News

School board majority supports renaming schools

One trustee worries renaming will distract from deeper issues

A majority of the school board agreed on Tuesday that two of the school district's middle schools should be renamed in light of their namesakes' leadership roles in the eugenics movement.

Recognizing an opposing view in the community — that to rename these schools would be to sever generations of alumni's ties to tradition and history — most board members said that in a public school district in 2017, however, schools cannot carry the names of men who actively advocated for policies grounded in a belief that people of certain races and disabilities were inferior to others.

"We are a public school district committed to educating everyone," said Trustee Jennifer DiBrienza. "I think it is imperative, as a district that espouses a growth mindset and that is working very hard to help all children succeed and reach their potential — I don't want to ask them one more day to walk into a building named after someone that didn't believe that they belonged here."

All five trustees said they support a majority recommendation from a district committee, convened last year to study and make recommendations on the renaming issue, to give David Starr Jordan Middle School a new name, and a majority said they also believe Terman Middle School should be renamed.

Terman's fate is slightly more complicated given its naming history, trustees said Tuesday. Terman was first named after Lewis Terman, a prominent Stanford University psychologist, when the school opened in 1958. When the school later closed and then reopened in 2001, it was named to honor both Lewis and his son, Frederick, an accomplished Stanford electrical engineer. There is no clear evidence, committee members said Tuesday, that Frederick played an active role in or supported the eugenics movement, as Lewis did.

One committee member recommended retaining the Terman name, but making clear that it honors the son, not the father. A majority of the committee recommended against this, arguing that "retaining the surname will not effectively disconnect the school from Lewis and does not effectively disavow his eugenics legacy," committee member and parent Sara Armstrong said Tuesday.

Lillian Hom, the parent of a Jordan eighth-grader, urged the board against taking "half measures," like naming Terman after Frederick or retaining the generic "Jordan" while dropping the full name. Some board members agreed.

"There is a certain convenience to not changing names, but if we were thinking of opening a new school and naming it, would we pick these names?" asked board President Terry Godfrey. "It seems like we would not."

School board member Todd Collins, however, said he was worried throwing out the Terman name entirely "feels like guilt by association."

"I think it's important as we respond to the mistakes of the past, that we not make our own mistakes in our effort to compensate for them," he said.

The board members' feedback followed a series of passionate comments, many personal, from parents and students about the impact of the schools' names. Almost all urged the board to support renaming Jordan and Terman, including unanimous statements of support from the Terman parent-teacher association (PTA) and site council and the Ohlone Elementary School PTA.

Parent Katie Talbot told the board that Jordan and Terman would have not believed in equal opportunity for one of her two sons, a Palo Alto High School special-education student.

"Terman the educator believed that only one of my children could learn, and he was wrong. Jordan, the all-around smart guy, believed that only one of my children should be allowed to have children of his own … and he was wrong, too," she said. "Please show our children that we're not just talking about inclusivity in this district, that we really mean it."

Ofelia Prado said as a Mexican mother of a Jordan seventh-grader, it was "negative and shameful and degrading" to hear that her child's school was named after a eugenicist. (In Jordan's writings, he called Mexicans "ignorant, superstitious, with little self control and no conception of industry or thrift" and also wrote that "to say that one race is superior to another is merely to confirm the common observation of every intelligent citizen.")

"You have to be a minority to feel the extent to which it affects some of us — not everybody, but some of us," Prado told the board.

Don Kenyon, however, who graduated from Jordan in 1951 and whose children and grandchildren also attended the school, argued for keeping the names. He described the positive experience he had at the school and the "superior education" he and others received there.

"Our job is not as a school district … to rewrite history," he said. "Our job is to teach history."

Jordan teacher Daryl Richard, who spoke on behalf of four committee members who penned a minority report against renaming, said that the school names are woven into the identities of generations of students and of Palo Alto itself. Board members acknowledged this on Tuesday, with board member Melissa Baten Caswell suggesting the district honor the community memories tied to the schools in some way if they are renamed.

While condemning the principles of eugenics, Richard, however, argued that renaming is "akin to going for the low-hanging fruit: It is easier to rename a school than change the values of its citizens or to close the achievement gap."

Collins similarly worried that renaming Jordan or Terman would not "move the needle" on the push to better support minority, low-income and special-education students in the district. The actual names of the schools they attend, he said, are less important.

"We have a history in Palo Alto of focusing on things that are of interest to adults, that are afterthoughts for children and a distraction for our district," Collins said.

DiBrienza disagreed.

"Does renaming solve the problem? No. But is it a distraction? No. We are by no means done working on this problem by changing the names," she said.

The renaming committee noted this issue is not unique to Palo Alto; there are examples of how the debate has played out at school districts, colleges and universities across the country. Locally, Stanford is in the midst of its own renaming consideration process, primarily in response to student concerns over campus buildings and streets named after Junipero Serra, the 18th century California mission founder who also led violent conversions of many Native Americans to Christianity. There is also a building at Stanford named after Jordan, the university's first president.

Recently — and notably — Yale University decided to rename an undergraduate residence named for John Calhoun. Calhoun's "legacy as a white supremacist and a national leader who passionately promoted slavery as a 'positive good' fundamentally conflicts with Yale’s mission and values," Yale President Peter Salovey said in a statement.

Noting Palo Alto Unified's "equally irreconcilable disconnect" between its mission and the legacies of Jordan and Terman, committee member and parent Lars Jonsson argued that a public school district must hold itself to an even higher standard. It was Jonsson's grassroots petition to rename Jordan that led to the committee's creation last spring.

"With all due respect to alumni and community members offended by needless and wasteful attempt to rename these two schools, the loss of treasured connections to a school name cannot supersede the need to model and provide a welcoming and inclusive environment to our current and future student generations," he said.

