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School board to discuss renaming schools

Original post made on Mar 6, 2017

A committee's recommendation to rename two Palo Alto middle schools will be up for debate Tuesday night when the school board will discuss their proposals for the first time.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, March 6, 2017, 2:43 PM

Comments (31)

Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 6, 2017 at 5:44 pm

This article beside the one about the schools needing to trim their budgets!

Anyone else think this is one item that could be done away with to trim their budget?

What a hypocritical idea to stop spending money on the students because of pleas of poverty and then spend money on a feel good waste of time, energy and money like this!

No wonder they are not getting as many people donating to PIE any more.

Posted by resident
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Mar 6, 2017 at 6:12 pm

Spending money to rename schools is PC madness. If you spend money on this then think of being replaced. Whole generations have not been damaged by going to the schools under the current names.

Posted by renaming schools
a resident of College Terrace
on Mar 6, 2017 at 6:14 pm

As I mentioned in a post on the article today about our school budget crisis, what an incredible misuse of public funds if the board approves over $200k to rename our middle schools.

My message to those who feel so adamant about this issue figure out a WAY TO PAY FOR IT without using my money

FYI- If this is approved I will not donate a dime to PIE

Posted by Madness
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 6, 2017 at 6:20 pm

I can't help think how crazy this headline is juxtaposed with the other about school budget issues. Have we gone completely mad about our priorities in this city.

Would we really waste time money to placate a vocal minority of parents obsessed with school names versus providing real educational benefits to our students.

Posted by Jane Gill
a resident of Professorville
on Mar 6, 2017 at 7:59 pm

100 years ago, eugenics was one of the chief programs advocated by leading American progressives.

If Hillary Clinton, Elizabeth Warren, Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi, and Barbara Boxer had been active politicians in 1917, they would have vigorously supported eugenics.

Interesting note: another leading eugenics supporter, Margaret Sanger, went on to found Planned Parenthood about a decade later.

Leave the names as they are.

Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 6, 2017 at 8:19 pm

Better option: Vote to KEEP THE NAMES.

Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 6, 2017 at 9:08 pm

Somewhat hilarious seeing the headline on the home website saying "Sould" instead of "Should". The moderator has ample time to censor any comments it does not like, yet doesn't have the time to proofread its own headlines.

Posted by jordan simply jordan
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 6, 2017 at 10:21 pm

the true colors of the board will shine through on this one!
let's hope the board shows their intelligence and backbone by voting to NOT change the names

aside from an expense the district can't afford in the grand scheme of things it sets a bad precedent

Posted by JustAnIdea
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 6, 2017 at 11:13 pm

I was just reading a book titled "The Gene, An intimate history". The book has an interesting chapter on Eugenics. The early advocates like Galton and H.G.Wells wanted to improve the gene pool (healthier humans) and not necessarily the race. But of course the concept took darker tone later in the century. Even in the early days there were oppositions because the idea did not make sense scientifically.

Just to make both sides happy, why not call the school by a generic name as 'Jordan' school, the way most parents call it. Then the board can attend more serious stuff that they were elected to pursue.

Posted by seriously?
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 7, 2017 at 7:28 am

"He is, however, siding with the minority-report authors on the renaming of Terman. Rather than rename the school, McGee is recommending that the district "clarify and confirm" that the school is named after not Lewis Terman, an influential Stanford University psychologist and eugenicist, but his son, Frederick Terman, an accomplished electrical engineer."

This is just getting silly now. "Oh, we don't want to go through the expense of re-naming the school, so we'll just change someone with the same name and pretend it wasn't named after the former person!"

Posted by Pragmatic
a resident of Green Acres
on Mar 7, 2017 at 7:53 am

Actually, I think that's a great idea. Frederick Terman isn't just anyone, either, he was the son of Lewis Terman, and one of the reasons Silicon Valley exists, and Stanford exists as a great STEM center and top tier university. People already forget that the school wasn't named after him, we should just make it official.

As for Jordan, I suggest Barbara Jordan as poetic justice, for her civil rights work and for being such a pioneer as a legislator. When I was young, she was a shining light in an extremely sexist culture, when women were regarded in popular culture almost exclusively as sex symbols. She was willing to be a powerful woman when that was reviled. She has long been a s-hero of mine and I would be proud if Jordan were renamed after her.

JLS can stay, is anyone suggesting we rename JLS?

I think this is a positive step, and would fulfill the spirit of the young student's efforts to change the honor to persons with more questionable legacies.

