News


School board votes to rename schools after Frank Greene, Ellen Fletcher

Divisive, yearslong debate ends with final decision Tuesday night

Jeannette Arakawa, left, speaks at the Palo Alto Board of Education meeting on March 27, 2018, with Eimi Okano, right. Arakawa, who was sent to an internment camp during WWII, advocated for a middle school to be named after Palo Altan Fred Yamamoto. She and others were opposed by first-generation American Chinese who said that the Yamamoto surname reminded them of WWII atrocities committed in China. Photo courtesy of Brad Shirakawa.

Watch the Facebook Live video of the school board's discussion and vote.

After hearing impassioned public comment from more than 60 community members, the Palo Alto school board voted unanimously on Tuesday night to rename two of its middle schools, one after an African-American technologist and the other after a Holocaust survivor known for her decades of civic leadership in Palo Alto.


Frank S. Greene Jr.

Ellen Fletcher.
Trustees voted 5-0 to name Jordan Middle School after Frank S. Greene Jr., one of the first African-American founders of a publicly traded technology company, who later launched a venture-capital fund to support minority and woman entrepreneurs. Terman Middle School will be named after City Councilwoman Ellen Fletcher, who is best known for her advocacy of cycling and environmental issues.

The renaming of the schools stirred intense controversy in recent weeks for the district's consideration of Fred Yamamoto, a Japanese-American Palo Altan who was interned during World War II and later died in battle as a member of the U.S. Army's 442nd Infantry Regimental Combat Team. Many members of Palo Alto's Chinese community staunchly opposed the surname for its association with Isoroku Yamamoto, an unrelated Japanese admiral who planned the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 and to whom local parents attribute WWII war crimes against the Chinese.

The renaming also divided those who believe in the inspirational value of naming schools after people and those who urged the board to choose neutral geographic names to prevent controversy down the road. This issue had also initially divided board members, with a majority — Melissa Baten Caswell, Jennifer DiBrienza and Terry Godfrey — preferring individuals to place names.

Prior to the final vote, the board approved a motion 4-1, with trustee Todd Collins dissenting, to name the two schools after people.

They decided on Greene and Fletcher after a series of motions and amendments on their top picks from six individuals' names that had been recommended by a district committee.

An initial motion by President Ken Dauber to name one of the schools after Fred Yamamoto failed. Some trustees said this was not for their lack of support for honoring the man, but a desire to bridge divisions in the community that have been laid bare by the renaming debate.

"No matter what gets decided here tonight, we need to talk to each other more," DiBrienza told the standing-room only audience. "I think that because we are progressive Palo Alto, we either think we don't (have issues) or we don't talk about them but this has illuminated the issues that are in our community.

"Whether we pick Yamamoto or Adobe Creek or whatever else tonight, those issues are still going to be there," she said.

A proposal from Dauber to continue the committee process for a short period of time so that its membership could be more racially and ethnically inclusive was only supported by Collins. Both were concerned that the renaming committee had no Asian or Hispanic members, a procedural criticism also expressed by some parents and community members.

Lars Johnsson, the Palo Alto parent whose petition to rename Jordan launched the renaming process close to three years ago, told the Weekly after the meeting that his immediate reaction was "relief."

Johnsson launched a grassroots effort to rename Jordan after reading about David Starr Jordan's advocacy of eugenics in a book report written by his son, then a seventh grader at the school. The petition led to the formation of two district committees devoted to the issue of renaming and the board's unanimous decision last year to change the names of both Jordan and Terman. Like Jordan, Lewis Terman was a leader in the eugenics movement, though his son, Frederick Emmons Terman — a Silicon Valley pioneer for whom the school was later co-named — did not espouse eugenics.

Despite the unexpected level of friction the process generated, Johnsson said he was "very happy and proud of the community" and felt good about the names chosen. He received hugs and handshakes from community members after the board's vote.

Jenny Zhang, a Gunn High School parent who opposed renaming a school after Fred Yamamoto, told the Weekly that she, too, was happy with the final outcome. She was hopeful that the issue will ultimately help bring disparate community groups together.

"I'm glad everybody (spoke) out. This is a good step: We actually try to understand each other," she said.

Johnsson and Zhang were among the dozens of parents, students and community members -- including war veterans, a woman who had herself been interned during World War II and a mother who shares the common Japanese surname Yamamoto -- who testified to both sides of the debate late into Tuesday evening.

Many condemned the vitriol that has emerged in recent weeks, with barbed allegations of racism and marginalization coming from both sides.

"Please try to understand and respect other people's culture, views and feelings rather than accusing them, labeling them or teaching them how they should think and feel," parent Lynn Liu said.

Others argued that objecting to naming a school after Fred Yamamoto only because of his name amounted to discrimination.

"Asian-Americans have fought long and hard to be perceived as Americans, not automatically anything else because of our name and our face," said Mike Kaku, co-president of the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) Sequoia chapter.

In a statement read on their behalf, eight of Fred Yamamoto's nieces and nephews said that their uncle "would have regretted how much time and attention has been squandered regarding the Yamamoto surname, hijacking the focus away from the real issue at hand of promoting and honoring future role models for students.

"But," they said, "he would just respond that there is much work to be done."

Board members described Greene as a minority ahead of his time in working to lift people of color and women up in the tech world, an industry that still struggles with equal racial and gender representation. He founded a venture capital firm focused on support for women and minority startups.

They said Fletcher was inspiring for not only her contributions as a longtime community volunteer but also "the symbolism of her having been the subject of discrimination," Dauber said. Fletcher witnessed the rise of Nazi Germany and immigrated to the U.S. as a young woman.

Both Greene and Fletcher would have been targeted by the eugenics movement, DiBrienza noted.

In an email to the Weekly after Tuesday's vote, the daughter of Ellen Fletcher lauded the board for "fully repudiating the ideology of eugenics not only by renaming the school, but by renaming after someone whom the eugenics movement would have considered inferior and unworthy because she was a Jew.

"My mother never sought out recognition or honor for her decades of hard work and public service. She just wanted to make Palo Alto and the world a place with clean air, safety and peace," Terry Fletcher said. "She fought for a world in which no one would have to suffer the kind of persecution she and her family experienced from the Nazis. I hope her example can inspire all of us to do the same."

The school board voted last year to use school bond funds to cover the cost of renaming, approximately $60,000.

Read more about Greene and Fletcher here.

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Comments

142 people like this
Posted by Dan
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 28, 2018 at 12:13 am

I'm so inspired. Maybe now we can focus on the secondary things like education... reading, writing, mathematics, science... Just as with the current school names these are replacing, students won't even know much of anything about who these people were. Hope there are no skeletons in the closet.


11 people like this
Posted by Yuri
a resident of another community
on Mar 28, 2018 at 7:06 am

Looks like a great choice for Jordan. Maybe a current tech titan can step up and provide the funding necessary to implement the name change.


22 people like this
Posted by The end
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 28, 2018 at 7:29 am

[Post removed.]


67 people like this
Posted by Monica Yeung Arima
a resident of Professorville
on Mar 28, 2018 at 7:33 am

To honor Fred Yamamoto, please watch PBS Documentary Chrysanthemum and Salt - Japanese American Life Before WWII in San Francisco Bay Area..

Web Link

Tanforan: Race track to Assembly Center - During the WWII Trailer
Web Link

Starting Over: Japanese American After the War
Web Link

Japanese Internment During WWII
Web Link

This remind me so much of “Ban Muslim” and “Guilt by Association” - The Chinese Spies
Web Link







132 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 28, 2018 at 8:00 am

I have nothing against either of these names, at least they can both be easily pronounced and spelled. I just don't approve of the fact that we have another two people's names which may need to be changed again in the future.

I watched some of the board meeting on Facebook live. I found the whole evening a waste of time and effort and of course the biggest waste is the money this is going to take.

Before anyone starts breaking down the costs of the renaming, the fact must remain that the biggest cost will be the loss of donations and the lack of votes for future bond measures and parcel taxes, not only to the school board but also to the city since many voters don't understand the distinctions. Having spoken to many in the community about this as it has been a hot topic of local news, there are a lot of people who will be upset about this. Additionally, many PAUSD alums who may live elsewhere but still vote at their parents' address, will be upset about their old schools having their names changed and it will reflect in their votes at coming elections.

