a school hallway

Palo Alto may join a growing number of towns and campuses that are renaming buildings over the troubling legacies left by their namesakes. The Palo Alto Unified School District Board of Education is set to vote Tuesday evening whether to rename Jordan Middle School and Terman Middle School because they were named after prominent advocates of eugenics. As the names of important buildings are debated in Palo Alto and across the nation, should their namesakes be weighed against modern values or does doing so risk erasing community history?

Palo Alto School District to Vote on Renaming Two Schools, Joining National Debate 15 March,2017Michael Krasny

Guests:
Sara Armstrong, member of the advisory committee recommending the renaming of two Palo Alto middle schools; parent of a student at Terman Middle School
Matt Haney, president, San Francisco Board of Education
Organization

James Livingston, professor of history, Rutgers University-New Brunswick
Pitch Johnson, member of the advisory committee on the renaming of two Palo Alto middle schools

  • jakeleone

    The name of public schools should go to the highest bidder, in order to offset public cost. Think about it, “Trump (high/middle) school”, has a cha-ching ring to it.

    • jurgispilis

      Like AT&T park, Oracle arena, Staples center, Benioff Childrens Hospital. Ka-ching.

  • Paul

    Bill Gates’ father was the head of Planned Parenthood, which practices a kind of eugenics if you think about it. I’d prefer that the Gates Computer Science Building at Stanford be renamed the Chop Chop Informatics Shack.
    Bill Gates himself is a proponent of Monsanto, which promotes eugenics for plants, which is so evil it has caused farmers in India to commit suicide– it’s eugenics by an indirect method.

    • geraldfnord

      Where Planned Parenthood and the eugenics mivement part wats is fundamental: the primacy of the woman (or, sadly too often, girl) who would bear or not.

  • Paul

    Wasn’t the founder of Planned Parenthood Margaret Sanger a eugenicist who complained about “human waste”, meaning the poor, and even attended KK~K meetings?
    I ask only for information.

    • wandagb

      Read her biography. She was a social worker in crowded tenements trying to help women overwhelmed by endless pregnancies in an era where teaching birth control was against the law. She liberated women from being baby machines to fully contributing members of society.

      With a world of 7 billion heading for 12 billion being fixated on eugenics is an odd pastime.

      • Paul

        Ok then I wonder where the human waste quote comes from? Is that what she told the rich to get their money?

        • Kevin Skipper

          Some attribute her and Ayn Rand’s prescriptions and tongue-in-cheek sarcasm. Unfortunately, her intended audience proved, in the end, to be actual vampires and cannibals. Go figure.

      • Kevin Skipper

        One of those figures is slightly inaccurate, the other represents a 50-year slippery-slope scenario.

    • geraldfnord

      She tried emphasising the health and happiness of the poor for years, but found that framing it as eugenics got the wealthy to fork-over the money she needed to improve the health and increase the happiness of the poor. I think her guilty of hypocrisy in this, but I prefer her to (e.g.) a sincere racialist-nationalist.

      • Kevin Skipper

        Feel free to give the same leeway to UC, California DOE, Hollywood and Silicon Valley. Same folks. New addresses. Better computers.

    • Another Mike

      Browsing through Sanger’s book, The Pivot of Civilization, we see that “human waste” means people who cannot support themselves and who thus must be supported by the rest of society. These include the feeble-minded, criminals, and the insane.

      • Kevin Skipper

        ….A designation created by capitalism and eugenics. Likely that the “Human Waste.” Was the inevitable genetic fodder that same from a Teutonic gene-pool, deliberately shrunken by racist population managers. It is actually a more plausible explanation for the hordes of bleached, emaciated piles of wasted human bodies portrayed in Holocaust photos.

        Read Hitler’s physical desctiption of the Jews sought out for ‘extermination.’ It is inconsistent with those faces shown in ‘Shindler’s List’ and ‘The Diary or Anne Frank.’

    • Kevin Skipper

      You’re right, Paul. Don’t bother reading her biography. Ask Wanda to qualify her interpretation of “endless pregnancies.” Sounds like something embraced by the “sisters” at Mills’ College.

  • wandagb

    Since people are imperfect it is ill advised to name schools after people. We should find another naming scheme, e.g. naming schools after birds or musical instruments or perhaps minerals; the opportunities are endless. In this manner we can avoid the foreseeable psychic damage arising from future revelation of shame.

    • Beth Grant DeRoos

      Yet some PC type will protest a school named Oak Elementary because there are no oaks, or Walnut Creek Middle School because there is no running creek with walnut trees along its banks.

  • stevesailer

    The Terman Middle School in Palo Alto is named after both Lewis Terman, who introduced intelligence testing to America with the Stanford-Binet test and who did more than anyone to shatter negative stereotypes about gifted children, and his son Fred Terman, dean of engineering at Stanford and probably the most deserving of the title of Father of Silicon Valley.

    A compromise was offered of dropping Lewis Terman’s name from being honored, while keeping the name Terman and only honoring Fred, but it has been decided that the intellectual sins of the hereditarian father must be inherited by the son so the family name must be expunged from memory.

    • Kevin Skipper

      I have yet to be convinced that Silicon Valley is anything but an extension of that ‘original sin.’

  • NewRep

    This reminded me that when the Communist party took over VN in 1975, they denied VN history and renamed all schools, streets and many famous places that beared the names of the scholars, heros, poetrists to whatever that are related to their believes.
    Believe me, 100 years from now these people will replace Washington with the a liberal name.

  • John

    This is just the beginning soon nowhere in SF bay or all of California will you see the names Washington or Jefferson, only Parks, King and Chavez and KQED and the liberal media are pushing this agenda

    • jurgispilis

      And the Indian references get deleted as well. Who will ever know these people lived here, and such was their vision of reality.

      • Paul

        After being here 15000 years you’d think they at least deserve to have a school named after them etc

        • Another Mike

          Ohlone College.

