News

Palo Alto school district committee to review all school names

Petition to rename Jordan Middle School sparks larger effort

Following the tearful testimony of one African-American student and an entire class of Palo Alto High School students who spoke about the importance of renaming Jordan Middle School given its namesake's involvement in eugenics, the school board unanimously approved the creation of a committee that will review the names of all of Palo Alto Unified's schools.

"What I want to say, to just get off my chest: I think it is imperative that Jordan be renamed almost immediately," Mariah Poitier, an African-American student who serves as Paly's social justice and school climate commissioner, told the board. Poitier also attended Jordan, which is named after David Starr Jordan, who was a leader in the eugenics movement, an early 20th-century science that promoted the reproduction of genetic traits of particular races over others.

"A school name like Jordan offends me and makes me very angry," Poitier continued, through tears. "It's been hard going to this school in this district and knowing that people support someone who, given the opportunity, I would have been sterilized, called stupid, called incompetent ... I think because we know better, as people, that we should do better and it's our moral obligation to make sure that every person in this district feels included and that they will be accepted."

The proposal to rename Jordan was born out of a petition started by Lars Johnsson, a Jordan parent who was shocked to learn about Jordan's history through a research project his then-seventh-grade son brought home last year. In November, he started a petition calling on the board to appoint a citizens advisory committee to consider new names for the school. The petition has since collected almost 400 signatures from individuals and also received official endorsements from several parent groups in the school district, including Parent Advocates for Student Success (PASS), which represents parents of minority students; the Palo Alto chapter of the Community Advisory Committee (CAC), which represents families of students with special needs; and the Palo Alto Council of PTAs (PTAC).

Johnsson said research he conducted himself after learning about Jordan's background made it clear that Jordan was not only a participant, but a leader in the eugenics movement. He was chair of the Eugenics Section of the American Breeders Association starting in 1906, an "incorporating member" of the Human Betterment Foundation and an advisory council member of the Eugenics Committee of the American Eugenics Society, according to Johnsson. He also penned "The Blood of the Nation: A Study in the Decay of Races by the Survival of the Unfit," a 1902 publication that promoted eugenics, which Johnsson's petition describes as "the early 20 century movement in America to create a MASTER RACE through desirable breeding, forced sterilization, deportation and immigration control."

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Jordan was also "of the firm belief that educational achievement is predetermined by race, and that opportunity and education cannot influence a persons intellectual abilities," PASS co-chair Sara Woodham, also Johnsson's wife, wrote in a Nov. 22, 2015, letter from PASS in support of the petition.

Board members expressed support Tuesday for taking a broad, creative look at all school names in the district. Concerns have also been raised about Terman Middle School and Cubberley Community Center given that Lewis Terman and Ellwood Cubberley were also eugenics proponents.

Board member Ken Dauber noted that there are no schools named after African-American or Asian-American figures, and only one school named after a Hispanic person (Juana Briones Elementary School).

"It's important students see themselves in at least some of the names of their schools," Dauber said.

"I think we owe it to our community and our students to make sure that every place that our kids are being educated in, that they do feel welcome and they do feel supported, and they feel like they have role models that they can emulate and don't seem so far away from them," board member Melissa Baten Caswell echoed. "Until we do that, until every kid can see themselves in the role models that we put forth, we're not going to have any kind of equity."

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More than 10 students from Paly's Social Justice Pathway program, several former Jordan students, also spoke to the board about the potential renaming of school facilities. Some spoke in strong support of renaming Jordan and others offered alternatives. Some noted Jordan's achievements as president of Stanford University and his leading work in ichthyology, the study of fish.

The students also emphasized that education is key; they said in surveys and interviews of both students and staff that they conducted as part of research for the class, many were unaware of the issue and history of eugenics. Some suggested incorporating eugenics into middle-school curriculum.

"Education is imperative," said Paly student Jeanette Andrews.

Johnsson said Wednesday that a unanimous vote of support from the Gunn High School student council and the statements from the Paly Social Justice Pathway students was "most gratifying.

"After all the name change is intended for the school community, to make every student feel welcome, and the very personal and emotional statement from the last student speaker made it clear to everyone that heard it, why the community needs to proceed with the name change," he wrote in an email, referring to Poitier's comments.

The new committee will be a citizens advisory committee governed by the Brown Act, with public meetings and agendas and minutes posted regularly. The group will be charged with researching names of current district schools and submitting recommendations for renaming one or more schools for the board's consideration by Dec, 31. Their work will be guided by a professional facilitator.

The district will now start the application process for the committee, whose membership will be "representative of the larger community and reflect its diversity, range of viewpoints, and historical perspectives," a staff report reads. The district aims to have the committee formed on or before March 31.

"I said this last time: Names matter," Board President Heidi Emberling said. "I don't want any child to feel marginalized in our community. We celebrate diversity here and we need to do it with our names as well."

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Palo Alto school district committee to review all school names

Petition to rename Jordan Middle School sparks larger effort

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Wed, Feb 10, 2016, 9:56 am

Following the tearful testimony of one African-American student and an entire class of Palo Alto High School students who spoke about the importance of renaming Jordan Middle School given its namesake's involvement in eugenics, the school board unanimously approved the creation of a committee that will review the names of all of Palo Alto Unified's schools.

