Prince William School Board members are considering a policy change to change how schools are named or renamed.
The agenda item is a response to the renaming of Godwin Middle School. There was no regulation to guide the board through that process as regulation 854-1 does not mention anything about renaming schools.
It does dictates how to name a new school or facility, saying community committees must be formed. Those committees present their recommendations to the school board, and the school board then names the schools by majority vote.
Wednesday, Gainesville school board member Alyson Satterwhite asked the board to extend the regulation to include the renaming existing schools and facilities.
“I felt like we needed to put something into policy, so if a renaming came up again, we would have a policy to follow.”
School Board members all agreed with Satterwhite that the community should be involved in any future school renamings, but some went a step further, suggesting other changes to the regulation as well.
Good on the school board for having this discussion, even though it is too little too late. Their ineptitude last March caused irreparable fractures and damage in our community. However, the time to move on upon us. How do we go forward?
Several members suggested that schools should not be named after living people. Good idea. It becomes a popularity contest. Ms. Jessie disagreed, saying that the school would have never been named for Fannie Fitzgerald had the rule been written policy that only the deceased could be considered. How nice that Ms. Fitzgerald knew she had been honored. She and the other 3 black teachers who were the trailblazers when PWC schools integrated absolutely should be remembered for their bravery.
Another board member suggested that schools not be named for people at all. Still another strongly urged the board to consider people closely tied to the education community.
The discussion has begun. The community needs to give the school board their thoughts and direction. There was merit in most of the comments I read.
The topic that was omitted was how to decide to rename schools. That should be an important consideration and I suspect it will become the 2000 pound elephant in the room. I say we do not rename schools. Should a compelling need arise, we need to do it with dignity and honor. There was no point in the dishonor that was heaped on Mills Godwin. It was inexcusable.
Where do we go from here and how do we a avoid the Godwin debacle in the future?