Patterico's Pontifications


Pandemic Priorities: San Francisco Board of Education Votes To Rename Schools

Filed under: General — Dana @ 9:33 am

[guest post by Dana]

Well, it doesn’t have a lick to do with reopening the schools for in-person learning or improving distance-learning in the city, but hey, they’re doing something, right?

San Francisco will rename 44 schools, including campuses named after former presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln and Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein.

The near-unanimous Monday vote by the San Francisco Board of Education, with only one dissenter, comes after years of debate — and some scorn — over the reckoning of historical figures and their contentious, flawed legacies.

“It’s a message to our families, our students and our community,” board member Mark Sanchez said in the meeting, per the San Francisco Chronicle. “It’s not just symbolic.”

The new namesakes for the schools must adhere to a new set of guidelines, including that individuals honored by a renaming are not slave owners or abetted in slavery or genocide, attached to human rights abuses, or are “known racists and/or white supremacists.”

Why the noted schools missed the mark:

Washington and Jefferson, for instance, were slaveowners, while former San Francisco mayor Feinstein was listed after reportedly reinstating Confederate flags by City Hall in the ’80s. Lincoln, widely revered for his issuing of the Emancipation Proclamation, was chosen based on “his treatment of First Nation peoples,” first-grader Jeremiah Jeffries told the Chronicle in a widely circulated December quote.

Some other namesakes’ legacies, such as Junipero Serra, Jose Ortega and Vasco Nunez de Balboa, were based on colonization and abuses of indigenous people.

Meanwhile, last month Bay Area parents rallied to get their schools reopened. Their complaints were focused on the need to get kids back into school because remote learning was not effective and they were falling behind:

“Remote learning doesn’t work at all,” said parent Daniel Kotzin.

Kotzin says his 5-year-old is falling behind.

“I’m a stay-at-home parent. We have reliable WIFI. My son still doesn’t know how to read. He’s in kindergarten. Remote learning, it’s cruel joke,” said Kotzin.

These parents say they want to see the district open schools for in-person learning.

“I’m here in support of all the parents in San Francisco who would like to have their children go back to school, get a safe education and resume normal life,” said parent Erica Sandberg.

In Berkeley, parents echoed the same complaint, distance learning has been a failure.

“We’re all frustrated with our school district,” said parent Lei Levy.

…8th grader Ella Hainsworth talked about her struggles.

“It’s hard for a lot of people, my mental health has not been great during Zoom school, it’s all been chaotic,” she said.

“We really believe guided by science, our schools could be reopened,” Levy added.

San Francisco Unified School District’s website charts out their in-person readiness goals:

Below are the major areas of work SFUSD is undertaking to prepare for a phased-in approach to in-person learning. This includes modifying learning plans and bell schedules, developing and deploying appropriate protocols and training for staff, providing sufficient cleaning and PPE supplies for all sites, and instituting prevention measures and changes to facilities. We will update this information bi-weekly to share the current status of each area.

Here is the current progress chart:



Although the SFUSD had planned to reopen schools on January 25, they announced last month that union bargaining was not going to be wrapped up in time as the union believed that current health and safety measures were insufficient. The union insisted that the measures needed to exceed even those of the Department of Public Health’s Guidance. In response, Mayor London Breed issued the following statement:

“It is infuriating that our schools are not going to reopen for in-person learning in January. I can’t imagine how hard this is for our families and for our young people who haven’t been in the classroom since March and are falling further behind every single day. We should not be creating a false choice between education and a safe return to classrooms. As a society, we have a responsibility to educate our children, and safety is embedded in that responsibility. We can do both. We must do both.

Right now we are in a surge that requires us to stay home and stop the spread, but when we get through this difficult moment, we need to be ready to get our students in the classroom the moment our public health officials say we can. We can’t create unrealistic standards for in-person learning that aren’t even recommended by the Department of Public Health. I understand the concerns of some of our teachers who are in the vulnerable population, and we should listen to them. But let’s be honest: San Francisco’s public health officials have been among the most conservative in the country in terms of reopening. When they say our schools can start opening again, our kids should be in the classroom the next day.

And we have data that shows our kids and teachers can return to the classroom. Under the guidance of the Department of Public Health, our City’s 78 Community Hubs and 91 private and parochial schools across the City have been open for in-person learning for months and have not experienced any outbreaks. Even now, during this latest surge, the worst we’ve had, there have been no outbreaks. None of this is easy, but by following health protocols we can create safe environments that help us mitigate the spread of this virus and give our kids the learning environment they so badly need.