"What I want to say, to just get off my chest: I think it is imperative that Jordan be renamed almost immediately," Mariah Poitier, an African-American student who serves as Paly's social justice and school climate commissioner, told the board. Poitier also attended Jordan, which is named after David Starr Jordan, who was a leader in the eugenics movement, an early 20th-century science that promoted the reproduction of genetic traits of particular races over others.

"A school name like Jordan offends me and makes me very angry," Poitier continued, through tears. "It's been hard going to this school in this district and knowing that people support someone who, given the opportunity, I would have been sterilized, called stupid, called incompetent ... I think because we know better, as people, that we should do better and it's our moral obligation to make sure that every person in this district feels included and that they will be accepted."

The proposal to rename Jordan was born out of a petition started by Lars Johnsson, a Jordan parent who was shocked to learn about Jordan's history through a research project his then-seventh-grade son brought home last year. In November, he started a petition calling on the board to appoint a citizens advisory committee to consider new names for the school. The petition has since collected almost 400 signatures from individuals and also received official endorsements from several parent groups in the school district, including Parent Advocates for Student Success (PASS), which represents parents of minority students; the Palo Alto chapter of the Community Advisory Committee (CAC), which represents families of students with special needs; and the Palo Alto Council of PTAs (PTAC).

Johnsson said research he conducted himself after learning about Jordan's background made it clear that Jordan was not only a participant, but a leader in the eugenics movement. He was chair of the Eugenics Section of the American Breeders Association starting in 1906, an "incorporating member" of the Human Betterment Foundation and an advisory council member of the Eugenics Committee of the American Eugenics Society, according to Johnsson. He also penned "The Blood of the Nation: A Study in the Decay of Races by the Survival of the Unfit," a 1902 publication that promoted eugenics, which Johnsson's petition describes as "the early 20 century movement in America to create a MASTER RACE through desirable breeding, forced sterilization, deportation and immigration control."

Jordan was also "of the firm belief that educational achievement is predetermined by race, and that opportunity and education cannot influence a persons intellectual abilities," PASS co-chair Sara Woodham, also Johnsson's wife, wrote in a Nov. 22, 2015, letter from PASS in support of the petition.

Board members expressed support Tuesday for taking a broad, creative look at all school names in the district. Concerns have also been raised about Terman Middle School and Cubberley Community Center given that Lewis Terman and Ellwood Cubberley were also eugenics proponents.

Board member Ken Dauber noted that there are no schools named after African-American or Asian-American figures, and only one school named after a Hispanic person (Juana Briones Elementary School).

"It's important students see themselves in at least some of the names of their schools," Dauber said.

"I think we owe it to our community and our students to make sure that every place that our kids are being educated in, that they do feel welcome and they do feel supported, and they feel like they have role models that they can emulate and don't seem so far away from them," board member Melissa Baten Caswell echoed. "Until we do that, until every kid can see themselves in the role models that we put forth, we're not going to have any kind of equity."

More than 10 students from Paly's Social Justice Pathway program, several former Jordan students, also spoke to the board about the potential renaming of school facilities. Some spoke in strong support of renaming Jordan and others offered alternatives. Some noted Jordan's achievements as president of Stanford University and his leading work in ichthyology, the study of fish.

The students also emphasized that education is key; they said in surveys and interviews of both students and staff that they conducted as part of research for the class, many were unaware of the issue and history of eugenics. Some suggested incorporating eugenics into middle-school curriculum.

"Education is imperative," said Paly student Jeanette Andrews.

Johnsson said Wednesday that a unanimous vote of support from the Gunn High School student council and the statements from the Paly Social Justice Pathway students was "most gratifying.

"After all the name change is intended for the school community, to make every student feel welcome, and the very personal and emotional statement from the last student speaker made it clear to everyone that heard it, why the community needs to proceed with the name change," he wrote in an email, referring to Poitier's comments.

The new committee will be a citizens advisory committee governed by the Brown Act, with public meetings and agendas and minutes posted regularly. The group will be charged with researching names of current district schools and submitting recommendations for renaming one or more schools for the board's consideration by Dec, 31. Their work will be guided by a professional facilitator.

The district will now start the application process for the committee, whose membership will be "representative of the larger community and reflect its diversity, range of viewpoints, and historical perspectives," a staff report reads. The district aims to have the committee formed on or before March 31.

"I said this last time: Names matter," Board President Heidi Emberling said. "I don't want any child to feel marginalized in our community. We celebrate diversity here and we need to do it with our names as well."

Comments

Barron Park dad
Barron Park
on Feb 10, 2016 at 10:33 am
Barron Park dad, Barron Park
on Feb 10, 2016 at 10:33 am
43 people like this

Yes, names do matter. I don't hear anyone actually arguing in defense of keeping the names of these eugenicists on our District schools, now that the facts are out.

Rather, the challenge is to make changes quickly and inexpensively and not allow this debate to detract from other District educational priorities. A long, drawn-out process isn't in anyone's best interest.

So let's make these name changes quickly, and then let's move on to other pressing matters.


just sayin'
College Terrace
on Feb 10, 2016 at 11:04 am
just sayin', College Terrace
on Feb 10, 2016 at 11:04 am
32 people like this

Fred Korematsu Middle School sounds good to me.