        • Kevin Skipper

          The oppressor naming his complexes of indoctrinated oppression after the known oppressed.

          • Paul

            It’s not that b&w… many whites have Native American ancestry

          • Kevin Skipper

            No they don’t. That’s a myth spun up by racists who created a legal loophole in order to appropriate Native and Colored-owned land.

          • Paul

            Sorry but I’ve met them and they do… note that poor whites had little to lose from marrying any indigenous person who is attractive and many tribes were friendly

          • Kevin Skipper

            Right but white skinned adoptees of native-hood must admit that they make no move to forgo or divest from their white privilege. Besides, it would be different if these “White Natives” actually continued mixing but they don’t. They, like the rest of Pro-White America, maintain segregation, white supremacy and entitlement programs that ensure that children and communities of ACTUAL color continue to be last in line for any real improvement.

          • Paul

            There is no such thing as white privilege; you need to get that idea out of your head because it is an idea that is specifically invented by the 1% to divide and conquer the victims of the 1%!. Only the rich have privilege …
            and hence the connection between BLM and Aspen Institute.
            Privilege is a red herring

          • Kevin Skipper

            Anyone wishing to disprove the existence of white privilege better have a really good explanation for the social outlays here in the Bay Area and for that matter, the globalized West.

            Privilege like access, is subject to gradients and degrees. While affluence may be the concrete or primary privilege, race is the sliding-scale proxy. Just because 99% of white folks have to work to make ends meet, that doesn’t negate their inherent privilege.

            That’s like saying women shouldn’t claim chauvinism because some men are harassed as well.

          • Another Mike

            White people don’t realize they HAVE privilege, any more than fish realize they are wet. If I go shopping in a mall, nobody watches me. The cops don’t pull me over unless I do something heinous, and if I go into a new bar, nobody bristles.

          • Kevin Skipper

            That’s the only reason I go to bars at all. Buzz-killin’!

            “BOO-yaw!”

          • Kevin Skipper

            They realize their privilege just like they know or their intolerance to the sun. Shame and denial render the subject untouchable to all interested in maintaining the ‘EUphoria.’ Don’t kill the buzz.

          • Another Mike

            I disagree. Much as white people don’t realize their skin tone sets them apart, thinking of themselves only as “people.”

          • Paul

            “their skin tone sets them apart”
            That’s racist.

          • Another Mike

            No, I don’t discriminate against white people. Nor do I think white people are better than anyone else.

          • Kevin Skipper

            If only that were true. In fact, its pretty much the opposite. Whiteness is not a race. It’s a genetic condition, the maintenance of which has required generations of programming, conditioning and self-conscious cultural and civilizational surrogations. One need only look at the idiosyncrasies of Western ‘education’ to see that these means are not only deliberate but create an atmosphere of extreme self-consciousness and projectionist denial.

            It’s important to point this out, not to accuse or indict one group for being naturally evil or perhaps, the “Devil” but the specify that nothing about racism, supremacy or for that matter, oppression or marginalization that is accidental or even natural.

          • Beth Grant DeRoos

            One need only look at Americas past and how the Irish, were treated by English speaking British rooted areas here in the states. Signs on businesses that said No dogs No Irish were allowed.

            Or the 17th and 18th centuries where we see the Irish as indentured servants with some forcibly banished into indentured servitude during the period of the English Civil Wars where they existed under harsh conditions and were treated cruelly.

            Thus I think we have more of a class based discrimination issue than blatant racial, ethnic discrimination. The more one has true friends who are from different races, ethnic, religious, economic etc backgrounds the more one tends to see or at least better understand that if you are unkind to one of them you are unkind to me, and I am not about to take your unkindness lightly. This is where the millennials ‘get it’ when reading reliable studies from Pew Research.

          • Kevin Skipper

            Everything that Irish suffered for the decades that they did in America must be balanced with the fact that they were ALLOWED to be here and to function and free humans. American immigration keeps closer tabs on new-comers as they must be carefully placed and moved to serve existing racial balances. Irish (Scotts Irish, actually) immigrants quickly found their place as plantation overseers and slave-catchers and later, the police, KKK and other organizations charged with maintaining America’s racial climate.

            Liberal thinkers like Karl Marx gain fame an notoriety for providing surrogate explanations for racism. Note that Marx lived in an extremely color-sensitive time, yet he rarely, if ever, mentions race or the groups that it designates, effectively obfuscating the economic drivers of racism. To explain it the other way around is to ignore the proper order of history. It also, conveniently ignores that Karl Marx was obviously a man of color. Had he been born half a century later, he would have been among those sought by Hitler for extermination.

            Racial extermination, not economic. Remember, Germany’s Reichstadt retained the diamonds, gold and land confiscated from ethnic Jews.

          • Paul

            @disqus_EycRxNIhST:disqus
            Speak for yourself. When I go to the mall as a white guy I do get noticed, because security guards are largely racist non-whites.

          • Paul

            1950’s Racism is not privilege.

            When will the loony left get a clue that “privilege” isn’t even the right term?

          • Kevin Skipper

            You weren’t there, Paul. Either way, before you start tossing around epithets and mental health diagnoses, perhaps you would be willing to submit a more fitting label or a more informative social context than I have.

            What was so different about racism in the 1950’s and today? Russians. White American’s didn’t just hate the Coloreds that they could see. They also hated the unseen Russian Menace which allowed them to temper their racial prejudices and fears with a more palatable, euphemistic “nationalist” brand of xenophobic hatred.

            PROVE ME WRONG PAUL.

            prove me wrong.

          • kpwn

            or like claiming that no men are harassed because fewer are.

          • Kevin Skipper

            BLM is the biggest pile of B.S. since “the Blind Side” and ‘Cant we all just get along?”
            Universal Black Victimhood is a vicious myth.

            Privilege and access gained by ongoing structural, institutional and cultural racism are not.

          • Another Mike

            If they didn’t all claim to be part Cherokee, I might believe it.

