News

Editorial: Rename the schools after people

Given the open process and honorable intent, it's time to push forward

More than two years have passed since a seventh-grader at David Starr Jordan Middle School discovered that his school's namesake was a leader in one of the 20th century's ugliest movements: eugenics, or the belief that some races are inferior to others and that sterilization of people with "undesireable" traits is justified.

The horror felt by that student, who is part African-American, became the catalyst for a committee's exploration of renaming of Jordan and Terman Middle School (Lewis Terman was also a eugenicist). A year ago, the school board unanimously decided to proceed and a citizens' Recommending School Names Advisory Committee was formed to gather and vet new names. Their dedication to the task, which included more than 2,000 hours of work, is to be lauded.

A year ago we were not enthusiastic about the renaming due to the resources and time it would likely consume. We recommended at the least a delay in the process until the district had the funds to spend on the rebranding of signs, stationery and athletics jerseys that will be necessary. Because the district did proceed, however, we now believe the only sensible choice is to move forward, and we urge the board to finalize the two names as scheduled next Tuesday.

The process of choosing the names has been open and fair. It began with an open call for submissions, which drew 1,600 responses, including nearly 320 different people's names and 50 unique suggestions of geographic markers. From those, the committee, which included school district personnel, three former City Council members and other residents, researched the names based on criteria such as inclusion, integrity and contribution to Palo Alto.

The eight nominees they recommended last week to the school board — six individuals and two geographic markers — are written up in a report, which we urge everyone to read. These individuals are among the most outstanding residents Palo Alto has known. They helped build the city through innovation — such as William R. Hewlett, whose company has become synonymous with Palo Alto and whose philanthropic legacy continues to better the world, and Ellen Fletcher, the City Council member known for her advocacy of cycling and environmental causes. They were exemplars of the practice of inclusion — such as Anna Zschokke, who founded the Palo Alto school system in the 1800s for the local children, and Frank Greene Jr., a pioneering technologist who advocated for greater diversity in Silicon Valley. And they demonstrated integrity, such as Edith Johnson, the city's first female doctor, who treated patients regardless of their ethnicity or ability to pay, and Fred Yamamoto, a Palo Alto youth leader who inspired others with his devotion to equality and community and who died in World War II fighting for democracy and justice.

While the renaming process has drawn out honest concerns from many people, we are bothered by one development this week that may be influencing the nomination considerations. Some in the community have vociferously objected to Yamamoto's nomination, noting that his surname is the same as that of Japanese naval admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, who planned the attack on Pearl Harbor and is blamed for earlier playing a role in Japan's invasion of China.

They are entitled to their opinion; however, as school trustee Melissa Baten Caswell succinctly observed Monday: To view Fred Yamamoto not as an individual but solely by his Japanese heritage is what led this country to wrongly force Japanese-Americans into internment camps during World War II. It is "guilt by association."

It also flies in the face of the noble purpose of renaming the schools, which is to stand as a community for the ideal that every individual should have the opportunity to make something of him or herself, not judged or limited by others based on race or creed, but celebrated based on one's own actions and character.

We strongly reject the idea that choosing Fred Yamamoto, who was the committee's single top pick for a middle school namesake, is now suddenly an inappropriate option.

More broadly, we believe, as does the committee, that naming schools for people carries far more power to inspire our students than place names, of which the district already has plenty.

We urge the school board to stay the course, honor the original intent of the renaming, and choose people as namesakes for the schools. This fall, when the schools unveil their new names, we can then look forward to teaching our students about these exemplary individuals and imparting the lessons that they stood for throughout their lives.

Finally, though some may regret the division that the renaming has revealed in our community, the surfacing of fissures — as at least one committee member observed Monday — gives us the opportunity to come together and be purposeful in healing those divides, seeing past differences and uniting under our shared belief that every person is created equal.

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Comments

144 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 23, 2018 at 7:49 am

This is becoming one of the biggest problems of our time - erasing names, art, or anything else for political correctness. If we replace a name with another name, we are only asking for more trouble further down the line. I wonder what will be next in Palo Alto?

Napa High School is losing it's Indian mascot for PC racial reasons. What will be next? The Paly Viking? After all, vikings were famous for raping and pillaging. Is that how we view our Norwegian friends?

This country is in danger of losing its culture and heritage to PC nonsense. People are always full of flaws even if they are heroes also. What should we do with heroes and heroic acts? Only honor those who have never done anything wrong? Or should we celebrate the good in people while understanding that history should never be judged by present day norms and that every living person can have cause of criticism.


19 people like this
Posted by Army Vet
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Mar 23, 2018 at 8:10 am

Amen. And it also would not hurt to honor name-not-important because he served in the military and gave his life to this country. I could care less what his ethnic last name or heritage is.


131 people like this
Posted by Terman Parent
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Mar 23, 2018 at 8:56 am

So what’s wrong with Fred Terman? Why we want to change the name at first place? The obvious double standard comments only a demonstration of arrogance and prejudice that will set a dangerous course for many other issues to be tackled in the future in our district. Can our community to elect our future board members with basic common sense and logic?


124 people like this
Posted by Steve
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Mar 23, 2018 at 8:57 am

This editorial piece is extremely insensitive to historic background and promotes racial divide. As a parent of a Terman kid, I voice my strong opposition to naming Terman and Jordan middle schools to people names. Please do not place political idealistic before our schools and our students' well-being.


115 people like this
Posted by A Chinese American
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 23, 2018 at 9:05 am

Dear Author,

I respectfully but strongly disagree with your message. I am a Chinese American. I appreciate the committee's recommendation of an Asian American name. I am truly inspired by the heroic spirit and patriotism of Fred Yamamoto.

However, if you Google Yamamoto, as most people call the middle school Termann instead of Lewis Terman, the first result is Isoroku Yamamoto, who is much more well known his WWII crimes in Asian countries than in US. It brings painful memories for many people!

We would not in a million years call a school "Xyz Hitler Middle School" no matter how Xyz is honorable as an individual. It is not guilt by association. It is reasonable sensitivity.

Let me make it loud and clear: I am against this renaming nonsense NOT because it is a Japanese last name!


167 people like this
Posted by Tyler L. Sean
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Mar 23, 2018 at 9:13 am


Over the years, the editorial board has produced a lot of top-quality opinions. Disappointingly, this piece is NOT one of them.

The exact same arguments in this piece could be made for keeping Jordan and Terman as the names two years ago. Where was the editorial board then?

What if we renamed the schools after people now, but a few years later some embarrassing scandals were uncovered about those people. What do we do?

Editorial board: keep in mind that however honorable our intents are now, they could be purely evil 30, 50, or 100 years from now.

A leading local newspaper’s editorial board is to produce forward thinking and visionary pieces that guide, shape and more importantly, unite the community.

It’s definitely not to drag the community into further distractions from what the school board members are elected to do: motivate, educate and elevate our students.

I ask the PAUSD board to use geographic names at its 3/27 meeting and, by doing so, to lead the our community move on.


85 people like this
Posted by Blatant double standard
a resident of Green Acres
on Mar 23, 2018 at 9:13 am

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


60 people like this
Posted by Political Correctness to the extreme
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 23, 2018 at 9:22 am

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


73 people like this
Posted by Father of two
a resident of South of Midtown
on Mar 23, 2018 at 9:27 am

Editorial Board

Naming after any person is NOT a good idea. For the sake of "inspiring" students, put school district's money and resource at risk. This is not what our board of education should do.

Lewis Terman is problematic. Who can guarantee the next person is perfect? Does it mean we need to go through this process again?

School name is high stake asset of our community. Protect it in a responsible way. It is proved that naming after a person has caused failure. Do not do it again.

We have tons of ways to inspire our students using ALL role models, instead of picking only one for school name. It's not fair to other 5 great role models(as of now).