Some board members said the estimated cost of renaming — about $200,000 to cover both schools — is a secondary consideration that would not stop them from voting in support. They also endorsed a committee recommendation to add eugenics history to the secondary schools' curriculum, noting many community members' ignorance, including their own, about Jordan and Terman's connections to the movement. (The committee also recommended that Cubberley Community Center be renamed if it is ever reopened as a school given Elwood Cubberley's promotion of eugenics.)

Many parents urged the board Tuesday night to seize the opportunity to take a visible stand for the values it so often cites: equality, diversity and inclusion.

"I want the school board to remember that all the children are looking at what you do," said parent Rosemary McGuire.

"The time is always ripe to do what is right," she said, quoting Martin Luther King, Jr.

The board will vote on the renaming proposals at its next meeting on Tuesday, March 14. This committee was not charged with suggesting new names for the schools; Superintendent Max McGee has preliminarily recommended that a committee be formed to identify a new name for at least Jordan before next January.

Related content:

Editorial: Renaming schools

---

Follow the Palo Alto Weekly/Palo Alto Online on Twitter @PaloAltoWeekly and Facebook for breaking news, local events, photos, videos and more.

Comments

104 people like this
Posted by teacher
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 8, 2017 at 10:38 am

Imagine what that 200,000 could do:

1. Get a TOSA that actually does something- works with the achievement gap kids. One could be hired for all levels.
2. Hire one or two reading specialists so by the time these kids are in high school they are no longer reading one or two grades below their peers.
3. Make the parent-school liasons that work part time full time and thus make their presence known more on campus for the Spanish speakers
4. Do PD for the Social Studies teachers incorporating local histories

DiBrienza disagreed.

"Does renaming solve the problem? No. But is it a distraction? No. We are by no means done working on this problem by changing the names," she said.

*Put your money where your mouth is. Or maybe the 200,000 could be spent on T-shirts with a nice slogan. PAUSD does that real good.





90 people like this
Posted by just don't get it
a resident of Southgate
on Mar 8, 2017 at 10:54 am

As a long ago graduate of Jordan and Paly my question is: What about the majority of the citizens?? This is about a community and not just a few on a board or committee!!!! This is an important issue that should be put to the citizens that are affected!!!!


67 people like this
Posted by allen
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 8, 2017 at 11:21 am

Stupid. We have a government that is destroying the Department of Education, the EPA, and State Department and we are worrying about renaming schools.


35 people like this
Posted by DZ
a resident of Terman Middle School
on Mar 8, 2017 at 11:38 am

Wow, is that the picture of the education board?
Not a very diverse group that I can tell! Definitely not representing the student population here.
No wonder why they are not listening to the reset of community.
Just made me want to find out more how they even get their positions!


26 people like this
Posted by John Jacobs
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 8, 2017 at 11:50 am

Although P.A.U.S.D. has a stellar academic reputation, there are many factors, most of them subtle, which negatively impact kids who are different in any way. I'm thankful to Lars Jonsson and all of the committee members for their dedication to eliminating one of these factors in our schools, and congratulate the School Board for supporting the committee's work, knowing that there will be some who loudly oppose.


25 people like this
Posted by PLZ
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Mar 8, 2017 at 11:53 am

Come on people, 200K is nothing compared to the budget the district has. That's why we vote for these people to represent us and make these decisions that can't be put out for a vote every single time. If you have a problem, then run for the school board.


14 people like this
Posted by Mike Alexander
a resident of St. Claire Gardens
on Mar 8, 2017 at 11:58 am

I don't have a strong opinion about these school names. If the community wants them changed, plan to do so. Add this to the wish-list of things that should be done when the District solves its budget problems.


51 people like this
Posted by Susan
a resident of College Terrace
on Mar 8, 2017 at 12:04 pm

For those who are disgusted by this waste of PAUSD money, I suggest you opt out of the parcel tax, if you are qualified to do so. See the following link:

Web Link

I have already done so.


22 people like this
Posted by EL
a resident of JLS Middle School
on Mar 8, 2017 at 12:27 pm

Susan,

PAUSD has been a big benefit for all of us by increasing our property values because of the good schools in our City. If we all had the same attitude you have, PAUSD not be as good as it is and our property would be worth half of what it currently is.


57 people like this
Posted by Susan
a resident of College Terrace
on Mar 8, 2017 at 12:37 pm

@ EL: Palo Alto has high property values because we are next to Stanford, period. PAUSD is forced to cut costs, yet it votes to spend $200k on a name change? Beam me up, Scotty!


48 people like this
Posted by Do More Than That
a resident of Jordan Middle School
on Mar 8, 2017 at 12:44 pm

Does the board know what the real problem is? No I don't think so - truly experience Jordan as parent, student, or staff and maybe you will understand that the renaming is a distraction from addressing the problems at Jordan that actually do affect the way kids feel when they walk through the doors of school and for that matter how they feel when they leave. Experience having a child in PAUSD MS and the size of the classes, the lack of connection between teachers and their 125 plus students, the revolving door of administrators, the bullying - students mouthing off to teachers w/out repercussions, students that threaten other students - ineffective teachers that shouldn't be teaching, good teachers that care but don't get consistent support.

Tell us you will have budget to successfully address those items first because its what's inside the campus that counts more than the name.


51 people like this
Posted by Jane Gill
a resident of Professorville
on Mar 8, 2017 at 12:45 pm


I think the schools in question should be renamed in honor of two current progressive thinkers: the "Al Gore School" (after the author of "An Inconvenient Truth) and the "Michael Mann School" (after the Penn State scientist who created the "Hockey Stick" model of global warming).

