News

Community group demands Ravenswood school district retain Cesar Chavez name

City Councilman Ruben Abrica, school board officials, parents among attendees

The name of the new middle school that will operate at the Cesar Chavez Academy campus in East Palo Alto will be the chief topic of a community meeting organized by the Latino advocacy group Comunidad Unida on Thursday night.

Questions about whether the school, located at 2450 Ralmar Ave., would be renamed or divided into two separate school campuses started circulating in the community when a sign for Ravenswood Middle School, which is also located on the campus, was hung outside the campus, according to East Palo Alto City Councilman Ruben Abrica. He then sent a letter to the Ravenswood City School District's Board of Education in June opposing the idea of removing Chavez's name. Abrica has been investigating the situation on behalf of Comunidad Unida.

"The Cesar Chavez name has been a source of pride and connection to broader issues," Abrica said, adding that Chavez's family is aware of the controversy and also opposes removing the name of the late labor leader and activist. "It would be a step backwards, and it would be insulting to remove a name like that," he said.

Board of Education President Tamara Sobomehin said the only sign other than the main Cesar Chavez Academy marquee that she is aware of is a banner announcing that the 49ers Academy (serving students in grades 6-12) would be moving to Ravenswood Middle School, which she believes may have sparked the confusion.

The name Ravenswood Middle School came about after the district's decision to consolidate the six different middle schools in the district into one. It was a temporary, working name for the new school, according to Sobomehin, but the board has not yet discussed or voted on a permanent name.

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Since Ravenswood Middle School opened in 2017, it has been sharing the campus with Cesar Chavez Academy, but this fall will mark the first year that the school will operate as only one entity, exclusively serving sixth- through eighth-grade students, Sobomehin said.

The board now plans to discuss what the official name of the school will be at the next board meeting, set for Aug. 8, according to Sobomehin.

"We won't necessarily be voting on anything at that time, but we will be starting the conversation around the best process to engage the community, families and stakeholders to determine a formal name and clear up any misunderstandings around what's going on with the site," she said, adding that she understands the significance and importance of Chavez's legacy and agrees that it would be ideal to "find a way to continue to celebrate and honor Chavez's work."

Sobomehin and interim Superintendent Gina Sudaria both said they plan to attend Thursday night's Comunidad Unida meeting to hear residents' concerns.

In addition to the name debacle, Abrica said parents have also raised concerns about how the district plans to transition students into a new environment. He said the district has not shared what resources or programs, if any, the school will offer to help students adjust socially and academically.

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"We want to know what the district's plans are for the school, itself," Abrica said.

Thursday night's meeting is set for 6:30 p.m. at East Palo Alto City Hall located at 2415 University Ave. inside the community room. It is open to the public, and there will be bilingual translations in English and Spanish.

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Community group demands Ravenswood school district retain Cesar Chavez name

City Councilman Ruben Abrica, school board officials, parents among attendees

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Thu, Aug 1, 2019, 9:54 am

The name of the new middle school that will operate at the Cesar Chavez Academy campus in East Palo Alto will be the chief topic of a community meeting organized by the Latino advocacy group Comunidad Unida on Thursday night.

Questions about whether the school, located at 2450 Ralmar Ave., would be renamed or divided into two separate school campuses started circulating in the community when a sign for Ravenswood Middle School, which is also located on the campus, was hung outside the campus, according to East Palo Alto City Councilman Ruben Abrica. He then sent a letter to the Ravenswood City School District's Board of Education in June opposing the idea of removing Chavez's name. Abrica has been investigating the situation on behalf of Comunidad Unida.

"The Cesar Chavez name has been a source of pride and connection to broader issues," Abrica said, adding that Chavez's family is aware of the controversy and also opposes removing the name of the late labor leader and activist. "It would be a step backwards, and it would be insulting to remove a name like that," he said.

Board of Education President Tamara Sobomehin said the only sign other than the main Cesar Chavez Academy marquee that she is aware of is a banner announcing that the 49ers Academy (serving students in grades 6-12) would be moving to Ravenswood Middle School, which she believes may have sparked the confusion.