Meanwhile, the CDC has made the case for the safe reopening of public schools as they have found “little evidence that schools contributed meaningfully to the spread of COVID-19”.


33 Responses to “Pandemic Priorities: San Francisco Board of Education Votes To Rename Schools”

  1. Good morning.

    Dana (fd537d)

  2. I teach my college courses through Zoom (I have no other choice), and find that the highly motivated students do get something out of it, but it’s still vastly inferior to what can be done in the classroom, at least in my field (I’ll concede that its efficacy would vary with what is being taught). But I’m convinced that remote learning has been an absolute disaster for young children. My daughter tells me that what my grandchildren have managed to learn over the past year owes to her and my son-in-law’s efforts–with little credit going to the teachers–and that the online classes for younger grades have been spectacularly ineffective. I think there’s no credible excuse for not returning at least K-6 to the classroom.

    Roger (3eb97d)

  3. Typical San Francisco nonsense about renaming schools.

    Regarding the science wrt bringing schoolkids back into classrooms, I’m for it but still conflicted. Mrs. Montagu teaches middle school special needs kids who don’t understand the concept of physical boundaries and space, and she has an underlying condition. She’s in the 1b category for the vaccine, but there will likely be a gap from when she goes back to school and gets a vaccine.

    Paul Montagu (77c694)

  4. Now that Mayor Breed has made a statement, we finally know what Ron Conway thinks about school reopening.

    (I admit I have no dog in this fight, no kids. I do watch a friend’s kid on occasion, and he’s learning. Make no mistake, they’re missing important socialization, but learning seems to work for some kids.)

    john (cd2753)

  5. Thank you for promoting this. When you want to see what the left wants to do to America, look no further than their indoctrination centers where they have the most control.

    They need to destroy the past to pave the way for their future.

    NJRob (eb56c3)

  6. Good morning, Dana.

    You know, I don’t think we’ve looked at this renaming thing from all sides. What I mean is, why would any self-respecting person, let alone Washington, Jefferson, or Lincoln, want a San Francisco school named after them. I know I wouldn’t. I’ll take it even further, why would a saint want the city of San Francisco named after him? I mean, honestly, is it really an honor for the namesake?

    nk (1d9030)

  7. @2. Yet Sesame Street works. Kids retain cartoon content and Three Stooges slapstick as well— all “remotely.”

    See the pattern; likely not the content but how it is presented. Don Herbert as ‘Mr. Wizard’ taught/demonstrated science on commercial television “remotely” via NBC TV for 14 years: “The show was very successful; by 1954 it was broadcast live by 14 stations, and by kinescope (a film made from the television monitor of the original live broadcast) by an additional 77. Mr. Wizard Science Clubs were started throughout North America, numbering 5,000 by 1955 and 50,000 by 1965. The show moved from Chicago to New York on September 5, 1955, and had produced 547 live broadcasts by the time the show was canceled in 1965, with the last telecast on June 27. The show was cited by the National Science Foundation and American Chemical Society for increasing interest in science and won a 1953 Peabody Award.’ -source,wikiTeeVee

    DCSCA (f4c5e5)

  8. If it’s for St. Francis of Assisi, well…

    urbanleftbehind (cfd5b1)

  9. My kids go to Catholic school and attend in-person. All of their public school friends are jealous. So are the parents. Just when our local public school district announced they would phase back into partial in-person schooling, the county announced they would be suspending first-time vaccinations due to shortages. So now most teachers aren’t going to get vaccinated any time soon.

    So glad our kids are getting taught in-person. No parent with a kid “learning virtually” is happy. At least none that I’ve met or known.

    But hey, the Party of Science is in charge and the science says schools don’t really spread COVID, so what’s the hold up?

    Hoi Polloi (139bf6)

  10. OT- History pause to remember:

    The price of progress: January 27, 1967; Gus Grissom, Ed White, Roger Chaffee, the crew of Apollo 1, killed in a flash fire on the launch pad, 54 year ago today. Vividly recall it. 2 1/2 years later, their fellow Americans landed and walked on Luna.

    DCSCA (f4c5e5)

  11. San Francisco must be hard-up for some names. Why not Elliot Page High School? Never have we witnessed so much bravery from just one man.

    Hoi Polloi (139bf6)

  12. “Remote learning doesn’t work at all,” said parent Daniel Kotzin.

    It works if they know how to do it.

    But the people who run most public schools don’t.

    The people who do know how to do it also know how to do in-person learning better.

