PPS presents plan to reexamine names of district buildings and spaces7/15/2020
At the July 14 Board of Education meeting, Portland Public Schools released a plan that lays out a procedure for renaming its buildings and other spaces. The move to reexamine district names comes in response to the continuing unrest across the country, including in Portland, in reaction to the systematic racism brought into public focus this summer.
Dani Ledezma, PPS Senior Advisor on Racial Equity and Social Justice, presented the plan she authored with Superintendent Guadalupe Guerrero that will be co-facilitated with PPS students. The plan establishes a Renaming and Redefining Committee that will begin work in September on a five-phase process.
Among the phases is a review and study of renaming Wilson High School, which is being undertaken because the former president it is named for expressed outright racist beliefs. A student group at Wilson led the movement to change the school’s name.
“Young people today are demanding much more from our institutions, and wholesale veneration of racist figures should be a thing of the past,” Superintendent Guerrero said.
Ledezma emphasized the importance of being as thoughtful as possible and fully engaging with students during the process. She proposed a balanced approach that centers on the voices of students, especially students of color, and aligns with the district's Racial Equity and Social Justice Framework and Plan, as well as the PPS Vision.
“As leaders of Portland Public Schools, a 150-year-old pre-K-12 education system, we have the opportunity to channel the energy of this collective movement and to build upon the decades of work by black, indigenous and other communities of color to disrupt the cultural and institutional racism that permeates our own system,” Ledezma said.
Watch the presentation and discussion at the Board meeting: