School names spark controversy

Sparked by parent complaints, PPS has been constructing a policy to change PPS school names.

There has been aggravation within the Franklin community concerning their school mascot, The Quakers. A Quaker is “(a member) of a historically Christian group of religious movements formally known as the Religious Society of Friends or Friends Church.”

The name may seem innocent at first. However, some guardians enrolling their students into a school called the Quakers are uncomfortable.

“The use of the name of any religion in this manner by a public school sends several subtle messages,” says Franklin parent, Mia Pisano.
Pisano identifies as a practicing Quaker, but still feels as if it is not correct to correlate religious affiliation with public schooling.

The Franklin student body expresses split viewpoints on the situation.

Sophomore Olivia Miller identifies as an atheist. She currently plays soccer under the Quaker name for her school.

“It would be nice to have our school not be religiously affiliated with something like a Quaker,” says Miller.

The other side of the split represents a completely separate stance. Sophomore Loghan Miller is not offended by the name in any way. Miller grew up as a Christian, so the label is nothing new for her. She currently plays soccer for the school, and is debating running track for a second year in a row.

“I don’t really think about (the name of our school). I just go out and play without any second thought.”

I don’t want to walk up the steps to see a statue of Thomas Jefferson knowing what my ancestors had to go through.”

— Jayden Henderson, Jefferson High School student

The PPS school board has introduced a new policy which will make changing the name of schools much easier. It currently states that any name proposals cannot be under any religious affiliation and that “all considerations must reflect (the) commitment to eliminating systemic discrimination and its impact on student learning and educational activities.”

Franklin isn’t the only PPS school caught up in the debate. Jefferson High School is working with the Humboldt Neighborhood Society and community about the controversial name: “Jefferson”. Thomas Jefferson was one of America’s founding fathers, as well as the President from 1801-1809 after serving as Vice President under John Adams. Such accomplishments deserve recognition, however, he has a much more controversial side. Jefferson, despite his accomplishments, is well known for owning slaves throughout his life.

Whether Jefferson should be considered a bad man for his ownership of slaves or a good man for his relatively decent treatment of slaves, as well as his anti-slavery views as president, is up to the community.

Junior baseball player and African American student, Jayden Henderson, expresses his views.

“The name Thomas Jefferson is not something we really want to be a part of. [Jefferson] is a majority black school, which brings majority black culture. We don’t really want [a mascot] that is not representing [that culture],” says Henderson. “I don’t want to walk up the steps to see a statue of Thomas Jefferson knowing what my ancestors had to go through.”

Henderson is currently involved in the Black Student Union at Jefferson High School. BSU meetings are an open space for students to express their opinions. Recently, the name change idea has been a popular conversation.

Even though Henderson would prefer a name change, he sees other issues which take priority over it.

“Get us some clean water first. Let’s focus on that before we figure out about changing the name,” says Henderson.

Since the lead issues within the water systems, students have not been able to drink from the drinking fountains. Instead students are  drink from one of the water jugs scattered throughout the buildings.

Drug and alcohol problems within the PPS middle and high school systems should be another focus point for the district, according to Henderson.

“The problem lies in the younger kids getting involved in adult things. The bar continues to get lower, and young kids continue to get exposed to more things.”

The Humboldt Neighborhood Association (HNA) has been working alongside Jefferson High School in hopes to replace the controversial name.

The HNA policy currently states: “The Board (Humboldt Neighborhood Association) is opposed, as a matter of policy, to retaining names of schools and other public institutions named for former slave owners or others who did not respect equal opportunity for all.”

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