    Sammy Finkelman (015e49)

  13. Parents who expose their kids to the CA public school systems, SF in particular, are guilty of negligence at minimum. It’s hard to plead ignorance at this point so we’re drifting into malice aforethought territory.

    frosty (f27e97)

  14. Personally, I love hearing all the grumbling about my town. We have too many people as it is, please keep hating on us.

    john (cd2753)

  15. Funny, John.

    I think it’s important to not confuse today’s distance learning with homeschooling. Two very different animals

    Dana (fd537d)

  16. Pandemic Priorities: San Francisco Board of Education Votes To Rename Schools

    Gee, why not follow the path of municipal stadiums and make a buck at it. ‘Google High; Apple Secondary; Harry Callahan Elementary…’ 😉

    DCSCA (f4c5e5)

  17. If SFUSD wants to frivolously pay for new school signs and repainting all the stadiums and gyms and such, well, it’s their money.

    If they weren’t complete in their progress chart, how did they plan to re-open schools safely on Jan 25?

    @njrob@5 Which. Part. Of. Local. School-Boards. Determine. Local. Curriculum. Have. You. Managed. To. Forget. In. Two. Months?

    @frosty@13 Thank you ever so much for your opinion. Your opinion has been noted.

    Nic (896fdf)

  18. Nic (896fdf) — 1/27/2021 @ 5:15 pm

    it’s their money

    Well no, it’s not their money. It’s the tax payers money that was entrusted to them to use wisely to actually educate children. Weren’t you giving me an emotional story about special needs programs being underfunded in the long ago dark times? I’m sure this is just pocket change for the local school so this sort of waste and malfeasance is really not worth worrying about?

    Your opinion has been noted.

    I keep hearing this but I don’t know what it’s supposed to mean. I’m not getting any receipts so are you sure it’s being noted? Being noted where? Should I be noting that it’s being noted?

    frosty (f27e97)

  19. @Frosty@18

    Representative Democracy, how does it work?

    Mostly I was telling a story about lack of federal oversite. But if you want the federal government to oversee local spending, someone probably has an argument for that somewhere.

    If you can’t tell what it means, you probably need to attend one of our terrible California schools where they can teach you about drawing inferences from knowledge and context clues.

    Nic (896fdf)

  20. Nic (896fdf) — 1/27/2021 @ 5:55 pm

    Yes, this is basically the animal house speech from the other day. You’re not going to let me bad mouth representative democracy. I keep forgetting that voting covers over waste because obviously people voted to waste the money. If the people of CA voted to tax everyone for education knowing full well that it would be spent on unless virtue signaling then they’re definitely in the malice aforethought category.

    Representative democracy doesn’t turn the school district into a private organization or make things “their” money. I understand that people in the school system think they’re due this money and that it is in fact theirs to do with as they will. I also understand that they reject any sort of fiduciary responsibility and resist any sort of oversight. I hope that works out for the people of CA. Hopefully the tax base in CA doesn’t collapse and the whole Ponzi scheme doesn’t fall apart.

    frosty (f27e97)

  21. @Frosty@20 They get a standard amount of facilities funds. Everyone gets a standard amount. SFUSD doesn’t get any extra special funds to replace signs or repaint. It is, in fact, theirs to do what they will, within certain guidelines. They would be using their standard funds, which they would get anyway. They can use them to re-sod the football field green for pretty homecoming pictures or to repave the parking lot at Gold Rush elementary. The School Board is the oversite. The people adversely affected by misuse of funds are the same people who elect the school board, so they are the School Board’s oversite. They are the people effected AND the people who can effect change if they dislike how the money is spent. Everybody else is just butt-hurt.

    Nic (896fdf)

  22. We had a commenter, redc14, who liked to say: “Nothing is too good for our veterans, and that’s what they’re getting.”

    Nothing is too good for America’s schoolchildren, and that’s what we’re giving them?

    nk (1d9030)

  23. Also, for anyone maintaining that kids don’t pass the virus, Florida school have been open, here’s a thing that happened in Jacksonville

    130 people came to a wrestling tournament.
    Shortly there after, one of the people tested positive.
    They contacted the other attendees and 54 decided to get tested. 38 of them were positive.
    So, almost a quarter of the attendees ended up positive for Covid.

    Those 38 had gone to school and had close contact with 446 other people. Of those, 95 decided to get tested. Of those 95, 41 were positive, almost 50%

    One of the adult close contacts died.

    So, 130 people came together. As a result, at least 79 people became infected and 1 died. 41 of those people did not even attend the tournament. They were 2ndary contact infections from it.

    In Polk county Florida (schools are open) between 5% and 10% of all their minors under 18 have tested positive for Covid.

    My teachers don’t want to die. They don’t want their families to die. They don’t want their students to die. You can frame that as laziness if you want.

