At next Wednesday’s Palo Alto Unified School District Board meeting, two names will be recommended to replace the names of Jordan Middle School and Terman Middle School, respectively. Among the nine finalists, which include seven deceased individuals and two geographic landmarks, are William Hewlett ’39, co-founder of Hewlett-Packard, and Ellen Fletcher, former Palo Alto city councilwoman.
Former Palo Alto Unified School District Superintendent Max McGee created The Recommending School Names Advisory Committee after the school board voted unanimously on Mar. 17, 2017 to rename the middle schools due to their current namesakes’ connections with eugenics. David Starr Jordan, who served as Stanford’s founding president, and Lewis Madison Terman, who worked as a psychologist at Stanford’s Graduate School of Education, both showed support for the idea that controlled breeding for genetic traits could augment human populations.
The school board agreed to form a committee to review the names of all schools in the district after the parent of a then-seventh-grader at Jordan started a petition in Nov. 2015 calling for consideration of new names for the middle school. He developed the idea after his son brought home a research project that touched on Jordan’s history with eugenics.
The review resulted in the decision to rename not only Jordan but Terman as well, and Palo Alto residents (excluding members of the committee) were allowed to submit suggestions for the schools’ new names on an online forum from Dec. 12 until Jan. 20.
After receiving more than 1500 ideas for new school names, The Recommending School Names Advisory Committee selected nine finalists based on each name’s connection to Palo Alto, its “inspirational value” for middle schoolers and the extent to which positive values, including innovation and inclusion, are seen to be associated with the name being potentially honored.
The seven people being considered are Ellen Fletcher, Frank Greene, William Hewlett, Edith Johnson, Fred Yamamoto and Anna Zschokke. The two landmarks are Adobe Creek (as a potential replacement for Terman) and Redwood Grove (as a potential replacement for Jordan).
The board plans to rename both schools, a process that will cost an estimated $50,000, by the start of the 2018-19 year. The money, according to McGee, could come from a school bond approved by voters in 2008.
Contact Holden Foreman at hs4man21 ‘at’ stanford.edu.