This can of worms is now open. I wonder what will be next? The Paly Viking? After all, vikings were famous for raping and pillaging!


12 people like this
Posted by Greene School Student
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 28, 2018 at 8:02 am

Let's hope this renaming thing works!


134 people like this
Posted by The end
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 28, 2018 at 8:17 am

@resident
Couldn't agree more about financial consequences. Many people I talk to see this as a waste of valuable resources , both time and money. Please pausd don't come looking for any money from me , you've shown with this decision an inability to prioritize the right educational objectives for our schools.


216 people like this
Posted by Tyler L. Sean
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Mar 28, 2018 at 8:30 am


The truth is out.

We now know who the four seemingly politically correct yet fiducially irresponsible PAUSD board members are.


6 people like this
Posted by casey
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 28, 2018 at 8:56 am

casey is a registered user.

Will the schools have to select new alliterative mascots? I don't think that there any big cats that start with a G or F to stay within the theme; i.e, panthers, jaguars and tigers? Maybe the school will opt for the Greene Lanterns.


165 people like this
Posted by Irresponsible waste of time and resources
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 28, 2018 at 8:57 am

I think those proposing for the name changes had some kind of selective memory and only picked up details that demonized Jordan and Terman, who are no longer around to clarify any of their positions.

Given all the higher priorities and challenges we have in the district, I'm just speechless to see our leaders waste time and resources on this renaming exercise.

I will, however, act accordingly next time I'm asked to donate to PIE. Even though PIE money is not paying for any of this renaming nonsense, it's also true that it creates a nice financial cushion, allowing other funds to be wasted on pet projects. It's time for our school district to be fiscally responsible, and that's why I won't be contributing to PIE until I see the required behavior from those who make $ decisions. If necessary, I will give money directly to my kids' teachers.


7 people like this
Posted by Joshua Green
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Mar 28, 2018 at 9:01 am

I think if we are getting new mascots, the mascot for terman should be a falcon. Because ellen fletcher falcons sound reasonable.


25 people like this
Posted by Do you jnow what Fletcherize means?
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 28, 2018 at 9:26 am

Great. Now whenever Terman Tigers are in sports competitions - or any competitions - there will be easy calls to “fletcherize” them.

I think Todd Collins had it right. No disrespect to Ellen Fletcher (anymore than the stupid and unsafe stuff our City does that passes for encouraging biking).


31 people like this
Posted by Paly mom
a resident of Community Center
on Mar 28, 2018 at 9:27 am

Thank you to all the players who got this done. My Jordan alumni children are pleased with the outcome. As to the renaming costs, the district estimated it to be $50,000 which amortized over the current student body amounts to about $25 per student, the cost of a field trip. Money well spent in my book. Web Link


19 people like this
Posted by Next
a resident of Jordan Middle School
on Mar 28, 2018 at 10:55 am

Glad the selection of new names is over and done - let's move on to making our middle schools a better place to be.
Lots of work to be done there.


104 people like this
Posted by New Fletcher
a resident of Terman Middle School
on Mar 28, 2018 at 10:55 am

To PAUSD, I wish you good luck on completing the whole renaming process with $50K.

From now on, I will give all the donation money to individual teacher who teaches my kids. Each will get $50~$100 gift card every semester.

Both PIE and PTA, you can forget about the donation from me. What have you done to prevent the school district from wasting money and time? Nothing! Absolutely nothing!!


30 people like this
Posted by Barbara
a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 28, 2018 at 11:06 am

What a ridiculous waste! Why not go with renaming the remaining schools Zuckerberg and Elon Musk, for starters? Let's get with the times here!


76 people like this
Posted by Former parent in district
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Mar 28, 2018 at 11:13 am

Removing Terman and Jordan names is ridiculous and costly and unnecessary.
There are various community members who have contributed locally, but nowhere near what the above two did in Silicon Valley, with worldwide influence. Now it’s just a local popularity contest. If a new school were to be opened (how about take back the valuable Fremont Hills Elementary property which is leased out to private interests?), then I could see naming the school Greene, that would be welcome. But a biking advocate!?


13 people like this
Posted by Dennis Wilkinson
a resident of Terman Middle School
on Mar 28, 2018 at 11:31 am

So, Ellen Fletcher. This name really fits the transportation situation around Terman.

Fletcher was a tireless and advocate for biking; so many kids, including mine, now bike to Terman in relative safety. This is great!

That said, the epic (car) traffic jam on Arastradero is also, unfortunately, a product of the kind of uncompromising approach I believe Fletcher was known for. BTW, it will only get worse next year as the city plans to install multiple millions of $ on concrete medians and bulb-outs to further restrict car flow.

We could call our teams the "congestion", as one of our advantages is the difficulty opponents have in reaching campus in time to prepare for the games. Joking!

The knock on Fletcher (according to the renaming committee report) was that she was difficult to work with. So, fitting for the rename, and Palo Alto politics in general.

Anyway, it's over and done, finally. Phew.


19 people like this
Posted by Glad it is over
a resident of Jordan Middle School
on Mar 28, 2018 at 11:33 am

[Post removed.]


9 people like this
Posted by Hugo
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 28, 2018 at 11:44 am

[Post removed.]


12 people like this
Posted by Ralph
a resident of The Greenhouse
on Mar 28, 2018 at 11:53 am

Hypocrisy


47 people like this
Posted by Fifa
a resident of Gunn High School
on Mar 28, 2018 at 11:56 am

As a Terman and Gunn alum and parent, I'm saddened that a vocal minority took away the opportunity to rename one of the schools after a deserving Asian American from our own community, one who exemplified so many of the values we want to instill in our children. To all of those who spoke up against the name selection of Fred Yamamoto at last night's board meeting, who paid lip service to the fact that he was indeed a hero and did indeed deserve to be recognized, but in a different way, I can't wait to see how you follow up on your hollow words.


63 people like this
Posted by rsmithjr
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 28, 2018 at 12:01 pm

rsmithjr is a registered user.

The district lost the moral high ground when it rejected Fred Terman based on his name.

About twenty opponents to Fred Yamamoto mentioned the district's setting of the precedent that people could be rejected on the basis of name alone.

People should be honored based on their contributions and examples and not their names, but the district couldn't get this point across in the light of the precedent of Fred Terman.




82 people like this
Posted by Concerned Observer
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 28, 2018 at 12:19 pm

Vote them all out when it comes time for re-election. That's the only way they'll understand that the majority of Palo Altans were against the name change and had it been put to a vote would have lost overwhelmingly. Time to stop greasing the squeaky wheels and listen to and respect what the majority want.


34 people like this
Posted by Tony Putulin
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 28, 2018 at 12:19 pm

I want to know how much the District spent for the entire process of renaming the two middle schools.


32 people like this
Posted by The end
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 28, 2018 at 12:29 pm

@paly mom
And you really believe the estimate of $50k? Remember this is government work when does anything come in at budget. I would say double it at a minimum. Not to mention the amount of people's time to change websites, correspondence, designing new graphics and countless other things people haven't even thought of. I can see it already committes to evaluate mascot names. The Greene jaguars?. I don't think they come in that color! LOL


6 people like this
Posted by PAUSD
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 28, 2018 at 12:38 pm

[Post removed.]


16 people like this
Posted by Former Jordan (Greene) Parent
a resident of Community Center
on Mar 28, 2018 at 12:38 pm

Just for the record the Jordan renaming cost should be pretty minimal...the corner monument sign which is the largest expense has been due for replacement since *before* the naming/renaming issue came up and the funds for this come from a construction/facilities budget rather than staffing dollars so classroom support/size is unaffected. The PE uniforms were ordered last year with a generic identification on them so that there would be no waste there. Logowear stock was brought down to little or none in anticipation of the renaming so no waste/cost there. *If* there is any gym flooring with the Jordan name on it that will not be replaced until its normal replacement cycle. No one uses letterhead these days so no cost there. The school sports teams uniforms are property of the City of Palo Alto and not PAUSD so no PAUSD funds go to that. If a gofundme campaign goes up I will happily donate the funds for a new Greene school uniform and uniforms in bulk are incredibly cheap. Thank you to the renaming committee members that volunteered their time. Thank you to the school board members for also serving as volunteers to our community.


