Schools well named.Byline: The Register-Guard
Often the most impressive races are those in which runners stumble, even fall, but then right themselves to win the day.
On Wednesday night, the Eugene School Board overcame a midcourse mid·course
1. The part of a missile flight between the end of the launching phase and reentry, during which corrective maneuvers are made.
2. The middle point of a course or of a course of action. stumble and won the race. It named its two new elementary schools elementary school: see school. after Cesar Chavez Noun 1. Cesar Chavez - United States labor leader who organized farm workers (born 1927)
Cesar Estrada Chavez, Chavez , the legendary Mexican-American union organizer A union organizer (sometimes spelled "organiser") is a specific type of trade union member (often elected) or an appointed union official. A majority of unions appoint rather than elect their organizers. who led the struggle for migrant farm workers' rights, and Bertha Holt, the much-beloved founder of the Eugene-based international adoption International adoption, or intercountry adoption, is a type of adoption in which an individual or couple becomes the legal and permanent parents of a child born in another country. agency.
The board's 4-3 votes were met with a standing ovation by an audience that included many members of Eugene's rapidly growing Latino community. Many were deeply moved by the board's decision, which they are likely to remember as a defining moment.
Given the narrow margins, the decisions easily could have been different. Board members Tom Herrmann, Mike Fox and Craig Smith For the rugby player, see .
Craig Smith (born November 10, 1983 in Inglewood, California) is an American professional basketball player. After playing for Boston College from 2002-2006, he was selected by the Minnesota Timberwolves in the 2006 NBA Draft. cast no votes. They preferred the name Blue Heron blue heron
Any of several varieties of heron with blue or blue-gray plumage. instead of Chavez for the new southside school Southside School can refer to:
Board member Virginia Thompson Virginia Thompson was a Canadian figure skater. She competed in ice dance with William McLachlan. They won three national titles, and one silver medal and a bronze at the World Figure Skating Championships. also favored other names, yet she voted with Anette Spickard, Beth Gerot and Chris Pryor to honor Chavez and Holt. In doing so, she recognized the profound importance of honoring Chavez to local Latinos, as well as the quiet but equally strong desire of Holt's many admirers to recognize her legacy.
The board majority also wisely recognized that a no vote on Chavez would have done serious damage to what in recent years has been a generally strong relationship with the Latino community.
While the board clearly reserved its authority from the outset to make the final decisions on the school names, it made a point of soliciting suggestions from the public. The board also adopted new guidelines that encouraged naming schools after distinguished people, local landmarks, community themes and local plant and animal life.
Overwhelming support quickly emerged for Chavez and Holt. At a board meeting earlier this month, Chavez supporters, in particular, became concerned after a majority of the board appeared to be backing away from those options.
But the board, at least a four-member majority, eventually righted itself, carrying the naming process that it had begun to its logical conclusion. Board members rightly perceived that the outcries and protests of Chavez supporters in recent days were not attempts to manipulate or intimidate the board, but rather were expressions of a desire for recognition and visibility from a community that for too long has been unrecognized and invisible.
Longtime human rights activist Marion Malcolm framed the situation precisely when she observed at Wednesday's meeting that the board has been striving to close an "achievement gap" in its schools. But she noted that there's also an "affirmation" gap that needs atten- tion.
The school board has now helped to close that gap. By honoring Chavez, the Eugene district becomes the first in the state to name a school after a Latino, one whose life was dedicated to empowering and bringing dignity to his people and their work.
By honoring Holt, the board recognizes an extraordinary woman who, with her husband, Harry, founded an adoption agency in 1955 that has placed well over 200,000 children in homes across the world.
Chavez and Holt left behind impressive legacies that defy cultural, ethnic, social or generational boundaries. Surely, their remarkable spirits will inhabit the schools that bear their names and inspire the children who pass through their doors.