38 year resident
Old Palo Alto
on Feb 10, 2016 at 11:31 am
38 year resident, Old Palo Alto
on Feb 10, 2016 at 11:31 am
37 people like this

"It's been hard going to this school in this district and knowing that people support someone who, given the opportunity, I would have been sterilized, called stupid, called incompetent ..." to quote Mariah Poitier, a former Jordan student. I wonder if Ms. Poitier honestly thinks there were people in the district who actually thought that way while she was a student? If it wasn't for Mr. Johnnson's petition after his son's research revealed Jordan's involvement with eugenics, I doubt anyone living in the area would have known of that fact, not that it makes what he did right. Apparently, Jordan did make some valuable contributions as an educator or the school wouldn't have been named after him. I'm sure it wasn't because of his misguided involvement in eugenics. I'm sure that if this committee looks at the names of every school with the intention of finding some character flaw in the person the school was named after, they will succeed.


NewNamesForAll
Midtown
on Feb 10, 2016 at 11:40 am
NewNamesForAll, Midtown
on Feb 10, 2016 at 11:40 am
71 people like this

OK, since it is highly unlikely that any person for whom a school might be named, regardless of whatever good they might have done, did not do or think something in his/her life that would offend someone else, then - NO SCHOOLS NAMED AFTER PEOPLE - NONE!


Elementary - name them after the neighborhoods

Middle - name them after the street on which they reside, assuming it, too, is not named for a person.

High - we have two, and are unlikely to ever have more than three high schools. "Paly" is already take, though you could call them Paly-1, Paly-2, etc. You could call them North Palo Alto HS and South Palo Alto HS. If Cubberly is ever opened again, call it East (woops! that won't work). Central High is a good name, though none is central.

Anyway, lets make them all non-sexist, non-racist, non-human.


banfora
Fairmeadow
on Feb 10, 2016 at 11:46 am
banfora, Fairmeadow
on Feb 10, 2016 at 11:46 am
46 people like this

Re: 38 year resident's comments; "Apparently, Jordan did make some valuable contributions as an educator or the school wouldn't have been named after him." The fact that s/he cannot see how hurtful this comment is to a young person so wounded by Jordan's attempts to annihilate her race that she broke down crying during her testimony to the board is the crux of our inability to come together as the human race. It boggles the mind. I applaud the current Jordan student and his dad who brought the issue to the public. The difference between them and 38 year resident is glaring.

A final comment: To quote "just sayin'"; Fred Korematsu sounds good to me!


at what cost
Charleston Meadows
on Feb 10, 2016 at 11:51 am
at what cost, Charleston Meadows
on Feb 10, 2016 at 11:51 am
25 people like this

i hope part of this analysis estimates the cost of changing a name of school and a discussion of whether that money can be better spent on other priorities


Jean
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 10, 2016 at 12:08 pm
Jean, Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 10, 2016 at 12:08 pm
51 people like this

Keep Jordan's name as is. It is getting old with all of this political correctness. Jordan is part of Palo Alto's history.


the_punnisher
Registered user
Mountain View
on Feb 10, 2016 at 12:11 pm
the_punnisher, Mountain View
Registered user
on Feb 10, 2016 at 12:11 pm
16 people like this

My son graduated from Evergreen High School in Evergreen, CO.

I see no Jaguars parked in the Jaguars parking lot. As an owner of several Jaguars, I'm offended and the name Jaguars must be changed. /sarcasm

In " The Return of the King ", MLK while walking along a city street which happened to bear his name, gunshots go off, causing the gathered crowd to flee. He thus learns that "streets named after him weren't the very safest."

See how petty this " tempest in a teapot " looks to everyone outside Palo Alto?

Careful. You may have given the " South Park " writers new material.


Just College Resume Boosting
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 10, 2016 at 12:11 pm
Just College Resume Boosting, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 10, 2016 at 12:11 pm
33 people like this

Perhaps these students will state on their college applications that they were pro-active in convincing school board members to make a positive change and collaborated with the general community to publicize an issue dealing with inequality, exclusion, and racism. The solution involved increasing student body self-confidence, awareness and modernized the community.

No mention of the fact that Washington and other historical figures were slave owners, cruel, [other despicable acts] and the majority of students at these Palo Alto schools and city of Palo Alto residents know nothing about the persons Jordan, Terman, and Cubberley. Otherwise known as the idiom: "The squeaky wheel gets the grease".

If renaming them, yes, rename by location so we don't have to experience this wasteful process again! There are no living angels who we can name the schools after! Nobody is perfect!


Yup
Palo Alto High School
on Feb 10, 2016 at 12:33 pm
Yup, Palo Alto High School
on Feb 10, 2016 at 12:33 pm
34 people like this

Yes, please change the name and use the process as an educational opportunity for the entire community.


parent
Evergreen Park
on Feb 10, 2016 at 12:42 pm
parent, Evergreen Park
on Feb 10, 2016 at 12:42 pm
35 people like this

I like Escondido, lets keep that one. Some believe it might be translated as "hidden treasure." I love this school and feel fortunate that my children get to go there. It really is a hidden treasure of a diverse community representing 80 countries!