14 people like this
Posted by Barron Park
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 28, 2018 at 1:10 pm

The costs for the renaming come from Bond money and not from any money that could be used for "Educational purposes". This is NOT taking any money from classrooms, students or teachers or any other program. Change is hard, but this change is good. We will all adjust.


7 people like this
Posted by rsmithjr
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 28, 2018 at 1:12 pm

rsmithjr is a registered user.

@Former Jordan (Greene)parent

I have never been too worried about the cost but have been very skeptical of the estimates made by the district. They have a habit of moving costs and money around to keep the truth from the community.

Hope you are right.




53 people like this
Posted by PA Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 28, 2018 at 1:18 pm

Although I am glad that both Frank Greene and Ellen Fletcher were chosen — two people who would have been viewed as inferior humans by Jordan and Terman — I wish I could celebrate this occasion without the disruption a few parents caused during the renaming process. It is sad that a small fraction of parents eliminated the chances of having Palo Alto’s first school named after an Asian-American. It is with deep hypocrisy to say that there is a need for more Asian representation whilst eliminating the one nominee who could have bolstered that need.

I hope that these parents realize and take full responsibility in their creation of an unnecessary fissure within the Asian community. By demonizing the Yamamoto name they are sending a clear message that all Americans including children named Yamamoto are dismissed as a “deeply painful reminder of World War II”, despite what each individual has achieved. If a war hero like Fred Yamamoto who received a Purple Heart and a Silver Star for fighting Nazis and being killed as a result of that doesn’t “redeem” his name, then who else can? This is very shameful.


39 people like this
Posted by Say What?
a resident of Jordan Middle School
on Mar 28, 2018 at 1:26 pm

Former Jordan (Greene) Parent... for the record?

your post is filled with mistruths and personal opinion. Simply most of what you said is inaccurate.

Corner Monument. may it was due but it wasn't going to be replaced with budget funding! There is signage everywhere.
Please tell me what the current cycle is to replace a gym floor? You cannot leave center court with JORDAN on it so... please all the padding in the gym will need to be replaced.
PE Uniforms: Did you take inventory of all the clothes that still have the name Jordan on it? There is inventory that will be lost.
Do you think the City wants to use revenue on a breakeven program to buy new uniforms for 2 schools!



Seems to me the Board is NOT representing what the citizens of Palo Alto want...just a small group and a school project!

Waste of time, money and resources that could be used elsewhere. I feel sorry for the people that work so hard to fund PIE...


41 people like this
Posted by I am the Vocal Minority
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 28, 2018 at 1:56 pm

@PA Parent - I really dislike the "blame the vocal minority" crowd, who tell our neighbors who are passionate about something that they are not allowed to feel that way, and their views are illegitimate because it doesn't conform with your priorities. It's a sad feature of "progressive" politics that I'm glad that many, including the school board, resisted.

I don't care if a group is a "vocal minority" - it seems to me that most good ideas start with the support of a vocal minority. I prefer vocal minorities who say how they feel and make arguments to support them to the passive-aggressive types who parade themselves as the "silent majority" and claim their views should dominate, even though they don't even show up to present them. I hope we can all represent our own vocal minorities - that's how democracy is works best.


22 people like this
Posted by Charles
a resident of Terman Middle School
on Mar 28, 2018 at 2:03 pm

Why not name Terman, "Mayfield Middle School" and Jordan, "Palo Alto Middle School"? That makes more sense to me.


21 people like this
Posted by bike commuter
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Mar 28, 2018 at 2:16 pm

I am glad that Ellen Fletcher was chosen. Every time I ride on Bryant on my bike, I think of her. Even though Palo Alto remained a car-dominant city, it was made better by the existence of this bike heaven.

Now, the tale of two Freds. As a former army officer myself, I can see why Fred Yamamoto is considered a hero. However, the school district set a precedent with its "last name matters" dogma that categorically rejected Fred Terman. The rejection of Yamamoto is simply an unfortunate consequence of this dogma. The evidence is just one google search away.

What is the take-home message here? Maybe next time, we need to re-examine the history with less judgmental eyes. Perhaps 100 years from now, something we are doing right now will become strictly unacceptable by our kids. Actually, I am pretty sure this will be the case.


14 people like this
Posted by Samuel L.
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 28, 2018 at 2:20 pm

Samuel L. is a registered user.

@PA Parent, so would you be part of the "vocal majority" speaking out against the "vocal minority"? Or are you the "vocal minority" speaking out against the "vocal minority"?

Look back at your history books and see how many change movements started because of the "vocal minority".


49 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 28, 2018 at 2:33 pm

Reading some of these posts is very sad. It shows how divisive we have become.

When there was a survey done about how to rename schools we were never asked if we wanted to rename schools, only how.

I'm not sure, but were the results of this survey announced? Did the survey show that the majority of the respondents replied with renaming schools after people? If it was not after people, how did the majority vote?

I would like to know the answer to these questions.

I would also like to know how many emails the school board members received on this subject? I would like to know how many emails said don't change the names. How many said don't change to other people?

I feel that the board took very little notice of what the community wanted done.

If this is not the case, I would like to see the answer to these questions to prove that perhaps the majority did want to change the names and to change them to the names of people.

Otherwise, from my anecdotal evidence, I find that the decision was made without taking notice of any input from the community. That is not the way democracy works. We do not elect officials to go their own way, but to make decisions on behalf of those who elected them and by taking notice of what those that elected them say.

To sum up, I do not think this was a democratic move. We need to elect officials that work on our behalf and not on their own egos.


9 people like this
Posted by Roger
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Mar 28, 2018 at 2:34 pm

Hope the kids find a good mascot name at Green, hopefully teachers,pricipals and board members stay out of that decision
.Shame on all who consider Jordan a White Supremacist,


30 people like this
Posted by No Name
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 28, 2018 at 2:45 pm

I heard the statement from Mrs. Yamamoto last night at the school board meeting that she and her family didn't feel safe living in Palo Alto anymore. I feel sorry for her and applaud her courage to speak up for her last name. As far as I understand, the Yamamoto last name association is with the warlord Yanamoto, not anyone else with the same last name. I don't believe anyone would actually threat the safety of Yamamoto families in Palo Alto. Hope Mrs. Yamonoto feel better after this.


51 people like this
Posted by The end
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 28, 2018 at 2:55 pm

Ok my last post but I would like one answer.

Can someone on the school board or the renaming committee answer this simple question. Why did a survey sent out in 2016 to solicit our feedback not ask us if we felt schools SHOULD be renamed. Seems an obvious question.

I think we are owed an answer. Anyone have the courage to provide it?


29 people like this
Posted by Old Timer
a resident of Professorville
on Mar 28, 2018 at 4:33 pm

@No Name:

That is heartbreaking to hear. In an age of demagogic fads and divisive identity politics, I hope she knows that there are still a few of us who can recognize and be humbled by a true hero like Fred Yamamoto.


13 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 28, 2018 at 4:39 pm

"Why did a survey sent out in 2016 to solicit our feedback not ask us if we felt schools SHOULD be renamed."

Don't ask the question if you don't want the answer.


140 people like this
Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 28, 2018 at 4:42 pm

This entire debacle is one of the most egregious wastes of time and money ever perpetrated by a "mob mentality" of a small group.

The names should NOT be changed.

The voters in Palo Alto should decide this and not temporary elected board members given over to the whims of a few people.

Anyone who joined in this debacle this should be recalled.


121 people like this
Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 28, 2018 at 4:46 pm

Is there anything else that can be done to prevent the name change?

I suspect that this will all become moot if the only thing left to do is VOTE AGAINST any person who supported this ridiculous attempt by certain individuals in power to force this issue against the views of the rest of us.

Still, I will gladly vote against any person who supported this and refused to listen to Palo Alto residents regarding whether or not a name change was justified in the first place.


117 people like this
Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 28, 2018 at 4:53 pm

@ I am the Vocal Minority - No one had a chance to actually be a minority or majority where it really mattered. Yeah, people were able to complain about decisions. The problem is that such a big decision was made despite public sentiment rather than because of it.