That way, in the year 2117, after these two progressives have had their ideas either debunked or found to be politically incorrect (as happened to the eugenics progressive proponents), the Palo Alto School System can go through this ridiculous exercise once again.


67 people like this
Posted by retired guy who follows the schools
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 8, 2017 at 12:51 pm

Hey, a shout-out to, for, Todd Collins--the only board member with his head on straight about this one.

For heaven's sake lets spend our time and money on bigger issues!


101 people like this
Posted by Jordan parent
a resident of Professorville
on Mar 8, 2017 at 12:53 pm

For me, the worst is not even the waste of money. It's the fact they DO NOT listen to the majority. For the sake of PC, they ignore common sense.
Let's rename our capital too, because George Washington ... you know ...

Do not expect any donations from me any more.


55 people like this
Posted by focus on better educatio
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 8, 2017 at 12:55 pm

So much time and effort focused on changing the school names, rather than addressing the poor education our kids receive in the Palo Alto public elementary and middle schools. Their ratings are only this high because of the resources parents pour into their kids' learning/tutoring outside of school. But the administration seems to rest on their laurels and past reputation, as it is much easier to be distracted by school names, rather than address the weak academics.


52 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 8, 2017 at 1:07 pm

This really saddens me.

On a day when teachers are not in school when they should be teaching the future generation and when PAUSD can't manage its budget, they go on about this and call it a good thing.

I personally don't believe in calling schools, buildings, bridges or anything else after a person, but I certainly don't believe in changing names for political correctness. There are few people on the planet who have nobody who could criticize them for something. The name of the school is the name of the school for traditional reasons and will remain.

However, the biggest reason this is sad is because on the one hand PAUSD is trying to find ways to save money and on the other hand they are saying that the cost of changing school names has nothing to do with the equation! And these people are supposed to be educating the future generation. I don't think so. I would prefer they educate our children and show them how to be fiscally responsible with the money they have and how we can learn from history rather than attempt to change it. Two valuable lessons.


43 people like this
Posted by ChrisC
a resident of College Terrace
on Mar 8, 2017 at 1:13 pm

So stupid. Sad.


86 people like this
Posted by No more $ from me
a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 8, 2017 at 2:25 pm

If this gets approved I will not donate one more penny to PTA or PIE causes. This is a waste of money when they are having a hard time managing the budget. The majority does not want this but we are not going to attend a board meeting to say this is stupid. READ these posts Board members and understand that this small group decided this with no budget constraints in mind. I will not support the schools again if they pass this. Maybe an email campaign from the majority to the board would help the board understand how PIE and PTA donations will suffer?


59 people like this
Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 8, 2017 at 3:00 pm

It sounds like Palo Alto might need a new school board. This ridiculous waste of time and money over what amounts to the latest hysteria of the moment should not be forgotten when choosing board members.


75 people like this
Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 8, 2017 at 3:31 pm

@ PLZ:

That is just the problem. These elected individuals are supposed to REPRESENT the community and not their own sociopolitical or economic views.

I suspect that a poll taken of Palo Alto residents would indicate that the vast majority of Palo Alto residents believe that this is a ridiculous waste of time and money.

Unfortunately, like many politicians, they are elected to represent us but too often ignore what we think.

If they are so concerned about the views of some long-deceased person had in 1925, then encourage the teachers or (preferably) the parents to explain that the person did much good but had a glaring view that was somewhat widespread among academics and social activists prior to the Second World War.

There will always be points in time in which society changes its mind about how acceptable something is. The Kennedy family had a daughter permanently disabled by forcing her to have a lobotomy. At one point during his life, Nelsen Mandela advocated the use of violence. Many of the founding fathers of the United States owned slaves. At one point, Abraham Lincoln favored sending freed slaves back to Africa through a colonization effort and argued that they were "incompatible" with the rest of society.

If you've ever read the Bible, many of the heroes contained within its pages had some glaring moral deficiencies. Moses beat a man to death. King David killed a man. Solomon had a thousand wives/concubines. Jacob was a deceiver. Mary Magdalene was a prostitute. The Bible doesn't gloss over some of the failures of those individuals. In fact, it humanizes them. Readers don't forget the failures. They simply understand that people moved past them.

Why am I saying this? Some good people have also had skeletons in their closets or even in full view by the public.

A faulty set of beliefs -- especially if such beliefs were widespread in terms of history -- don't necessarily negate the good that someone has done. Most of these people were part of the "norm" for their times. Our grandparents probably disciplined our parents in ways that are deemed "cruel" or even "child abuse" nowadays. Yet, those things were normal in their time.

Why can't parents or even school handbooks explain the good, bad and ugly of the people of which these schools are named? They might even learn something from it.


26 people like this
Posted by Steve Frake
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Mar 8, 2017 at 3:54 pm

Terman is Terman and Jordan is Jordan. The schools' names will remain for graduates/alumnae no matter what the offended school board members do. Eugenics? I wonder how many of those offended school board members voted last November for a recipient of the Margaret Sanger award...,


52 people like this
Posted by Aggravated taxpayer
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 8, 2017 at 4:00 pm

Exhibit A of why the general public is fed up with extreme liberals.


27 people like this
Posted by Can't wait to leave
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 8, 2017 at 4:12 pm

@ EL and every other resident of Palo Alto who believes that your high property values are attributable to PAUSD: you are wrong.

After about one hour of internet research, you will easily locate public school districts, and high schools in particular, that are equally and higher ranked than PAUSD in areas with a much lower cost of living than Palo Alto. In fact, one can easily stay in California and find a high school that outranks Gunn, but with a house that's twice as big, and half the cost, of Palo Alto.