    Nic (896fdf)

  24. I don’t think it’s laziness for the vast majority of teachers. I think there is real concern. Anyone who has been in a classroom knows that primary aged kids constantly touch their faces, pick their noses, sneeze without covering their mouths, and frequently wipe runny noses on their sleeves. Certainly there are real concerns. However, a lot of private schools have managed to successfully reopen with very little to no cases of Covid by stringently following health protocols, masks, hand-washing. Students are assigned to a set pod for the year. The same group works together goes to recess together, eats lunch together. They don’t sing in the classrooms, and minimize risk all that they can. But, what’s different between public and private classrooms is the number of bodies and the size of the classroom. A private school might have 18-20 students, but the average number of students in my area (primary) is anywhere from 28-32. That’s a huge difference. Further, parents who pay tuition tend to be more accepting of protocols because the school has the ability to give them the boot if they are not compliant. It’s more difficult to boot a student from public schools, although it’ll be inter to see who the process will be for parents refusing to have their kids wear masks.

    Nic, I’m curious whether people at the match were masked, social distancing, or making any efforts to stay safe?

    Dana (fd537d)

  25. Nic (896fdf) — 1/27/2021 @ 8:30 pm

    There are some practical things to consider. A lot of parents can’t easily return to work if their kids are at home and Newsom seems to want to reopen CA. The current remote schooling has questionable effectiveness. Parents expect kids to be “educated” in exchange for taxes. We can talk about covid all day but it’s still not resolving the problem that one side of that deal isn’t working as expected. I’m wondering why people aren’t asking more fundamental questions about the entire public school infrastructure.

    I’d criticize Newsom’s plan but democracy has spoken and CA residents will get what they voted for on that end. It sounds like he wants to reopen businesses even though the number of deaths per day is increasing so he’s changing his tune on why he’s doing whatever he’s doing.

    for anyone maintaining that kids don’t pass the virus

    I haven’t heard this. I’ve heard that kids usually don’t get seriously ill or die. That they can still transmit the virus is a flaw in a lot of the reopening discussions.

    The schools in my county are back with an in person option. Some schools have done very well and some not so much.

    My teachers don’t want to die.

    Won’t someone just think about the children! I won’t call it lazy. I’d call it an appeal to emotion. Where I went to school that was considered a logical fallacy. Framing the alternative as “you want people to die” isn’t very constructive.

    frosty (f27e97)

  26. All rooms will be numbered 101

    Ventura Highway (cad170)

  27. @Dana@24 The wrestlers themselves were not. The wrestling safety people say that you can’t wrestle masked because it’s a choking hazard. I don’t know about the non-wrestlers. The school contacts, though, should’ve been. Though, you know, teenagers. (which is The Problem.)

    @Frosty@25 Yes, there are practical considerations, but I have to tell you that when parents say that what the teachers are hearing is “the hell with your life, I’m inconvenienced.” It isn’t “you want people to die” it’s “you don’t care if we die” which, er… And yes, of course Newsom wants to reopen, there are far more parents and other non-teachers than there are teachers. I can tell you that both my coworkers with kids who go to school at my current school-site have said that their kiddos will remain on distance learning until there is a vaccine for them, because they know exactly how much social distancing is really going to happen (very little, kids have no personal space)

    It isn’t appealing to emotion, it’s literally that they don’t want to die and they don’t want to pass COVID to their families to die and they don’t want their students to die.

    I can tell you that a full third of our families don’t plan to send their students back to school before a vaccine and want to continue distance learning.

    I can also tell you that we do have small learning groups of our worst off students coming onto campus for their instruction. And of those we’ve invited, almost half the families have refused, including the ones who were blaming us loudly in September.

    Also also, I can tell you that the union’s top 3 requests (from August) were a district testing process, enough PPE, and proper air filtration. There still isn’t a district testing process (though the machines have FINALLY arrived.) We have yet to see more ppe than a single box of surgical masks and bottle of hand-sanitizer per classroom, and the classroom air-filters aren’t rated for the square footage of any of our classrooms (their solution was, just put it near your desk. Which doesn’t actually address the concern.)

    And there is no vaccine that’s been approved for any student under 16.

    Nic (896fdf)

  28. Nic (896fdf) — 1/27/2021 @ 9:47 pm

    I can tell you that the union’s top 3 requests (from August) were a district testing process, enough PPE, and proper air filtration. There still isn’t a district testing process (though the machines have FINALLY arrived.) We have yet to see more ppe than a single box of surgical masks and bottle of hand-sanitizer per classroom, and the classroom air-filters aren’t rated for the square footage of any of our classrooms (their solution was, just put it near your desk. Which doesn’t actually address the concern.)