This isn't democracy. It isn't even representative democracy. It is what happens when people in power -- behind the curtain -- think that they know what is best and pull strings behind the scenes.

Why didn't the school board ask Palo Alto residents whether or not this even warranted consideration in the first place?

Ahh...they knew that most people probably wouldn't agree with them. So, they made the decision without the consideration of the public that they are supposed to serve.


41 people like this
Posted by Sadness
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 28, 2018 at 4:56 pm

"I heard the statement from Mrs. Yamamoto last night at the school board meeting that she and her family didn't feel safe living in Palo Alto anymore."

What a tragedy !!
PAUSD has only made the perceived injury caused by a school name (thanks name change petition signers!) even worse now, and has created new wounds and divisions in our community. This town needs to learn what it means to honor and embrace diversity. It is particularly ironic that the primary opposition to Mr. Yamamoto comes from a segment of the population that understands and speaks out loudly about discrimination in America. What have we become ?


8 people like this
Posted by Community
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Mar 28, 2018 at 5:23 pm

[Post removed.]


36 people like this
Posted by student
a resident of Jordan Middle School
on Mar 28, 2018 at 5:30 pm

David Starr Jordan had values that were wrong, and that’s what we all know now, but the name of the school doesn’t reflect on the students and frankly doesn’t matter to us at all. I never knew who David Starr Jordan was until we learned that he was a eugenicist in class. Actually, I had no idea what eugenics were. As a student at this school, I go every day, and not once have I ever been “inspired” by him or wanted to follow his path because our school is named after him. I don’t think we should glorify his beliefs, they were totally wrong, but changing the name isn’t really necessary. This whole ordeal is going to cost the us money and the peace in the community. The comment section is already fired up and it hasn’t even been 24 hours since the name changes were voted on. All that matters in this situation is educating students about why he was wrong. Yeah, we shouldn’t have named our school after him. That’s enough to know, and we can put this in the past.


Like this comment
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Mar 28, 2018 at 5:31 pm

I seriously doubt that PIE will be affected one way or the other.
There are larger economic issues afoot.

Form 990 data, sched A, pt 2, sect A: Public Support
7/1/2009-6/30/2010 $ 3,256,111
7/1/2010-6/30/2011 $ 3,839,389
7/1/2011-6/30/2012 $ 4,919,689
7/1/2012-6/30/2013 $ 5,416,538
7/1/2013-6/30/2014 $ 5,475,230
7/1/2014-6/30/2015 $ 5,818,270
7/1/2015-6/30/2016 $ 6,137,420
7/1/2016-6/30/2017 $ 5,909,963
7/1/2017-6/30/2018 $ ???

Trend is more meaningful when normalized to school population and parental income.


7 people like this
Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 28, 2018 at 5:33 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

This is the full version of a comment I prepared for the board meeting last night.

PAUSD Board Meeting on Renaming Schools
Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Good evening,

My name is Jerry Underdal.

I am wearing the outfit I put on this morning to portray Frank Duveneck in a role play at Hidden Villa Ranch in LAH for Escondido School 4th graders, as I have done for several years.

For me, the Duvenecks, namesakes of the school that used to be Green Gables, portray the best of Palo Alto. It is a delight to play Frank as I tell students about the life of activism in the Palo Alto community that my wife Josephine and I shared. I tell them how the core values of equality, justice and environmental responsibility led us to use our property at Hidden Villa for the common good while we were alive and establish a trust to carry on the work that meant so much to us after we were gone.

Did anyone feel proud of Jordan, Terman and Cubberley, proud enough to bring them to the attention of Palo Alto students passing through the doors of schools bearing their names? Not if, as asserted, “no one knew anything about them. It could have been anyone named Jordan, anyone named Terman, anyone named Cubberley. What’s the difference? Who cares?”

In the name shuffle accompanying school closures in the 1970s, Loma Vista (geographic) became Juana Briones. She became a vehicle for district teachers to teach about the role of women in early California. And Green Gables (geographic) became Duveneck Elementary. Both, to my mind were excellent naming choices.

Why the clamor now to give up on naming schools for people that represent important district values? Here is a chance to choose two names from six, any of which I would love to see students learn about and emulate. I look forward to hearing about lessons and activities that teach our students about these six outstanding community figures, just as I look forward to district-wide instruction about eugenics and its local ties.

Thank you for your attention.


69 people like this
Posted by Palo Altan
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 28, 2018 at 7:44 pm

What a joke. I hope this school board gets the boot in the next election. Palo Alto City Hall has no respect for the wishes of the residents of Palo Alto. Ridiculous school name changes, the Ross Road debacle, dangerous roundabouts, ugly oversized commercial buildings that lack parking, overcrowding, traffic woes, sexual harassment and coverup in the schools, etc etc etc. Total incompetence of our city government.


65 people like this
Posted by Lesson learned
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 28, 2018 at 7:59 pm

The renaming is stupid, waste of time & money. I should find ways to oppose it before it's too late for something else next time. Lesson learned!!


7 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 28, 2018 at 8:27 pm

Posted by Palo Altan, a resident of Old Palo Alto

>> What a joke. I hope this school board gets the boot in the next election. Palo Alto City Hall has no respect for the wishes of the residents of Palo Alto. Ridiculous school name changes, the Ross Road debacle, dangerous roundabouts, ugly oversized commercial buildings that lack parking, overcrowding, traffic woes, sexual harassment and coverup in the schools, etc etc etc. Total incompetence of our city government.

Are you actually from California? Because, anyone living, and voting, in California would know that the city government and school district have completely separate governance. I have to wonder why you don't know this.


3 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 28, 2018 at 8:45 pm

Posted by Nayeli, a resident of Midtown

>> I suspect that this will all become moot if the only thing left to do is VOTE AGAINST any person who supported this ridiculous attempt by certain individuals in power to force this issue against the views of the rest of us.

It is a school name change. Happens all the time. It is the school board's job to handle issues like this. Why are you so concerned about it?

P.S. If one of the high schools was named "Jefferson Davis High School", would you have favored a name change? There is still one left that I know of, in Montgomery, AL.


106 people like this
Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 28, 2018 at 9:01 pm

@ student: Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts. I suspect that even David Starr Jordan would reject eugenics today.

Eugenics was a widely embraced idea a century ago. In fact, when Planned Parenthood was founded by Margaret Sanger, widely-held beliefs in eugenics were a catalyst for their "mission." Sanger was devout in her beliefs in eugenics.

Now, I am not a fan of Sanger or Planned Parenthood. However, I understand that Sanger's views were a product of their time. They were particularly common among academic-minded faculty and students at colleges and universities around the world.

Many people in the late 19th and early 20th centuries embraced elements of eugenics in varying degrees. Individuals like George Bernard Shaw, Alexander Graham Bell, Teddy Roosevelt, HG Wells, Charles Lindbergh, Alexis Carrel, Francis Crick, Winston Churchill, Jacques Cousteau, John Maynard Keynes and even Helen Keller were led astray by various degrees of belief in eugenics. This list could go on and on. It was, sadly, a condition of the times.

At the same time, some people may have changed their minds about such things later in life. David Starr Jordan probably would have given up any such notions if he had enough science to convince him. In fact, it's possible that he abandoned such notions -- as most people did. His papers are archived at Stanford and at Swarthmore College. I wonder if anyone has studied them extensively enough to learn whether he had second thoughts about such things before he died.

Individuals like Lars Johnsson were quick to incriminate Dr. Jordan, agitate the community against him and even associate him with vile Nazis because of a foundation led by a man that Johnsson claimed was Jordan's "protege" (without proof of such deep association).

Of course, Dr. Jordan isn't here to defend himself. If he were (and given the knowledge that is now at our fingertips), I suspect that he would be the first to dismiss any beliefs that he may have had in eugenics.

Unfortunately, this entire debacle also clouds the many good things that David Starr Jordan did in life. Of the many publications that Dr. Jordan authored, most focused on ichthyology or various philosophies associated with his understanding of science and academia. He was the president of both Indiana University and Stanford. He was also the director of the Sierra Club and president of the National Education Association.

