Education

Federal File

April 30, 2003 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

What’s in a Name?

In a time when many students in urban districts are struggling, school leaders in Long Beach, Calif., wanted to give one of their newest schools a name that would empower students and motivate them to succeed. That name—Colin L. Powell Academy of Success—has been the backbone for an emphasis on values such as honor, courage, and respect, officials say.

But a plan to name an elementary school in Fairfax County, Va., after the secretary of state has drawn fire in the Washington suburb that Mr. Powell calls home. Opponents say that the choice carries too much political baggage, and that they prefer geographic names for their schools.

“It’s just not good to name a school after a political person and a person who’s still in the process of their career,” said parent Barbara Waldman, who has two children who will attend the Centreville, Va., school. “I have no problem with Colin Powell as a role model for children. It has nothing to do with him being a Republican. I just don’t think it’s appropriate.”

Naming the school Arrowhead Elementary, after a nearby park, would be more suitable, she said.

Despite the flak, the Fairfax County school board voted unanimously last week to name the school for Mr. Powell. The 166,000-student district has no policy on naming schools after people—dead or alive—but tends to stick to community-oriented names for elementary schools.

Currently, at least six schools across the country are named after the secretary of state, said Peggy Cifrino, his deputy chief of staff. Mr. Powell, whose parents emigrated from Jamaica, attended New York City public schools. He was the first African- American to serve as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as well as the first to become secretary of state.

Fairfax County already has a high school named after George C. Marshall, the Army’s chief of staff during World War II and later the secretary of state.

District records show no evidence of opposition when the school was named in the 1960s. General Marshall was already dead, and it was not unusual then for the board to name schools without community advice, current school board member Catherine Belter said.

—Hattie Brown


Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
Ensuring Continuity of Learning: How to Prepare for the Next Disruption
Across the country, K-12 schools and districts are, again, considering how to ensure effective continuity of learning in the face of emerging COVID variants, politicized debates, and more. Learn from Alexandria City Public Schools superintendent
Content provided by Class
Teaching Profession Live Online Discussion What Have We Learned From Teachers During the Pandemic?
University of California, Santa Cruz, researcher Lora Bartlett and her colleagues spent months studying how the pandemic affected classroom teachers. We will discuss the takeaways from her research not only for teachers, but also for

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Hundreds of Conn. Bus Drivers Threaten to Walk Off the Job Over Vaccine Mandate
More than 200 school bus drivers could walk off the job in response to a vaccination mandate that goes into effect Monday.
1 min read
Rows of school buses are parked at their terminal, in Zelienople, Pa. Reopening schools during the coronavirus pandemic means putting children on school buses, and districts are working on plans to limit the risk.
Rows of school buses are parked at their terminal, in Zelienople, Pa. Reopening schools during the coronavirus pandemic means putting children on school buses, and districts are working on plans to limit the risk. <br/>
Keith Srakocic/AP Photo
Education Briefly Stated: September 22, 2021
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
9 min read
Education Schools Get the Brunt of Latest COVID Wave in South Carolina
In the past few weeks, South Carolina has set records for COVID-19 hospitalizations and new cases have approached peak levels of last winter.
4 min read
Two Camden Elementary School students in masks listen as South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster talks about steps the school is taking to fight COVID-19, Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2021, in Camden, S.C. McMaster has adamantly and repeatedly come out against requiring masks in schools even as the average number of daily COVID-19 cases in the state has risen since early June. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Collins)
Education More States Are Requiring Schools to Teach Native American History and Culture
Advocates say their efforts have gained some momentum with the nation’s reckoning over racial injustice since the killing of George Floyd.
3 min read
A dancer participates in an intertribal dance at Schemitzun on the Mashantucket Pequot Reservation in Mashantucket, Conn., Saturday, Aug. 28, 2021. Connecticut and a handful of other states have recently decided to mandate students be taught about Native American culture and history. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)