129 people like this
Posted by Tyler L. Sean
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Mar 23, 2018 at 9:28 am

In casting their votes, PAUSD board members should read and weigh non only this opinion by the editorial board, but also the comments and feedbacks posted below it.

The editorial board DOES NOT represent we Palo Altans, nor the studetns, nor the parents.

The comments/feedback from the readers/community do.



133 people like this
Posted by Harry
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 23, 2018 at 9:31 am

The board explicitly announced, in written, to rule out any candidate of last name Terman or Jordan to make a "clear cut" because "last name matters". Now you are talking about "To view Fred Yamamoto not as an individual but solely by his Japanese heritage ... is "guilt by association.""

Please tell us: is ruling out all Terman/Jordan candidates because of their last names "guilt by association"?

This is blatant double standard! Completely absurd!


71 people like this
Posted by Catherine
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 23, 2018 at 9:39 am

I prefer the usage of geographic names because I feel in our city, there is already too much inspiration by famous people. Can we just let our kids be, let them decide how they want to make of their lives?


98 people like this
Posted by Alison
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Mar 23, 2018 at 9:43 am

I find the author contradicting his own logic. If Fred Terman is not considered due to his last name (guilt by association per author's logic), why Yamamoto should be any different? It's enough for the political correctness, do we have problems to look into the mirror and admit we all have done something wrong/regratable in the past? What kind of society is this?


66 people like this
Posted by Dan
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 23, 2018 at 10:11 am

Yes, its time to push forward over the cliff ... pissing off many large segments of the school community in the process. There is no "noble purpose of renaming the schools" ... The noble purpose would be to focus on the mission of the schools which is education. This is a side show which benefits no one in the end.


20 people like this
Posted by bike commuter
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Mar 23, 2018 at 10:13 am

Let me make a TL;DR version of this editorial.
--------
We like Yamamoto. If you don't like the new name, it is your business.
--------
I am wondering if this editorial can pass the Yamamoto Middle School's standard.


111 people like this
Posted by Tyler L. Sean
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Mar 23, 2018 at 10:14 am

Two thumbs down to the board on this piece.


11 people like this
Posted by Local Girl
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 23, 2018 at 10:35 am

Please, please, please reconsider Florence Turner for consideration as a replacement school name. (If it has to happen at all... I personally abhor the erradication of our town history). Miss Turner taught in the Palo Alto school system for 45 years, educating and mentoring generations of Palo Altans. She single-handedly designed the Far East history program, was a Paly sports supporter (there is an annual award named in her honor) and took her first assignment as boy's P.E. teacher at Jordan during WWII when all the male teachers were fighting overseas. She is the true embodiment of Palo Alto education and would be a worthy (and non-controversial) namesake for a Palo Alto school.


73 people like this
Posted by Ex-terman
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Mar 23, 2018 at 10:54 am

Normally the weekly editorials are logical and sensible...well, here is the exception!
Humans are fallible..if that is not acceptable, PL go ahead and use geographical names so that we don't have this colossal waste of time, resources and emotions again.
No tree, valley, stream or meadow has hurt people's sentiments!
The Yamamoto/ Terman debate smacks of double standard..if Terman is vetoed, so should Yamamoto..any Pausd student can see that! ..oh PL just go with geographical names and put this long drawn out waste to an end....pulleeeaaase!


53 people like this
Posted by Ex-terman
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Mar 23, 2018 at 11:02 am

We've had two kids who attended Terman...if the school was inspiring, that was due to the caring staff and their teaching philosophy, cooperation and examples...
That is what has the direct effect on student's lives.
My kids would've had the same happy middle school lives even if it was called abc school or 456school. It's the personnel who are most important. So PL, Pausd, spend resources in personnel, not names.


35 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Mar 23, 2018 at 11:06 am

Annette is a registered user.

The School Board hoisted themselves on this one. Had they not ruled out Fred Terman on the basis of his last name they might have the latitude to bestow the honor on Fred Yamamoto. Regrettably, that's not what happened.

I think we are experiencing the inevitable outcome of political correctness: eventually, it becomes painfully clear that you cannot please all of the people all of the time. Impossible. Nor can we change history. But we can learn from it. This issue is a perfect example of how; I bet many people have a greater awareness of the wrongness of eugenics than they did two years ago.

Further to the idea of learning from history, the recent 60 Minutes segment on removing Confederate statues is worth watching. Professor Julian Hayter's comments about reinterpretation and contextualization are thought provoking.

If the School Board isn't prepared to shelf the renaming matter altogether I hope it will make a decision and bring this controversy to a close. They have a lot of work to do on several pressing matters.


107 people like this
Posted by I GET IT - Double Standard is KEY
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 23, 2018 at 11:07 am

Now, I, an Asian American, get it - double standard is the key to resolve this dilemma. As long as I figure out this, no more confusion. I am SO grateful for the time and effort that the Renaming Committee has spent. But nonetheless, even if the "cautionary note" is made in their recommendation report, "Yamamoto" is still strongly recommended. Well, yes, I appreciate such recommendation carries the spirit of "inclusiveness", "recognition" and "diversity". However, sadly, such recommendation may also reveal the ignorance or lack of knowledge on the history during WWII. NONE of the members in the Reaming Committee is from Asian American community, despite it is heard that people of Asian background / heritage applied to join the Renaming Committee (who knows why those Asian Americans did not get in the Renaming Committee???). If there had been a few members from Asian community joining the Renaming Committee, I wonder if the name Yamamoto would still have been the most strongly recommended. It is repeatedly said:"Last Names Matter" - under this standard, it means: people's feeling of being hurt or offended should be avoided no matter how many or few of them - Hmmm, yes! I get it - So, it makes sense that: "Fred Terman" or whoever innocent "XYZ Terman" cannot be considered because there is a "guilt association" with "Terman". Likewise, "Michael Jordan" or whoever innocent Jordan cannot be considered, for the same reason that the innocent "XYZ Jordan" still reminds people of that "bad" Jordan and that is too bad and too hurtful. OK, I get it although I still feel sorry for those people (now and future) whose last names are "Jordan" or "Terman" because you are OUT from the list for our elite board members to consider using your last names for our schools no matter how excellent and inspirational you do for this community and even for the entire world! But now, wait, here, we are told that we cannot apply the same standard to conclude in Yamamoto scenario? It has been repeatedly said we pay true and greatest respect to Mr. Fred Yamamoto (just like another "Fred" - Mr. Fred Terman), but we feel hurt when this last name becomes our school name because that triggers a painful chapter of history in WWII and over 10 million of innocent people were killed Web Link The "Asian Holocaust" killed TWICE as many people as the Nazis did and yes, we did feel hurt because that "bad" Yamamoto was one of the most notorious leaders responsible for those cruel and bloody battles! But now, people ask us that we should not feel hurt. Why? Simply because those mainstream people lacking knowledge of Pearl Harbor attack and mass killings in Asia do not feel hurt so that we should not feel hurt? Is it suggesting that those mainstream people are those who have the absolute and ultimate authority to teach us when and what should make us feel hurt. In other words, if "mainstream" teaches us that we should feel hurt when "Terman" or "Jordan" is used for school name, we should feel the same way. Now, the "mainstream" says we should not feel hurt when "Yamamoto" is used, then our daring to continue saying we are hurt is labeled as "racism"?! OK, I finally get it - using double standards is the key here to avoid confusion and even avoid being labelled as a racist! The key to figure out all this mess is: we have to listen to them, NOT their listening to us, because otherwise, we will be labeled as a group of "mob" racists?


38 people like this
Posted by Terman Parent
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 23, 2018 at 11:26 am

Terman PTA sent out an urgent survey to the Terman community on Tuesday (3/20) at 2:04pm, and the survey disappeared the next morning (Wednesday) without any communication until Thursday afternoon at 2:26pm. Why? Below is the email a group of Terman parents sent to Terman PTA and the Board Tuesday evening. Let's see who is pushing for renaming our schools after person's names including Yamamoto, and how they are doing it.