The name Ravenswood Middle School came about after the district's decision to consolidate the six different middle schools in the district into one. It was a temporary, working name for the new school, according to Sobomehin, but the board has not yet discussed or voted on a permanent name.

Since Ravenswood Middle School opened in 2017, it has been sharing the campus with Cesar Chavez Academy, but this fall will mark the first year that the school will operate as only one entity, exclusively serving sixth- through eighth-grade students, Sobomehin said.

The board now plans to discuss what the official name of the school will be at the next board meeting, set for Aug. 8, according to Sobomehin.

"We won't necessarily be voting on anything at that time, but we will be starting the conversation around the best process to engage the community, families and stakeholders to determine a formal name and clear up any misunderstandings around what's going on with the site," she said, adding that she understands the significance and importance of Chavez's legacy and agrees that it would be ideal to "find a way to continue to celebrate and honor Chavez's work."

Sobomehin and interim Superintendent Gina Sudaria both said they plan to attend Thursday night's Comunidad Unida meeting to hear residents' concerns.

In addition to the name debacle, Abrica said parents have also raised concerns about how the district plans to transition students into a new environment. He said the district has not shared what resources or programs, if any, the school will offer to help students adjust socially and academically.

"We want to know what the district's plans are for the school, itself," Abrica said.

Thursday night's meeting is set for 6:30 p.m. at East Palo Alto City Hall located at 2415 University Ave. inside the community room. It is open to the public, and there will be bilingual translations in English and Spanish.

Comments

Truth Teller
East Palo Alto
on Aug 1, 2019 at 1:03 pm
Truth Teller, East Palo Alto
on Aug 1, 2019 at 1:03 pm
8 people like this

I Oppose the Continuous use of The name "Cesar Chavez" at that location.
When this was enacted all of the Citizens were not contacted and weren't sure of what this meant?
Some they were told that it would be just a plac placed on the Grounds in remembrance of Mr. Chavez
and that his Sister would be done to recognize the Plac.

I am Oppose for these reasons. There are Existing Residents that still resided in East Palo Alto for over 60yrs.
The Majority of Them attended Green Oaks and Kavanaugh!
They are still here. Once they realized what had happen it was too late. Then the Residents begin to notice Stores labeled with Hispanic names, throughout the City. When The Majority of other American ethnic groups were edged out. The Hispanic placed several Notice in Social Media Groups using "Hypotheticals" as in removing the use of Cesar Chavez's name, as to removing MARTIN LUTHER KING'S name from somewhere?
This is Pandering!
Hypothetical they say? They have already replace Ronald McNair with a "Los Robles" addition at that School.

The Citizens wanted a Safeway installed in the Ravenswood 101.
Instead they got a Mi Pueblo. It now has since been transferred into a "Cardenas" Supermarket.
This Store did and does not cater to everyone and they tend to shun non-hispanics away from the store.
There is also a Estrellas Supermarket. There were 3 Three Bros. Tacos at one time. A total of 12 eating establishments. All Hispanic.
I've inserted this in to allow the reader to receive the feeling that all the Older existing Residents are feeling.
Now you have Housing prices rising because of FACEBOOK and GOOGLE and Others.

The Hispanics have a STRONG Lobbying Group and they know how to Organize, at the detriment of Other Ethnic Backgrounds.
Currently other Ethnic groups have to travel, far and wide for Normal staples. Or be at the mercy of The "Target" Store which is limited & (whose prices are higher).
Some Folks Travel well into Redwood City pass those Hispanic places off of Middlefield Rd. Or down South to San Antonio Rd and even over to The EAST BAY over the Dumbarton Bridge.

I said all of this to say. That since the regular OLDER Residents still remain. Many Who attended the Green Oaks and Kavanaugh School still are here in EPA.
That another Hispanic ventures forced down the throats of the still thousands of ORIGINAL Residents is enough.

By No means does this intend to be a part of racism. This just an act in returning a consideration.