            For example, a FOAF was married to a Sac and Fox elder. Nobody claims to be part Sac and Fox.

          • Kevin Skipper

            Same with black parents eager to explain their newborn’s ‘good hair.’

            “We got Cher’kee n Creole.” yeah, yeah.

    • William – SF

      …and just north, south, and east of 580 nothing but Trump identified buildings!? Blah!

    • Kevin Skipper

      Are you sad that the Austro-Hungarians and Palatinates will lose their special place? Such is the loss of our precious and racist history. How long did you think the Reichstadt was going to last? I’m asking you as well as those who upvoted such a ridiculous comment. Get back to me when the schools are named after Gaddafi and Sesiseko Mobutu.

      • Another Mike

        Why would American schools be named for non-Americans?

        One fact I retain from Chavez’s autobiography was how for him, Japanese-Americans were the worst, and lowest-paying employers, the last people he would take a job with. And that Mexican-Americans were not sorry to see them rounded up and put in camps. But I guess this racial stereotyping is not enough to get that street renamed to Army.

        • Kevin Skipper

          Before Chavez, Blacks and Chicanos struggled together for justice in the same adjacent barrios and ghettos. Chavez’s impact on black access to farming and ag labor will forever mark him as a hero to racist California. He was a eugenicist too.

        • Kevin Skipper

          American schools tend to me named after European immigrants whom we have readily adopted and accepted as Americans.

          • Beth Grant DeRoos

            The naming of schools after humans wasn’t always the norm. Most often the school was named for the street it was on, or the town it was on or after some tree. Like 4th Street Elementary, Walnut Creek Elementary, Cyprus High School. Alas, these days someone with a food allergy would protest naming a school after a nut, fruit, grain…….

          • Kevin Skipper

            Walnuts are not responsible for destroying almond groves. If they were to be found guilty of such genetic improprieties, we’d have to rename it Peanut or better yet, Goober Creek Elementary.

    • Paul

      Maybe the faux leftists will even start naming things after muslims e.g. the pediphile prophet/murderer Mohammed or perhaps after the super devout muslims who tried to kill Mohammeds daughter

      • Kevin Skipper

        Like Tesla?

        • Paul

          I missed the show too btw

          • Kevin Skipper

            Tesla was from post-Islamic Serbia.

    • Paul

      Maybe the Democrats who are puppets of the Islamists will argue to have schools named after Muslims ?

      • Kevin Skipper

        Malcolm X Elementary-Berkeley, Ca

        • Paul

          No, Malcolm OS/X didn’t hang with the Islamists who’ve got influence.

          • Kevin Skipper

            Of course not. That’s my point.

  • geraldfnord

    I’m for drawing the line at murder as a policy, and distinguishing (as does the law) between warfare and a policy of murder—so Dwight Eisenhower yes, Andrew Jackson no.

    Including some ‘iffy’ cases is probably a good idea as long as they are the occasions of instruction and discussion, as opposed to worship.

    • De Blo

      Andrew Jackson was unquestionably a wonderful and amazing president. Was he perfect? No. No one is. Whitewashing history in this politically correct, Soviet style as you recommend will hurt all of American society in many ways.

  • De Blo

    This kind of political correctness is the reason trump is president. No great man was perfect in every way and to whitewash, censor, and revise history for PC reasons is an abomination.

    • kpwn

      political correctness is the reason trump is president
      “political correctness!!! Wahhh, nothing threatens humanity more than political correctness!”
      A lot of trumpkins are huuuge snowflakes.
      Out of the snuggie, into the fire.

  • Another Mike

    Jordan was the first president of Stanford — that’s why the school’s name honors him. And Terman’s primary role in the eugenics movement was to measure intelligence quotient.

    Now, where will this all end? Shall we withdraw honors from slaveowning George Washington? Rename our capital to Sacajawea, DC?

    • Bill_Woods

      Obviously the “Columbia” would also have to go into the memory hole.

      • Kevin Skipper

        Actually, Columbus’ name is a take-off of Columba de Luz, an example of the multiform nature of Roman Catholic iconography and symbology. As with Jesus Christ, historians have debated the actual existence of Christopher Columbus, the man in favor of Christopher Columbus, part of the transnational Catholic Church’s real estate and empire-building complex.

    • Kevin Skipper

      It’s not going to end Mike. Ever. Certain parties all are going to have to give back all the hegemony, privilege, culture, history, gold, land, and people that they stole. Then they’ll have to admit to their ACTUAL history, their actual geneology and therefore their actual birthrights. After that, they’ll have to admit that they live in a country who’s existence is predicated on a mistelling of history. A lie.

      After that, the nation’s true beneficiaries will decide which few figures are worth of commemoration.

      My first executive order, as president of this new nation, is to rename Yale’s mascot as the Snow Goblin’s and Berkeley’s teams from the Golden Bears to the Runnin’ Red-Necked Despots.

      • Another Mike

        This reminds me somehow:
        I have heard the argument from many people that their forebears did not come until long after slavery was over, so why would they be responsible for reparations. What’s obvious now is that all Europeans, no matter how poor and uneducated they might be, however many hardships they would have to undergo, were still recognized as being white (let’s say we’re talking about post-1900 immigration). Therefore, they acceded to all the benefits that whiteness provides in America.

        Now, if instead they were treated as African-American, having to ride in separate and unequal railroad cars, give way to the poorest white folks, send their kids to wretched schools, and perhaps never be eligible to vote — how many Europeans would have come here?

        • Kevin Skipper

          Nobody is expecting ANY white person to take material responsibility for their access to the wealth and exceptionalist benefit of the doubt that is America and everything created herein. European Immigrants are plied with stories of their own struggle which to them, as it includes ships, periods of poverty and even discrimination (based on changeable or culture but NEVER the unchangeable or race).

          I’ll cut this short as I realize that your comment speaks my point even better than I could hope.

          Very well-put.