Dear Terman PTA,
You sent out an urgent survey (forwarded below) to the Terman community regarding school renaming this afternoon. Given its urgent nature and the fact that it covers a very sensitive topic, this survey caused confusion and even stress in many parents. I spoke with some of them in the past few hours, and below is a list of questions from all of us:
1. Why was this survey created?
Why are we having an urgent survey? Given that a petition “Not Naming Our School After a Person’s Name (incl. Yamamoto)” was launched yesterday and has already collected 970+ signatures, parents are wondering whether the survey was designed to counter it.
2. How will the survey results be used?
Will the survey be used as a reference point, or play a big role in the decision made by the Board?
3. Was the survey requested by the Board or certain Board members?
You said in your email that the survey results will be sent to the Board. Parents are asking whether you initiated the survey by yourself, or per the Board’s request? Did the Board know about the survey before it was launched?
4. Who is supposed to take the survey?
Is it only for current Terman families? Can Terman alumni families take it as well? Can other Palo Alto families take it? Can non-Palo Alto families take it? Since it is not clear who can take it, the survey was already widely spread this afternoon. Therefore, many non Terman families have taken it. Please note that when you send the survey results to the board, it’s not just the opinions of the Terman families.
5. Is the survey legitimate?
Parents found that you can re-take the survey again and again. Also, no name or email is collected from people taking the survey. Therefore, they are not sure if the survey is legitimate. If it is not, they are worried that the survey reports will be used to support certain biases in decision making. Some parents are even stressed about whether they should take the survey at all.
6. Who designed the survey questions?
Parents are asking if the survey was designed by one person or a group of people. Were they done in a very short time, or they have gone through thorough reviews and discussions? Given the time it was sent out, its urgent nature, and what happened in the past few days, many parents are worried that the survey was designed by one person or very small group of people who might already have a strong preference.
7. Is the survey objective?
The email message that was sent out with the survey link stated that “there are 3 School Board members who are leaning towards renaming our school for an inspiring person. There are 2 School Board members who prefer to rename our school for the geographical location of Adobe Creek.”
Additionally, the survey itself starts with “1. The School Board majority is leaning towards naming Terman for an inspiring person,” and the option to rank the names. It is only after people finish all this that they get to see the second question asking whether they prefer a location name over a person’s name.
There are several issues with this design:
a) The survey was designed to influence survey takers. It emphasized that a majority of the board’s preferences are person’s names twice, which is a strong hint and will likely impact some people’s opinion. An objective survey would not do that.
b) The survey was designed to mislead the survey takers. It starts by asking taker to rank 6 people’s names, and some people will start ranking them without knowing that there are location choices later. Only after they spend the time ranking the six people will they see the 2nd question about location choices. At this point, some might just choose no, or no opinion simply because they have already spent time ranking the people. A logical and objective survey would give the choice of person verses location name first. Then, if someone chooses people, he or she can rank the 6 of them. If someone chooses location, they can stop without ranking the people. Or, you can even list all 8 candidates (people and locations) together, and let people choose 2 out of the 8.
c) The survey was designed to skew the survey results towards the person choice. It has default ranking for the 6 persons, which means that even if someone chooses ‘yes’ to locations only for #2 and do not touch #1, the survey result already has a ranking for persons names and therefore votes. Unless the rule is that ‘if someone chooses ‘yes’ for #2, the default result of #1 will not be counted,’ the survey results will be totally wrong. However, because this rule is not clear, parents are very stressed that they involuntarily voted for the persons choice even though they did not touch it and only wanted location choices.
d) Late this evening, the survey itself just changed (The people choices no longer have default ranking) without informing the whole Terman community. This change was only discovered by accident. Many people who took the survey before this evening are not aware of the changes.

With all the above, many parents got confused, stressed, suspicious and upset. We hope you can address the questions above, clarify the rules, correct the misleading and biased design, and calm the disturbed Terman community and beyond.

Thank you!
A group of Terman parents


87 people like this
Posted by Barron Park dad
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 23, 2018 at 11:27 am

In advocating for the Yamamoto Middle School name, this editorial -- and Melissa Baten Caswell -- is way way off base, and certainly does not reflect the feelings of 40%+ of our community.

That particular name is incredibly divisive, and it is more than naive to think that "it doesn't matter because we are referring to the local Palo Alto hero and not the evil WW2 war criminal". There is a good reason why there is no other public school in the US named "Yamamoto" (based on a quick Google search).

PAUSD School Board -- please come to your senses and pick a new name (assuming you feel you need to do this in the first place) that doesn't tear our community apart. And then get back quickly to discussing _educational_ issues. We elected you to lead, not to divide.


45 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 23, 2018 at 11:27 am

Another thing to consider is that when names are generally heard the first person to come to mind is the most famous.

PAUSD offices are on Churchill in the midst of other streets named after poets. But I feel sure that most people associate the name with the Prime Minister and not the poet. The fact that today Winston is more famous than Charles means we associate the street name with Winston and not Charles.

Likewise, Nixon school has no connection to the President of the same name, but who hasn't thought first of Richard rather than whoever it was the school is named for. (No disrespect intended to Lucille I am just trying to show how the pubic will think).

Try googling Martin Luther, rather than the German priest the search will hit first on MLK. Martin Luther was the namesake of MLK, but it takes a little more time and effort to find information about Martin Luther and the Reformation.

The fact that the students in the school may hear of the deeds of the person being honored by the naming, the community as a whole will think of the most famous person holding that name. Anyone trying to find information about a lesser well known person of that name will find it much harder to find.


28 people like this
Posted by Terman Parent
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 23, 2018 at 11:34 am

Below is the email Terman parents sent Wednesday (3/21) evening to Terman PTA asking for a communication regarding the disappearance of the survey:

Dear Terman PTA,

Many parents noticed this morning that the link to the survey about school renaming was no longer working. However, there was no communication sent out to the Terman community about the disappearance of the survey. Throughout the day, parents have been waiting and checking.

Due to the lack of communication, parents grew more and more confused, as they don’t know what happened. Was the survey withdrawn? If so, why? Or it was pulled due to its flawed design, to be rewritten and sent out again? Was it closed early, and will the data collected with it still be used? Some parents got anxious, as they had not yet had a chance to finish the survey and were afraid that their voices would not be heard.

As you know, it’s a very sensitive time now, especially for some parents, who are already emotional due to the controversial issue over certain renaming candidates. Yesterday morning, parents were shocked by the untrue and extremely hurtful comments Keri Wagner, ex-president and current executive board member of the Gunn PTSA, wrote to The Mercury News (Web Link). In the afternoon, they received an obviously biased survey from the Terman PTA, and today, the survey disappeared without any communication for the whole day. Because of this, there are a lot of speculations and rumors about what is going on, all of which further divide the community and stress parents out.

Can you please send out a notice to the Terman community soon? They deserve to know what is going on for their peace of mind, and also for the unity of the community.

Thank you!

A group of Terman parents


29 people like this
Posted by Harry
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 23, 2018 at 11:48 am

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names.]


6 people like this
Posted by Why
a resident of College Terrace
on Mar 23, 2018 at 11:59 am

Hi Local Girl, both Terman and Yamamoto's family got hurt. If I were Turner's friend, I would NOT drag her into this.


12 people like this
Posted by Ben
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 23, 2018 at 12:00 pm

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names.]


2 people like this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Mar 23, 2018 at 12:01 pm

^ Yes I had to google Florence Turner.


66 people like this
Posted by Father of two
a resident of South of Midtown
on Mar 23, 2018 at 12:41 pm

This editorial is in low quality.

I think by intentionally hiding the fact that the board excluded Fred Terman in the candidate list, the board has done what Melissa does not like: guilt by association.

It's ironic for both you and Melissa to use this to disregard the feelings of Asian American in the community.

