By Neal Patwari
I love my child’s elementary school. If you’ve been following what’s happening at Jackson Elementary, you know it is a truly amazing and diverse school. It is “the home of future college students” and connects its students to the University of Utah via the Adelante and Go Girlz programs.
It has an amazing dual-language English/Spanish learning program with a true balance of English-dominant and Spanish-dominant students. It hosts the El Sistema after-school music program. It won an Apple ConnectEd grant, one of only a few in the nation, which ensures every student and teacher has an iPad and can use it in innovative ways in the classroom. It has creative and talented teachers, an incredible principal, and engaged parents who care deeply about their school.
The school name just doesn’t reflect our current community’s values and strengths. In 1892, a school board member chose to name the school (then known as the 16th Ward School) after President Andrew Jackson. Although he was a U.S. President, we know that his actions included being an architect of the genocide of more than 10,000 Native Americans, known as the Trail of Tears, and the killing of people who escaped slavery.
We simply believe that 125 years is sufficient for having our school named after Jackson, and now our school name can express gratitude for someone or something else we all believe worthy.
Our school went through a process, over the past year, to collect feedback on whether the name should be changed, and more than 70 percent of responses were to change the name (including the possibility of selecting a different person named Jackson). More information about our process is at http://www.jacksonnamechange.org. This year, we are in the process of gathering suggestions for a new name, and would welcome your suggestions. We’d love to honor someone with local ties and contributions, or have a name connected to our local geography or ideals. Please send us your name suggestion at http://www.jacksonnamechange.org/contact.
Neal Patwari is the parent of a Jackson student and chair of the Jackson School Community Council.