  • Robert Thomas

    Lewis Terman was unlucky enough to have been a prominent social scientist during a period when a theory of human cognition was popular that turned out not only to be profoundly wrong but distinctly distasteful, especially to our current social mores. Californians have much to answer for with respect to the advancement of eugenics as public social policy; we can at least be satisfied that few public squares here are likely to ever be dedicated to goofball “sociologist” and junk science gadfly Charles Murray.

    I don’t know what social scientific attitudes held by his father were shared by Fred Terman – but I do know that whatever contemporary polemicists will argue, he remains a dazzlingly important figure in the development of the fabulously fruitful and spectacularly successful technologies that spawned the signature industry of our region, including his support of Russell and Sigurd Varian and both William Hewlett and David Packard. Wholesale disavowal of his surname by ruffled modern apologists can’t really besmirch Fred Terman’s life and work but it can certainly succeed in splattering Palo Altans with cheap sepulchral whitewash.

  • Another Mike

    Did these two men actively work to sterilize the so-called unfit, or did they merely commit thoughtcrimes?

    • Kevin Skipper

      Doublespeak

  • Another Mike

    Palo Alto could do more to reject the ideas of the eugenicists by eliminating standardized testing.

    • Kevin Skipper

      Or by challenging its eerie brand of computer-generated gentrification through population control apps and their ethnic/racial affinity algorithms.

  • Robert Thomas

    What were Saint Francis’s views on ethnic cleanliness? Is there a text?

    How do Marin County residents now feel about the misogyny of Saint Anselm?

  • Another Mike

    Orwell’s 1984 comes to life, as Jordan and Terman are flushed down the memory hole.

    • Brux

      Quite the contrary … does anyone learn or know about the eugenics movement today.
      I remember at the time learning about it. About how in the US poor and minority women
      were sterilized unknowingly or against their will. Remembering and doing something about
      the eugenics movement needs to be something far more than naming a school after their
      leaders or adherents. That comment is quite Orwellian itself, so guess you know your stuff
      when you use a trick to play a trick.

      • Another Mike

        The school was named in memory of Jordan. Eugenics was but one small facet of Jordan’s life. Yet his belief in it was enough to wipe out his accomplishments as founding president of Stanford. No longer worthy of being remembered.

        Terman did a tremendous job. The psych experts of that era could not tell the insane from the developmentally disabled from the autistic. Terman was able to measure one variable co-ordinated wtih intelligence. Remember Lord Kelvin:

        “I often say that when you can measure what you are speaking about, and
        express it in numbers, you know something about it; but when you cannot
        measure it, when you cannot express it in numbers, your knowledge is of a
        meagre and unsatisfactory kind; it may be the beginning of knowledge,
        but you have scarcely in your thoughts advanced to the state of Science, whatever the matter may be.”

        Yet Terman’s memorial will be eradicated. I can only hope that Freud and Jung’s memorials will be maintained.

        • Brux

          I’m not seeing a point or an argument there AM? Hardly a coherent feeling either.
          Did you listen to the program? It was pretty good. Both sides were prepared with
          what they had, but I felt the “Rename” side had all the arguments.

          This was really a model show in terms of how to have, moderate and participate in
          a discussion like this. I wish this was the rule and not the exception.

          I think a plaque acknowledging the previous school names and when and why they
          were changed would be appropriate in terms of remembrance, but to try to say that
          Jordan’s work on eugenics was benign or insignificant I think is incorrect, at least in
          my opinion.

          I think it is interesting to speculate as to what this really means to people unconsciously
          that they would make such an issue of holding on to the name of a school most of them
          went to in the past … probably the distant past. With me I was in Terman and in Jordan
          the next year … decades ago when it was still a junior high school.

          I have to admit when I first read about this in the Palo Alto Daily/Online my knee-jerk
          reaction was against it. As I started to think and make the arguments that were made
          in this program, I changed my mind.

          In my opinion America is changing and needs to change a lot in the near future. We are
          all not very good at it, and some factions of the country behave like they would take up
          arms. I think small changes like this are helpful to set new habits of thinking and keeping
          an open mind.

          • Another Mike

            So you would be fine with renaming Washington D.C. to, say, Sacajawea, because the fact that Washington owned slaves outweighs all of his other accomplishments.

  • Alan Dale Brown

    According to Wikipedia, Jordan was a pacifist…because war killed the “strongest organisms” (the soldiers). That’s novel…

  • Judy Goldman

    Appreciate the civility of the participants, as well as the opportunity to have this discussion and entertain different points of view. We owe our students an honest examination of the past and an acknowledgment of the legacies of the eugenics movement in our modern-day educational and political institutions. Our students and communities need to see that we can address the injustices of the past with acts of reconciliation and repair.

  • Fay Nissenbaum

    Schools get renamed for various reasons, for example, my school was renamed to honor a dead principal who was much loved. I still refer to the school under its old name, but I am not upset or regretful about its new name. History has not been erased – a new chapter was added.

  • Rich

    Is the position of PC Police an elected position or self appointed? I think these PC Police are the new version of the “old church lady” Same idea of one self appointed person stifling free thought they don’t agree with.

  • Another Mike

    In a school district so demanding and competitive that the teen suicide rate is four times the national average, I doubt that changing the names of the middle schools would help anything.

  • Robert Thomas

    Obviously, anything named for Herbert Hoover has to GO.

    While we’re at it, can we get rid of all institutions of public education named after Warren G. Harding, Woodrow Wilson, Theodore Roosevelt, Calvin Coolidge, Ronald Reagan, William McKinley or Ulysses Grant.

    Are there any named for Richard Nixon? Let’s ___t-can those, too.

    • Another Mike

      Hoover was a great humanitarian and philanthropist, feeding the starving Belgians after WW I.

      • Robert Thomas

        So?

        • Another Mike

          So why would his name have to GO?