We have two factors to thank for our high property values. The first is Google, Facebook, Apple and the other tech companies that are growing and hiring (i.e., high demand). The second are the natural barriers of the Bay to our east and the mountains to our west that prevent construction of new housing (i.e., low supply).


6 people like this
Posted by taxpayer
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Mar 8, 2017 at 4:49 pm

What happened to selling the name rights?


15 people like this
Posted by former pa res
a resident of another community
on Mar 8, 2017 at 5:27 pm

If cost is the problem, or worry that the $200,000 is to be taken from school budgets, have the proponents of the changes solicit donations to cover it. There are people in the community who could literally write one check to make this happen and to clear the negative history associated with the school names.


48 people like this
Posted by Doug Lusk
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 8, 2017 at 5:50 pm

Well that does it for me. No more donations to PIE or PAUSD for me. Incredible decision in light of our budget issues. I guess they really don't need my money any more.


11 people like this
Posted by taxpayer
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Mar 8, 2017 at 5:51 pm

If I wrote that check, would you let me select the name?


40 people like this
Posted by it's not too late
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Mar 8, 2017 at 6:02 pm

write the school board with your thoughts. don't let the vocal minority win this vote. Are we really going to allow the use of funds for this?

Web Link


24 people like this
Posted by this sums it up
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 8, 2017 at 6:12 pm

this is how our school board thinks about our children:

"Some board members said the estimated cost of renaming — about $200,000 to cover both schools — is a secondary consideration that would not stop them from voting in support. "

so spending money on this is SECONDARY to spending money to educate our kids


14 people like this
Posted by Nancy
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 8, 2017 at 6:30 pm

To each person upset about the school renaming, I invite you to come listen to the pain expressed so eloquently by our middle school students about attending - every day - a school named for someone who did not believe in their value, their worth, and their potential.

The students' daily humiliation of wearing PE clothes bearing the name of someone who wanted them segregated into inferior classes.

The students' daily degradation of using books imprinted with the name of someone who didn't think they could possibly succeed by reading a book.

Just know - these students read your comments. You are giving them an "education" no parent wishes for a child.


25 people like this
Posted by Rename JLS too!
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 8, 2017 at 6:32 pm

Web Link

Governor Leland Stanford, in his Message to the California Legislature in 1862, said:

"To my mind, it is clear that the settlement among us of an inferior race is to be discouraged by every legitimate means. Asia, with her numberless millions, sends to our shores the dregs of her population."

This was the first official utterance from any public man anywhere in favor of Chinese exclusion, and in a short time it became a national question.

Wow, and Jane Stanford was his wife?? How did they miss that one?! The schools are over 40% Asian (though that renaming committee, not so much). If we can name a school after Louis Stanford's son, how can we name one after Leland "Anti-Asian" Stanford's wife?


28 people like this
Posted by this sums it up
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 8, 2017 at 6:42 pm

Nancy- if you feel so strongly about it figure out a way to pay for it. I certainly don't condone the opinions of Jordan but money could be spent for better purposes.


19 people like this
Posted by Hoover was a racist too
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 8, 2017 at 6:47 pm

Let's not forget Hoover:

- worst president ever (well, before Bush II and Trump)
- stone cold racist

Did this committee actually do its research? Or were they just stuck on eugenics?

In his Principles of Mining, for example, published in 1909, Hoover [wrote that] white workers were of a higher "mental order" and possessed higher "intelligence" than "Asiatics and Negroes [sic]." "Much observation," he continued, "leads the writer to the conclusion that, averaging actual results, one white man equals from two to three of the colored races, even in the simplest forms of mine work such as shoveling or tramming.'"

HERBERT HOOVER WAS CONSIDERED A RACIST BY MANY OF HIS black contemporaries. W. E. B. Dubois, the great civil rights leader, charged Hoover with being an undemocratic racist who saw blacks as a species of "sub-men."' Walter White, the Executive Director of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) during Hoover's presidency, contemptuously referred to Hoover as "the man in the lily-White House."^ Even Robert R. Moton, the conservative successor to Booker T. Washington as political advisor to Republican presidents on the "race question," came to believe that by his actions as president. Hoover had shown his contempt for blacks. Web Link


33 people like this
Posted by need a safe zone
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 8, 2017 at 6:53 pm

i'm surrounded by racist street names close to Duveneck- Jefferson, Jackson , Madison. Someone please change the names!!


34 people like this
Posted by PA's PC selective outrage
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 8, 2017 at 7:03 pm

While the school board is at it, how can the board let pass Paly High Vikings when it's long been beyond dispute that Vikings raped, pillaged, plundered, indeed terrorized, much of Northern Europe?

For example, below is a link to a scholarly science/archeology website article, which includes a foreign (non-Viking) explorer's eye-witness account of a ritualistic gang rape and killing of a Viking chieftain's slave girl.

Web Link

The above link also includes a more fulsome eye-witness account of the ritual in a further link to a scholarly journal.

Now, what was it that Jordan/Terman did by comparison to Paly's namesake Vikings?

How selective this town is in its PC outrage.


52 people like this
Posted by bye bye Miss American PIE
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 8, 2017 at 7:14 pm

On Jan 12th I received an email from Kim Diorio , Principal of Play decrying the fact PIE donations were down from last year.

Kim- your support of 30 teachers walking out of class today, the school board's inclination to spend over $200k on school renaming should give you a clue on why donations are down. People are feed up with wasted money.


18 people like this
Posted by Susan
a resident of College Terrace
on Mar 8, 2017 at 7:16 pm

Cesar Chavez called Mexican undocumented immigrants "wetbacks" and "illegals". He opposed and stopped agriculture technology, which would alleviate stoop labor (essentially slave labor). He ended up a supporter of Chuck Dederich, a crazy white dude who started a cult which threatened its opponents with rattlesnakes.

