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Board to vote on proposed school names

Original post made on Mar 27, 2018

With a final vote on new names for Jordan and Terman middle schools scheduled for Tuesday night, both sides of what has become an increasingly contentious debate are making eleventh-hour efforts to advocate for their positions.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, March 27, 2018, 9:24 AM

Comments (35)

Posted by resident
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 27, 2018 at 9:53 am

What has this 'renaming process" taught the community?

- Guilt by relationship - if someone in your family has a view that is deemed unworthy, you are as guilty as your family member - e.g. school board would not consider Fred Terman, who many consider as one of the guiding lights of Silicon Valley because this father had views many disagree with.

- Guilt by name - if your last name is the same as someone who is deemed unworthy, you are as guilty. e.g. school board would not consider Barbara Jordan, a leading civil rights leader because she shared the same last name as David Star Jordan, because David Star Jordan had views many disagree with.

We are seeing the same logic apply to one possible renaming candidate. But has all family of the all the naming candidates been investigated?

Such a morass of self - righteousness, and the whole process is teaching the children the wrong values.


Posted by PA parent
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 27, 2018 at 10:16 am

Fred Terman was not considered due to “guilt by association” and “last names matter”. Why is Fred Yamamoto ok? No double standards, please!

The name Yamamoto does bring a lot of horrifying memories and pain to a lot of people, this is simply the fact. These people’s feelings are really hurt. Please try to understand and respect that rather than teaching them how they should feel.

We should honor all the six candidates including Fred Yamamoto, but we can find better ways (this work has already started), which won’t hurt any group’s feelings.

This renaming has already divided the community. The School Board should vote for place names to avoid further division of the community and the risk of future renaming.


Posted by Mr. Terman
a resident of Fletcher Middle School
on Mar 27, 2018 at 10:33 am

[Post removed.]


Posted by Stanford Historian
a resident of another community
on Mar 27, 2018 at 11:04 am

President Tessier-Lavigne at Stanford University is also leading the charge for name changing of Serra Street on campus as well other names. This is a particularly slippery slope as Leland Stanford was himself not guiltless. For those that would like to learn more I recommend a book called The Associates by Richard Rayner. It brings into question his ethics and morality in the railroad industry. In particular, he did not have a high regard for the Chinese workers: Leland Stanford said to the state Legislature in 1862, "The presence of numbers of that degraded and distinct people would exercise a deleterious effect upon the superior race.". His heart may have been softened by the death of his son, but when you start renaming schools, roads, buildings like this you need to remember that there are several others who are not guiltless.


Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 27, 2018 at 11:06 am

Why can't the residents of Palo Alto vote on this?

Why can't we vote to KEEP THE EXISTING NAMES?

Personally, I will vote against any person who votes for this. I'll also support any recall effort too.

The efforts to bring "politically correctness" from the media to the names of schools and streets is downright Orwellian.


Posted by Harry
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 27, 2018 at 11:09 am

Board press release on 12/21/2017 says:

“The Board has also stipulated that, to avoid confusion as required by BP 7310, names with the words Jordan or Terman will not be considered.” (Page 42, Web Link

As a result, all candidates of last name Terman or Jordan are excluded (Page 49).

The opposition to use last name Yamamoto as the new name is now demonized as racism, "guilt by association", "guilt by last name", "guilt by his Japanese heritage". If it is true, the board has to answer why, at the very beginning, the exclusion of last name Jordan/Terman is not racism, "guilt by association", "guilt by last name" or "guilt by heritage"!

Please at least be consistent with your own set policy. Nobody can possibly accept blatant exercise of double standard and discrimination!


Posted by Noel
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 27, 2018 at 11:18 am

Yamamoto is a fine AMERICAN name, just like Smith, Jones, Kowalski, Wu, Hussein, Bernstein, Reddy and Obama are fine AMERICAN names. We need to teach our children to never forget who WE are as AMERICANS, For America to achieve our promise as a nation we must judge one another "only by the content of their character." (MLK).


Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 27, 2018 at 11:30 am

It won't be long before "outrageously offended" people begin to demand name changes to other streets, schools and even towns.

Jefferson Drive? Thomas Jefferson owned slaves.
Washington? George Washington owned slaves.
Martin Luther King Jr? He was a plagiarist who is rumored to have assaulted women.
Saint, St., San, etc.? Those names have religious overtones and violate a separation of church and state.
Stanford? Leland Stanford made some racially offensive remarks.
Trinity? Same issue as "saint."
Kipling? He was a proponent of English Nationalism.