          • Robert Thomas

            Yes, “The Great Humanitarian”… John Maynard Keynes said he was “the only man who emerged from the ordeal [of the the Versailles Peace Conference] with an enhanced reputation.”

            Hoover was a white supremacist. There are many accounts of this and there is pretty much a consensus about his attitudes on race. Hoover never once spoke to an African American worker while he and his wife Lou were residents in the White House; he refused to ever have his picture taken with an African American also appearing in it. Hoover promised the director of the Tuskegee Institute, Robert Moton, that he had a plan to turn Black sharecroppers into landowners in order to ensure Moton’s support in the only venue where contemporary Southern Blacks had any voting power: the Republican National Convention of 1928. After his inauguration, Hoover never paid any attention to this and other related promises. In 1930, he nominated a 4th Circuit Court of Appeals judge noted primarily for his support of disenfranchisement of Black voters, John J. Parker, for a seat on the Supreme Court. Admittedly, Hoover’s attitudes diverged only moderately from those of many other men of the day who shared his ethnicity, economic class (very rich) and social status.

            A harrowing account of Hoover’s complicity in horrendously racist events during his management of the aftermath of the Mississippi valley flood of 1927 – as he was assigned to the task by the indolent and disinterested Calvin Coolidge – is

            Rising Tide: The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and How it Changed America (Simon & Schuster 1997) by John M. Barry.

          • Kevin Skipper

            Sounds like Hoover helped to set the standard for today’s Hollywood and its “special’ treatment of race and related subjects.

            Pretty sure every single meeting or conference at Versailles has been about eugenics.

    • William – SF

      And I shudder at the thought of flying into any Bush.

    • Kevin Skipper

      RT, throwing bombs today. What has you do worked up?

  • Eugene

    In a political moment in which eugenic tropes of the “fit” and “unfit” were used to pave the way to victory and when Steve King blatantly espouses these notions it seems worthy to take pause. The very nature of history is to interrogate the past, as such the current conversation is one that should happen. To assume the ideas these men espoused are ossified and relegated to the past is a dangerous. Students should be invited into this process of interrogation, as should educators in the district. The ideas these men espoused are problematic and continue to shape educational practices and processes. It is time we pull back the covers on American eugenics and reveal the ways in which these ideas still shape educational outcomes across the nation.

  • Ehkzu

    As usual the Left chases rabbits while the Right reshapes America.
    Reminds of when the Palo Alto City Council had a lengthy debate on, and then passed, a resolution advocating the establishment of a Department of Peace in the president’s cabinet.

    • Brux

      Yeah, the right reshaped Europe and Asia too in the 1930’s and 1940’s, with the same self-righteous arrogance.

  • Beth Grant DeRoos

    Wish some folks would care as much about actually providing a decent education to the students at these schools as they do some name on the school. Thank god for homeschooling and private schools.

    • Fay Nissenbaum

      Thank God for public schools. And thank the schools with proper funding.

      • Another Mike

        The failure of America’s public schools has been noted since the 1960s. The Annenberg Challenge that Barack Obama chaired tried a lot of alternatives in the public schools, only to discover that none were able to reach inner city youth. Michelle Obama was lucky enough to qualify for a magnet school — but think how many public school students are not.

  • Bill_Woods

    Seriously?? Someone dropped out of middle school because of its name?

    • Kevin Skipper

      Some parents are conscious. Go figure.

    • Paul

      I’ll bet $1 eventually they get a Darwin Award

  • Another Mike

    Eugenics was not limited to race — the Jukes and the Kallikaks studied by one eugenicist were white, descendants of the earliest European-Americans.

    • Kevin Skipper

      The Jukes and Kallikaks were not persecuted in racial terms but for reasons of hereditary retardation. True, they were white but it should be understood that their mental and genetic conditions were well-known biproducts of the abbreviated gene pools and concentrations of recessive alleles known to be responsible for creating racial “whiteness.”

      To put it simply, to create the Ubermenschen one must discard ten-times as many “Undermenschen.”

      Same eugenics coin. Opposite side.

  • Eugene

    Momentum is building for a consideration of reparations (or redress and/or compensation) including a reliable estimate of likely living sterilization survivors and a call from the LA Times to compensate. It would be nice for the district to confront the reality of eugenics before this effort goes fully public. Perhaps the students in the district could get a lesson in civics by participating in an effort to seek reparations or redress for California’s sterilization victims.

    • Kevin Skipper

      sterilization survivors? WTF is that supposed to mean? Sounds like a caveat to anyone who expects this lip-service to progress any further than have any other conversations about reparations or justice for social atrocities. See: Nuremberg.

      • Eugene
        • Kevin Skipper

          Thanks “EUgene.” Seems like a joke to offer money to apologize for genocide. Insulting to portray Colored Women as willing to accept such token. Par for the course in super-duper racist NYT.

          • Eugene

            With all due respect Kevin, I think you’re missing the point. Redress has less to do with reparations than it does w/ reckoning w/ the history. Some recognition of the state’s transgressions against them is important, but reparations in the absence of further redress and confrontation with the past does fall short, we can agree on that. As it pertains to the targets of sterilization, women of color weren’t generally targeted until later, as laws and customs prior to Civil Rights agitation they were in some respects “protected” by not having access to the hospitals where these sterilizations were performed. Eugenics has a much larger scope of impact than simply on people of color, it had implications for women, the poor, disabled, LBGTQ folks and immigrants. The complexity is important to hold onto. some form of transitional justice process where we begin to fully interrogate and illuminate this history is LONG overdue. Justice is a process rather than an event and it isn’t necessarily time bound, especially if we think about the larger implications of pursuing justice and how the benefits of that might accrue more broadly. The eugenic tropes that were surfaced in the past election worked like a charm; that’s the challenge of democracy, especially when selective amnesia rules the day.

          • Kevin Skipper

            We can decontextualize and isolate if we like but with all due respect, there is a fine line between getting the point and being pandered to. While you may have some investment in the idea that there is some kind of future in ‘forgive and forget’ socio-politics, I hold no such illusions.