Surely, we can agree to remove his name from any of our public schools and street names.


59 people like this
Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 8, 2017 at 7:53 pm

@ Nancy: Are middle school students mature enough to decide that something truly "offends" them? I was a very mature middle school student. However, my parents' views often had a habit of becoming my own at that age.

I watched an interview with a college student who felt that he was transgender when he was a child. His adopted parents caught him dressing in his sister's clothing when he was like three or four years old and somehow this became an assumption. He said that his parents encouraged him to wear "girl's clothes." Before long, his wardrobe was filled with it. He said that his perspective changed when he reached pubescence and began liking girls. He said that he had to convince his parents to buy him "boy clothes."

If these middle school children do voice "pain" about the name, then how many of them are simply projecting what their parents or others in authority tell them? I don't think that the parents thought that they were incorrect with their son. However, people sometimes project their own hopes, desires and, yes, sociopolitical issues on their children, grandchildren, students, etc.

I just wonder how nurtured this "pain" truly might be.


56 people like this
Posted by props
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Mar 8, 2017 at 8:00 pm

I have to agree with Nayell's last post. seems like kids are being used by parents to further their agenda. My kids of mixed marriage somehow didn't feel the "pain" of going to a school named Jordan. They were rightly focussed on other things like learning the three R's. Somehow they survived the horrific experience of wearing Jordan gym clothes.


44 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 8, 2017 at 8:12 pm

A very effective distraction from the real problems facing the district. It works every time: you sidestep your difficult issues by noisily doing something meaningless.


52 people like this
Posted by Palo alto home owner
a resident of Palo Verde
on Mar 8, 2017 at 8:13 pm

Please do not waste my hard earned money( tax ) on this school rename.

It's ridiculous.

Please use the money on our students.


47 people like this
Posted by parent
a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 8, 2017 at 8:17 pm

What a complete waste of time and money. Really, PAUSD could spend that money in so many more useful ways. Looks like I wasted my votes for school board this year.


41 people like this
Posted by what to do
a resident of Green Acres
on Mar 8, 2017 at 8:23 pm

For those parents angry over this decision I suggest the following. Send a note to the School Board saying if this is approved and funds redirected from educating our kids to paying for new signage, new gym uniforms, new letterhead then you won't donate any more money to PAUSD. That is the only way to get their attention.


47 people like this
Posted by 38 year resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 8, 2017 at 8:28 pm

This quote is by Lars Jonsson, the father of a student who stumbled upon a link to eugenics theory associated with David Starr Jordan while researching the history of his school. "With all due respect to alumni and community members offended by needless and wasteful attempt to rename these two schools, the loss of treasured connections to a school name cannot supersede the need to model and provide a welcoming and inclusive environment to our current and future student generations."

Really? Students attending Jordan have been welcomed and included for decades. Are we to presume that this will suddenly change now that this tidbit of history has been revealed? You really have to take a giant leap into fantasy land if you come to this conclusion.

This is another case of political correctness run amok. One squeaky wheel, who now has limited support from very few members of the community will get greased, to the dismay of the majority of Palo Alto residents.

The Palo Alto School District and the city waste hundreds of thousands of dollars annually (if not more) on consultant fees, focus groups, unnecessary employees, salaries and pensions. Why not take some of that money and put it to a vote?

My guess is that this proposal would lose by a landslide. The school board doesn't have the courage to put it on a ballot for fear their feel good notion of progressivism would be soundly rejected. Enough already.


28 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 8, 2017 at 8:29 pm

"Now, what was it that Jordan/Terman did by comparison to Paly's namesake Vikings?"

Eugenics. They did eugenics.

We're into the eugenics thing this round. Pillage rape and murder--some other time perhaps.


38 people like this
Posted by biased from the start
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 8, 2017 at 8:39 pm

I mentioned this in a post a few months ago but it is worth repeating. Many of you will remember getting a survey last summer from the renaming committee about renaming the schools.

As part of their charter, the committee was tasked with soliciting feedback from the community on this issue . The survey asked a lot of questions about HOW the schools should be renamed but didn't bother to ask an obvious question, IF they should be renamed. My efforts to get an answer why this question was omitted was never answered by Max McGee, School Board members or the committee.

So right from the start this was biased. A shameful process.


42 people like this
Posted by 38 year resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 8, 2017 at 8:49 pm

Nancy...who is feeding these children with the information that causes them the "pain" you describe? And how many are there? One, Two, Three? Can you give us a true number? Are their parents progressive activists (my guess)? How much pain were they in before this became an "issue" and no one knew or cared about David Starr Jordan's short lived history regarding the theory of eugenics? How badly were they degraded and humiliated before this information came to light? How much of Jordan's full background has been revealed to these "suffering" children? I'm referring to the background that demonstrates his accomplishments and contributions to society, which is quite extensive.

I'm happy that students read these comments. Maybe they'll begin to question the absurdity of this fiasco after reading the majority of opinions on this thread. Maybe they'll question why they're being provided with one small slice of a person's history while ignoring the rest. Maybe they'll come to realize that they can form their own opinions without the undue influence of their parents. Maybe they don't even care.


42 people like this
Posted by 38 year resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 8, 2017 at 8:54 pm

@biased from the start.....of course the school board didn't ask the big question. It wouldn't fit their progressive agenda. Shameful is a perfect description. They don't want any input from the people who pay their salaries. Just jam it down our throats.