Before renaming, we could even call forth the more beneficial reminders from the previous persons. For example, Lewis Terman supposedly said:
"Bright children are rarely given tasks which call forth their best ability," (I'll say, here.)

Let's atone by remembering and acting on these positive things, interpreted for our kids' benefit, and move on to renaming. (see the district's own vision and remember it says every child.) I think that's a great idea, Max.

Just because it's pragmatic doesn't mean it's a bad idea - there is far too much of that thinking in the district water. Let's show the kids how adults come up with creative solutions. And then all the good the saved money does for them.

Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 7, 2017 at 8:44 am

Will we now be forced to rename Washington D.C. because it was named after our first president -- who also owned slaves?

Will any reference to Thomas Jefferson be removed because he owned slaves?

Leland Stanford Sr. said some offensive things about Chinese Americans. Should that name be changed?

Oklahoma is Chocktaw for "red people." Should the state change its name too?

Henry Ford reportedly said some Anti-Semitic statements.

Albert Einstein was unfaithful to his first wife and then married his first cousin.

If we think long and hard enough (and forget the times in which they lived), we can cultivate modern criticisms for any famous person who has ever had something named after them.

Posted by Deep Sigh
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Mar 7, 2017 at 8:49 am

Don't wate the money! This district can't afford it!

Posted by Public Narcissism
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 7, 2017 at 8:53 am

For Pete's sake, stop wasting time and effort! Keep school names as they are, or do this and end the PC name controversy permanently:

Palo Alto Grade School No. 1, 2, 3, etc.;

Palo Alto Middle School No. 1, 2, etc.; and

Palo Alto High School No. 1, 2.

Posted by What a waste!
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 7, 2017 at 8:55 am

Just waste money, time & effort!! Use the funding to other meaningful projects which benefit the kids, teachers and community.

Posted by Marrol
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Mar 7, 2017 at 8:56 am

A colossal waste of time, money and energy. Yet another example of symbolism over substance. How about placing this emphasis and focus on further strengthening a supportive and positive environment that addresses the mental health well being of our students, and reducing the stigma of mental illness. Another hugely misguided endeavor spurred on by a vocal minority.

Posted by DZ
a resident of Fletcher Middle School
on Mar 7, 2017 at 9:23 am

The answer for the title question is: NO!
It is time to forget your races, try to be an American. Show your love and respect for America, including its history. Let history judge itself. Not those narrow minded people. Let go the darkness in your heart, focus on the future, and spend your time on things that enrich our life. Not just hate!

Posted by AlexDeLarge
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 7, 2017 at 10:25 am

It's too late, the toothpaste is out of the tube. This time consuming waste of money is about to go nuclear. Whadda' expect?

Posted by Glenn & Mary Atwater
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 7, 2017 at 10:33 am

Dear Sirs, Both my husband & I went to schoos to in Palo Alto. We were considering leaving part of our estate to the school system. If this ridiculous naming business succeeds we will think over our estates.
My husband & family owned & operated a dealership Palo Alto. We contributed to the success of Palo Alto. I hate to think what his parents would say if they were alive today.......Shame on the Palo Alto School Board for wasting the money that is being spent on this silly proposal. Jn97zJn97z

Posted by If it's worth doing, it's worth doing well...
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Mar 7, 2017 at 11:24 am

Can think of no better way to spend $200k.
It's not that large an amount. In fact it's not even enough for a down payment for a starter home in our fair city...

But I say, let's not stop here. We have a lot more school names to change and a couple of $200k here and a couple of $200k there and pretty soon you have a million bucks. Now that's some serious money which we could use to make the additional school name changes due to the potential confusion regarding who the schools were named after:

Gunn High School -surely we do not want to be promoting gun violence in our public schools.

Nixon Elementary School - do we really want to use our school to honor a disgraced president?

At $200k a pop, this only gets us to a total of $600k. Any other candidates so we could reach a million?


Posted by 38 year resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 7, 2017 at 11:45 am

The school board and City of Palo Alto waste millions of dollars annually on consultant fees, focus groups, employee salaries and pensions. Why not take some of that money and let the community decide on this issue by putting it to a vote? Is that too much to ask? My guess is that renaming the schools would lose by a landslide and the cost would be a drop in the bucket compared to some of the wasteful spending by the School Board and City.

Write the name change committee and voice your concerns. Call the district office on Churchill (by the way, Winston Churchill advocated eugenics research) and demand they keep things as they are.

Political Correctness has gotten out of control. Sensible people are fed up with this ridiculousness.