Plus I agree with NewNamesForAll


mutti
Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 10, 2016 at 1:15 pm
mutti, Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 10, 2016 at 1:15 pm
47 people like this

Palo Alto has changed school names regularly. JLS used to be Wilbur. Palo Verde used to be Sequoyah (yes, spelled with the 'y') I think Hoover used to be Ohlone, and I don't remember what current Ohlone used to be. So, changing names is no big deal. But I agree that naming them after people is always problematic. Henry Gunn was a PAUSD Superintendent. Do we want to name a school after a recent Superintendent? THAT would bring up a firestorm for sure!


NewNames
Mountain View
on Feb 10, 2016 at 1:44 pm
NewNames, Mountain View
on Feb 10, 2016 at 1:44 pm
13 people like this

Great idea.
Rename all the schools with non-human names. Locations. Trees. Animals.
This will be PC enough that no one will be offended.
That means no saints name: San Mateo, Santa Clara, San Carlos...

On the other hand, do not make them impossible to spell. They should be in the English language, the official language of the country paying for them (sorry Escondito). That means Palo Alto has to revert to Mayfair.
Make sure they do not reference ANY of the potentially traumatic heritage of our area. No references to the missions that subjugated and decimated the native population. No references to the Ranchos that followed, but were stolen (with the help of the US government) by the flood of European settlers after the Gold Rush. Lets take history completely out of the schools.

Most importantly, lets confuse all the alumnae who will now have to translate their school to its new name.
And, then there are the college entry committees who are not going to know the new school names. That couldn't possibly hurt the local applicants.

Learn the history of your school name. But don't let it rule your life.


Rename the Mountain
Mountain View
on Feb 10, 2016 at 1:52 pm
Rename the Mountain, Mountain View
on Feb 10, 2016 at 1:52 pm
22 people like this

Does this mean we should rename everything that's named after David Starr Jordon?
I'm sure there are a few things at Stanford that will require changing.
Then there's the peak behind Yosemite Valley. That would have to be renamed.

Then, everything named for Jefferson and Washington (slave owners).
Or Einstein (who abandoned his wife and children).
No one is perfect.


GetTheFactsRight
Barron Park
on Feb 10, 2016 at 2:35 pm
GetTheFactsRight, Barron Park
on Feb 10, 2016 at 2:35 pm
15 people like this

> banfora: "The fact that s/he cannot see how hurtful this comment is to a young person so wounded by Jordan's attempts to annihilate her race that she broke down crying during her testimony to the board is the crux of our inability to come together as the human race."

That is most definitely not the category of "eugenics" that Jordan was advocating. Governance dominated by people who are spectacularly misinformed or uninformed is known as an idiocracy (idiot + cracy).

Any decision should be based on an accurate assessment of what Jordan did, not fabrications.


Pro Committee
Palo Alto High School
on Feb 10, 2016 at 2:43 pm
Pro Committee, Palo Alto High School
on Feb 10, 2016 at 2:43 pm
35 people like this

I cast my vote in support of the committee idea. No need to silence discussion through shutting down any possibility of name-changing OR immediately changing the name.


Jerry Underdal
Barron Park
on Feb 10, 2016 at 3:09 pm
Jerry Underdal, Barron Park
on Feb 10, 2016 at 3:09 pm
44 people like this

People who have criticized the Black Lives Matter movement, arguing that singling out lack of respect and fairness in how our society treats blacks is itself unequal and unfair, and offering "All Lives Matter" as a corrective should recognize that removing Jordan's name would demonstrate that in Palo Alto schools "All Lives *do* Matter."

Jordan's categories of undesirables and inferiors included almost everyone except descendants of Nordic Europeans. And even they should be prevented from contributing to the gene pool, he argued, if they have certain physical or mental disabilities, or display a predisposition to engage in "morally decadent" behavior.

"a few things at Stanford that will require changing"

Not at all. Let Stanford honor the star of its early years in any way it chooses. It poses no additional threat to a student's confidence that he/she belongs at Stanford to be in a Jordan Hall classroom, regardless of their racial, ethnic, national or gender identity. They have been chosen by the very school Jordan led a century ago. Jordan's eugenicist ideas, to Stanford students comparing what Jordan believed to what they see when they look at their peers are absurd relics of pre-modern thought.

But PAUSD is not Stanford University. The district has no obligation to retain Jordan's name if it interferes, as evidence suggests, with the district's mission of welcoming and educating all students.


the_punnisher
Registered user
Mountain View
on Feb 10, 2016 at 3:10 pm
the_punnisher, Mountain View
Registered user
on Feb 10, 2016 at 3:10 pm
8 people like this

Rename the school after Micheal Jordan.

Web Link

Everybody happy? Move on. Nothing to see here...


Joseph E. Davis
Woodside
on Feb 10, 2016 at 3:10 pm
Joseph E. Davis, Woodside
on Feb 10, 2016 at 3:10 pm
10 people like this

Since this movement is about erasing people from history that offend our modern sensibilities, I recommend renaming the school for Stalin.


Resident
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 10, 2016 at 3:19 pm
Resident, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 10, 2016 at 3:19 pm
21 people like this

And this is the most important issue in PAUSD at present!