Sadly, his legacy has been tarnished by a view that was widely held by many people during that time -- including many professors at Stanford and colleges located elsewhere around the world. The recent mob mentality has further tarnished that legacy. A few individuals continued to "update" his Wikipedia page to the point that you'd assume that David Starr Jordan was primarily a eugenicist who also studied ichthyology (rather than the other way around).

This is what disappoints me most about renaming the school. David Starr Jordan's notions of eugenics apparently weren't vital to his success or overarching academic and scientific endeavors. Like the famous people mentioned above, such notions were a part of the times -- sad and wrong as it was.

Today, many people think that it is wrong to spank children. Yet, many of our own parents and grandparents were spanked. Some of them were even spanked at school (via corporal punishment)! As the old saying went, a teacher or principal sometimes "applied the board of education to the seat of knowledge and left a lasting impression."

Was that "child abuse?" It certainly wasn't in the context of the times. I think that it would be wrong to think of our grandparents, great-grandparents or their teachers and principals as "child abusers" because of an inability to contextualize something that was commonly accepted during their lives. I think that it would be wrong to think so poorly of the good that such people did because of the accepted norms of their times.

The same is true with the men for which these two schools are named. [Portion removed.]


24 people like this
Posted by Do Something for a Change
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 28, 2018 at 9:07 pm

People who wonder if they can do something. The answer, if people themselves get involved, is yes. The answer if they are unwilling to change the set up here and decide to take action (instead waiting for someone else to do it), is no.

There are ways to create a more democratic process for any similar school board decision that requires polling of any predetermined percentage of Palo Alto residents or affected district families. There are ways to create rules to allow the community to overturn school biard decisions. That can be achieved by what’s called a “charter initiative” through the City of Palo Alto, which establishes the school district and its governing rules in the City charter. You can change or add to those rules- changing the power structure in the district to give the community more power and discretion over individual matters affecting them rather than just a disconnected board member election years later.

Our district could benefit from a formal and fair way for the community to weigh in on matters that they care about, with power to enforce. It just takes a charter amendment to the City if Palo Alto code under the school district section. That would be one heck of a school project for any student interested in going into government.


99 people like this
Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 28, 2018 at 9:09 pm

@ Anon - Just because it "happens all the time" doesn't mean that it SHOULD happen all of the time.

"Why am I so concerned?" Did you really ask me that? I could easily ask you the same thing.

I'm concerned because I am a part of this community (like it or not). I think that this is a waste of time, money and energy. In addition, I feel that this bad idea sets a terrible and endless precedent. At what point does it end? The world is filled with flawed human beings -- many who had beliefs and attributes of the times in which they lived.

I particularly don't like it when a school board takes something that is part of the community and unilaterally decides to change the name of a school in order to comply with the whims of a handful of people to the chagrin of everyone else.

>>> "P.S. If one of the high schools was named "Jefferson Davis High School", would you have favored a name change? There is still one left that I know of, in Montgomery, AL." <<<

Personally, I would leave it up to the PEOPLE in that school district. IF the people who live and fund that district vote to change the name, then I think that it would be a good idea. If they don't, then the people have spoken.

That didn't happen here. The people weren't given the opportunity to vote upon the notion of whether or not the schools should have their names changed.


2 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 28, 2018 at 10:35 pm

Posted by Nayeli, a resident of Midtown

>> @ Anon - Just because it "happens all the time" doesn't mean that it SHOULD happen all of the time.

It happens all the time because it is the school board's responsibility to do this. We might as well pause right here, and agree to disagree about something. I think it is a TERRIBLE idea to submit every little decision to the voters. That results in a ballot with 103 measures on it, state, county, city, school district, water district, air pollution district, open space district, flood control district, bond issues, tax issues, and who knows what all, with most voters not having the time or patience to study each issue well. Direct democracy in California has been a mess.

Inform the school board of your opinion, and, let the school board make the decisions. We get better decisions that way more of the time.

>> I'm concerned because I am a part of this community (like it or not). I think that this is a waste of time, money and energy.

If we stop talking about it and worrying about it, we can stop wasting so much time and energy. It is a school name. The money will be minimal, and, isn't really the issue.

>> In addition, I feel that this bad idea sets a terrible and endless precedent. At what point does it end? The world is filled with flawed human beings -- many who had beliefs and attributes of the times in which they lived.

Well, chances are that it will never end. Why should it? I'm sure if some people get their way, every Spanish-origin name in California including California itself, not to mention Palo Alto, will have to be changed to something Anglo-Saxon. Do you think that property values will go down if we change the name of Palo Alto to Drumpville? Politicians like to name things after people (usually politicians), so, I don't think this issue will ever go away.

>>> "P.S. If one of the high schools was named "Jefferson Davis High School", would you have favored a name change? There is still one left that I know of, in Montgomery, AL." <<<

>> Personally, I would leave it up to the PEOPLE in that school district. IF the people who live and fund that district vote to change the name, then I think that it would be a good idea. If they don't, then the people have spoken.

OK, so, how would YOU vote? I'll tell you right now, in case you don't know, that the people who named that school were -trying- to be offensive.

>> That didn't happen here. The people weren't given the opportunity to vote upon the notion of whether or not the schools should have their names changed.

I'm sorry. I think it is good to have a safety valve, like the ability to have a recall election, but, in the normal course of events, I prefer representative democracy. I don't want to have elections on thousands of small issues every year. You think changing the name of a school is expensive ...


37 people like this
Posted by Me 2
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 28, 2018 at 11:41 pm

Hilarious. I guess some folks didn't check Urban Dictionary for a fun misspelling for Fletcher. And you know the middle schoolers will be the first to figure that one out.

Juvenile, yes. But then so are the students.

Way to go PAUSD.


25 people like this
Posted by Yuri
a resident of another community
on Mar 29, 2018 at 6:06 am

Where does the 50K figure come from, and how can it even be close to accurate?
Maybe it will cost 50K to study how much the renaming projects will actually cost?

How can you trust leadership that is so far off the mark?


9 people like this
Posted by rsmithjr
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 29, 2018 at 10:14 am

rsmithjr is a registered user.

@Yuri,

The first I heard of the $50,000 estimate was last year from former superintendent Max McGee.

I don't see how we can trust Dr. McGee given his record on financial and other issues.

The difficulty is that the district can easily manipulate the costs and reporting in such a way that any estimate will come "true". For example, they can claim that certain costs were replacing things (like signs) that were already at the end-of-life and hence not attributable to the renaming. I also doubt that the staff time etc. for the last two years of hearings has been included.

For example, do we know what the costs of the Title IX issues are?

We will never know what the true cost of this was.


12 people like this
Posted by Hal Plotkin
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 29, 2018 at 10:17 am

Hal Plotkin is a registered user.

I want to thank and congratulate the Palo Alto School Board for this decision. The committee came up with a truly wonderful list of names all of whom were more than worthy of the honor. I hope we will celebrate these changes as a community. I just wish my old friend Ellen Fletcher had lived long enough to enjoy this recognition. Ellen was a woman of enormous courage and fierce determination, a leader in every sense of the word, someone who always found time to help and encourage young people. Palo Alto brings honor to itself by putting the names Fletcher and Greene on our public buildings. Doing so sends a message that we respect and appreciate self-less service to others. Kudos to all involved. I think you did a great job and I am very grateful.


9 people like this
Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 29, 2018 at 11:35 am

[Portion removed.] Fred Yamamoto is an American name, but it is important to consider the sensitivities of other people when naming public things. It is a responsibility of a citizen of a country of resident of a town to consider all people. It is easier, safer, nicer and more respectful. [Portion removed.]

That is why I again say again it is not a good idea to name public schools after people unless your aim is to offend people and have them waste time and sew discord among the public. [Portion removed.]


3 people like this
Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 29, 2018 at 1:02 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

For those who want to dig deep into cost estimates, go to the source document, the original RSAC Final Report Web Link. The work of identifying expense categories and estimating costs has been done for you. Please analyze it carefully and be specific about concerns you still have.