Leave Cesar Chavez Name Alone
East Palo Alto
on Aug 1, 2019 at 1:10 pm
Leave Cesar Chavez Name Alone, East Palo Alto
on Aug 1, 2019 at 1:10 pm
12 people like this

As Pulido says, it is embarrassing." We have to have these meetings to keep the Cesar Chavez name, a Latino hero, who made such a big difference in the lives of the farmworkers and his families.
I do have a question for Pulido: how come as a board member you never publicly discussed this issue or even bother to put it on the agenda? Afterall you the board president last year and the vice president the year before and had the power to do it. We the community hope that your change is for real, and you are and not just looking for an opportunity to improve your image. At this time you look terrible because construction companies, who have business with the district gave a lot of money that help you get elected. You did not say NO to the contributions and instead benefited from them.
Pulido, if you do repent of your past decisions, such as renewing Gloria's contract, turning a deaf ear, a blind eye to real issues that were going on, and taking the financial help from the construction companies, we will forgive you. This time make sure to put the students, employees, and teachers first, and not your EGO.
We look forward to seeing doing real work to improve our district, not your ego, or economic situation. You are having a second chance, do not waste it.


Keeping It Authentic In Name
East Palo Alto
on Aug 1, 2019 at 1:23 pm
Keeping It Authentic In Name, East Palo Alto
on Aug 1, 2019 at 1:23 pm
14 people like this

The ethnic naming of schools, streets & parks should be based on the concentration of ethnic populations in a given neighborhood.

A school named after Cesar Chavez in a predominantly African-American neighborhood is ludicrous as is a school named Martin Luther King in an area where Hispanics & Pacific Islanders predominate the locale.

Perhaps EPA should consider sectional & informal neighborhood names like Little Nairobi, Little Tijuana and maybe something after the Tongans. Then there will be peace among naming rights.

To name everything in EPA after Mexicans is misleading as white people were the first residents & after most them moved out, the community went through its various transitions of differing ethnic groups.






eave Cesar Chavez Name Alone
East Palo Alto
on Aug 1, 2019 at 2:12 pm
eave Cesar Chavez Name Alone, East Palo Alto
on Aug 1, 2019 at 2:12 pm
3 people like this

To Keeping it Authentic:
Are you sure that the whites were the rist ones in EPA?
Go back to study USA history. You will be more informed so you cna acturally know what you are posting.


Who's On First?
East Palo Alto
on Aug 1, 2019 at 2:42 pm
Who's On First?, East Palo Alto
on Aug 1, 2019 at 2:42 pm
14 people like this

> Are you sure that the whites were the first ones in EPA? Go back to study USA history.

^^^The poster may have meant whites as the original residents of the post-war EPA housing subdivisions.

The earlier Native Americans (Ohlones) resided in the area & lived in tule huts. Then came the pre-statehood Spanish/Mexican settlers but they did not have a whole lot to do with the area layer known as Cooley's Landing. There were also some Asian farmers/flower growers in EPA prior to World War 2.

Bottom line...Cesar Chavez has little to do with EPA as well as he was more actively involved in the Central Valley in support of the migrant farm workers.


Who's On First?
East Palo Alto
on Aug 1, 2019 at 2:49 pm
Who's On First?, East Palo Alto
on Aug 1, 2019 at 2:49 pm
8 people like this

TYPO> area [later] known as Cooley's Landing.

Naming something in EPA after Cesar Chavez is OK but it is unnecessary (as well as overkill) for a sizable part of the city have Hispanic references.

That concept is better suited to places like San Jose & East LA.


Hmmm
East Palo Alto
on Aug 1, 2019 at 4:50 pm
Hmmm, East Palo Alto
on Aug 1, 2019 at 4:50 pm
1 person likes this

Who's On First - you don't know what you're talking about. There've been folks who organized with Chavez living in EPA. EPA also has residents who've been agricultural workers or their parents were.


