It is past time DCPS changed the names of schools of Confederate era generals and politicians

The tragic death of George Floyd has done something that not
even the death of Martin Luther King JR, 20 children at Sandyhook or so many
other tragedies has done and that is lead to real change in the world. It is
time Duval County Public Schools joined in and got rid of the schools named
after Confederate war era generals and politicians. We need to show the world
but more importantly our children that our racist past is not something to be celebrated.
In short it is way past time to do better.

Robert E. Lee high school, Jefferson Davis middle school, Jeb Stuart middle school, Joseph Finegan Elementary school, Kirby Smith elementary school, Pickett
elementary, and Stonewall Jackson elementary school are all named after men who
not only believed in slavery but who tried to destroy the United States. Them
having schools, places of learning named after them honors them and that dishonors
all of us.
These schools have these names not just for some myopic
attempt to honor traitors but to keep communities of color in line as well,
neither of which is acceptable.
The standard for naming a school cannot be the person was
perfect or never did anything we would find socially unacceptable today, we wouldn’t’
have a whole lot of people to choose from, Thomas Jefferson owned slaves and
Andrew Jackson in service of the country committed what we would now consider
to be war crimes, but the standard can be the honoree didn’t try and destroy
the nation to protect slavery and they didn’t fight a war “AGAINST” our nation.
Years ago when the city was building up to change the name
of Nathan B. Forrest, founder of the Klu Klux Klan and a civil war general I
was for it but I hemmed and hawed and said well what about the cost. I was
wrong, it should not have been a debate. Forcing any child let alone a child of
color to enter a building named after people who thought they were subhuman is wrong.
When they changed the name of Forrest to Westside high the
reported costs were 500 thousand dollars. I would like to see the receipts
because I can’t imagine it costing that much but if it was, I can’t imagine it
would be hard to find community members to take down signs or re paint or to
come up with creative solutions either.
There will be additional costs however and that’s
unfortunate because quite often the district doesn’t have enough to pay for its
essentials and with the Covid Crisis it will need more resources than ever. A
U.S. and World News and report estimated districts will need 490 dollars per
student to pay for additional measures.
This however should not deter us. If the desperately needed referendum
passes, we can use those funds. Perhaps the city’s elites could finally stop
fighting against our schools and step up too. We can ask Tallahassee to fund the changes needed here and elsewhere, after all they give hundreds of millions to charter and voucher schools. Plenty of corporations may be looking for opportunities to be socially conscious too.

A colleague pointed out that If the referendum passes, we will rebuild most of these schools. The signage will be new as well. A strategic moment for a name change that will not involve extra cost.

My point is there are solutions where we don’t have to take money out of the classroom, but if all else failed, we just
change the names, take down the marquees and phase in the transition to new
names over a period of time that makes the costs negligible. However it gets
done, it has to get done.    

Then I am for naming the schools after people. No offence to
Westside high school but I would prefer schools be named after educators or
people who inspire good and noble acts.  

If NASCAR can ban Confederate paraphernalia and the military can consider changing the names of bases, then DCPS can get with the times as well. 

Jacksonville has a reputation for being a slower and that is
why a lot of people like it here, but we can no longer let the nation pass us
by when it comes to our racist past.

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