            I won’t bother getting into state-sanctioned justice for genocidal campaigns. If you’d like to, we can start at Nuremberg and work our way up to the present. Perhaps a throwback to the Tuskeegee experiments?

            Justice favors the fully informed. If you think that this instance will in any way precipitate a broad-based pursuit of factual history, you are free to do so. As for me, I’m satisfied to accept the fact that in this iteration, justice is to be viewed from a safe and academically insulated distance.

          • Kevin Skipper

            Reparations are effectively hush-money.
            S. Africans accepted it. Lost.
            Jamaicans accepted it. Lost
            Guyanese accepted it. Lost.
            Kenyans accepted it. Lost.
            Hiroshima and Nagasaki accepted it. Lost.
            Cali and Bogota are being forced to accept it. Losing game.

            Keep your reparations. Keep your guilt. Keep your revised history. Keep your tokens, coons and pundits.

            We’ll keep our heritage, our genes, and the truth.

          • Eugene

            I find your need to throw flames less than interesting. Anyone can push towards balkanization, especially in the digital ether. I don’t speak for everyone else, just offering a different perspective. I am not lacking awareness of these other case studies and would simply suggest there is no singular view or experience w/ TJ processes. The pursuit of justice is less than perfect, we can agree upon that, but in a nation that’s never made any good faith efforts toward addressing our history of eugenics, the ideology still functions and reproduces inequity and inequality. The ability to hold tension w/ differing perspectives and ideas seems to be lost art. I’m bowing out. Enjoy your rage.

          • Kevin Skipper

            Before you resort to the usual liberal habit of demonizing any emotive or emphatic response or rhetoric, do your due dilligence. Observe that in each fantastical reparations scenario you suggest, the terms and means are left up to the perpetrators. You guys couldn’t make the Nuremberg charges stick! What do you mean to tell me and my people about reparations and JUSCTICE?

            No offense to you and other tension-holders but “You have no point of reference.”

            Before you push some abstract white-sanctioned social cure-all, provide a working definition. As it stands, you’re all coming to the table wanting to trade beads for land holdings. Been there. Done that. Next contestant.

          • Kevin Skipper

            Before you resort to the usual liberal habit of demonizing any emotive or emphatic response or rhetoric, do your due diligence. Observe that in each fantastical reparations scenario you suggest, the terms and means are left up to the perpetrators. You guys couldn’t even make the Nuremberg charges stick! What do you mean to tell me and my people about reparations and JUSTICE?

            No offense to you and other tension-holders but “You have no point of reference.”

            Funny, when engaging in these less-than-timely, convenient conversations, no one seems to consult any actual people of actual color when offering these blanket solutions.

            Before you push some abstract white-sanctioned social cure-all, provide a working definition. As it stands, you’re all coming to the table wanting to trade beads for land holdings. Been there. Done that. Next contestant.

  • William – SF

    One man’s eugenics, and/or another’s (The Apprentice) 14-24 million soon without health care. Is renaming really the point?

  • Another Mike

    Let’s name Jordan Middle School after Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (Would that fly?)
    How about The Honorable Elijah Muhammad Middle School?

    • Brux

      You’re a real comedian, aren’t you.

  • Kevin Skipper

    I SLEPT THROUGH A SHOW ABOUT THE STATE’S HISTORY OF EMBRACING AND FUNDING EUGENICS PROGRAMS!?!!?

    • William – SF

      You snooze you lose! (Me too … Monday nights are brutal.)

      • Kevin Skipper

        The streak is crazy! UC admits to racist and vampiric genetics research. CIA calls ITSELF “An actual Boogeyman (!!!)” and the State of California admits to being a training ground and super-employer for “former” fascists and Party members.

        Told you. The best stuff is going to happen under Trump.

        • Paul

          Under Hillary all the ghouls would have had cover and whitewash and only Alex jones would’ve ranted about them.

          • William – SF

            Right, because nobody Right paid her any mind. As if!

          • Paul

            Anti-democratic Democrats only serve the rich

          • Another Mike

            The same media that is spilling all of the most intimate details of the Trump White House was somehow unaware that the DNC was actively working against Bernie Sanders.

            Pull the other leg — the respectable media was solidly in the tank for Hillary.

          • William – SF

            Didn’t read/hear anything from the respectable media about the DNC all in for Hillary until it came out. Anybody surprised? Not me. Did it matter? Bernie lost.

            Again, the DNC doesn’t get a vote.

            Are you suggesting the DNC influence to pick Hillary is somehow much greater than the RNC influence to pick Jeb!? I don’t see it.

            The respectable and not respectable media hounded Hillary for decades – Bernie, not so much. Hmmm… He should have won? Democrats should have gone with the Socialist, against the misogynist, racist, capitalist, …, Trump? They didn’t.

            If your point is that the DNC and the respectable media gave Hillary an advantage over Bernie, perhaps, but mitigated by the not respectable media …and Russian/Trump/Putin campaign collusion, Facebook ads, Hillary haters, … And what advantage did they give Trump?

            Trump is in office, so surprise, surprise, he’s getting scrutiny. As well he should.

            What Trump is doing to the poor and middle class for the benefit of the rich and his largess is important to expose.

          • Another Mike

            I’m having a hard time following this.
            I hinted that the respectable media knew but withheld the information that the DNC was working to get Hillary elected over Bernie. The response:
            1. The respectable media didn’t print the information until AFTER it broke via Wikieaks.
            — uh, yeah.
            2. The failure to publish that the DNC was in the tank for Hillary didn’t matter because Bern lost.
            — huh?
            3. The DNC’s desire to see Hillary win the election didn’t matter, because the DNC couldn’t vote.
            — huh?
            4. The DNC’s desire to see Hillary win the election didn’t matter, because “both sides do it.”