Hootie
East Palo Alto
on Aug 1, 2019 at 6:37 pm
Hootie, East Palo Alto
on Aug 1, 2019 at 6:37 pm
11 people like this

@ Hmmmm

<>

As a resident for 60 years, I say you're wrong. There were no farms here when II came as a child in 1957. There were still a few farms in Cupertino, San Jose, & Sunnyvale. Mariani apricots in Cupertino, Libby cannery in Sunnyvale, etc. The workers lived in those communities + Gilroy, & Morgan Hill, not EPA.

EPA was a mixture of black & white - no Latinos or Pacific Islanders. There was a high school - Ravenswood. Completion of Bayshore freeway was what doomed EPA by separating it from the rest of San Mateo county. By the "70s, EPA was almost all African-american. The hispanics & tonga-fiji folks came much later, like late '80s & 90s.

[Portion removed.]


Hmm
East Palo Alto
on Aug 1, 2019 at 6:56 pm
Hmm , East Palo Alto
on Aug 1, 2019 at 6:56 pm
Like this comment

[Post removed.]


Leave Cesar Chavez Name Alone
East Palo Alto
on Aug 2, 2019 at 12:34 am
Leave Cesar Chavez Name Alone, East Palo Alto
on Aug 2, 2019 at 12:34 am
1 person likes this

This is not rockey science. The school is already named Cesar Chavez. All the school board needs to do is to lLEAVE IT. No changes or renaming. Board members do nto make a big dial our of this. Make the community a favor by leaving the name Cesar Chavez. Please do not try wipe off his memory. Also do not name a door knob after our Amrican Icon. Even though Cesar Cahvez, he is also an American Icon, just like Martin Lutherking who I admire a lot too.


Anon
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 2, 2019 at 10:18 am
Anon, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 2, 2019 at 10:18 am
Like this comment

While they are working on the name, they might want to consider tweaking the name a bit to read "César Estrada Chávez". Web Link


A Moral Compass
Registered user
Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Aug 2, 2019 at 12:42 pm
A Moral Compass, Leland Manor/Garland Drive
Registered user
on Aug 2, 2019 at 12:42 pm
6 people like this

This is a naming decision best left to the residents of East Palo Alto.

Palo Alto residents have no say in the matter & should stick to PA issues that effect them DIRECTLY.


Truth Teller
East Palo Alto
on Aug 2, 2019 at 7:00 pm
Truth Teller, East Palo Alto
on Aug 2, 2019 at 7:00 pm
4 people like this

To Me The People wanting to remove Other Names while (the People are still here).
To Me this is Selfish. A Slap in The Face.

The Hispanics have already (again) renamed Ronald McNair to "Los Robles Ronald McNair".
I was told it was an "Emergence" TECHNIC School.
It is to make the Hispanics Children feel comfortable. Transitioning from Spanish to English? Poor Babies.
Then, they caught Themselves. They told Me that, "But all Children are Welcome to come there if they want to learn Spanish"? I wanted to know....So How are
these Black, White, Samoan, Tonga, Asians feeling comfortable, out of their culture there. With a Name Change?

At the meeting (in City Hall)regarding Cesar Chavez August 1st a Hispanic Male want to mention "Los Robles" but they hurried up and
Shut him up? Why is that? Because they were trying to make it seem that The Hispanic have Nothing for them in EPA!
When it is just the complete Opposite!

Before You arrived. The Older Residents Fought Hard in Incorporating East Palo Alto and now, you come along and want to BUST through the Door & run us Over.
African Americans only changed some names, after the Caucasians, Asian and Italians moved on.
The Blacks in EPA tried to fight for a City name change?
Why do you feel that you have the Right to come in and Bulldoze and exert Rights & being RUDE?

Even if Cesar Chavez was an Icon. This Does NOT entitle You to put Your Spanish heritage all over things, just to make you feel comfortable.
But Others are STILL HERE!
So what if you do occupy One House in EPA?
Long Time Residents(need to feel comfortable also).

Having to see Hispanic names being flashed(all over) in their faces is disrespectful.
It appears Selfish as you do not take All Citizens into consideration.
You Don't Care Do You? Mexico and Others First, right?
You are trying to make "Blacks" & Others, feel uncomfortable in Their Own City & Home!