This list will go on and on forever. There will always be someone somewhere who is offended that someone else was honored despite being imperfect human beings congruent to the norms of their time.


Posted by Father of two
a resident of South of Midtown
on Mar 27, 2018 at 11:48 am

Elena, did you really look at the online petition? Why did you hide what it is about?

Either you ignore it or did it on purpose. If it's the latter, you lost the spirit of journalism.

Let me repeat the title of the petition.
Not naming our school after a person's name, including Yamamoto.

You did great job in painting Chinese-american community as anti-Japanese !

Web Link


Posted by bloomberg
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 27, 2018 at 11:57 am

bloomberg is a registered user.

Renaming the schools is an extremely unpopular decision, because it really makes no sense. The school board should never have entertained it, and tonight they should admit that this entire process has only generated bad feelings throughout the city, and should be dropped.

This campaign reminds me of the tail wagging the dog -- something of essentially no importance taking over.

Here's an analogy: a corrupt government decides to go to war to distract the citizens from its failings. The current board has failed to exercise fiscal responsibility, for example, voting to pay teachers with money that we don't have. So they go for this nasty distraction.

Next year they'll want to change Stanford to something else. Just keep the names.


Posted by Timothy Gray
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Mar 27, 2018 at 12:02 pm

Without weighing in on the merits of abandoning certain names, we do need to be careful in selecting the new names based on political patronage and personal social sentiment.

To avoid this temptation, wisdom would dictate that the names of public places only honor people that died at least 25 years ago. This allows the politics and personal sentiments to settle, and allow a true measure of lasting contributions that deserve an uncompensated naming. (Extraordinary measures of philanthropy in Non-Government institutions should be excluded from this criteria.)

Think about it: If we don't let time measure a person's historical contributions, we will soon have the Larry Kline Pubic Safety Building or the Liz Kniss Community Center, even before they exit the planet. Bottom line: we need to reserve the naming of public places for those who have made historical contributions that have stood the test of time.

Respectfully submitted,

Tim Gray


Posted by Anon
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 27, 2018 at 12:07 pm

Has anyone looked at the list of names to see if they were residentialists or were pro-development for Palo Alto ? I would also be curious to hear how they voted, or would have voted, on Maybell's measure D and feel about zoning exemptions, whether for low income and senior housing or for "community benefit".


Posted by Mark Weiss
a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 27, 2018 at 1:02 pm

Joan Baez
John Freidenrich




Posted by Jokester
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Mar 27, 2018 at 1:48 pm

If it's Joan Baez you would have to have a walk to school barefoot day for those of you that went to school with her :).


Posted by Anon
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 27, 2018 at 1:59 pm

Joan tried to close down the equestrian center across from her estate off Sand Hill to protect her privacy. She would not be a good choice for a school name.


Posted by Sandy
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 27, 2018 at 2:23 pm

If we change the school names, is the next step re-writing Huckleberry Finn? Deleting all the cigarette smoking from old movies (or could we just say Humphrey Bogart was actually smoking marijuana, now that it's legal in California)? Or how about changing a book title: "African-American Like Me"??


Posted by Yamamoto
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Mar 27, 2018 at 2:41 pm


-- if "last name matters": Yamamoto is inappropriate. Just google "Yamamoto" and pick all the top hits.
-- if "last name does not matter": Terman would be good to go. Jordan too.

Why is it so difficult?


Posted by Jordan 1970
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 27, 2018 at 3:18 pm

There is clearly a racial agenda at work in the renaming process.

Black Frank Greene is acceptable but white Fred Terman is not due to guilt by association and guilt by heritage.

Clearly race is playing a part in the decision-making process.


Posted by Local History
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 27, 2018 at 3:49 pm

As @Stanford Historian wrote, Leland Stanford discriminated against the Chinese who worked on the railroads that helped to build his wealth. The founder of the university can certainly be quoted as making discriminatory statements about the Chinese "race." So, should the parents who would not want their children attending a school with the name "Yamamoto" also not want their children to attend a school with the name "Stanford"? If these parents want their American-born children to be viewed as American, why do they not seem to recognize Fred Yamamoto's Americanness? Do they not recognize the double-standard?