24 people like this
Posted by 38 year resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 8, 2017 at 9:20 pm

@ John Jacobs....Please give me one example of how David Starr Jordan's interest in eugenics decades ago, has had a negative impact on students in the last 40 years, or ever.

Most people didn't even know of this part of his life until very recently, including members of the school board, faculty and staff. Your statement is illogical.


1 person likes this
Posted by need to say it again
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 8, 2017 at 9:32 pm

I'm not the first to suggest this, but name Terman after Lewis Terman and name Jordan after Barbara Jordan, and you save the costs of updating most signage and don't have to change names that alumni associate with the schools (chances are very good that the vast majority could not have said who Jordan was named for until this controversy came up. I, for one, would be much happier living in a community that did not overtly memorialize eugenicists.


22 people like this
Posted by lack of knowledge
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 8, 2017 at 10:23 pm

Nancy - text books are not stamped with the name of DSJ nor are their PE cloths - the items are branded Jordan. Most books simply say PAUSD. Jordan's a fine name,I' sure many have friends named Jordan! The thing they may feel humiliated about in their PE clothes are possibly their skinny legs or their time in the mile.

Honestly the humiliation should be that they have a smart, educated School Board that did not use their intelligence in this case.
The real intelligence is on this thread and the humiliated students could learn a lot from the smart, thorough and knowledgeable posts.


37 people like this
Posted by Sanctimonious City
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 8, 2017 at 10:24 pm

Whatever the new names for the schools will be, let's make sure one of the new mascots will be a kangaroo. Because this process was a kangaroo court if there ever was one.

The other school mascot should probably be called the cuttlefish. Like the special cells in the cepholopod's skin called chromatophores which allow them to flash different colors, liberal progressives have special capabilities called political correctophores that allow them to rapidly virtue signal while spending other people's money.


7 people like this
Posted by RIght move
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 8, 2017 at 11:04 pm

I like the change, and also wonder if the cost estimates are a bit high. Some of the items that need to be changed or replaced would need to be changed or replaced in the near future anyways. So, they may be changed sooner than necessary, and the cost of replacing them later may be avoided. In any case, eugenics is incompatible with our values and if change is uncomfortable and has a price, well, we'll all survive. Kudos to the committee members and board trustees who recognize what's right is right even when it's not the most popular move.


8 people like this
Posted by midtown resident
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 8, 2017 at 11:04 pm

Remember when some Jordan students brought back the Dolphin mascot for a couple of years? Lol...


11 people like this
Posted by Eugenics was a progressive cause
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 9, 2017 at 12:05 am

Lest we forget, eugenics was a popular "progressive" cause in its era.

Progressives believed that scientific experts should be in society’s saddle, determining “human hierarchy” and appropriate social policies, including eugenics. See “Illiberal Reformers: Race, Eugenics & American Economics in the Progressive Era" by Thomas Leonard (Princeton University), 2016, as described in a WaPo opinion piece today.

The WaPo piece points out further: Progressives rejected the (USA) Founders’ natural-rights doctrine and conception of freedom. Progressives said freedom is not the natural capacity of individuals whose rights preexist government. Rather, freedom is something achieved, at different rates and to different degrees, by different races.

I suppose the progressive, scientific experts of the era of eugenics--if speaking today's vernacular--would characterize our inalienable rights including life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as an "alt-fact".

Forward! Follow!


7 people like this
Posted by InconvenientTroof
a resident of another community
on Mar 9, 2017 at 5:31 am

[Post removed.]


2 people like this
Posted by Making fun of Vikings
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 9, 2017 at 8:17 am

Re Vikings. That's a great point. Didn't anybody check with the descendants of actual vikings to see if they were offended by the insensitive, stereotypical appropriation of their heritage for a mascot? How would you feel if the mascot was Guido the organ grinder or Paddy the potato eater? How is this any different from native American mascots?


1 person likes this
Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 9, 2017 at 11:29 am

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

How is it different? Good question.

I suppose the fact that teasing references to the Viking identity have not been raised to the level of serious bullying and marginalization so far as I'm aware. Perhaps you have some examples.

In Montana, where I grew up, we played against the Browning Indians. Today my hometown Coyotes meet the Lodge Grass Indians in the State B tournament. There's plenty of prejudice and discrimination against native people, but not against the mascots of schools with a predominance of native students. Unlike Stanford and many other schools, they can keep the Indian without being scorched for misappropriation of a cultural symbol.

When I visited my grandparents' village of Undredal, Norway, I found out that ancestors on that side were farmers who traditionally went "a'viking" when times were tough. I had never before seen the connection. For what it's worth, as a "descendant of actual vikings" I'm not offended by the Viking mascot because I've never felt my self-worth attacked through its use. Others may feel differently. Carry on, Paly. Go, Vikings!


Like this comment
Posted by Miriam Palm
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 9, 2017 at 12:01 pm

Miriam Palm is a registered user.

Jerry, this is off topic, but I have to say Go Shelby! My husband is from Chinook. I wonder if any sugar beets would be offended by this discussion.


11 people like this
Posted by Jane Gill
a resident of Professorville
on Mar 9, 2017 at 12:27 pm


A good number of the young American GIs who fought in and won World War II had beliefs that by today's standards would be labeled as "racist," "bigoted," and "homophobic."

Gasp!

If the wise leaders of the Palo Alto School Board had their way, they would probably forfeit our blood-soaked victory in WW II because of these young men's unenlightened views.


19 people like this
Posted by Chip
a resident of Professorville
on Mar 9, 2017 at 1:41 pm

I don't believe that children got upset or have been traumatized by attending schools named after historical (local or national) figures who held incorrect beliefs long-since outdated & discredited. This frenzy, like many witch hunts, is being manufactures and pushed by adults of very liberal belief who get off on creating discord & agitating to satisfy their own egos in the name of political correctness. I'm fed up.

