad range of measures related to race, class, religion and disability status, among others, despite legal measures taken since the early 20th century and changed social attitudes. Could it be that long-embedded eugenic beliefs and practices that have reinforced prejudice and inequality for a century are still a barrier to inclusiveness and understanding across lines of race and class? Even in Palo Alto.


9 people like this
Posted by Teacher
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 18, 2017 at 9:05 pm

*As a history teacher I teach the Social Darwinist movement, its relation to the New Imperialism, the American eugenics movement, and the rise of the Third Reich. Trust me, if the history department is doing their job students are well versed. If this committee can put their money where their mouth is go volunteer outside their tony neighborhoods and empathize with communities that are not their own besides sending their kids to build a house in Costa Rica for a gap year. Didn't think so. #Liberal hypocrisy #Donating to Goodwill doesn't count # #Only travel to EPA for Ikea # But my kid has a friend named Rodrigo


2 people like this
Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 19, 2017 at 6:34 am

@Teacher

*As a history teacher I teach the Social Darwinist movement, its relation to the New Imperialism, the .American eugenics movement, and the rise of the Third Reich."

Do you teach the role of local figures in developing and promulgating the ideas and practices of the eugenics movement?

How do you explain David Starr Jordan's disappearance from public awareness in his home town, to the extent that the majority of current Palo Altans weren't even aware of who the school was named for?


3 people like this
Posted by Ron Wolf
a resident of Ohlone School
on Jan 19, 2017 at 9:48 am

Perhaps just to put a drop of balance into these comments, I'm in favor of the name change recommendation and proud of the PA community in general for supporting this. The comments against changing the names seem to be mostly angry, sarcastic, & not well-reasoned basing their arguments mostly on "we've always done it that way" sort of logic. All the more reason to think that the names need to be changed. I have a personal contact to a PA man who was sterilized in the 40s for being 'deficient'. It is far past time to leave this disgusting and wrong-minded history behind us.

Regarding the cost issues, yes, these are a valid concern. I suggest that there could be creative ways to cover these costs.

As far as choosing new names, right the PA Process will be likely be excruciating. However there is not shortage of deserving & relevant folks to honor.


3 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 19, 2017 at 5:14 pm

"Committee majority recommends renaming three Palo Alto school sites"

Moe, Larry, Curley, and be done with it. There are much bigger problems to face, now and upcoming.


4 people like this
Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 20, 2017 at 10:04 am

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

For those who dismiss eugenics as a long-forgotten intellectual preoccupation, the accession to power today of the scion of a family steeped in belief in the genetic superiority of its "blood line" is a reminder that remnants of the eugenics movement still weigh on America's ability to achieve its potential.

Web Link


4 people like this
Posted by Sanctimonious City
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 20, 2017 at 12:41 pm

@Jerry Underdal

Shame on you for twisting meaning, omitting context and spreading fake news. Someone saying they attribute their success to good genes is hardly practicing the belief of Eugenics.

If an athlete, a Noebel winning scientist or a super model made that comment you might even think they were being modest. I suppose you would also condemn anyone discussing the theories of nature vs nurture or natural selection as racist?

Your posts are normally well thought out but this one fell victim to unsubstantiated references to supposed remarks by a source who conveniently is dead. More propaganda by left wing media.

You can do better.


Like this comment
Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 20, 2017 at 11:23 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

Sanctimonious,

Sanctimonious,

"I suppose you would also condemn anyone discussing the theories of nature vs nurture or natural selection as racist?"

Absolutely not! These are the kind of big concepts that should be discussed more, not less. More reason for robust education about eugenics and its implications. It's a big, challenging, fascinating subject, don't you think?

I think we have a different idea of what constitutes "fake news." If it is verifiably sourced to someone with knowledge of the subject who openly acknowledges claims made and is open to public discussion of them, it's not "fake news.”

Some of the links that the Independent included in the story are sensationalistic, with an overwrought political tone, but I think the video clips of Donald Trump talking about genes and race horses is credible testimony to D'Antonio's claim, made in the PBS Frontline program and in his biography of Donald Trump, that Fred Trump inculcated in his son a firm belief in the role of genes in determining success and failure. And that people were pretty much divided into winners and losers.

When does garden variety hereditarianism (traits run in the family) become pseudo-scientific claptrap (the reason these people prosper is that they have good genes, and the reason those people don’t is that they have bad genes?) Answer: after early adopters of Darwin’s theory of evolution decide that complex human traits are passed on in the same predictable ratios as Mendel established for simple traits in peas. That would include young David Starr Jordan. Good genes, bad genes, fit and unfit—as Jordan said, it’s all in “the blood.” He never changed his opinion on the matter. While real science raced past him, he continued to support the eugenic will o’the wisp of removing or neutralizing inferior genes that threatened America. It was not only mean-spirited, it was mathematically impossible.

Why would the school district of 2017 choose to display on one of its middle schools the name of a white supremacist who denied the ability of education to significantly affect outcomes he considered genetically constrained? And why would it choose to display on another of its middle schools the name of a man who felt that innate intelligence could be established by paper and pencil testing and, being genetically fixed, was not susceptible to improvement in educational settings?

The committee wrestled with these questions for months. Answers have been suggested. Please look at the RSAC report to see what you think of them, then openly bring your opinion to the board, by letter or in person during open comment period. Keep an eye out to see when it’s on the agenda. it might be as early as next week.

I’ll keep reading what people post on this topic but won’t be posting any more on Town Square. Best of luck to PAUSD’s school board as they work through this issue, and thanks to all the members of the RSAC, Deputy Supt. Marcus Autrey and Supt. Max McGee for the pleasure of working with them.


Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.

Email:


Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: * Not sure?

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields

Top 6 Issues Affecting Seniors to keep an eye on as Donald Trump takes over
By Max Greenberg | 6 comments | 4,445 views

Wasband
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 1,620 views

Packing for the Women's March
By Sally Torbey | 10 comments | 850 views