Every body is created equal. What a noble claim. Please start it with Fred Terman.

I am not a fan of double standard.


9 people like this
Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 23, 2018 at 12:41 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

@I GET IT - Double Standard is KEY

The name Terman was excluded from consideration because at that school site, through no fault of Fred Terman's,
the name was inextricably associated with a program, (negative) eugenics, to purify the American gene pool by, among other methods, severely restricting immigration of non Western-Europeans, banning marriage between people of different "races", and state-ordered sterilization of institutionalized "unfit" persons.

The school's initial namesake, Lewis Terman--Fred's father-- was a leader, along with his mentor David Starr Jordan, first in Indiana and later at Stanford, in the (negative ) eugenics movement. Ellwood Cubberley also followed Jordan from Indiana to Stanford and became a key figure in bringing eugenics to pubic education in the form of tracked and segregated schools. Palo Alto used to have a high school named for him.

Terman was closed in 1958 due to declining district enrollment. When it reopened after an extended closure, the district did not do what it did at Jordan, that is, pick up where it left off, with the same name as before. Instead they merged Fred Terman with his father as co-namesakes.

Why did they do that? Was it because in 1981, Stephen J. Gould's book "The Mismeasure of Man" Web Link had demolished Lewis Terman's reputation in the field of education? And rather, as I believe, than take the embarrassing step of changing the school name a decision was made to keep the name but make it palatable by associating it with the highly regarded School of engineering dean and Stanford provost, Lewis Terman's son Fred.

The association of Fred Terman with Terman school was made by a school board that chose to satisfy expectations of the Terman community that the school would get its name back while at the same time trying to distance the school district from a controversial figure that they were not ready to reject. No problem, until a closer look at the impact of eugenics on schooling prompted a closer look two-and-a-half years years ago.

I hope this interpretation, which runs contrary to what you will read in many articles, posts and letters to the editor on the current controversy, will be helpful.

I'd welcome a reasoned rebuttal from others who have a different take on how Fred Terman got tied into this.


Like this comment
Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 23, 2018 at 12:53 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

Edit to Par 5

"No problem, until a closer look at the impact of eugenics on schooling prompted another look two-and-a-half years ago."


52 people like this
Posted by Barron Park dad
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 23, 2018 at 1:06 pm

@Jerry Underdal - I don't think I follow your logic, so hoping you can explain more.

So Lewis Terman is no role model, especially by the standards of 2018, thus I can understand the sentiment for removing him from the school name.

But why do you associate guilt onto Fred Terman, his son who did good things for Stanford and for Silicon Valley?

If it is not right to associate "Terman" with our middle schools, then why are you okay supporting the use of "Yamamoto"?

Seems like a complete double standard to me. And I would like to ask, were there no Asian representatives on the school renaming sub-committee because there was a lack of Asian volunteers, or because no one in the Asian community raised their hand?


20 people like this
Posted by DTN Paul
a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 23, 2018 at 1:12 pm

DTN Paul is a registered user.

Here's my own shorter editorial:

Let's just end this thing and name the schools after the street they're on, like Addison Elementary. I think the victory of removing the name of a eugenicist from the middle school is victory enough.

And if we are changing the name of Terman because is the son of someone who did something bad, then let's not do that. It's as stupid as saying you can't name a school "Fred Yamamoto Elementary" because there was another dude named Yamamoto who did something bad.

Problem solved, right? And then we can focus on things that matter... like getting rid of all the mini-roundabouts they keep sprinkling all over town.


46 people like this
Posted by Grace Jones
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Mar 23, 2018 at 1:53 pm

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names.]


38 people like this
Posted by Paly Alum
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Mar 23, 2018 at 2:42 pm

Firstly, we shouldn't change the names at all, but if we do, I think North Palo Alto Middle School, West Palo Alto Middle School, South Palo Alto Middle School will last, while naming after people will always have conflict and we'll be back at this again in a decade or less.

Truth: The students don't care about the person their school is named for. No one knew about Terman and Jordan's backgrounds until the student flagged it, and no one is going look to their school name as a role model. Why is that so difficult to understand?

@Local Girl: Florence Turner was one of the best teachers I've had! She was my Contemporary World teacher in 10th grade. Those cat-eye glasses and her petite body! We'd have essay tests and she would give us the binder paper with her name stamped in the bottom of each one to deter cheating. She was a fabulous teacher, so patient, kind, humorous, graded our essays with corrections, and was fair in her grading. I learned so much from her and I dislike history! Web Link


67 people like this
Posted by Allen
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 23, 2018 at 2:53 pm

In keeping with the generation that is actually in school, I call BS.
If Yamamoto is OK, then Terman is OK.

In fact, renaming Terman after anyone else other than Frederick Terman is an affront to a great man. Frederick Terman is the father of Silicon Valley. There is no other person more deserving than Frederick Terman to have Terman JH named after.


39 people like this
Posted by BP 1220
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 23, 2018 at 2:55 pm

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


1 person likes this
Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 23, 2018 at 4:53 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

@Barron Park Dad, @BP 1220

I don't know if any Asians applied for the RSAC committee. I noted the absence of Asian membership and was concerned about it because I've felt for some time that Palo Alto's fastest-growing and probably soon to be largest component, people of South or East Asian background, need to be more engaged in community affairs.

I thought that Chinese-Americans would be interested in revoking the name of men who regarded them with such clear disdain. Whether that was accurate or not, to my knowledge none applied and I didn't hear any complaints during the 9-month duration of the committee that Asians had been excluded. One member had a Japanese-American spouse, another had Chinese-American grandchildren. RSAC had two members who identify as Hispanic.

As for the Recommending School Names committee, I'm not aware of whether any Asians applied to be on it. The deadline for applying was extended, if I recall correctly, because they lacked teacher and student volunteers. The preliminary list had no Asian members. I contacted Max McGee to recommend that special effort be made to get Asian membership from those remaining cohorts. Things were hectic in the district at the end of last year. Whether for that or other reasons (e.g. no additional applicants) no further members were added to the committee. I'm not aware that any RSN committee identify as Hispanic.

Both did have significant diversity, but you have pointed to a recognized weakness in the district--a shortage of Asian and Hispanic voices in routine PAUSD affairs. Maybe you have ideas to address the district goal of getting broader participation.

I was not on the RSN committee, but did attend several meetings. Anyone interested in getting familiar with committee procedures should take advantage of the fact that most meetings are open to the public.


43 people like this
Posted by BP122
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 23, 2018 at 5:08 pm


I was surprised to learn that there was NO Asian representation in the Renaming Committee. No Hispanic representation was found there, either?! I became even more surprised after I found our school board policy BP1220 Web Link


which provides: “[T]he membership of citizen advisory committees should reflect the diversity of the community and represent a diversity of viewpoints.”. Why were those Asian and Hispanic representations missing in the Renaming Committee? Was it because the district admin was not aware of this board policy BP 1220 while it was trying to recruit members?


But I found this article in Palo Alto Online: Web Link

which seems to suggest otherwise, ie., that the district admin knew the school policy very well because in its statement, it says: “The district plans to make the advisory committee "representative of the larger community," including "cultural diversity and range of perspectives," the application states.“


So, it became very strange to me as to why the district did not outreach enough Asian and Hispanic friends to join the Renaming Committee? Also, the recruiting process seems to be conducted in a rush. Why rush? Because the recruiting process lasted for only ONE week (right after the school board decided to rename our two schools on May 27, 2016 and closed the application on May 31, 2017), despite this deadline was, as per request, extended to June 15, 2017. Many families in our community at that time were so busy on their family travels somewhere, especially those with children in our school district. Such a short period of time for application during the summer time may be another reason why there was no Asian or Hispanic representation in the Renaming Committee?


