Factual inaccuracies found in the research behind renaming SF schools

The School Names Advisory Committee advises the school board on which schools meet criteria for a name change. Apparently, in some cases, the committee got their facts wrong.
SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The San Francisco School Board has been criticized for trying to rename 44 schools.

It has been controversial because apparently not enough research was put into it, or in some cases, the committee that advised the school board got the facts wrong.

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The School Names Advisory Committee met on Zoom to determine whether the name of schools in San Francisco are still relevant or appropriate, and make recommendations to the school board.

The committee used specific criteria like colonization, slavery, racism and genocide.

In late January, School Board President Gabriela Lopez explained why they supported the actions of the advisory committee.

"We're committed to undoing symbols of racism and white supremacy culture," said Lopez.

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San Francisco Unified School District's Art Department is taking a bold stand on acronyms, saying they tend to "alienate those who may not speak English to understand the acronym."

For example, Alvarado Elementary made the list of schools the committee determined should be renamed.

"Alvarado?," asked one committee member. Another responded, "Spanish colonizer who stole land and resources from Native people."

But no historians or professors, that we know of, were consulted. In fact, one committee member even admitted going on the internet to do her research.

"I found it on history.com which is pretty credible," she explained on that Zoom call.

It appears that the research they did was not always accurate. Take Sanchez Elementary, named after the street.

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The committee thought Sanchez Street is named after Jose Bernardo Sanchez, born in Spain who in the early 1800s accompanied a military expedition against indigenous peoples.

"Sanchez, here's another colonizer. If you said colonizer, it meets our criteria. Colonizer, California missions, Bla, bla, bla, it's in the notes. Yes."

And that's how the committee decided to add Sanchez Elementary to the list of schools that should be renamed.

But according to records from the city and county of San Francisco, it appears that Sanchez Street is named after Francisco Sanchez, born in San Jose. He's buried at Mission Dolores. He was the 8th "alcalde," which means mayor in Spanish, when California was still part of Mexico.

We reached out to the President and Vice President of the school board today but they did not respond.

The advisory committee's next meeting will be on Feb. 24.
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