The public school district in Austin is moving to rename five schools named after Confederate leaders, and officials appear determined to follow through regardless of whether the school communities approve.
The Austin American Statesman reported that administrators have a proposal to rename the five schools and are seeking permission from the board that oversees the Austin Independent School District, which has about 85,000 students.
Last year, the district went through a sometimes difficult process to rename Robert E. Lee Elementary, which was the first time an Austin school with a name tied to a Confederate leader had been renamed. There seemed little appetite to rename other schools at the time, but things changed after violence erupted and a woman was killed in Charlottesville when neo-Nazis, Ku Klux Klan members and white supremacists marched to protest the removal of a Confederate statute. After that, Kendall Pace, president of the Austin school board, tweeted:
Schools named = monuments. Time is now. https://t.co/Sk7Wb4spMK
— Kendall G Pace (@KendallGPace) August 17, 2017
It appears that the schools will not have a choice about whether to rename, though the school communities will be involved in the renaming, if the trustees on the school board give their approval to the proposal. Naming committees would be created and community feedback would be sought before the board would vote on new names in March, according to the newspaper.
These are the five schools expected to be renamed, as reported by the Austin American-Statesman:
John T. Allan facility (former Allan Elementary), named for John T. Allan, an officer in the Confederate Army
Fulmore Middle School, named for Zachary Taylor Fulmore, a private in the Confederate Army;
Lanier High School, named for Sidney Lanier, a noted poet who fought for the Confederacy;
Reagan High School, named for John H. Reagan, the Confederacy’s postmaster general;
Eastside Memorial High School at the Johnston campus, named for Confederate Gen. Albert S. Johnston.
Scores of public schools across the country are still named after Confederate leaders — a count in 2015 by the website Vocativ found there were 188 — and many are not in the South. Ever since the Charlottesville unrest, there has been renewed interest in changing the names of public institutions or statues linked to the Confederacy.