            — got any evidence of this?
            5. The press hounded Hillary for decades while ignoring Bernie.
            — got any evidence of this?
            6. Bernie would have won the Dem nom only if the Dems knew that Trump would get the GOP nom.
            7. Hillary lost due to the Russian social media campaign and Wikileaks
            — What Russian social media campaign? And did Wikileaks reveal any fake news?

          • William – SF

            1. So you’re saying the respectable media knew the DNC preferred Hillary before the DNC hacked emails were exposed but chose not to publish/report. What proof do you have?

            Frankly I think it’s a non issue. I can easily imagine the DNC preferred Hillary, for numerous reasons. The revelation was only surprising in that it came from hacking.

            Clearly the RNC preferred Jeb! and $200M from establishment Republicans helps makes the case. Then add all the talk about a Bush / Hillary dynasty fight. Add Trump’s protestations about the RNC treating him badly. Add the vacuous looks from Senate and House Republicans as Trump belittles and bullies his Republican establishment competitors and their buddies. Republican politicians and their donors didn’t want Trump, why would the RNC want Trump? (Please don’t go with the RNC is altruistic.)

            2. The media did publish the DNC preference. (You can work on convincing everyone of the delayed timing.) It did have an affect on Bernie supporters, maybe some Hillary supporters. It ultimately made no difference on the outcome of the Primary.

            3. If the DNC could vote in the Primary they could have an influence on the results. Short of that, voters made the decision on the Democratic candidate. Perhaps a case could be made that some Hillary voters picked Bernie because they felt the DNC wasn’t fair. I doubt the opposite is true – Bernie voters deciding to vote for Hillary because they believe the DNC did the right thing. I see no influence the DNC had on Bernie losing the Primary. There could be a case for Bernie not getting as much press as Hillary or Trump. Clearly Trump got the most media.

            4. I think the DNC’s desire to see Hillary beat Bernie in the Primary had negligible affect on the results. If the DNC had power to make Hillary win the Primary, why wasn’t the RNC able to get Bush selected? Is the DNC more powerful than the RNC? Again, I saw far fewer establishment Republicans wanting Trump than Bush (or …anyone other than Trump.)

            5. I’ve been around …awhile. Until 2 years ago I couldn’t get any of my Republican friends and family to tell me who is Bernie Sanders. Hillary – they all knew well. I’ll save the proof for others.

            6. That’s not what I said. Many Democrats believed that offering up a Socialist (Bernie) wouldn’t win against any Republican. I could offer other reasons why Bernie would have lost against most Republican.

            7. Hillary lost by about 70,000 votes that pushed an Electoral College victory, while managing about 3,000,000 more popular votes. Irony. The Russian/Putin Trump campaign collusion, fake Facebook and social media stories, blah, blah, may or may not have made a difference in the election. My point is that it all goes against Hillary — the initial post was about how the Right does go after Hillary.

      • Kevin Skipper

        I meant “meditated through a show.”

        • William – SF

          …goes w/o saying.

    • Robert Thomas

      I thought you must be having convulsions.

      • Kevin Skipper

        If not for the CIA and UCSF geneticists, I wouldn’t believe it.

  • William – SF

    Can’t we just start by naming schools something like The Sometime Later and Vehemently Disgraced Trump Middle School?

    • Kevin Skipper

      Gotta disgrace him first. So far, it’s vice versa and he’s loving it. On track to claim the most progressive first-term in history.

      • William – SF

        With a 14-24 million vote disadvantage, Trump’s regressive first 50-days bodes well for shaming.

        • Kevin Skipper

          Rhetorically, perhaps. For disgraces, the trophy still goes to the so-called liberals who allowed the wool to be pulled over their eyes.

          • William – SF

            …while visiting their doctor.

        • Another Mike

          Who will lose? The GOP claims much or most of the 14 million are young healthy folks who will not buy insurance unless forced to do so.

          • William – SF

            I didn’t hear that, that’s funny! The no-spin-zone, Trump, and GOP base are about to get what they voted for, maybe now it’ll hit home.

    • Another Mike

      Or why not the Charles Starr Jordan Was a Vile and Base Eugenicist Middle School?
      Singapore encourages its brightest and best to marry and have children — eugenics has yet to die out.

    • Brux

      Can’t you be serious about what is a very subtle and important issue? I guess not.

  • Another Mike

    It turns out I have to support the eugenicists in part.
    They believed that the insane and the feebleminded should be sterilized. Now, friends of mine had a daughter who was developmentally disabled. Yet she was brighteyed and alert when you talked to her. You didn’t realize she was mentally an eight year old. She couldn’t even hold a job in a sheltered workshop because it was too demanding.

    Would we expect an eight year old to care for a child? Do we think an eight year old has sufficient mentality to decide if she should have sex or not? No, and no. Sex with her would be rape, because she is unable to give effective consent. But should we leave her in a position where she could be raped, where she could become pregnant?

    I would say no.

    • Brux

      I can respect your feelings about your friends’ daughter, but not the generalization of that situation to this discussion, that is pure illogic to throw in with eugenicists … the word and group have and had a meaning, you don’t get to pull it out of the water closet and start polishing it.

      • Another Mike

        Who, exactly, do you think was being sterilized?

        • Brux

          I mean to say that I agree with what I think you said, which is that your friends’ daughter should not bear children. That if she is below a certain point in terms of understanding the world and being responsible for herself that decision needs to be made for her. But I do not agree that this falls on the state to mandate or force – thus the two statements do not work together to support the eugenicists, to me anyway.

          I enjoy Science Fiction, so imagine this admittedly impossible scenario. Genetic engineering becomes routine and the technology explodes. We start to have children that are as far above us in intelligence as we are above the developmentally disabled. They evolve intellectually and informatically that they rebel under the foolishness of the way we do things, our inefficient government and corruption. What are their rights with respect to us who are left still alive?

  • turquoisewaters

    Why not use the names of great scientists, philosophers, writers etc instead of politicians. Newton, Kepler, Kant, Neruda, Angelou, … It’s a school after all.