Note that trying to find what happened during the recruiting process does not mean that the Renaming Committee did not do their job. Yes, they did their job which absolutely deserves our appreciation. But finding what happened may help us to know if there is any room for us to improve next time when we encounter the same or similar situation so that the same or similar mistake could, to the largest extent, be avoided. Just like this namesake matter.


Thus, I think we should not repeat the same mistake so that there should be at least 2 take-aways from this episode:


(i) finding “representative of the larger community," (including "cultural diversity and range of perspectives”) is a school policy that needs to be implemented to form any type of advisory committee, and


(ii) not naming our school after a person is a wise direction to go because if otherwise, we and/or our next generation(s) would inevitably be dragged into this kind of “drama” again in the future.


24 people like this
Posted by Mary
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 23, 2018 at 5:13 pm

' I noted the absence of Asian membership and was concerned about it...'

All the Asian and Asian-American families I know are much more concerned about making sure their kids get a good education, and not so much about virtue-signaling debates about relatively unimportant issues that are peripheral at best to the purpose of a school. The fact that these families are more interested in what goes on in our schools than on what names are on the signs outside the schools probably goes a long way toward explaining the well documented academic success of their children.


17 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 23, 2018 at 6:33 pm

"I thought that Chinese-Americans would be interested in revoking the name of men who regarded them with such clear disdain."

Only losers obsess with taking revenge on dead enemies. Our Asian community members are not losers.

Now, as to your motives in this vendetta... .


64 people like this
Posted by New Gunn Mom
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 23, 2018 at 9:25 pm

I am appalled at the tone deafness of this editorial, but I am very impressed and encouraged by the majority of the comments here. The key difference appears to be simple COMMON SENSE, which the majority of the comments show abundance of, but the editorial and the majority of the board seems to be lacking.

I grew up in China and came to the US to pursue graduate studies and now work here. I have always admired and appreciated the openness of America, and believed that America, as a country, has shown remarkable generosity and tolerance toward newcomers and outsiders.

I appreciate that the renaming committee is well intentioned in picking an Asian American to honor. However, this editorial, together with the various accusations flying around against the Chinese community (including a particular hurtful letter by Keri Wagner quoted in a newspaper), shows a disturbingly condescending attitude that belies certain bias toward the Chinese community. They are quick to judge and dismiss the objection from the Chinese community against naming the school “Yamamoto” without real efforts to understand. Their attitude is simply “you shouldn’t be offended, and if you are offended, then it must be because you Chinese just hate Japanese, and you just can’t accept a Japanese name for a school.” This condescending attitude is much more hurtful than the school bearing the name of Terman who showed disdain toward Chinese. That’s the past, and we can perfectly accept that historical figures had the limitations of their era. But here we are, all neighbors in this small community, this condescending attitude smells real disdain to us. This is why the Chinese community are so angry right now.

It is unfortunate that we’ve got to this point. If the Board is sensible, it should just pick a place name for the school and move on. If not, then the Board should host an open house for people to discuss this issue together. We need more face-to-face discussions, as different ethnic groups seem to be segregated in different social media platforms, each feeling hurt and misunderstood. I believe that we are all well intentioned, but the lack of effective communications, coupled with our innate assumptions (often biased) about others, is what got us to this colossal mess.






6 people like this
Posted by New Gunn Mom
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 23, 2018 at 10:23 pm

Two more points to add -

1. We should find other ways to honor Fred Yamamoto and the other 5 candidates on the naming list, and tell their inspiring stories to our kids.

2. I did my graduate studies at the Hammer Health Science Building. I had no idea who Hammer is, and just did a Google search and found out that the building was named after (surprise!) two white guys! One thing for sure - having this name on that building did not hold me back. School names don’t matter!


5 people like this
Posted by Hugo
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 23, 2018 at 10:53 pm

Honor Fred Yamamoto, I had never heard his story and I am very moved by it now that I have.

If you are offended by this name you have cotton between your ears; I recommend removal before rejoining civil conversation.


4 people like this
Posted by History student
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Mar 23, 2018 at 11:09 pm

I want to read a reliable article that explains what Isoroku Yamamoto did in China. Can someone post a link?

This entry about the Sino-Japanese War lists a dozen key Japanese commanders and leaders, and he is not one of them.

Web Link

This is my genuine question.


40 people like this
Posted by Parent
a resident of Jordan Middle School
on Mar 23, 2018 at 11:14 pm

With the current problems of guns in our schools, I would not want my kid to attend a high school called GUNN. And with it's past reputation for high suicide rates, it seems like they would want to consider changing their name.

If this is seems overblown (meant to be for discussion), it is similar to requesting the removal of the name "Jordan".

I graduated from Jordan along with hundreds of my friends, and none of us knew or cared about who he was. We had tons of OTHER stuff to think about during middle school.

Just curious, what honestly started this student to do an assignment about this, and take it to this level?

Is the school responsible for the anxiety and division being caused?

At Walter Hays, I remember my child having an assignment which asked them to write about their immigration hardships. If they were not an immigrant, they were told to write about a hardship story they heard from their grandparents about the war.
Extremely personal stories! "Stories that they may have heard from their parents or grandparents around the dinner table". I was shocked!

Both my grandfather and father were in different wars but NEVER wanted to tell the horrors of what they saw to their children, grandchildren, and wife.
What the heck was the teaching thinking? I wish I had spoken out about this.

The assignment was hurtful because it DIVIDED the kids in many ways.
It created anxiety in many forms to all the families.
African American kids didn't immigrate, so it made them feel uncomfortable.
Adopted parents did not know their background, etc.
Although not meant to be, the assignment divisive, and produced great anxiety and shame in the families of these students.

This was caused by the school district.
We should have left PAUSD then, and put the kids into Catholic school.




36 people like this
Posted by Nicks
a resident of another community
on Mar 23, 2018 at 11:18 pm

I was attracted to this editorial by change.com message about Yamamoto. I have following comments on the editor(s) who authored the above insensitive article:

1. Be it for PC or other reasons, at least don't use double standard;
2. Put yourself in other people's shoes before attacking many PA residents who felt offended by this special name linked to a well known WWII war criminal;
3. Isn't being this controversial alone a good reason to reject a nomination?

If you can't comprehend this, you don't deserve to be an editor at all. -- Even though I'd fired you already if I were running the paper just based on such a biased editorial.


39 people like this
Posted by Jimmy
a resident of Terman Middle School
on Mar 23, 2018 at 11:27 pm

My son was an alumni of Terman. When he knew that his school might be with a new name of Yamamoto, he did a google search. And the only word he said is "why use a WWII criminal name for my school name".


38 people like this
Posted by Love the geogrpahic markers
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 24, 2018 at 12:14 am

Love the geogrpahic markers is a registered user.

PAUSD Board

IT IS NOT WORTH THE CONTROVERSY TO PICK A NAME THAT DIVIDES OUR COMMUNITY

You MUST be sensitive to cultural differences, period END OF STORY. This issue has already been divisive, nuff already.

The Weekly is not always right, and I find it kind of edgy to take sides and weigh in like this.

So, I LOVE the geographic markers

Adobe Creek
for Terman

Adobe Creek flows immediately be
hind Terman.

Redwood Grove
for Jordan

The Jordan campus includes several stands of Coast Redwoods.

Who doesn't want to go to a school that sounds like NATURE?

A place is a collective of people, it's unity.


17 people like this
Posted by Kyle
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Mar 24, 2018 at 1:31 am

Judging from the comments and responses to this editorial, both the school board and the editorial board of web site are obviously in the minority. [Portion removed.]


4 people like this
Posted by Protect Terman and Yamamoto Families
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 24, 2018 at 6:36 am

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


2 people like this
Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 24, 2018 at 6:47 am

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

So much for the argument that names don't matter, wouldn't you say?