Appendix 14 Combined Cost Summary Web Link

Appendix 15 RSAC Working Cost Estimates Web Link

You might also take a look at the brief histories of Jordan, Terman and Cubberley and their impact on education. And check out the sources, some online, that informed RSAC's deliberations.


31 people like this
Posted by Concerned Observer
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 29, 2018 at 1:48 pm

@ I am the vocal minority....the problem with your argument is that in a true democracy, majority rules. The name change fiasco is the result of a seventh grader and his father forcing their "feelings" about two men, who did a lot more good than bad, onto a community that largely disagrees with their crusade or point of view, and an elected school board that rolled over to their demands, ignoring what the wishes of the majority were.

Clearly, if this issue had been put to a vote of the citizens of Palo Alto (true democracy in action), it would have been resoundingly defeated. Unfortunately, we have succumbed once again to the "squeaky wheel gets greased" syndrome and the majority gets ignored again for the sake of political correctness.




3 people like this
Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 29, 2018 at 2:11 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

@Nayeli

"David Starr Jordan probably would have given up any such notions if he had enough science to convince him. In fact, it's possible that he abandoned such notions"

"Individuals like Lars Johnsson were quick to incriminate Dr. Jordan, agitate the community against him and even associate him with vile Nazis because of a foundation led by a man that Johnsson claimed was Jordan's "protégé" (without proof of such deep association)."

"Dr. Jordan isn't here to defend himself. If he were (and given the knowledge that is now at our fingertips), I suspect that he would be the first to dismiss any beliefs that he may have had in eugenics."

"David Starr Jordan's notions of eugenics apparently weren't vital to his success or overarching academic and scientific endeavors."


If any of these assertions had a factual basis, your objections to renaming would have some merit. Can you identify what sources brought you to conclusions that are 180 degrees off from the committee's? You make an interesting point about Wikipedia entries that deal with eugenics. Awareness of (negative) eugenics is on the rise at a time in our history when nativist and white supremacist notions are gaining traction. PAUSD has acted on the eugenics story before the issue of forced sterilization hits institutions that memorialize leaders of the (negative) eugenics movement. Not so for Stanford.

Stanford hasn't broken the silence yet about the legacy of its eugenicist pioneers, but recently announced principles to apply when considering renaming requests. This spring, a committee will examine the case for renaming campus features named for Junipero Serra. Perhaps then the university will speak to concerns about Jordan, Terman and Cubberley. I believe It would help Palo Alto heal the splits within the community to hear what Stanford has to say about people whose legacy is legitimately in their care, not the responsibility of current and future families in PAUSD.

Resource, the RSAC Final Report includes print and online resources
Web Link


62 people like this
Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 29, 2018 at 2:31 pm

@ CrescentParkAnon.

You wrote, "t is a responsibility of a citizen of a country of resident of a town to consider all people. It is easier, safer, nicer and more respectful. Somehow Conservatives seem to have a mental block against that. .... That is why I again say again it is not a good idea to name public schools after people unless your aim is to offend people and have them waste time and sew discord among the public - which seems to be a prime directive with Conservatives who attack the very idea of the public or society."

I'm not sure what this issue has to do with the American political spectrum. However, your posts indicates that you might not know very many real Conservatives.

I know that the San Francisco Bay Area has become a bubble of liberalism; however, it might help if you actually went out for coffee, tea or a nice lunch with some actual Conservatives. The gross generalization and incorrect stereotypes of conservatives and libertarians that are found in online, TV or print media often amount to little more than a straw man fallacy.

There are liberals, conservatives and libertarians in Palo Alto who opposed the name changes from the get-go. The problem is that the school board didn't consult the people and residents of Palo Alto. I strongly suspect that the people of this city would have overwhelmingly opposed this debacle.

Moreover, there are two underlying issues at stake here:
1.) The school board ignored the residents and didn't consider consulting us; and,
2.) This "Pandora's Box" is now open and such stunts could go on perpetually.

I don't have a problem naming a city, street or school after individuals. However, I never have thought of any so honored person as anything other than flawed human beings who may have done something important during their lives.

Yes, there is an ability to avoid such conflict when cities, states, counties, schools or buildings aren't named after the people. However, IT SHOULD NOT BE THAT WAY. I can still appreciate George Washington despite the fact that he owned slaves -- and I have no problem with any state, city, district, school or building named in his honor.


60 people like this
Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 29, 2018 at 2:50 pm

@ Jerry Underdal -

You wrote: "If any of these assertions had a factual basis, your objections to renaming would have some merit. Can you identify what sources brought you to conclusions that are 180 degrees off from the committee's?"

I am speaking hypothetically. Do you really think that Dr. David Starr Jordan -- a brilliant academic who was the president of Stanford and Indiana University -- would continue to believe in eugenics if he had lived in 2018?

I don't think so. Science, academia and society in general has come a long way since the years in which Dr. Jordan lived. He is long dead. Consequently, we can't question him about his views. We can't question him about how strongly he felt about such things and what influenced him toward such a direction. However, we do know that such views were widespread at the time.

I would like to mention that I strongly disagree with your claim that "white supremacists" are gaining traction. I simply feel that the media is giving it more attention.

If there is anything that is taboo in society, it is racism. There is a deep shame and stigma associated with it. I've was born in Mexico but lived in Mexico and Texas. I used to pick crops in states throughout this country. Even people with various deep-seeded prejudices are often ashamed of any lingering racism that they might hold. I don't know what makes you think that it is "on the rise" other than the fact that the media suddenly pays attention to it.

It is like that tiny little Westboro Baptist Church hate cult. Its small group of members fly around the country in order to make a splash and enjoy yet another day in the media's light. Yet, it is such a tiny little group that commands such complete attention of the media. It would be nice if the media ignored tiny groups of sensationalists (or, at least, gave little more than a passing reference to them).

No one is denying the evidence that individuals like David Starr Jordan, George Bernard Shaw or even Helen Keller believed in various notions derived from eugenics. It was commonly accepted at the time. I can still appreciate the good that some people did despite the fact that they had some rather stupid notions (even if they were widely accepted).

My biggest gripe is that the school board ignored the people of Palo Alto in this instance. Why not let the people consider this issue? This is a highly-educated city -- one of the most educated cities in the world. Why wouldn't the school board think to even involve residents in the discussion before any first decision is made?


38 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 29, 2018 at 3:11 pm

This is now a done deal, unfortunately, but I still think we deserve more information than we have received. We not only deserve it but if the Board wants to keep our respect (if they indeed have our respect) we should be given the results of the survey, how many voted for people and how many voted for other ideas. We should also know about the number of emails they received, both at the time of the survey and at the time of the vote. We should know how many voiced concern about naming after people and how many were in agreement with naming for people as well as which names were more popular and which names were less popular.

Are emails to government bodies and representatives public record? Are the public able to access the amount of correspondence between those they represent and the represented officials?

It bothers me considerably that we don't have official answers to what the community really thinks. For those of us who did email the board it makes sense that we need to know our time and trouble in doing so was actually seen. If we were in the minority and the survey and emails showed a vast majority wanted to name after people, wouldn't it make sense to tell us. If the majority were totally against this in the records of the survey and the emails it seems that we were not only ignored but our opinions were deemed less worthy than our elected officials. This sounds much more like socialist government than democracy.

Of course I don't think we should have every little question put on a ballot for us to decide. But I do think that when contentious issues arise and the community puts time and effort into surveys and writing emails, that we should be told the breakdown of what the community felt.

Democracy to work has to be seen to be working on our behalf. We have to have transparency and we have to have affirmation that our leaders are not attempting to become anything other than mere mortals we have elected to do our bidding.


4 people like this
Posted by Old Paly Dad
a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 29, 2018 at 4:11 pm

@Nayeli

you're very generous giving David Starr Jordan the benefit of the doubt that he'd readily distance himself from his ideology. Well, he didn't while he was alive, and his legacy is tarnished by his Eugenics leadership, not by those that brought it to our attention.

Would be nice if you afforded others the same benefit of the doubt, perhaps the school board members that actually read the renaming report. Perhaps they read something that convinced them that the name change is warranted.

Btw, as you would have preferred to put this tremendous waste of time and money to a vote during an election, perhaps you should bother to look into the even more tremendous waste of time and money that would entail. Certainly a lot more than the actual renaming.