Will it prevent more suicides? Will it reduce class size? Will it reduce overcrowding in the schools? Will it prevent teachers assigning homework over long homework free weekends? (yes we have homework) Will it help our students get safely to and from school? Will it help traffic around our schools? Will it prevent approximately half our high school students from having the cross the train tracks twice each day? Will it in fact do anything to address the major problems we have at present?

There is no person who is completely guilt free or has a skeleton of some kind in the cupboard. Rather than change names a better plan would be to educate our kids on who these people are and let them learn about the good and the bad in these namesakes' lives. Yes, educate the students, not hide the issue. Yes, education - something PAUSD should be doing rather than wasting time on feel good issues.


Looking Forward...
Gunn High School
on Feb 10, 2016 at 3:38 pm
Looking Forward..., Gunn High School
on Feb 10, 2016 at 3:38 pm
31 people like this

...to hearing back from the committee. Not a bad move, imho.


Chris Zaharias
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 10, 2016 at 3:51 pm
Chris Zaharias, Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 10, 2016 at 3:51 pm
3 people like this

"I'm sure that if this committee looks at the names of every school with the intention of finding some character flaw in the person the school was named after, they will succeed."

Let's call it Silicon Valley Middle School and be done with it.


clever
Ohlone School
on Feb 10, 2016 at 4:27 pm
clever, Ohlone School
on Feb 10, 2016 at 4:27 pm
3 people like this

Rename Jordan alone. Why waste time on the rest. No one will be happy.
If you must rename all. ES-1, ES-2, ES-3...MS-1, MS-2...HS-1, HS-2.
Done.
But now we ave to pay for all new signage, stationary, website designs, uniforms, etc.
Changed my mind. Just change Jordan and get it over with ASAP.




38 year resident
Old Palo Alto
on Feb 10, 2016 at 5:02 pm
38 year resident, Old Palo Alto
on Feb 10, 2016 at 5:02 pm
2 people like this

@banfora...I'd suggest you reread the article and my post. What Ms. Poitier said was that "A school name like Jordan offends me and makes me very angry." "It's been hard going to this school in this district and knowing that people support someone who, given the opportunity, I would have been sterilized, called stupid, called incompetent ...

She made these comments about Jordan recently, but she is a student at Paly and the petition effort to change the name of the school is recent. So the chronology doesn't fit. My question is did she feel like that while at Jordan because the quote implies she did or does she feel like that now that she knows Jordan was involved in eugenics? Her other implication is that people at Jordan supported eugenics while she was there if you take her quote literally. I find that difficult to believe.

I am certainly sympathetic to her feelings.


reader
Stanford
on Feb 10, 2016 at 5:46 pm
reader, Stanford
on Feb 10, 2016 at 5:46 pm
6 people like this

Hilarious coming from people who live and work in an area full of those who are busy "changing the world" so it can deliver a knockout blow to all who are not the very best endowed genetically.


Dan
Midtown
on Feb 10, 2016 at 6:37 pm
Dan, Midtown
on Feb 10, 2016 at 6:37 pm
5 people like this

You are never going to find a name that can't offend somebody. If they are going to change school names, ban naming schools after people . Even if they named the school after Santa Claus (St. Nick Elementary), someone could be offended because its either a nod to Christian religious tradition (if I am NOT Christian) or a nod to the commercialization of a significant religious holiday (if I am Christian). I really hope they don't waste a lot of time and effort on this ... to be honest I suspect most people don't even know who the school was named after or what his/her contributions to society were. I certainly have no idea who David S. Jordan was and no time to research the matter. Please focus on education


Old Observer
Old Palo Alto
on Feb 10, 2016 at 6:38 pm
Old Observer, Old Palo Alto
on Feb 10, 2016 at 6:38 pm
11 people like this

[Post removed.]


Sandy
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 10, 2016 at 6:44 pm
Sandy, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 10, 2016 at 6:44 pm
26 people like this

Are the originators of this kerfuffle the same people who want to change all the words we now deem racist in Huckleberry Finn? In that mindset, anything named after John F. Kennedy would also have to be renamed (womanizer), also Robert and Ted (same reason). We would have to rename our city hall plaza: Martin Luther King was also a notorious womanizer. Is anything named after former President Clinton -- if so, change it now, for the same reason. Then what? Delete all scenes of cigarette smoking from old films? Change the lyrics of modern songs ("ho" becomes "lady of the night")?? Good grief, as someone already mentioned above, doesn't the school board have more important things to do? Get a grip, people!
Another local newspaper, in the Thought for the Day box on page 2, recently ran the following quote from Golda Meir:
"One cannot and must not try to erase the past merely because it does not fit the present."


Gus L.
Barron Park
on Feb 10, 2016 at 7:16 pm
Gus L., Barron Park
on Feb 10, 2016 at 7:16 pm
24 people like this

This will be a very interesting study on how Palo Alto Deals with this..


Paul
Downtown North
on Feb 10, 2016 at 7:18 pm
Paul, Downtown North
on Feb 10, 2016 at 7:18 pm
54 people like this

To all of you who aren't bothered by the naming of one of our middle schools after a eugenicist, (Hey, no one's perfect!) why not think of this as a nice civics lesson our community can provide for our kids? Find something you think is wrong, try to change it, and you can make a difference. Not a bad thing for Palo Alto, I think. I can think of worse ways to spend a little bit of money. (and how much money is it anyway?)