What if your school were named for a Nordic supremacist who considered you and yours to be inherently inferior no matter the accomplishments of people that you identify with? How about if you knew that the ideas behind a horrific campaign to produce a master race by exterminating millions of people that you identify with traced could be traced to your school's namesake? What if your family history included people with disabilities like blindness, deafness, mental disease, cancer or Alzheimer's and your school's namesake pronounced that this was evidence of genetic degeneracy and signaled unsuitability for procreation? And what if your school's namesake preached that whole "races," including the one you identify with, was inherently less intelligent and competent than his own "race?"

Two scenarios to consider:

1. Like everyone else in your school community, you had no knowledge of the legacy of your school's namesake. (This would be Jordan MS and Terman MS prior to the renaming discussion.)

2. You and everyone else in the community paying attention to school matters knew. (This would be the schools formerly named Jordan MS and Terman MS, now awaiting names free from the burden of (negative) eugenics.)

There seems to be a presumption that if the schools are named for people, Fred Yamamoto will be one of the namesakes. No attention has been given to the candidacy of Ellen Fletcher, Frank Greene, William Hewlett, Edith Johnson or Anna Zschokke, all worthy of consideration. The argument against naming a school for Fred Yamamoto has been made and heard by the board, the committee and the public.

How about making the case for your preferred names instead of arguing that if the names you favor (Jordan and Terman) can't return and the name that came out of committee as the top recommendation (Fred Yamamoto) proves to be problematic, for reasons that have nothing to do with Palo Alto history but everything to do with Palo Alto's present and future, the district must conclude that it's a fool's errand to look for suitable namesakes.

I don't object to the geographic options, but in the context of Palo Alto's obsession with honoring and memorializing residents of merit and an intensively and publicly winnowed set of choices, concluding that the only good choice to replace Jordan is Redwood Grove and the only good choice to replace Terman is Adobe Creek is suspect.


26 people like this
Posted by Another exemplary life
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 24, 2018 at 8:36 am

@Jerry, here's the argument for my preferred candidate. He has done for more than any of the other candidates in making Stanford, Palo Alto and Silicon Valley what it is today. In fact, without him, most of the people on these board's would never have moved to Palo Alto.



Frederick (Fred) Terman

Fred Terman was an American professor and academic administrator. He is widely credited (together with William Shockley) as being the father of Silicon Valley.
Just before World War II, Terman dedicated some of the unused land on the Stanford campus in Palo Alto to an industrial park, the first university-owned industrial park in the world. He encouraged two of his graduate students, William Hewlett and David Packard, to form a company and house it on campus. Without Fred Terman, the West Coast wouldn’t be home to the world-changing industry.

In World War II, Dr. Terman organized and directed the Radio Research Laboratory at Harvard University, a large-scale program to develop reconnaissance equipment and devises to foil enemy radar. Postwar analysts claimed the more than 150 radar countermeasures developed there saved approximately 800 Allied bombers and their crews. His work earned him the United States Medal for Merit in 1948.

In 1976, Terman was awarded a National Medal of Science. In 1977, he attended the dedication of the $9.2 million Frederick Emmons Terman Engineering Center. In 1978, he received Stanford's Uncommon Man Award.

Frederick Terman's idea of associating the industry more closely with the university was revolutionary. Frederick fueled partnerships between northern California’s electronics companies and academia, courted tech companies to move to the industrial park to help his graduates find work, and drove excellence in how scientists and engineers trained. He “made Stanford a well of ideas, experts and books”, the New York Times noted in his obituary. And he offered priceless mentorship to students like Bill Hewlett and David Packard, who founded the computer company Hewlett-Packard, now called HP."


8 people like this
Posted by rsmithjr
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 24, 2018 at 9:00 am

rsmithjr is a registered user.

Regarding the source for the name of Churchill Avenue in Palo Alto.

The street is named after Winston Churchill the American author. It is not named, as has been claimed here, after poet Charles Churchill. It is also not named after Winston Spencer Churchill, the UK war-time prime minister, although many people think that it was.

The two Winston Churchill's were friends and met several times.


15 people like this
Posted by Reader
a resident of another community
on Mar 24, 2018 at 10:39 am

Rename the schools after trees and plants. Problem solved.


2 people like this
Posted by Parents
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 24, 2018 at 10:41 am

I disagree with both renaming and the opposition to a particular last name just because it happens to be a last name of a japanese admiral. As adults, is this the role model we want to show our kids: the last name of a good person shouldn’t be used because of a bad person?In addition, the good and bad are judged by today’s standard out of the context of the history.


3 people like this
Posted by History student
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Mar 24, 2018 at 1:26 pm

@Jimmy, with the son who went to Terman. Can you have him post a link to the article about Yamamoto being a war criminal against China so I can read it?

I read the other Palo Alto online article on renaming and several posters have asked for links that explain what role Yamamoto played in the war with China and nobody has provided any.

I'm going to copy the post from "Anon," because they said it better.

"To my knowledge, Yamamoto was not particularly associated with -war crimes-.... IOW, I'm not sure why Yamamoto is considered particularly -criminal-. Compared to, say, the right-wing Lieutenant General/Prince Yasuhiko Asaka, who was directly responsible for the enormous atrocities at Nanjing, and who was considered protected from responsibility because he was part of the Imperial Family:

Web Link

or Isamu Cho, who delivered the order to kill at Nanjing, and, went on through the war, concluding at Okinawa:

Web Link

... Bottom Line: Can you expand on why "Isoroku Yamamoto is one of the most notorious WWII criminals"? I may be missing something.

And which is a long way of saying, I still favor naming schools after trees."

Historians, please help here.


29 people like this
Posted by James
a resident of South of Midtown
on Mar 24, 2018 at 2:53 pm

@history student

I did some research about Isoruku too. He is not a war criminal. One reason might be he was killed early by US.

The Wiki seemed to skip what he did in 1937 when Japan invaded China and the famous Battle of Shanghai and Battle of Nanking happened. This one link in Chinese:

Web Link

I used Google translate to translate a portion of it.(blame Google if there is grammar issue). Also Navy provided support (bombing of course) in Battle of Nanking.

During the Battle of Shanghai between August 13th and November 12th, 1937, Yamamoto Fifty-six sent a carrier aircraft on two aircraft carriers to bomb Shanghai, killing many Chinese. In addition, bombarded Guangde, Hangzhou and other cities. The exquisite technique of bombing Pearl Harbor was such that it was trained with Chinese blood and life assets. On August 26, the British ambassador Mr. Knattersberg-Hughesin was injured by a Japanese plane near Taicang, Jiangsu. The naval military bureau responsible for the investigation insisted that the Chinese aircraft had applied a sun sign to attack the hanging flag. British Ambassador team. After the Military Affairs Bureau sent investigations to the fact that Takada Lee, the most hardline Americanist, had to admit that Japan’s naval aircraft was still in operation, naval officer Yuki Yamamoto insisted: “If the British and French war in the Suez area, the Japanese ambassador After the team has been shot, will Britain and France be compensated?


48 people like this
Posted by James
a resident of South of Midtown
on Mar 24, 2018 at 3:01 pm

@history student

I did some research about Isoruku too. He is not a war criminal. One reason might be he was killed early by US.

The Wiki seemed to skip what he did in 1937 when Japan invaded China and the famous Battle of Shanghai and Battle of Nanking happened. This one link in Chinese:

Web Link

I used Google translate to translate a portion of it.(blame Google if there is grammar issue). Also Navy provided support (bombing of course) in Battle of Nanking.

During the Battle of Shanghai between August 13th and November 12th, 1937, Yamamoto Isoroku sent a carrier aircraft on two aircraft carriers to bomb Shanghai, killing many Chinese. In addition, bombarded Guangde, Hangzhou and other cities. The exquisite technique of bombing Pearl Harbor was such that it was trained with Chinese blood and life assets. On August 26, the British ambassador Mr. Knattersberg-Hughesin was injured by a Japanese plane near Taicang, Jiangsu. The naval military bureau responsible for the investigation insisted that the Chinese aircraft had applied a sun sign to attack the hanging flag. British Ambassador team. After the Military Affairs Bureau sent investigations to the fact that Takada Lee, the most hardline Americanist, had to admit that Japan’s naval aircraft was still in operation, naval officer Yuki Yamamoto insisted: “If the British and French war in the Suez area, the Japanese ambassador After the team has been shot, will Britain and France be compensated?


