SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — A battle is being renewed Friday over whether George Washington’s name should stay on a San Francisco high school.
It’s a faceoff, between a founding father and a legendary civil rights poet.
George Washington may have helped win America’s war for independence, but today, the high school named after him in San Francisco is embroiled in a battle all its own.
The idea to change the school’s name first surfaced in early September of last year when San Francisco School Board President Matt Haney introduced the idea on Twitter.
“We should rename Washington High School after San Francisco native, poet and author Maya Angelou. Maya Angelou High School. No schools named after slave owners,” Haney said in the tweet.
And now San Francisco republicans are fighting back against the idea.
“The cost doesn’t justify the means. Spend millions changing the name of a school just to fit someone’s political agenda,” said Jason Clark of San Francisco Republican Party.
There hasn’t been any official discussion about the name change, but San Francisco Unified School District Superintendent Myong Leigh says there very well could be.
When asked if this was an actual possibility or if it was just one board member expressing his opinion, Leigh replied “I’d say it’s both.”
Which is why the San Francisco Republicans have launched a campaign to save George Washington High School.
They are raising money and awareness to fight against what they say is an attack on America’s founding fathers. Francis Scott Key Elementary, named after the man who wrote the National Anthem, is another school name up for debate.
Just last week, the SFUSD board voted to change Columbus Day to Indiginous Peoples Day. Board president Haney said Christopher Columbus isn’t someone who should be celebrated.
The GOP says history is something to be learned from, not to be changed.
“I think it’s important to celebrate someone for their achievements, but we educate too, that people are imperfect,” explained Clark.
When asked where he stood on the matter, Leigh said there should be discussion.
“I think they are important questions,” he said. “I think it’s definitely worth a conversation and a public debate.”
Haney said he was threatened after tweeting that the school’s name should be changed.
KPIX 5 reached out to San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee about the question. He would offer no comment.