Posted by No Name
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 27, 2018 at 4:10 pm

@Local History, thanks goodness Stanford was name after Leland Stanford Jr., Mr. Stanford's only son who died at the age of 15 unfortunately.


Posted by Concerned Observer
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 27, 2018 at 4:13 pm

It doesn't matter what the citizens of Palo Alto want with regard to this issue. The school board will be changing the names tonight all because of a "squeaky wheel" needing to be greased. This is a done deal. A seventh grader and his father are responsible for this fiasco and while they may think their cause is worthy, the majority of people who have commented on this topic have been overwhelmingly against the change. It's how most things go in this town. Had they dared to put this up for a vote by the citizens, it would have lost in a landslide and everyone knows it. Those showing up tonight opposed to the renaming may want to inform the board members that they won't be getting reelected the next time a vote comes up for their seats, and even then they probably still won't get it.


Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 27, 2018 at 4:17 pm

Posted by Local History, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood

>> As @Stanford Historian wrote, Leland Stanford discriminated against the Chinese who worked on the railroads that helped to build his wealth.

I still prefer trees and creeks, but, if names are OK, then I was always OK with Fred Terman. But, I will point out that Leland Stanford Junior University is named after "Junior", who died of typhoid at age 15. Before he had much of a chance to follow in his father's prejudiced footsteps. (Apropos of nothing, really,) Leland Senior was somewhat progressive by the standards of his day.


Posted by No Name
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 27, 2018 at 4:17 pm

Renaming Jordan and Terman is a discrimination against white men. Hoover, Nixon will be the next targets. JLS survived since Jane L. Stanford is a female. This school board is making sure no schools are named after white men in PAUSD.


Posted by Local History
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 27, 2018 at 4:23 pm

Yes, the university was named after "Jr." But it was "Sr." who paid for it, with money earned off the backs of Chinese laborers who faced discrimination from men like Stanford. If we're going to be specific about names, then people should keep the Japanese "Yamamoto" distinct from the American "Yamamoto."


Posted by No Name
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 27, 2018 at 4:30 pm

Let me predict tonight's voting result:

No white man.

@Local History, to be honest, no one except someone who wants to make trouble cares about what Mr. Stanford said more than a century ago.


Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 27, 2018 at 4:51 pm

Posted by No Name, a resident of Midtown

>> @Local History, to be honest, no one except someone who wants to make trouble cares about what Mr. Stanford said more than a century ago.

Speak for yourself. Judging by all that has been written on these and related historical topics, I think quite a few people here of quite a few varied ethnic backgrounds are interested in history. I gather that you are not. You have company. Henry Ford famously said, "History is more or less bunk." Web Link



Posted by Helen A.
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 27, 2018 at 5:39 pm

@Anon: so, should Stanford be renamed because we are interested in history?


Posted by People vs Places
a resident of Southgate
on Mar 27, 2018 at 6:03 pm

I was perplexed by a comment made in another article this week - that students are better served by a person than a geographic name because a person's story can inspire. Do we really believe students at Palo Alto High School are at a disadvantage vs Gunn High School because of the name of the school? And the elementary schools named for individuals are better serving schools than those named after neighborhoods?


Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 27, 2018 at 6:08 pm

Posted by People vs Places, a resident of Southgate

>> Do we really believe students at Palo Alto High School are at a disadvantage vs Gunn High School because of the name of the school?

I'm sure someone will suggest comparing test scores. ;-)


Posted by The end
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 27, 2018 at 8:01 pm

Thankfully we are nearing the end of this debacle. I'm voting with my wallet and no more PIE donations to support this fiasco of a school board.





Posted by Arbor
a resident of Palo Verde School
on Mar 27, 2018 at 8:21 pm

@The end

They will raise your taxes.

Watch the live video for the drama tonight and will vote to remove them next time.


Posted by The end
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 27, 2018 at 8:32 pm

By the way Palo Alto online has been duplicit in supporting the renaming agenda. Never asking the tough questions about cost,priorities and the lack of receiving public feeedback early in the process. This decision was a fait accompli over a year ago. Perhaps our kids would be better served learning the meaning of that term versus why we whitewash History.


Posted by Nancy
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 27, 2018 at 11:39 pm

Jordan is now Green.

Terman is now Fletcher


Posted by David
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 27, 2018 at 11:51 pm

I love taking a school name from a eugenicist to a holocaust survivor.

Frank Greene to replace Jordan also works for me.


Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 28, 2018 at 8:08 am

[Post removed.]


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