Don't say that you are sorry, when I tell you This.
Some people attempt to intimidate the remaining Blacks. In One Neighborhood.
The Elderly Couple (in their Late 80's), they took over a Elderly couples driveway?
The Neighbors had split the House into a Duplex and had too many Cars.

In some instances, when a Black tries to "Buy Local" in a Hispanic Business in EPA. They are treated
just like When the Whites and Chinese were in EPA. When The Black are served they received "Sloppy" Service.
I was told if you wanted to work at Both McDonalds that you had to speak Spanish!
The Owner is Black. But he has Spanish Speakers dong the Hiring.
That is until he put his Niece in Charge. For which she was being taunted by the Female that wanted the
Position.

I see People talking about the "Ohlones Indians". The Tribe was ALL over the Bay Area. There is a "Ohlone College over in Fremont & Newark?
Do you know at one time that The Older Citizens wanted the City to be Named "Nairobi" as to NOT be confused with "Palo Alto" across 101? Where was your struggling then?...Oh I see...With Cesar Chavez?

The Founding Fathers /Mothers of EPA just had A 50th, 3 day Reunion. This Past Friday-Sunday.


frustrated mom
Registered user
Palo Verde
on Aug 2, 2019 at 8:44 pm
frustrated mom, Palo Verde
Registered user
on Aug 2, 2019 at 8:44 pm
6 people like this

To Thruth Teller, your name shall be changed to Thruth Hater, or would you rather to keep your original name?
I feel sorry for you. I canI see that you have a lof of anger because you are no longer in the majority. That anger is not good for your body or your soul. EPA is a city in transition, and will continue to change in the years to come. Hispanics, Pacific Islander, African Americans and more ethnic groups are here now, but soon we will all die or move out. Belle Haven and East Palo Alto are transitioning on everyday basis, and new high tech young people are moving in. No one can stop it. It is kind of like the cycle of life. I Hope one day you find peace in your heart so you can leave this world with less anger or ugly feelings against other ethnic groups.
The MacDonald's owner probably has hispanic workers because she can pay them less money, and abuse them especially when they do not speak English. Cheaper labor is a fact.
You said: You are trying to make "Blacks" & Others, feel uncomfortable in Their Own City & Home!
It is not their own city, it is the city of everybody who lives here. Blacks are not the only people living here, and they do have business , parks and schools name after AA icons.


Tuasosopo
East Palo Alto
on Aug 4, 2019 at 2:18 pm
Tuasosopo, East Palo Alto
on Aug 4, 2019 at 2:18 pm
10 people like this

East Palo Alto should also acknowledge its Tongan demographics by naming a street, school or park after Tuʻi Kanokupolu.

To limit EPA naming rights to only African Americans, Hispanics & white people is racist.

In all fairness, each city (including Palo Alto) should have a streets, parks and schools with names reflective of its ethnic diversity.

Since the Chinese now make up over 40% of PA's population, it would not be unreasonable to rename a major thoroughfare like University Avenue, Embarcadero Road or Alma after a prominent Chinese individual of accomplishment.


A Moral Compass
Registered user
Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Aug 5, 2019 at 2:37 pm
A Moral Compass, Leland Manor/Garland Drive
Registered user
on Aug 5, 2019 at 2:37 pm
6 people like this

> Since the Chinese now make up over 40% of PA's population, it would not be unreasonable to rename a major thoroughfare like University Avenue, Embarcadero Road or Alma after a prominent Chinese individual of accomplishment.

^^^ Since the venerable Army Street in San Francisco was renamed Cesar Chavez Street (amid controversy in 1995) it would not be unreasonable to name a major Palo Alto street or road after someone of Chinese background.

The question is...would it be named after a renowned Chinese individual of Cantonese, Mandarin, Taiwanese, or Hong Kong heritage? This in itself could raise an ongoing debate over appropriate naming rights & privileges.

Then again, there are enough streets/roads in Palo Alto to accommodate all of them.




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