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Thomas Jefferson name dropped from school due to pain his legacy can cause black students, board says

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Yet a survey revealed that 61% of parents were against dropping Jefferson moniker

Photo by Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post via Getty Images

A Virginia elementary school named after Thomas Jefferson is dropping the name of the third president of the United States, author of the Declaration of Independence, and iconic Founding Father after the Falls Church School Board voted 7-0 for the change, WTOP-FM reported.

The station said the board also voted Tuesday night to change the name of a high school named after George Mason, another Founding Father.

What are the details?

"After deep and careful consideration of everything I've heard and read, I conclude that renaming both schools is in the best interest of our students and a necessary part of our equity work," board Chairman Greg Anderson said Tuesday, WTOP said.

The move to drop the schools' names began in the summer at the height of social unrest sparked by the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, the station said.

Some school board members said their thinking evolved over the months in favor of changing the school names, and they began to understand the hurt the Jefferson and Mason names can cause black students, WTOP reported.

"The voice of some African Americans in our community who spoke up pushed me off the fence on to the side of seeing that it is essential we change the names," board member Shannon Litton told the station. "What I heard from them is that this matters."

Board Vice Chairwoman Shawna Russell said students should not feel marginalized or uncomfortable, WTOP said: "We must serve all the children. … We need to find names welcoming to all."

Most parents against name changes

The board's unanimous vote to drop the names came despite a community survey that found 61% of the parents of Thomas Jefferson students and 57% of George Mason High parents were opposed to the idea, the station said.

A major reason survey participants said they were against changing the school names is because Jefferson and Mason were Founding Fathers who greatly contributed to Virginia and the nation, the station added.

"I considered the survey results and the community discussion that followed, and I revisited our public hearings … I conclude that the public is split, and if you go beyond the simple number, I've heard reasoned perspectives from those in favor of retaining the names and from those in favor of changing the names," Anderson said, according to WTOP.

One of the speakers at the board meeting, Dr. Jennifer Santiago, said she represented those in the minority who favored dropping the names, the station noted.

"While there are many times majority rules works in issues of equity, it is the opposite that is needed," Santiago said, WTOP reported. "If the majority rule worked for traditionally marginalized groups, we would not have systemic racism."

Former student William Henneberg — who attended the elementary and high schools — said the name change is a bad idea, the station reported.

"Do not encourage our students to be victims or to use offense as a means to shut others down," Henneberg said, according to WTOP. "Encourage our children to be critical thinkers."

But Santiago disagreed, saying the majority's decision-making has ruled for a long time and that those in the minority are most impacted in this case, the station said.

"We need to listen very strongly to the minority response to this survey," Santiago said, according to WTOP. "Because the voices making up that number are the ones most negatively affected by the lives and legacies of these two men."

The renaming process will begin with the board's meeting next Tuesday, the station said.

'Petty tyrants'

On her Wednesday night show, Fox News' Laura Ingraham called the Falls Church board members "petty tyrants" for their vote, which she said sides with the "purgers of history."

Here's her segment, which explores the woke educational trend nationwide:

Ingraham: School board bows to 'radical activists' youtu.be

(H/T: The College Fix)

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