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.

Comments (5)
  1. Robert Dahl says:

    I am against the name change of my High School. Why Maya Angelou? George Washington HS has had many famous graduates. If slave holders are the issue why not Johnny Mathis High or Ollie Matson HS. No, keep the name of our first president. That’s what it was named and should stay. I’m 80. If I were to say I went to Angelou HS, people would say, “Who is Angelou?”
    Robert Dahl ’54 an Independent.

  2. I’m not a Republican; in fact, I’m a radical leftist. I’m also a graduate of GWHS, Class of Spring 1964. I see no basis for changing the school’s name other than to satisfy the opinion of a few people that slaveholders should not be honored today because that lends condonation to the institution of slavery. I don’t know and nor have I ever known anyone from Washington High School who supported or supports the enslavement of anyone. In fact, I’m certain that every student I’ve ever encountered from my high school deplored slavery. Simply because slavery existed in Washington’s time and he did what others did then doesn’t create a moral duty to repudiate him now any more than failure to repudiate the Catholic Church today means that we endorse the Inquisition.

  3. Maya was not a native of San Francisco! I suggest Matt Haney read about Maya before attempting again to push his agenda! None of my fellow George Washington graduates want our schools name changed!

  4. The way this article starts, George Washington’s importance has been reduced to winning the revolutionary war. He did far more than that. He, and so many others were visionary’s. They laid a bedrock for this republic, and gave us the tools and methods to build upon. Far less than perfect we have, and still do evolve. The said part? I heard, and read George Washington University, Washington, DC, does not require studying US History to get a degree. There’s something wrong here. I learned to recognize that in my Civics class. GWHS 66.

  5. Ray Shanahan says:

    This is wrong in so many ways. First of all this should not be a political issue. There are allegations that this is a Democrat -Republican fight. That is so incorrect. This is more about politicians that want to progress up the ladder, by taking a stance on what happened 250 years ago. If you are going to find faults with mere mortal men,then believe me you will be changing the names of all the schools. Cabrillo and every Spaniard that was involved in the missions, to begin with.