    • Another Mike

      Steve Wozniak Middle School!

  • karolyn van putten

    “… does doing so risk erasing community history?” Therein lies the essence of hegemonic blindness. WHOSE community history are we considering here?

  • Thank you for this segment. I accidentally tuned in at 10 pm March 14. It’s a great reminder of why I now listen to KPCC. And will never give another nickel to KQED.

    • Brux

      What an unconstructive comment. This segment was well argued and explained by both sides and questions and comments by all participants were constructive and to the point. How you can have so much venom in your sick soul that you would take the time to listen to this show and then attack the institution of Forum/KQED shows me you have some real problems – at the very least with communication and being able to argue your ideas.

  • Marc Vincenti

    I’m one of a couple hundred schoolteachers in Palo Alto who have been in the classroom with our kids day after day as their classmates and friends were ending their own lives.

    For a school district, a community, a nation to spend time debating whether the names of two middle schools in this suburban town are creating a cloud of distress for our young people–a cloud so thick that their mental well-being is at risk–seems to me to show scant regard for our eleven departed children.

    it’s not the names of our schools but their daily conditions of operation–not only in Palo Alto but across the nation–that are causing our kids distress and discouragement and placing them at risk. The typical high-achieving high school in America is a perfect factory for stress, and this has so little to do with how the schools are named that it is embarrassing to even spend time on this conversation. The blight in our affluent high schools has absolutely nothing to do with our dedicated teachers, coaches, or counselors, but is a result of the way our schools are operated so as to increase alienation, distrust, competition-at-all-costs, academic fraud, sleep-deprivation, and grade-anxiety.

    High schools don’t create teenage despair, nor can they cure it; but there is much they can to do make it more bearable, more survivable, and the solutions are not rocket science: reduced class-sizes, gentle discouragement of large homework and AP loads, rescuing kids from the all-day siren song of social media (so they’re no longer texting during class); reining in the relentless grade-reporting; and end to misery-inducing academic fraud that, in high schools nationwide, a vast majority of kids engage in.

    That these four-year toxic conditions remain un-discussed, drowned out by a debate over school names—which, while they may be of some consequence, are not a matter of life and death–testifies to how badly we adults are failing our young and how terrified we are to think about what we’re doing.

    Marc Vincenti
    Gunn English Dept. (1995-2010)
    Chairman, Save the 2,008 — an alliance for school change
    savethe2008.com
    savethe2008@gmail

    • Robert Thomas

      Well yeah, obviously.

    • Another Mike

      Nowadays it takes all the running you can to remain in the same place. I blame the parents who realized that the system could be gamed.

  • Brux

    I am in kind of an interesting situation with respect to this discussion.
    My family moved to Palo Alto in 1969, right during the Moon shot, and as we
    found a place to live and moved I had occasion to attend both Terman first,
    and then Jordan Jr. Highs … they were both called junior high schools at the
    time. It was a time when the world was changing and we were all learning
    and changing a lot. We lived right down the street from Terman, and every
    day as I walked the couple of blocks to school the air was so polluted that
    we could not even see the hills that we take for granted today. Nor at the
    time could you see across the bay on most days. The Dumbarton bridge
    seemed to disappear into mist.

    People who do not realize what these things mean and the significance of
    them think it is an over-reaction to rename schools, but I think the arguments
    were well made, but proven by the renaming side. This is how we change
    things for the better. We did not clean up the environment only to have it all
    screwed up for us now by Donald Trump … so perhaps institutionally, nationally
    we did not make enough of a change with people’s minds.

    I remember both schools and always will, and I am a “proud” graduate … if one
    can be proud of graduating or attending junior high or both schools – and I
    support renaming both of them. We have to keep growing or we will go backwards
    and have the same old problems.

  • Brux

    I also remember back to when William Schockley was playing his eugenics card
    nationally. There is a really fascinating and enlightening episode of the talk show
    “Firing Line” where Shockley was the guest and got to make his case, with visual
    aids as well. You can see it if you have Amazon Prime.

    Firing Line – Firing Line with William F. Buckley Jr. “Shockley’s Thesis”
    https://www.amazon.com/Firing-William-Buckley-Shockleys-Thesis/dp/B006JJ6640/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1490051713&sr=8-2&keywords=firing+line+shockley

    The lack of logic coming from a supposedly brilliant mind will indeed “shock”
    people today … go listen to this, it is really astounding how stupid Shockley
    sounds, and how easily William F. Buckley disposed of his thinking and humiliated
    him.

    But I wonder how many of the people here defending these schools would be happy
    to name a school after Shockley as well.

Host

Michael Krasny

Michael Krasny, PhD, has been in broadcast journalism since 1983. He was with ABC in both radio and television and migrated to public broadcasting in 1993. He has been Professor of English at San Francisco State University and also taught at Stanford, the University of San Francisco and the University of California, as well as in the Fulbright International Institutes. A veteran interviewer for the nationally broadcast City Arts and Lectures, he is the author of a number of books, including “Off Mike: A Memoir of Talk Radio and Literary Life” (Stanford University Press) “Spiritual Envy” (New World); “Sound Ideas” (with M.E. Sokolik/ McGraw-Hill); “Let There Be Laughter” (Harper-Collins) as well as the twenty-four lecture series in DVD, audio and book, “Short Story Masterpieces” (The Teaching Company). He has interviewed many of the world’s leading political, cultural, literary, science and technology figures, as well as major figures from the world of entertainment. He is the recipient of many awards and honors including the S.Y. Agnon Medal for Intellectual Achievement; The Eugene Block Award for Human Rights Journalism; the James Madison Freedom of Information Award; the Excellence in Journalism Award from the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association; Career Achievement Award from the Society of Professional Journalists and an award from the Radio and Television News Directors Association. He holds a B.A. (cum laude) and M.A. from Ohio University and a PhD from the University of Wisconsin.

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