42 people like this
Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 29, 2018 at 4:30 pm

@ Old Paly Dad - That is the old "it isn't worth the fight" mantra, isn't it?

Believe me: I am not just giving David Starr Jordan the benefit of the doubt. I am giving EVERYONE who lived before me the benefit of the doubt. Such beliefs were widespread. If you could single out every individual who held some variant of a belief in eugenics, you'd probably single out quite a few people.

Moreover, I can approach this issue without actually making excuses for eugenics. It turns out that it was a rather stupid pursuit that built upon the preconceived evidences of people of that time period who felt that they were being intellectual.

The same thing can be said of slavery. It was an unfortunate norm in society. It wasn't confined to America either. Slavery existed almost everywhere. It existed in the American continents long before Europeans sailed west. Still, I would argue that it would be an absolute ridiculous waste of time, resources and effort to demand that the State of Washington, Washington D.C., or the face of a dollar bill or quarter should be changed because George Washington owned slaves.

That is what happened here (albeit on a smaller scale). No one was honoring David Starr Jordan for any belief in eugenics that he held. Likewise, no one in the U.S. honors George Washington for the fact that he was a slave owner during his life.

Even beyond the terrible "Pandora's Box" that this opens is the fact that the school board didn't consult the people of this city. They acted unilaterally. I suspect that they knew that most residents of Palo Alto would argue against it.

Earlier, someone generalized conservatives via some opinion that they have of us. I admit that many conservatives also generalize liberals -- particularly those in political power. How so? They seem to think that liberal politicians often operate under a smug "we know better than you" mindset that ignores the views of the people in order to carry out the latest fashionable "politically correct" hysteria of the moment.

Now, I don't believe that this is an accurate portrayal of liberal politicians. I know many liberals who absolutely hate it when politicians act on their own without even gauging the sentiment of the public. However, actions like this serve to fuel such a stereotype in the same way that a bad example set by a conservative might fuel a different stereotype.

Do you think that the people of Palo Alto should have had any say in this?


13 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 29, 2018 at 4:53 pm

This act is a great disservice to Frank Greene and Ellen Fletcher. Hordes of wannabe muckrakers will now be digging for the "dirt" on them.


Like this comment
Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 29, 2018 at 10:38 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

@Nayeli

“I am speaking hypothetically. “

Which I take to indicate that you have no factual basis or credible source to support your assertions or hypotheticals after two years of commenting on this topic. If I’m wrong, please explain.






3 people like this
Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 29, 2018 at 11:03 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

@Nayeli

“If you could single out every individual who held some variant of a belief in eugenics, you'd probably single out quite a few people.”

Of course! Why should that hold us back from calling out bad ideas and declining to memorialize people who promoted them if there’s not a compelling reason to do so? Stanford has reason to guard the historical memory of key figures in its history like the pioneer eugenicists Jordan, Cubberley and Terman. They are its ancestors, after all. But the school district has no such obligation to memorialize these local university figures if their values denigrate current and future residents of the city.


8 people like this
Posted by Cheryl Brunk
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 30, 2018 at 11:13 am

I had the opportunity to attend El Carmelo, Fairmeadow and Green Gables, in addition to Jordan Jr. High School and Palo Alto High School. Unfortunate that so much time, attention and resources have been put into the renaming of schools. If it's so controversial, don't rename the schools after people. I have tremendous pride for my education in Palo Alto schools and don't look back at particular naming conventions of the past in a negative light. Sad.


34 people like this
Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 30, 2018 at 11:34 am

@ Jerry Underdal -

You wrote, "Which I take to indicate that you have no factual basis or credible source to support your assertions or hypotheticals after two years of commenting on this topic. If I’m wrong, please explain."

My point is that the times have changed. Do you really think that a scientist and academically-minded like Dr. David Starr Jordan and the many academics like him wouldn't change their minds about eugenics if they had lived long enough to see this day? Most scientists are honest scholars. As such, they are honestly affected by new observations and discoveries.

Unfortunately, David Starr Jordan isn't around to answer questions about the basis and extent of his views or whether he ever wavered on those views. Still, I am confident that any honest intellectual or scholar who lived long enough to have seen new observations and studies about such matters would change their minds.

Still, that leads to the more important matter: David Starr Jordan wasn't honored for eugenics any more than Washington D.C. honors George Washington because of slavery.


38 people like this
Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 30, 2018 at 12:00 pm

@ Jerry Underthal -

You wrote, "But the school district has no such obligation to memorialize these local university figures if their values denigrate current and future residents of the city."

First of all, let me express that I think focusing on one aspect of David Starr Jordan's life diverges from what many people are trying to say here.

1.) The school board should have gauged the sentiments of the residents of Palo Alto before making any initial decision or even exploring the possibility of changing the names.
2.) Memorials don't honor every aspect of the person that it memorializes.

If you use a figurative fine-toothed comb, you'll find flaws in any person. Some of those flaws might be terribly glaring. As such, the only true way to avoid offense over some person's name on a school is, as others have pointed out, not to name any school... or building... or street... or town... or county... or state... or country after a person.

However, that leads to a problem too. It has always been the practice of society to honor people when they've accomplished something. This doesn't mean that they honor EVERYTHING about that individual.

My husband is a fan of Jim Thorpe. The Native American athlete played football for Pop Warner and excelled at football, baseball and track. He won Olympic medals for the United States. This doesn't mean that my husband ignores some of the glaring character issues with Jim Thorpe. He admires certain aspects of his life story and accomplishments despite some of his character flaws.

Like most Americans, I am a Christian. I think of some of the "heroes" of the Christian faith who had many flaws. Peter lied and denied that he even knew Jesus three times. Paul persecuted Christians prior to his conversion. Even men of the Old Testament had flaws. There was a "David" who was the first great king of a united Israel. Yet, David also committed adultery with a married woman and, after she was pregnant, ordered her husband to be sent to the front lines of a battle so that the rest of the troops would fall back and allow him to die. When Jesus walked the earth, he wasn't called the "Son of Moses" or the "Son of Abraham." He was called the "Son of David." He was honored many centuries later despite his glaring flaws.

You imply that this part of David Starr Jordan's life constituted his "values." How do you know? How do you know that this is something that he actually felt to be important in life? What if he was simply convinced that it was true because of honest (yet very faulty) academic study? What if academic men and women of that time period approached the issue objectively and only came to that conclusion because they honestly thought it was true?

Still, I feel that this close inspection of David Starr Jordan's life is somewhat beside the point. None of us are true scholars of the man. I suspect that none of us have sifted through all of his life's work and personal papers to gauge the extent of all of his personal beliefs and code.

That is precisely the point. The school wasn't named after any specific views that he may have had at different parts of his life regarding eugenics. There were other things -- a list of accomplishments -- for which he was honored.

I can gladly honor Martin Luther King, Jr. even if the eventual release of his papers found that he plagiarized many papers and speeches, cheated on his wife or domestically assaulted a prostitute (all things that have long been rumored about him). There was enough good in his life to merit a holiday in his honor.


36 people like this
Posted by Not enough adults in the room
a resident of Duveneck School
on Mar 30, 2018 at 12:06 pm

Should we take down the statue of the racist Lincoln? Rename the Lincoln Memorial?

Surreal slavish adherence to identity politics and victim hood.

A sad episode.


24 people like this
Posted by Vasche LaMou
a resident of Green Acres
on Mar 30, 2018 at 12:27 pm

[Post removed.]


13 people like this
Posted by AdobeCreek
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 31, 2018 at 8:45 am

The craven actions of the school board during this renaming project demonstrate a disregard for the responsible deployment of community resources, attention, energy and money. While deeper, structural, problems remain and while future directions and goals remain unresolved, that the Board chose this as an important issue worthy of our resources is failure of leadership.

Many words and suggestions have been written and said here and in conversations for the past year about alternatives the Board paths the board should have considered.

A test of leadership and strength often times comes down to the hardest of words to say for leaders: no.

No. This issue does not rise to the level necessary for Board to deploy our resources. The school Board has other, more pressing issues.

No. The original child and parent will not get relief at the school Board level for their concerns. They are free to seek relief in any of the hundreds of other ways discussed here and elsewhere over the past year.