But really, these arguments people are making against this change - "no one's perfect", "too PC!", "everyone is offended by something!" are so lame anyway. You might as well just come out and say, "I lack the empathy to understand why another member of my community might be offended this, so I will belittle it." [Portion removed.]


Change It
another community
on Feb 10, 2016 at 7:32 pm
Change It, another community
on Feb 10, 2016 at 7:32 pm
29 people like this

Discussion is necessary to not just sweep things under the rug...but I hope they decide to change it.


Community Member
Ventura
on Feb 11, 2016 at 1:52 am
Community Member, Ventura
on Feb 11, 2016 at 1:52 am
37 people like this

Dear 38-year Resident:
Young Miss Poitier's insights as a current Paly High student are informed by years of coming through Palo Alto Schools. I have known her for years, and she is extremely bright; and besides being involved in the full life of her school is concerned about social issues, some of which effect her as an African American female. Palo Alto Schools are not only a high-pressure academic environment, but there are sometimes subtle and not-so-subtle experiences of discrimination that can effect minority students. I am glad that you are sympathetic to her feelings--we must be more tuned in to the feelings of our youth. The history of Eugenics in America and the idea of purging any "undesirables" should be seen as odious--and those who promulgated this pseudo-science should not be honored in public life or in our historiography. Our schools should have names--not of perfect persons--but of those who represent the highest and noblest aspirations of our nation and can serve as models for our young. The re-examination of school names is a healthy exercise for a progressive community like Palo Alto in the 21st Century.


Chip
Professorville
on Feb 11, 2016 at 10:58 am
Chip, Professorville
on Feb 11, 2016 at 10:58 am
8 people like this

The activist student may be overly sensitive to her perception of Jordan's supposed beliefs. I do hear (& read in these comments) exaggeration. Let's move on. If you must, drop "David Starr" from the school name & announce it will hence be called "Jordan Middle." I do like the idea of naming schools after their neighborhoods or streets, but PA got rid of Crescent Park Elementary decades ago in favor of a new housing subdivision.

In order to express my political correctness, I'll ask the US Gov't to rename Tomahawk missiles, Blackhawk & Apache helicopters. Some object to Washington Redskins. Can somebody get Notre Dame to stop with the "Fighting Irish?" Get George Washington off the currency too, as he had slaves. What do we do about Jefferson High School in Daly City? Junipero Serra is problematic too, for the way he treated California indigenous peoples.

Isn't part of progress learning & moving on from past history instead of retroactively trying to fix everything that might "upset" someone? Where do we stop? Some PA street names are embarrassing or offensive to speakers of other languages, so let's change all those too.


Former Jordan Parent
Palo Alto High School
on Feb 11, 2016 at 11:25 am
Former Jordan Parent, Palo Alto High School
on Feb 11, 2016 at 11:25 am
15 people like this

As a former Jordan family I can remember a few discussions around the dinner table or similar about DS Jordan, the dolphins, and all he did and whether it was good or bad. These civilized discussions were a learning experience for the kids and I feel very useful. If the name was changed, these types of discussions would never happen.

You can't hide history. You can't change history. You can't judge historical attitudes with today's values. But, you can learn from history. If we start taking away history because it is too sensitive, then we won't learn from it.


Bll
Community Center
on Feb 11, 2016 at 11:26 am
Bll, Community Center
on Feb 11, 2016 at 11:26 am
15 people like this

Why is it that presumed newcomers to Palo Alto want to turn it upside down, change this, change that, and throw a hissy-fit over perceived issues that had stood for years and never been a problem. If they don't like it here, may I hope they will leave and let the town and the rest of us alone in peace. We've not had all these problems before, and frankly, many of the rest of us wish they would take their 'revolutionary ideas' - and just leave.


Chip
Professorville
on Feb 11, 2016 at 1:00 pm
Chip, Professorville
on Feb 11, 2016 at 1:00 pm
6 people like this

@ just sayin' and banfora

<<Fred Korematsu>> ??? Why? It's a good name for a school in Oakland, where he lived, or Marin, where he died. There's no evidence that he ever had anything to do with Palo Alto.


Bill's Neighbor
Community Center
on Feb 11, 2016 at 1:35 pm
Bill's Neighbor, Community Center
on Feb 11, 2016 at 1:35 pm
38 people like this

@Bill - see my slight modification to your post below, from a new-comer's point of view. We're all better than this - let's be neighbors and work through issues together. No one should have to feel they should leave.


Why is it that presumed OLD-TIMERS in Palo Alto want to KEEP EVERYTHING FROZEN IN TIME, and throw a hissy-fit over THINGS THAT OBVIOUSLY NEED TO BE CHANGED. If they don't like it here, may I hope they will leave and let the town and the rest of us alone in peace.


Jerry Underdal
Registered user
Barron Park
on Feb 11, 2016 at 3:04 pm
Jerry Underdal, Barron Park
Registered user
on Feb 11, 2016 at 3:04 pm
29 people like this

Wow, I hadn't appreciated how much public education there is to be done in Palo Alto around the question of whether this matter is worthy of public attention and action. The enthusiastic and unanimous agreement by the board members, responsible for all PAUSD students' experience in our schools, that it is doesn't match up well with much of what is on this thread.

