By Joe Farkus, NDG Special Contributor
The debate over what to do with schools named after Confederate leaders came to the forefront during the Aug. 24 Dallas ISD School Board Meeting. Five Dallas schools are currently named after Confederate figures with Robert E. Lee Elementary and Stonewall Jackson Elementary serving as the most notable.
Many of the parents in attendance on Thursday applauded District 5 Board Trustee Dr. Lew Blackburn for successfully getting the issue of renaming these schools on the agenda for next month’s Dallas ISD Board Meeting. Blackburn has made his position clear on the issue: not only is he open to changing the name of schools that bear the names of Confederate leaders, but he is also open to changing the name of any school named after a former slave owner – that could include Thomas Jefferson High School.
“Kids have an amazing sense of justice,” Dallas ISD parent Mike Koprowski told the trustees Thursday evening. He went on to suggest that the schools in question were only named to “glorify and rebrand” the history of the Confederacy.
Dallas ISD high school teacher and parent of a Robert E. Lee Elementary student Adam Bazaldua echoed Koprowski’s statement, suggesting the schools could be renamed after the 5 fallen police officers killed in last summer’s deadly shooting downtown. To do so, Bazaldua recommended changing the current procedure for renaming schools.
The current process requires schools to submit name change proposals by next April – and if approved by the Trustee Board – would result in a June 2018 vote over the proposed name changes. Some parents think that simply isn’t soon enough.
“The time is now,” Mary Parrish, a woman whose online petition to rename Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee has gained more than 3,200 signatures in just over a week, stated. “The emotional cost to African American children is far greater than the financial cost [of renaming the schools].”
With apparent support from the trustees for the name changes, the real question is whether the board will favor an expedited process over the current one. Trustee Board President Dan Micciche has publicly stated he is open to either option.