Now is the time for the public to weigh in on ideas for new names for Palo Alto's Jordan and Terman middle schools, which will be renamed next year due to their namesakes' advocacy of eugenics.
A new committee convened this fall to oversee the renaming process is seeking nominations from the community, the district announced Thursday. The committee will submit its own list of recommended names to the school board in March.
The school board voted unanimously to rename the two middle schools this spring, following the majority recommendation of a previous district committee that researched the issue of renaming for many months. The district picked up the issue after a grassroots campaign, sparked by a seventh-grader's book report on David Starr Jordan's involvement in eugenics, an early 20th-century movement that promoted the reproduction of genetic traits of particular races over others.
The renaming question drew divisions between those in the community who felt it was inappropriate and even harmful to name public schools after men who promoted a racist ideology and those who wanted to preserve years of local history tied to the existing names.
The school board will make the ultimate decision on the schools' new names and is bound by policy on what kinds of names they can choose.
Under board policy, district facilities can be named after individuals, living or deceased, and entities that have made "outstanding" contributions, including financial contributions, to the school community; have statewide, national, or worldwide significance; or the geographic area in which the school is located.
The board previously stipulated that they will not consider names with the words "Jordan" or "Terman."
People can submit name ideas online through Jan. 22 at pausd.org. Hard copy forms are also available at public libraries and at all Palo Alto Unified schools.