Good thing that the committee will have until December 31 to make its recommendations. There will be plenty of opportunities for people to talk it over with family and neighbors as well as give input to the committee members as the process goes forward.

That so many people have been unaware for decades about Jordan's racist, white supremacist pseudo-scientific pronouncements is unremarkable. Why bring that up when it could be embarrassing, especially after the civil rights movement brought increased sensitivity to racism far beyond the much-indicted South? If anyone bothered to inquire about the man in the picture, they'd hear talk about fish, Stanford and peace. It worked until now. Time for change.


Peter
College Terrace
on Feb 11, 2016 at 3:20 pm
Peter, College Terrace
on Feb 11, 2016 at 3:20 pm
7 people like this

I vote for Jeremy Lin Middle School


the_punnisher
Registered user
Mountain View
on Feb 11, 2016 at 5:40 pm
the_punnisher, Mountain View
Registered user
on Feb 11, 2016 at 5:40 pm
2 people like this

Saint Nick is the patron saint of thieves, pickpockets and burglars.
( to NICK something is to steal it )

I see Angela Davis named schools and businesses, Would that please the emotional lady if another school is named after her?


Better yet, let us name schools after the teacher and other astronauts of the CHALLENGER DISASTER. We can teach about the politicians that overrode the engineer(s) that said that the outside temperature was too cold for a successful launch.


Susy
Midtown
on Feb 11, 2016 at 9:58 pm
Susy, Midtown
on Feb 11, 2016 at 9:58 pm
1 person likes this

Here's an idea to solve the Jordan Middle School name change, just add an "S" onto Jordan and call it Jordans. It will then be named after the village in Bucks, England where several of the original Quaker immigrant came from that sailed to America on the Mayflower, and where William Penn is buried. After all that's part of America's history!!!

Just an idea to make the change as economical as possible!!!!


Paul
Downtown North
on Feb 11, 2016 at 11:58 pm
Paul, Downtown North
on Feb 11, 2016 at 11:58 pm
33 people like this

Bill, you forgot to yell at the kids to get off your lawn.


Larry Cohn
Midtown
on Feb 12, 2016 at 2:21 am
Larry Cohn, Midtown
on Feb 12, 2016 at 2:21 am
Like this comment

"Rename the school after Micheal Jordan."

Mr. Jordan might appreciate his name being spelled correctly.

Has Mr. Jordan the basketball star ever set foot in the city of Palo Alto? I thought not.


Larry Cohn
Midtown
on Feb 12, 2016 at 2:32 am
Larry Cohn, Midtown
on Feb 12, 2016 at 2:32 am
6 people like this

Here is the perfect solution. Rename the schools:

PC-1

PC-2

PC-3

etc.

No one is offended; everything is as sterile, sanitized and devoid of humanity as can possibly be.

PC stands for, yup, you guessed it.


Newcomer
Downtown North
on Feb 12, 2016 at 10:14 am
Newcomer , Downtown North
on Feb 12, 2016 at 10:14 am
20 people like this

Hey Bill,
imagine for a moment you recently moved to Palo Alto, have a great job, and found a great place to raise your kids. The neighbors are friendly, the schools are great, life could not be better.
Then one day your son comes home from school and you can't believe what you read in his homework. The schools namesake was not only the the much praised skillful hands-on administrator/educator that helped build Stanford University, but he was also one of the worst Eugenicist California has ever known, responsible for a terrible disgrace in America's past. So bad indeed that the California state legislature unanimously expressed its profound regrets over California's leading role in the Eugenics movement in 2003,and here in 2015, your son's school honors the legacy of one of the movement's leaders.
Now you have a choice to make. The easy way out is to look the other way, or you can reach out to 'your new community' and ask a naive question: "hey, why is our school's name honoring the legacy of a leading Eugenicist, this doesn't reflect the people and their values, this isn't you, why not honor somebody that reflects everything 'we' stand for, a role model that can inspire our children and reflect our values".
And then Bill stands up claiming to speak for 'the rest of Palo Alto' proclaiming "We've not had all these problems before, and frankly, many of the rest of us wish [you] would take [your] 'revolutionary ideas' - and just leave".
Perhaps that's not a bad idea, leaving 'a mess' behind is always easier than trying to help clean it up.


Larry Cohn
Midtown
on Feb 12, 2016 at 10:56 am
Larry Cohn, Midtown
on Feb 12, 2016 at 10:56 am
14 people like this

"one day your son comes home from school and you can't believe what you read in his homework. The schools namesake was not only the the much praised skillful hands-on administrator/educator that helped build Stanford University, but he was also one of the worst Eugenicist California has ever known, responsible for a terrible disgrace in America's past."

I went to Jordan for three years and I turned out fine. I do not own slaves, do not practice eugenics or advocate selective breeding, and am not a member of the KKK. All I knew about David Starr Jordan for the first 60 years of my life was that he was a former president of Stanford and my alma mater is named after him.

Palo Alto must really be a techno-utopia if this is the worst thing its residents have to whine about.


