Education News

Push To Rename Houston Schools Named For Confederate Figures

At least six HISD schools are named after Confederate loyalists, including Lee High School, Reagan High School and Dowling Middle School.

John_H._Reagan_High_School_-_06_-_Entranceway800px.jpg
View of the John H. Reagan High School entranceway. Image credit: Wikipedia/0x0077BE

 

There’s been a national debate over the Confederate flag as a symbol of slavery and racism.

In Houston, some leaders want schools need to stop honoring that history through their namesakes.

Some of the names might sound familiar: Robert E. Lee, John H. Reagan, Dick Dowling.

These are schools in the Houston Independent School District.

They’re also names of Confederate loyalists: the army commander, the secretary of the treasury and an army officer for Southern states that seceded in the Civil War.

“These people systemically, through a system of slavery, oppressed an entire race of people. They systematically excluded them from being educated,” said HISD Board President Rhonda Skillern-Jones.

She said that it doesn’t make sense for schools to be named after them, especially when those schools serve mostly students of color.

“If anyone thinks they are honorable in an institution of education, then I would say they are wrong, very wrong,” she said.

Skillern-Jones said that a group is working to revise the district’s policy on how to change a school’s name. Currently, the policy only spells out how a community can rename a campus, not the school board.

She said that she’ll make sure to get it on the agenda this fall.

State Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, is also pushing HISD to rename six schools named after Confederate figures.

He wrote Skillern-Jones and HISD leaders about it last month in a letter. He was also influential when HISD changed several controversial mascot names last year, like the Lamar Redskins.

“When we honor hate at our schools, we teach hate to our children,” Ellis wrote about the school names tied to the Confederacy.

Read his letter to HISD below.

 

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Laura Isensee

Laura Isensee

Education Reporter

Laura Isensee covers education for Houston Public Media, including K-12 and higher education. Previously, she was a staff reporter at The Miami Herald and contributed to South Florida’s NPR affiliate. Her work has also appeared in The Dallas Morning News, Reuters and Clarín in Argentina. Laura has won awards for...

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