Gone are a slew of historical figures, including Washington, Jefferson, and Lincoln—as well as the much more recent Dianne Feinstein. The San Francisco Board of Education has voted to take those names and others off 44 of its schools. The board has for years debated whether to rename buildings or continue to honor figures whose legacies are not celebrated by everyone. When members finally voted Monday, only one of seven members dissented, SFGate reports. "It's a message to our families, our students, and our community," one board member said. "It's not just symbolic." The board has new guidelines for choosing a name. Those honored can't have been slave owners or have abetted in slavery or genocide; committed human rights violations; or be "known racists and/or white supremacists." That rules out George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, who both enslaved people. Abraham Lincoln is out because of "his treatment of First Nation peoples," a teacher said.
Feinstein, who once was San Francisco's mayor, made the list because she reportedly brought Confederate flags back to City Hall in the 1980s. Junipero Serra was among those whose name is coming down because of colonization and abuses inflicted upon Indigenous people. The school district has been mocked for its handling of the issue, and the city's mayor was critical on Wednesday, per KRON. "What I cannot understand is why the school board is advancing a plan to have all these schools renamed by April when there isn't a plan to have our kids back in the classroom by then," Mayor London Breed said. "Our students are suffering, and we should be talking about getting them in classrooms, getting them mental health support, and getting them the resources they need in this challenging time." Per SFGate, one parent at the board meeting asked, "Is this meant to distract parents so we don't ask what the school reopening plan is?" (The school board reversed itself in 2019 about destroying a mural of Washington.)