It is perhaps fitting that the Department of Education’s feeble attempt to suggest that their efforts to purge the teaching staffs of the 22 Transformation and Restart schools involve the creation of truly new schools has come to focus on the most ephemeral element — a new name. In the joint meetings, staff, students and community all objected strenuously to the erasure of their schools’ history and heritage, but that means little to the ideologically hell-bent at Tweed and City Hall.
It is worth pointing out that these name changes, following on the closure of 140 DOE schools since the beginning of the Bloomberg era, has significantly changed the names of New York City schools. Pre-Bloomberg, school names reflected the city’s rich heritage of protest and social progress. Now, schools named after trade union leaders, civil rights leaders, democratic socialists, feminists and civic reformers have all had their names stripped from them, one by one, by the corporate reformers:
Trade Unionists: John Dewey, Samuel Gompers, Harry Van Arsdale.
Civil Rights Figures: Benjamin Banneker, Henry Highland Garnet, Martin Luther King, August Martin, Luis Muñoz Marín, Bayard Rustin, Paul Robeson, Dr. Betty Shabazz.
Democratic Socialists: John Dewey, Martin Luther King, Bayard Rustin, Norman Thomas.
Civic Reformers/Feminists: Jane Addams, Lucretia Mott.
Still alive on this endangered species list? A. Phillip Randolph and Fannie Lou Hamer.