There won't be any more money from me for PAUSD if this ridiculous name change actually goes through. I'll file to get my parcel tax exemption too. School board, please stop trying to satisfy the excessively emotional, manufactured melodrama of the whiners. Spend your time on educational issues and stop feeding the trolls.

As other people have said, maybe we need to give the state of Washington a new name, rename all the schools and parks currently called "Cesar Chavez" and bring back good old Army Street. Then we can start in on eliminating everything else named after historical figures who've violated current views of political correctness or morality, not all of whom are caucasian.


9 people like this
Posted by Ridiculous indeed!!!
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 9, 2017 at 2:11 pm

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


Like this comment
Posted by Making fun of Vikings
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 9, 2017 at 2:22 pm

@Jerry Underdal, it's a problem whether actual Vikings are offended by cultural appropriation / ridiculousness, or whether we should be offended by the Vikings. Here's a recent article from National Geographic: (Web Link)

Kinder, Gentler Vikings? Not According to Their Slaves
New clues suggest slaves were vital to the Viking way of life—and argue against attempts to soften the raiders’ brutish reputation.


6 people like this
Posted by perhaps not too late!
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 9, 2017 at 2:33 pm

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


Like this comment
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 9, 2017 at 4:09 pm

"When I visited my grandparents' village of Undredal, Norway, I found out that ancestors on that side were farmers who traditionally went "a'viking" when times were tough."

So you think pillage, rape, and murder are a proper thing to do when times get "tough"? Do your neighbors know that?

"... as a "descendant of actual vikings" I'm not offended by the Viking mascot because I've never felt my self-worth attacked through its use."

I would rethink my self-worth if I learned my ancestors were pillagers, rapists, and murderers. Even if it was only as a diversion during "tough" times. Do you teach your children to be proud of their antecedents' activities?

I think someone with a less tainted foregeniture should be pushing this rename thing. Or someone properly penitent in the context of contemporary sensibilities.


12 people like this
Posted by stanhutchings
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 9, 2017 at 5:53 pm

stanhutchings is a registered user.

As a minority of one on the RSAC, I continually brought up many of the issues in these posts.
You can read my research on David Starr Jordan at Web Link. Yes, he did believe in Eugenics because the scientific evidence at the time supported breeding for good traits (positive genetics) and culling for bad traits (negative genetics). This has been done since prehistory (think dogs, cats and horses, plus many foods). Subsequent research has shown the science was incomplete; indeed, it would seem racial homogenization would be the ideal (think healthy mongrel dogs vs. pure breeds with a variety of problems). But Jordan was NOT a one-dimensional eugenicist; he had MANY other admirable qualities, worthy of emulation by students, teachers and citizens. My opinion (not shared by the rest of the RSAC) is that Jordan was trying to improve the quality of Americans. This is evident in many of his other endeavors listed in my research.
My major objections to renaming schools were:
1. the budget overrun voted by the Board, precludes any additional expenditures until there is a surplus.
2. There are MANY (I listed 18) other issues that I believe should be addressed BEFORE renaming is considered.
3. There is no real evidence that renaming will have a significant effect on the schools' environment. Even Dr. Brown, the psychologist who talked to the RSAC about discrimination, alienation, rejection, etc. suffered by students could not say for sure renaming would have any effect (but it might). Other issues have much greater promise of improving students school experience. Renaming is a band-aid to distract from the much deeper and serious problems of attitudes held and expressed by staff and fellow students.
4. As long as we were considering renaming for beliefs held, I recommended Walter Hays, a Presbyterian minister, should not have a school named after him. It would offend believers of any different religion. Just to remind you, Presbyterians believe only they are saved; the believers of other religions are damned to Hell. Also, some American Presbyterian bodies still condemn same-sex sexual behavior as incompatible with Biblical morality. The Orthodox Presbyterian Church views homosexual orientation as itself sinful.
The Ohlone Indians do not have much to recommend them as models for our children to emulate. Many of their beliefs and practices would be repugnant to our community, and would not be in compliance with the district’s vision statement, mission statement and strategic goals.
Previous posts brought up Hoover and JLS.
5. Despite the many negative comments expressed in Town Hall discussions, Superintendent Max McGee said in an email, "Just to be clear we at PAUSD do not give any credence whatsoever at any time under any circumstance to any anonymous comments published online in any venue. During a final review of the presentation, if any are in there, I will have to delete them. Signed comments are a different story and we will keep what you include.
Max"
The moral is, write to the school board at board@pausd.org with your real name and address and express your views. Encourage everyone who shares your view to write to the board. And attend the next board meeting when the board will vote on the RSAC recommendation, Tuesday March 14 at 6:30 and tell the board what you think.
You can read the presentation the RSAC made to the Board here: Web Link
Remember, the squeaky wheel gets the grease, those who speak up get heard while the silent majority is ignored. It's up to you...


4 people like this
Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 9, 2017 at 5:53 pm

Hi, Curmuge,

What a refreshingly negative take on the notion of Nordic supremacy that animated David Starr Jordan and fellow American eugenicists. Have at it! My first encounter with the Vikings in history was in a medieval history class taught by Stanford Prof Gavin Langmuir. I couldn't imagine, what it would be like to have a connection with such brutal people, terrorizing and raiding as you mention. The next was in Anatole Mazur's classes on Russian history, where I learned about their trading empire extending to Byzantium. So: warriors, traders and then finally, when I visited Norway, I saw that Vikings were also farmers and goat herders with families, some of whom went off to raid, others of whom stayed home. In short, a complex, multifaceted culture, as they all are, with a history that had added interest because of the ancestral link to a time and place less familiar than the setting for Garrison Keillor's tales from Lake Woebegone.