9 people like this
Posted by Residents
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 24, 2018 at 4:08 pm

Isoroku is not innocent but far from the worst in terms of war crimes. As a matter of fact, if his last name offended so many people,then frankly speaking, a very big proportion of japanese last names can’t be used for the same reason that worse war criminals carry the same last name.

In history, Isoroku opposed aggressive actions of japanese imperial army in China likely due to mutual hatred between two branches. He opposed the war with USA since he didn’t believe japanese can win. But he is still a ultra nationalist and under his command japanese navy assisted the army in the war with China and especially was responsible for bombing civilian cities as Nazi did in London.


22 people like this
Posted by Duveneck resident
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 24, 2018 at 5:04 pm

Palo Alto High School works for me. It tells people what and where it is. Choose a location-descriptive name. As a junior high/middle school student in the East Bay, I attended what was then called Garfield Jr. High. I guarantee that none--or at least very few--students were inspired by the name. Too much time and energy is being spent on something that could be resolved relatively easily.


3 people like this
Posted by transitive
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 24, 2018 at 5:19 pm

Redwood Grove -> Tall Trees -> Palo Alto -> Palo Alto Middle School -> Main feeder into Palo Alto High School


30 people like this
Posted by YP
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 24, 2018 at 5:21 pm

YP is a registered user.

This was not an “open” process . The renaming committee under the supervision of the school board sent a survey to us in 2016 that was a sham. The survey asked HOW the school should be renamed not IF. I’ve asked board members repeatedly why. And never got an answer. I can only surmise they really didn’t want the public’s feedback.


6 people like this
Posted by Terman parent
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Mar 24, 2018 at 8:45 pm

@Residents Your may wan to do more research in Isoroku. He did not oppose the war, he only opposed the war tactics of his colleagues. He believed if the Japanese imperial force deployed his strategy, Japan could have won the war.


6 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 24, 2018 at 10:03 pm

@Terman parent

If we talked about the war in China, then Isoroku's attitude is more ambivalent. But if we talked about the Pacific war, or the tripartite pact, I think it is fair to say that Isoroku disagreed with Japanese government then, to say the least. Put the details side, Isoroku certainly is not on the top list of war criminals, most of whom were from the imperial army. His limited role in the sino-Japan war is by and large unknown even among Chinese. I say this because I am a Chinese myself. His problem is that he becomes the Icon of Japanese navy during the world war II and thus bears the blame. That is the reason that “Yamamoto” invites such a controversy. For example, the Japanese general Tomoyuki Yamashita truly committed horrible crime in China, Singapore and Philippines and Yamshita is also a popular last name. Ironically, “Yamshita” probably would not cause such a big trouble. I understand the sentiment of many who were felt being offended. But I also feel sad about Fred Yamamoto, who is truly a honorable man.


1 person likes this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Mar 24, 2018 at 11:09 pm

@Jerry, "This would be the schools formerly named Jordan MS and Terman MS, now awaiting names free from the burden of (negative) eugenics."

Is that a currently factual scenario or someone's wishful thinking?

The legacy names appear to be still current, not at all "former".
I'll wait for Google Maps to show them as "TBD" Middle School.
No indications of any pending change on the PAUSD webpages.


5 people like this
Posted by Megan Fogarty
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 25, 2018 at 6:16 am

Agreed on Florence Turner - what an amazing standout teacher! And, yes, watch the 60 Minute segment from last Sunday. Put plaques up to acknowledge our history! We will never find the perfect person. Qq


1 person likes this
Posted by Love the geogrpahic markers
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 25, 2018 at 8:23 am

Love the geogrpahic markers is a registered user.

J Underdal

"I don't object to the geographic options, but in the context of Palo Alto's obsession with honoring and memorializing residents of merit and an intensively and publicly winnowed set of choices, concluding that the only good choice to replace Jordan is Redwood Grove and the only good choice to replace Terman is Adobe Creek is suspect. "

precisely... because those who are not obsessed are ok with a place. A place by the way can be historic and honored.

how about compromise, this mess has gone on too far and too long now. Pick a name that will not cause a fuss, kind of odd to have Caswell (with an editorial to back her up) make an argument out of the "preferred" name. This is silly.

Clearly, no name is really preferred at this point.


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Posted by History student
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Mar 25, 2018 at 12:23 pm

@James thanks for the link. It helps my understanding.

Thank you too @Resident for your information about the role of the Japanese army in the war as opposed to the navy. War is a hard subject to talk about but from what I'm reading, I do not think I would say Yamamoto was like Hitler. I respect others feelings though and their right to them.




4 people like this
Posted by Old Paly Dad
a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 25, 2018 at 1:47 pm

@ New Gunn Mom
If “names don’t matter” as you end your comment to contradict your own argument, then why is the Chinese community so upset. As others on this post have tried to understand (@resident, @anon, @infinitum) nobody has been able to find or share sources tying Yamamoto to any kind of war crimes that would ‘explain’ the visceral reaction of some in the Chinese community against the name of Fred Yamamoto.
To add some facts (if anything in the news can be believed these days), there is a very interesting NYTimes article about Isoroku Yamamoto, titled ‘A Reluctant Enemy’ (Web Link). The article describes how he despised the Japanese Imperial Army leadership, his opposition to the first Manchurian war in 1931, his opposition to the China land war in 1937, his opposition to the tripartite pact and his opposition to attacking America which he carried out by bombing Pearl Harbor. The article also describes his time spent in America as student at Harvard and military attaché in Washington, and describes his views on what he considered a complacent American Navy.

Yes, ISOROKU Yamamoto did commandeer the Imperial Navy, and he was devoted to serve his emperor. In fact he received the assignment as commander of the Combined Fleet in 1939 to send him away from Tokyo where ultra-nationalist Japanese have issued death threats against Yamaomoto and placed a bounty on his head due to his opposition of the various wars and the murderous activities of the Imperial Army in China, committed by the real Riben Guizi (“Japanese Devils”).

Until someone can more clearly equate Isoroku Yamamoto with the Riben Guizi it is hard to see the outcry of parts of our Chinese American community as anything other than deep seated biases and ignorance, easily misunderstood (?) as ….

Thank you Paly Graduate Fred Yamamoto for keeping your beliefs in fairness and equality despite being subjected to racial discrimination, and for believing it so much that you enlisted in our armed forces to fight for your and our values of freedom and equity, so that we can enjoy them today. Naming a school to honor your legacy and inspire our students is the least we can do for you.


8 people like this
Posted by Member
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 25, 2018 at 2:33 pm

I believe the attack on Pearl Harbor would fall under the definition of a war crime.

Hague III Article 2 states that a Neutral nation needs to be notified before hostilities commence.

Given that Isoroku Yamamoto planed the attack, and to be fair to Yamamoto his plan intended to notify the US before the attack took place. This however didn't happen and the attack occurred before notice was given. I think it is appropriate to hold him responsible for that.

Was Isoroku Yamamoto as bad as Hitler, no. That however doesn't mean he was good. Like it or not when people see or hear the name Yamamoto they are most likely to associate it with the Isoroku, not Fred. I was curious to see what people thought of when they heard Yamamoto and about 70% of the people I talked to said he was an Admiral in the Japanese Navy, the other 30% said just Japan. Not a single person new about Fred Yamamoto. I will admit this wasn't a very scientific test but it does emphasize the point that people will first think about Isoroku.

I personally think that the schools should have geographic names as it basically eliminates the chance people will be offended over the name.