50 year resident
Palo Alto High School
on Feb 12, 2016 at 12:30 pm
50 year resident, Palo Alto High School
on Feb 12, 2016 at 12:30 pm
20 people like this

See! I've lived here longer than you, 38 year resident. No one cares how long you've lived here either. It's not hard to imagine that I'd look upon YOU as a "newcomer". But I don't because I don't look at my neighbors that way. But I can say quite frankly that I am saddened and disappointed in what you brought to town when you did arrive: insensitivity to those not like you, esp the young, who for reasons you'll likely never understand, have chosen to engage their community in trying, in their view, to make it better. As to why now, after so many years? Who knows and who cares? That's how a democratic society and activism work.
But it is rather astounding to read so many of you belittling the effort, as if it somehow costs you anything. The name is deeply offensive, and while it wasn't seen as such in the not so distant past, it sure is (or should be) now. And thankfully, it'll be gone soon. And you'll have to look up DSJ on your own. The committee will find a suitable replacement, and we'll no longer be inadvertently honoring an avowed eugenisist.
And as for whether Mr Poitier knew earlier? She did. I commend her for finding the courage to finally share her anger in public. I dare all of you to do the same- in public. I know I will be.


Duveneck mom
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 12, 2016 at 4:12 pm
Duveneck mom, Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 12, 2016 at 4:12 pm
6 people like this

@ 38 year resident and all other residents

Paly's award winning paper, the Campanile, had an editorial piece, written by the editor, asking to rename schools in 2012. So, some of our secondary students may have known about this issue. Question - where was the teacher/advisor for the Campanile in 2012 to support the students in advancing this issue?


Duveneck parent
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 12, 2016 at 4:17 pm
Duveneck parent, Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 12, 2016 at 4:17 pm
1 person likes this

Nancy Krop spoke at a board meeting and suggested changing the name to Barbara Jordan? She was a pioneer. Barbara Jordan’s career included many ‘firsts’. Here is some info on her from wikipedia -
Web Link

Here is a link to Barbara Jordan’s keynote speech at the 1976 Democratic National Convention.
Web Link


please do better
Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 12, 2016 at 5:46 pm
please do better, Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 12, 2016 at 5:46 pm
9 people like this

And what connection does Barbara Jordan have to Palo Alto or to education?


Commentator
Professorville
on Feb 12, 2016 at 6:26 pm
Commentator, Professorville
on Feb 12, 2016 at 6:26 pm
6 people like this

This calls for a Silicon Valley solution. The names of all Palo Alto schools should be recorded only on a central database so they can be changed instantly as necessary. Use a strong password to limit hacking. Students would be encouraged to check their school's name hourly using their devices to stay up to date.


Paly parent
Greenmeadow
on Feb 12, 2016 at 6:31 pm
Paly parent, Greenmeadow
on Feb 12, 2016 at 6:31 pm
Like this comment

@ please do better

I listened to Barbara Jordan's speech and found it very uplifting. She talks about the same issues that our community is discussing with naming of our schools. And of course, education is a civil rights issue. I encourage you to listen to the speech; she is a gifted speaker and it is a very pleasant way to spend 20 minutes, independent of the issue of renaming our schools.

Maybe we can have one of the first Barak Obama Middle Schools. I'm not sure we need to limit naming our schools to Palo Alto residents.


think big
Esther Clark Park
on Feb 12, 2016 at 7:25 pm
think big, Esther Clark Park
on Feb 12, 2016 at 7:25 pm
7 people like this

"I'm not sure we need to limit naming our schools to Palo Alto residents."

Yeah, no need to have anything to do with Palo Alto. So "Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela Middle School"?


Good point
Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 12, 2016 at 7:47 pm
Good point, Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 12, 2016 at 7:47 pm
6 people like this

"Maybe we can have one of the first Barak Obama Middle Schools. I'm not sure we need to limit naming our schools to Palo Alto residents."

Good point. Perhaps we could do double duty with George W and George HW Bush Middle School?


Larry Cohn
Midtown
on Feb 12, 2016 at 8:03 pm
Larry Cohn, Midtown
on Feb 12, 2016 at 8:03 pm
6 people like this

It's a pretty sad state of affairs if there's no one connected with Palo Alto or its school system worth naming a local school after.

We're naming a middle school, not minting a new coin or erecting a national monument.


after all that
Crescent Park
on Feb 13, 2016 at 9:32 am
after all that, Crescent Park
on Feb 13, 2016 at 9:32 am
20 people like this

Elementary Schools
----------------
Addison => Addison
Duveneck => Crescent Park
Walter Hays => Rinconada
Ohlone => Amarillo
Palo Verde => Palo Verde
Farimeadow => Fairmeadow
Barron Park => Barron Park
Escondido => College Terrace
Nixon => Stanford
El Carmelo => El Carmelo
Hoover => Charleston
Grendell => ???


Middle Schools
-------------
JLS => Mitchell Park
Terman => Arastradero
Jordan => Middlefield


High Schools
-----------
Palo Alto => Palo Alto North
Gunn => Palo Alto South


Name it SK Middle School
Barron Park
on Feb 13, 2016 at 12:21 pm
Name it SK Middle School, Barron Park
on Feb 13, 2016 at 12:21 pm
Like this comment

[Post removed.]


Way out of hand
Mayfield
on Feb 15, 2016 at 8:49 am
Way out of hand, Mayfield
on Feb 15, 2016 at 8:49 am
7 people like this

This has gotten way out of hand.


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