Thanks, Making Fun, for triggering recollections of how I learned about the Vikings.


10 people like this
Posted by Making fun of Vikings
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 9, 2017 at 6:45 pm

@Jerry Underdal, you are certainly not a brutish Viking! They were/are interesting people, just like just about every other person and culture. But, if we take offense easily, they are problematic mascots or symbols, based on the legitimately terrible things they did. It seems better to accept that there is good and bad in everyone's history, and try to exclude only the truly unredeemable. Witch hunts almost always find witches to burn; but we are rarely better off for the burning.


Like this comment
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 9, 2017 at 7:22 pm

"What a refreshingly negative take on the notion of Nordic supremacy that animated David Starr Jordan and fellow American eugenicists. ...Vikings were also farmers and goat herders with families, some of whom went off to raid, others of whom stayed home."

Nice tap dance, but you're still wearing the albatross, and your hole is even deeper.

Your zeal to shed the legacy of your ancestors is understandable, but taking down a defenseless scholarly giant won't do it. Even if you succeed.

So, from a wise teacher: let him who is without sin throw the first rock.

Now drop it.


11 people like this
Posted by Bob
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 9, 2017 at 7:52 pm

As a 53 year resident who attended Ortega,Addison,Walter-Hays,Jordan and Paly I never felt the pain that Nancy describes her students feel while entering their school??? I have very fond memories which will be forever erased by this action it seems so callous and so un-democratic but its no surprise. I was once told that extreme progressives actually target school boards because of how much power and influence they can wield and it wont matter if there voted out the damage will be done forever. I to will never donate to a district that doesn't put kids first (see Paly Walk-out)this town used to be Mayberry a great place to grow up I just ask myself what happened?


1 person likes this
Posted by jerry underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 9, 2017 at 10:33 pm

Curmugeon,

I look forward to hearing your full comments if you would present them at the board meeting next Tuesday. At the study session, which was broadly noticed to the public, the board heard from very few residents who opposed renaming and many who gave compelling reasons for why the names should be changed.

As Supt. McGee laid out in the email cited by Stan Hutchings, "Just to be clear we at PAUSD do not give any credence whatsoever at any time under any circumstance to any anonymous comments published online in any venue." Please come and share your ideas where they may have an impact.


Like this comment
Posted by Phony
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 9, 2017 at 10:38 pm

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


5 people like this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Mar 10, 2017 at 12:04 am

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


9 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 10, 2017 at 5:41 pm

"I look forward to hearing your full comments if you would present them at the board meeting next Tuesday."

C'mon. I was born at night, but it wasn't last night.

Speaking at a public meeting is the least effective action one can take in this town. By meeting time the board--or council--members have made up their minds. Public oral input is a pro-forma nuisance required by law, and they cannot wait to get it over with. I could go on and on, based on personal experience as a participant and observer. Do not waste your time on this meaningless gesture.

To have any chance of being heard, write a succinct letter a week in advance of the meeting; proportionately longer if the issue is an ongoing one like this. That's what I do.


"Just to be clear we at PAUSD do not give any credence whatsoever at any time under any circumstance to any anonymous comments published online in any venue."

Too bad, because those comments tend to be the meatiest and most candid. Another reason PAUSD continually lurches from one costly embarrassing disaster to the next?


11 people like this
Posted by stanhutchings
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 13, 2017 at 10:34 am

stanhutchings is a registered user.

Tuesday March 14 at 6:30, 25 Churchill Avenue the School Board will be voting on their final decision on whether to rename (or not) Jordan and Terman Middle Schools.
Those in favor are expected to turn out in large numbers. If you are opposed, best email board@pausd.org, or phone ((650) 329-3737) the School Board before the meeting, or attend in person.
I suggest asking 1) specifically what programs will be sacrificed to rename the schools? 2) what is the maximum amount of a] funds and b] staff time that will be diverted from other programs? 3) what metrics support the assertion that changing school names will improve students' academic experience 4) how will the effects of the name changes be measured to prove that positive results were worth the cost, and justified diversion of staff time and district funds from other programs?


10 people like this
Posted by Put renaming on ballot
a resident of Jordan Middle School
on Mar 15, 2017 at 8:04 pm

I am an immigrant and my kid is in Jordan. He never feels any pain as an immigrant and feel welcome and happy everyday. If school district has money, please put it on the students, teachers, facilities (by the way, he complains that Jordan restroom is dirty and stinky). It is a decision should be made by the community and the residents who pay for school, not a few board members. Put it on the ballot and let PEOPLE VOTE!


12 people like this
Posted by Please email BOARD
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Mar 15, 2017 at 9:26 pm

Dear fellow neighbors,

The board will make decision for Palo Alto community this Friday. Please email them your opinion before then, just in case they still remember they are not our boss, but we pay their salary to work for us!


2 people like this
Posted by allen
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 15, 2017 at 9:55 pm

Please rename Terman Middle School for the great engineer Frederick Terman. Then call it Terman Middle School. There is no one more deserving.


Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.

Email:


Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: * Not sure?

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields

Vina Enoteca to serve first 'Impossible burger' in Silicon Valley
By Elena Kadvany | 21 comments | 7,392 views

Coupon for Yourself and Your Partner
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 2,151 views

Housing Impact Fees and the Economy
By Steve Levy | 2 comments | 908 views

Planning for College Tours
By John Raftrey and Lori McCormick | 0 comments | 416 views

 

2017 guide to summer camps

Looking for something for the kids to do this summer, learn something new and have fun? The 2017 Summer Camp Guide features local camps for all ages and interests.

Find Camps Here