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Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 25, 2018 at 3:12 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

@Musical

"Is that a currently factual scenario or someone's wishful thinking?
The legacy names appear to be still current, not at all "former"."

The names have been rejected, but you can't replace something with nothing on school identification signage, so Jordan and Terman are "place-holders" at the sites until new names are chosen. This is my understanding anyway. Maybe the board will clarify this Tuesday evening for the many TS posters who still call on the board not to rescind the names Jordan and Terman. Wouldn't it be embarrassing to be in error on this fundamental fact!


13 people like this
Posted by Father of two
a resident of South of Midtown
on Mar 25, 2018 at 9:49 pm

@Jerry Underdal

I am a little puzzled by your argument about Palo Alto's obsession with honoring things using people's names.

Q1: Is that a right thing to do to name school after person?
Q2: We already have failures of using human names in Terman and Jordan cases, should we continue to do it?
Q3: Do you think using one person's name can represent the culture variety of the neighborhood near Terman or Jordan? Is winner-take-all fair to other role models?
Q4: Are there other SAFER and more EFFECTIVE ways to honor the 6 (not only one) role models?

By answering the above questions, I distance myself from the "obsession" which is outdated and expensive.


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Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 25, 2018 at 11:21 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

@Father of two

Thanks for the good questions.

1. Palo Alto has been quite happy to do so for decades. It's been part of Palo Alto's sense of specialness to have names of note, bread crumbs for people interested in local history.

2. Why does the fact that names chosen in the past are no longer suitable mean that the community can't be trusted to choose better ones if residents want to make the effort, as appears to be the case in Palo Alto?

3. It's not the names that count, it's the values that come through in the life stories of the individuals nominated. I don't think that's a winner-take-all situation when you look at the values and life experiences of the candidates.

4. Safer? More effective? You'd have to flesh that out for me a bit more. I can tell you that nothing like the scrutiny these six candidates were subjected to was applied to David Starr Jordan, Lewis Terman and Fred Terman, and Ellwood Cubberley when schools were named for them originally or when the middle schools were reflexively reopened with the same names.

That said, if it were my school district to organize, I would not name schools for individuals. My preferred outcome would have been to rename the schools with indigenous Muwekma terms for natural features of this wonderful place. This would have honored victims of the (negative) eugenic ideas and practices represented by Jordan, Terman and Cubberley while adding to our children's appreciation of the environment.


15 people like this
Posted by New Gunn Mom
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 27, 2018 at 8:22 am

@ Old Paly Dad

First, it’s not contradictory if you read what I wrote in its proper context. School names don’t matter when we are talking about inspiring students and not holding them back. School names do matter when they offend people. Isn’t that why we are here in this mess in the first place?

Second, why can’t we just keep Terman in the school name to honor Fred Terman who was not a supporter of Eugenics? We were told that it’s because the same last name invokes certain reactions among certain groups of people, not because of any deep-seated bias against “Terman”.

By the same token, the name “Yamamoto” evokes strong reactions from Chinese Americans because of Isoroku Yamamoto. This man was an icon for the Japanese Navy during WWII, hence his name was intricably linked to the atrocities suffered by Chinese people at the hand of Japanese invaders in WWII. He was not heavily involved in the land war in China, but he had ordered air raids in China prior to Pearl Harbor, so he had blood on his hand, from both Americans and Chinese.

I read that NYT article - Isoroku Yamamoto was a complex character, but some Nazis were too. That does not take away the fact that he has committed war crime. Your argument is akin to defending a Nazi because he has not killed as many Jewish people as other Nazi war criminals. How is your position any different from Trump’s “some very fine people on both sides” re: Charlottesville? Why is it acceptable to defend a Japanese war criminal?! He was ordered to be killed by FDR. NOT everything you dislike is fake, as Trump likes to conveniently claim.

What if there was a historical heroic figure of German descent with the name “Fred Trump”, would people feel ok to change the school name to “Trump Middle School”? Honestly, can Palo Alto accept such a school name? Wouldn’t the sight/thought of middle schoolers wearing T-shirts with “Trump” on it make at least some of us flinch? I know some of my friends would have visceral reaction toward anything “Trump”. Who is to judge that visceral reaction as biased or not? That’s all we’re asking - not to be judged, by your culture standard.

There are discussions among the Chinese community in the past couple days for a “Fred Yamamoto scholarship” to honor this admirable man. I think that offers better opportunity for kids to pay attention to and learn from this great man. A school name quickly becomes background noise, whereas a scholarship requires kids to apply to and would be natural opportunity for them to learn about the Fred Yamamoto.


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Posted by Old Paly Dad
a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 27, 2018 at 12:34 pm

@ New Gunn Mom
apologies in advance, I’m more of a grumpy Old Paly Dad today, but you got it going on, so let me try to follow your logic:
- good school names have no meaning, but school names matter if they are bad.
- Isoroku Yamamoto was a war criminal. The United Nations has a long list of acts that constitute war crimes that is broad enough to turn every soldier that participates in a military conflict into a potential war criminal. Which specific war crime do you accuse him of (other than being Japanese)
- “all we’re asking - not to be judged by your culture standards”. That's the most troubling part. Aren’t “you” part of “our” culture, aren’t these your standards as well, the values of liberty, equality, diversity, inclusion, the ideals that Fred Yamamoto gave his life to defend?


4 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Community Center
on Mar 27, 2018 at 1:08 pm

I am not wedded to place names nor opposed to them just sure why we must use them for these two schools. Not sure who Fairmeadow, Greendale, Palo Verde, El Carmelo, Barron Park and Palo Alto were.


4 people like this
Posted by Voice
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 27, 2018 at 4:02 pm

Objection to Renaming our school Yamamoto Middle School

Different names carry different weight. School names carry even more weight. It reflects on it's students, it's alumni, their families and the community. It is a brand name and it's more than any individual person.

Washington, Churchill, Gandhi... These names are historic heavyweights.

Hitler, Mussolini, Bin Laden... These are names that carry terror, tragedy and inhumanity. Yamamoto is in close proximity to these names because of 'Isoroku Yamamoto', Japan's greatest strategist during WWII and master mind of the Pearl Harbor attack.

Some may not be aware of the image and impact of Yamamoto, but to most Chinese and other Asians, he is one of the most notorious. The coverage and awareness of regional battles are not studied in the United states but the effect on a huge population is undeniable.

But to name one of the crimes he committed: In 1937 during the battle of Shanghai, one of the largest and bloodiest battles of the entire war, Yamamoto was responsible for the bombing of Shanghai, killing many Chinese. To put things in perspectives, Yamamoto was given a full state funeral on June 5, 1943 by Emperor Showa. In Japan, the full state funeral is usually only given to the royal family and nobility. As a civilian, Yamamoto was the only Japanese who was granted state funerals during World War II. He was worshiped and idolized by the Japanese military Ideology. Many Asian residents of Palo Alto and Shanghai, where Palo Alto's newest sister city, Yangpu district, belongs, cannot be reminded of such painful history constantly.

So what does this have to do with Fed Yamamoto? You say, isn't this guilty by association? We say NO and we urge you to think about Hitler, Mussolini, Bin Laden and see what emotion it evokes. In fact, Isoroku Yamamoto was actually born Isoroku Takano. Had he kept his name and be known as Takano, we wouldn't have this controversy today.

Watanabe, Suzuki, Toyota, Honda, Nissan... If these are proposed name choices, a lot of people still would not prefer naming our school after a person AGAIN, but you won't be seeing thousands coming together to protest against it. We have nothing against Mr. Fred Yamamoto, or Japanese people in general. It's only because the name Yamamoto carries too much sorrow and horror. We are in fact in favor of honoring Mr. Fred Yamamoto through other channels and means.

To dismiss this as Racism is being too quick to judge, lack of historical perspective and lack of compassion. Please hear our voices and do not use Yamamoto in the school name.


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