Saying No is hard. It is one of the hallmarks of leadership to be able to say No thoughtfully, respectfully and kindly. It is much easier sometimes to say Yes and diffuse the cost of their decisions over their constituents. This is a failure of responsible stewardship.

With this decision, the school board failed the majority of students and the majority of families here in PAUSD. They were elected to lead and make tough decisions. Neither happened here.

They should not be re-elected.


Like this comment
Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 31, 2018 at 9:21 am

Nayeli, with all that huffing and puffing and the 7x24 hours you
put in here daily ( presumably without being paid ??? ) are you
really trying to deny you or the people who are vociferously posting
against this name change are right-wingers? That's hilarious.

All you have is scads of upvotes from anonymous people who never
post here, and you apparently can get my posts censored with your
persistent right-wing attacks. What is it that you have to complain
about, that you cannot force everyone here to agree with you or
shut everyone who disagrees with your down?

Palo Alto Online, since you deleted everything I said that Nayeli
was complaining about ... why not delete Nayeli's diatribe against
me as well as per your normal operations when a comment is no
longer relevant.

There are so many ways PAO is inconsistent in its biased manner
of editing it would take volumes and days to list them all in a post
that would simply be deleted anyway. I merely point it out now
and again for those who have no drunk the Kool-Aid.


1 person likes this
Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 31, 2018 at 9:29 am

Yeah, It costs a little money.

Most-assuredly the school board ( not bored as insultingly posted ) has other
things to do.

It has nothing in the least to do with the Lincoln Memorial, the Jefferson or Washington
Monuments either, but that never stops a good right-wing diatribe, or mob.

From the number and volume of the posts here, I think the police needs to look into the
people who are against this school rename, because they sound like they are just
about to go off the deep-end, because like the Southerners with black civili-rights
they just do not seem to be able to digest that they lost this one.

What happened to deal with it, move on, put it behind you, turn the page? What
happened to sore-losers and all the other names right-wingers use when the shoe
is on the other foot?

There are tons of "real" good reasons to change the names of these schools, and
also tons if "fake" reasons not to, but a sane Palo Alto resident still should side
with the real reasons and not give in to fake news.


Like this comment
Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 31, 2018 at 9:36 am

>> I know that the San Francisco Bay Area has become a bubble of liberalism

But you fail to acknowledge that Palo Alto has become the bubble of right-wing
manipulation of the media of which you are a 7x24 contributor of fake news
as pointed out multiple times by Jerry Underthal.

If the Palo Alto Online really wanted to do something constructive, since this
decision has already been made, righteously, why not shut Nayeli down for
a while as you do with other voices. He clearly needs some cooling off time
before he works himself up a big aneurism.


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Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 31, 2018 at 9:42 am

Nayeli, the basic argument which you either evaded or were not
interested enough to follow is that this issue of renaming schools has
been picked up by right-wingers as is a proxy for the removal of Confederate
statues from public places in the South. I imagine we hold different views
on the issues, but your underlying motivation as in all your comments
comes through loud and clear.

It's been coined and called as "dog whistle" politics .... woof, woof.


Like this comment
Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 31, 2018 at 10:10 am

> 2.) Memorials don't honor every aspect of the person that it memorializes.

That's irrelevant if public attitudes or standards change to the point that
certain aspects of "the person that it memorializes" are deemed problematic,
non-inclusive to members of the population, insulting or even terrorizing?

Maybe, they are not problematic to you, and you think you personally have
good taste and sense enough to stand up for eugenicists perhaps and
decide right and wrong and good or bad taste? You want to ignore
the feelings of certain people, and by that send a political message.

It is odd that it is BOTH junior high schools in Palo Alto, and that these
movements were so strong here, and supported by the know-it-alls so
strongly.

--- The Know-It-Alls: The Rise of Silicon Valley as a Political Powerhouse and Social Wrecking Ball (9781620972106): Noam Cohen

The fact is that this thread of history is repugnant and it is the right thing
to do ( if you understand right and wring ) to make a public effort to re-emphasize it.


Like this comment
Posted by OMM 0910
a resident of another community
on Mar 31, 2018 at 11:08 am

[Post removed.]


6 people like this
Posted by Rebecca White
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Mar 31, 2018 at 6:19 pm

As a student raised in PAUSD, one who attended Escondido, Jordan (the Dolphins!), JLS and Paly, I am thrilled with this decision and with the names chosen for Jordan and Terman. Just thrilled! Such a learning moment for my son who will be attending Jordan/Greene. Kudos to the school board for supporting the many students and parents opposed to honoring these powerful and despicable proponents of eugenics.


9 people like this
Posted by Rebecca White
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Mar 31, 2018 at 6:28 pm

I also have to comment on the fact that this name change proposal was incredibly well covered by local media. The school board meeting where the proposal was addressed was packed—standing room only—and went until almost 11pm because so many people stood up to talk. I was one of them. As was a gentleman, the dad of a boy I grew up with, who spoke of his family’s personal experience dealing with racism in Palo Alto schools. For all those who moved here in the past twenty years or less, who don’t understand the history of the town, I say that you simply don’t understand, and that your naïveté is innocent. But thank goodness GOODNESS prevailed. Frank Greene and Ellen Fletcher! Worthy and wonderful people who earned this honorarium. Jordan and Terman can go the wayside.


8 people like this
Posted by Rebecca White
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Mar 31, 2018 at 6:39 pm

Nayeli, Jordan was a bad guy. Not just with his support of eugenics—across the board. Is anyone supporting that dude’s name even aware of what Stanford University has to say about him? The university of which he was President when Jane Lathrop Stanford was poisoned by her maid? Take a tour of the museum and they tell you that Jordan is thought to have had JLS murdered. Yet people want to stop supporting PIE because we’re finally changing the name? What fools.


6 people like this
Posted by Sarah S
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 31, 2018 at 6:47 pm

[Post removed.]


5 people like this
Posted by Old Timer
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 31, 2018 at 6:52 pm

@Rebecca White, on the other hand, Stanford seems in no hurry to rename their various Jordan and Terman named items (Jordan Hall, the DS Jordan Prize, Terman Library, Terman Park, etc.). Of course, the school itself shares the name of an anti-Chinese robber baron, so there's a lot of work to do in the name cleanup department. They of course take the easier/smart route now - their mascot is a color and they name buildings after donors. PAUSD take note!


2 people like this
Posted by Rebecca White
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Mar 31, 2018 at 7:00 pm

Old Timer, excellent point. I’m not one to defend the Stanfords—but the crazy history does play into this. When Wilbur was renamed JLS, the irony was completely ignored...or maybe not.


3 people like this
Posted by Board Watcher
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 31, 2018 at 7:37 pm

[Post removed due to deletion of referenced comment.]


2 people like this
Posted by Rebecca White
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Apr 1, 2018 at 10:59 am

[Post removed due to deletion of referenced comment.]


9 people like this
Posted by Donster
a resident of University South
on Apr 1, 2018 at 12:19 pm

"To all of those who spoke up against the name selection of Fred Yamamoto at last night's board meeting, who paid lip service to the fact that he was indeed a hero and did indeed deserve to be recognized, but in a different way, I can't wait to see how you follow up on your hollow words."

Hollow? I think bigoted would be a better description. Opposing the naming of a school after a an American war hero, based solely on dislike for his ethnicity and surname, is shameful and disgusting. In my humble opinion, prejudice and hate have no place in Palo Alto. That applies equally to people hating on Chinese, which seems to happen frequently here, and to those discriminating against Fred Yamamoto because of his name. He gave his life fighting the same Axis alliance that devastated China, as well as Europe and other regions. Would the you folks prefer it if the Axis had won?

Since Palo Altans have failed so miserably when given the chance to honor a hometown hero, we need to atone for our sins. The city should commission a bronze statue of Fred Yamamoto to replace the egg in Lytton Plaza. To do anything less would be ungrateful, to say the very least.


2 people like this
Posted by kids
a resident of another community
on Apr 1, 2018 at 2:35 pm

kids is a registered user.

It would be nice to do something nice to honor all six of the "contestants, especially the ones with families still here.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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