San Francisco has made a stunning about-face, walking back a controversial decision to scrub 44 “racist” names from its schools — including George Washington and Abraham Lincoln — after the move drew nationwide ire and was criticized for being based on flawed information without insight from historians.
“I acknowledge and take responsibility that mistakes were made in the renaming process,” the president of San Francisco’s School Board Gabriela López wrote on Twitter Sunday.
“Reopening will be our only focus until our children and young people are back in schools. We’re cancelling renaming committee meetings for the time being.”
In late January, the school board voted 6-1 to rename schools honoring “racist” historical figures like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Paul Revere and replace them with people who didn’t aid or abet slavery, genocide or human rights abuses.
The move was widely criticized as a symptom of cancel culture and for being based on misinformation and “casual Google searches” without the input of historians.
The board was also widely panned for focusing on renaming when kids were still attending remote school with no end to virtual learning in sight.
López, who was elected to the board just six weeks ago, said the renaming process started in 2018 and the timeline didn’t include a pandemic.
“We recognize we need to slow down. And we need to provide more opportunities for community input. We are working with educators at all levels to involve and educate our school communities about the renaming process. We are realizing, especially now, it will take time and energy to get that right,” López wrote in the statement.
“We are deeply grateful for the work of the renaming committee and many schools are as well. They are excited about the opportunity to uplift communities that have previously been underrepresented. Our students need to attend schools where they feel valued and seen. This work is anti-racist and we’re proud of that.”
The educator said she won’t be commenting publicly again about renaming until school reopens.