    I don’t mean this as a personal slight but you are doomed. What you’ve described is a completely dysfunctional system. I can’t speak for the FL district you cited but this is not indicative of my school district.

    What happens when we find out in 3 months that new strains aren’t controlled by the vaccine? If you’re infrastructure couldn’t adjust over the past year it can’t adjust. You’ve bet a lot on a vaccine just letting you turn the switch back on.

    frosty (f27e97)

  29. Nic (896fdf) — 1/27/2021 @ 9:47 pm

    they don’t want their students to die.

    The biggest risk from people under 18 getting covid is transmission. The number in that group who have died is very small and a significant percentage of those had underlying conditions. The risk of them dying from covid does not justify keeping schools closed.

    You have other valid points but this is “think about the children”.

    frosty (f27e97)

  30. @Frosty@28 Oh, yes, the system is dysfunctional. There was a total lack of guidance from the Fed on down to the local level, no one knows WTH is going on, and I (I! a lowish level site person!) came up with the most coherent return to school schedule (which btw, is also the one we will be using for return to school and is the one we are using for distance learning as well. Go me.) because everyone else was spinning around going “what?! what?! what?!”. (figure out what the damn problem is and THEN come up with a solution that solves the damn problem, don’t come up with your solution and then try to wedge it around the problem). I would tell you about the dysfunction at the district level, but it’s unbelievable. Fortunately the staffs that I have worked with have been amazingly solid despite the stupidity at the top and mid levels.

    If we find out in 3 months that the vaccine doesn’t work for new strains, an enormous number of people are going to die (more enormous than currently) because we don’t have the stamina to wait it out any longer, and as people’s relatives die in tents in the hospital parking lots everyone will be wailing about why people didn’t just stay home for a month at the beginning.

    And the economy will collapse. Because school infrastructure adjusted better than most infrastructures (as frightening as that is), nobody likes the way it adjusted, but it did. A lot of the economic structures haven’t adjusted very much at all, they seem to be just trying to wait it out without making many changes. The restaurant industry for example.

    A conversation I recently had with a restaurant:

    Hi, you got my order wrong.
    Well you will have to call doordash.
    I didn’t order from doordash, I ordered from your website.
    Well we use doordash.
    That’s great. I didn’t order through them. I don’t have a contact for doordash because I didn’t order through them, I ordered through you.
    Well you have to call doordash and tell them to send their guy back.
    I. Dont. Have. A. Contact. For. Doordash. Because. I. Didn’t. Order. Through. Them. You. Have. That. Info.

    The actual delivery guy had txted when he dropped the order, so I finally talked to him directly and he went back and got my order, which is not procedure, but he was very accommodating anyway. But if I order pizza and they get the order wrong, I call them and they send me a new pizza. No hassle.

    @frosty@29 I mean, they are teachers. It’s kind of the job.

    Nic (896fdf)

  31. Thank you for this post, Dana. You have managed to start a lively and productive discussion. Well done. I am enjoying everyone’s thoughts. Thanks, people.

    felipe (630e0b)

  32. I left the following comment on the wrong thread!

    The inherent problem (which must be overcome), with remote learning is made apparent if you look at such things as cooking shows and science shows:

    The best cooking shows where one is most likely to learn how to cook, are those that ask the viewer to actually cook along with them in real time. the instructor will also anticipate the common mistakes a novice will commit and explain how such an error happens, what it looks like, and how to avoid it in the future. The novice learns by watching, listening, and doing, but most critically, by interaction. There is no substitute for being present to a teacher and a teacher present to a student.


    Quite right! The format and projects were key to its popularity, but the limitations of the TV show are made apparent by the needed (and desired, of course) formation of all those clubs, where people were able to be physically present, because interaction.

    Speaking of format, it may be that the worst results from remote teaching, may be due to placing too much emphasis on talking about a subject, at the expense of doing a subject. For example, math. Talking about math is not the same as doing math.

    Dana, thank you for pointing out that homeschooling is different from remote learning! I invite anyone who actually home-schools a child, to give us a first-hand account of what it entails. Both the good and the bad. I should think that the most obvious good is the teacher-to-student(s) ratio.
    felipe (630e0b) — 1/28/2021 @ 3:10 am

    felipe (630e0b)

  33. @32. Don Herbert didn’t need the ‘clubs’ to demonstrate nor instruct. They weren’t necessary nor essential. You could drop a match in a milk bottle and watch a shelled, hard-boiled egg get sucked into it all on your own– no clubs needed.

    DCSCA (f4c5e5)

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