Posted by DSJ ?- No its just J
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 7, 2017 at 12:06 pm

like the picture of Jordan on this page shows - the school is really known as "Jordan", no need to change things
Ask students where they go or went to Middle School - the answer will be "Jordan" - NOT David Star Jordan. Is it referred to as DSJ???? similar to the way Jane Lanthrop Stanford is referred to as JLS???
NO it is not - shorten the name to Jordan if you must or close the case and move on and get back to fixing the real issues in this school - class-sizes, bullying, SEL, revolving door of admin., and celebrating the awesomeness of the kids that attend JORDAN and their dedicated teachers

Posted by wasteoftime
a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 7, 2017 at 12:30 pm

For all the comments against the best is to email the school council I am sure they don't read all these comments. As a long time Palo Alto person I find this just so much of a waste of time and especially with all the budget cuts this is the last thing to consider. Don't expect people to want to pay extra taxes for this is the type of nonsense. McGee has lost sight of what really is important and that should be education of the students

Posted by Annie's Biped
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 7, 2017 at 12:39 pm

Good grief! Stop wasting time and money. Keep the school names as they are. Why not use the names as a springboard to discussions about societal changes, turning this whole issue into a teaching moment? Changing the school names is completely unnecessary and a colossal waste of time and money.

Posted by all for one
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 7, 2017 at 1:12 pm


It's named "Terman", not "Termans".


"Frederick Terman isn't just anyone, either, he was the son of Lewis Terman"

Yes, the son of Lewis Terman, a prominent eugenicist.

"and one of the reasons Silicon Valley exists"

Along with William Shockley, another proponent of eugenics.

I don't know enough about him to comment beyond that but unless you can uncover that he actively fought against his father's and peer's opinions, he probably isn't the right person to name a school after. And certainly not the right person to put forward to finesse the need to rename the school.

Posted by empty
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 7, 2017 at 1:46 pm

The flip side, of course, is the message this sends the children in our schools at a time when the basic values of our country seem under attack. As one poster wrote, the toothpaste is out of the tube. So it is. Eugenics was deplorable. Do we really want to tell our kids that we taxpayers have looked at this in detail and decided that it's not worth pursuing - maybe for 20K but not 200K? Perhaps it is a lesson for all of us and this time around, the adults will do their homework much better.

Posted by Nixon Name
a resident of Stanford
on Mar 7, 2017 at 1:49 pm

Lucille M. Nixon School proudly bears the name of an outstanding Palo Alto educator. From 1958 to 1963, Lucille (“Luchi”) Nixon served as consultant for curriculum and instruction for the elementary grades of the Palo Alto Unified School District. She had originally come to the district in 1948 as a classroom teacher. In 1956, she gained international attention when her poetry won her an audience with Japan’s Emperor Hirohito. She met an untimely death in 1963 at the age of 55.

Posted by Me 2
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 7, 2017 at 2:00 pm

Wow. This is, ironically, very much in line with George Orwell's 1984. Governments changing names to paper up history. So strange to hear the complaining that we live in 1984 because of Trump, yet Palo Alto is doing more of that than our federal government.

"The majority of committee members supported a full renaming of Terman, writing in their final report that they "believe that it is virtually impossible to effectively disavow" Lewis' more negative legacy "from the message the school name sends if the surname is retained to honor Frederick.""

Really. So the son continues to pay for the father's sins. How progressive is that?

Some residents (and PAUSD) are a really piece of work.

Posted by Fed Up
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 7, 2017 at 3:29 pm

This effort by the district, and wasting $200k in taxpayer money in doing so, is reason #1,591 on my list of why I am leaving Palo Alto.

Posted by people evolve
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 7, 2017 at 4:01 pm

From M2: "Really. So the son continues to pay for the father's sins. How progressive is that?"

I agree with you that it seems a bit far reaching to do a look back but if those who believe that we need to check family history or even our beliefs from when we were younger have you thoroughly vetted the background or ancestors of each of the individuals of the name change committee?

Posted by observer
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 7, 2017 at 8:59 pm

"It is time to forget your races, try to be an American. Show your love and respect for America, including its history. Let history judge itself. Not those narrow minded people. Let go the darkness in your heart, focus on the future, and spend your time on things that enrich our life. Not just hate!"

Really? Many of us consider ourselves American, but when Jewish tombstones are overturned, and racial profiling persists - it is hard to stomach your comment (and the majority of the posts) for asking those who are most vulnerable to always forgive. It takes both sides for a true reconciliation to occur.

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