"Just if we saw Confederacy named in it, we then highlighted it" says a school board spokesperson while describing a list which contained Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin, and Sam Houston.
The Dallas Independent School District is in damage control mode after an internal school board list was obtained by local press which shows schools under consideration for name changes due to possible "connections with slavery or the Confederacy." News of the list, obtained by the Dallas Morning News early this week, caused outrage for the fact that it includes Texas revolutionaries and founders such as Sam Houston, James Bowie and William Travis, as well as Dallas pioneers James Gaston and William Brown Miller. It further names other early American figures who very obviously lived long before the existence of the Confederacy such as U.S. presidents Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and, inexplicably, Ben Franklin.
Battle of the Alamo: Even the Texas revolutionary defenders of the iconic Alamo were on a list of "controversial" historical figures which Dallas ISD needed to "research" for review of whether school names could stay.
Of course, William Travis and Jim Bowie both died at the Alamo in 1836 while the Confederacy didn't come into existence until 1861. Sam Houston too lived most of his entire life before the civil war and was perhaps the greatest Native American rights supporter of the time, and was adopted as an "honorary Cherokee" by the tribe, having also married a Cherokee woman. Ben Franklin, one of the American founding fathers named on the Dallas ISD list, was a vocal abolitionist. It is stunning and extremely worrisome that school board trustees would be both so historically illiterate and politically correct that they would put such names on the list in the first place.
Dallas school board member Dustin Marshall confirmed the list via social media. It's amazing that even founding fathers like Ben Franklin - an early vocal abolitionist - or Declaration of Independence author Thomas Jefferson should have to be debated.
But Dallas ISD is currently attempting to backtrack and spin the narrative now that the leaked list is receiving so much push back from Texans. There's likely some level of embarrassment which motivated the new stance as well. A subsequent Dallas Morning News update explained, "Instead of more research, the district is focusing on a narrow set of parameters to only rethink schools named after Confederate generals, said chief of school leadership Stephanie Elizalde." The board now claims that while the original list was merely for "research" purposes, it is only four schools that are being seriously considered to undergo a name change: Stonewall Jackson, Robert E. Lee, Albert Sidney Johnston and William L. Cabell elementary schools.
Disturbingly, it appears that "research" into Confederate links is being conducted by a mere one person staff, this according to language used by board spokesperson Stephanie Elizalde. She was quoted further in The Dallas Morning News:
The additional names were never part of any specific renaming plan. Instead, Elizalde said, the list was originally so broad because she wanted to do "due diligence" on the names of the district's 226 campuses.
"The more I researched, the more I was going to find," she said.
The more detailed explanation of her methodology is strange considering many of the names that actually made the school board's list:
This was just a very quick review of looking at the biographies of the individuals, and if there was any association with Confederacy — not making a judgment for or against — just if we saw Confederacy named in it, we then highlighted it. We are now in the process of doing a second [look].
Yet that doesn't explain how authors of America's founding documents and Texas revolutionary came to be "highlighted", unless the Dallas school board's knowledge of history is really that appalling (a real possibility it seems).
Rod Dreher, writing for The American Conservative, summarized the sad state of Dallas ISD with the following:
Imagine the impoverishment of the minds who believe the most significant thing to know about Jefferson, Madison, and Franklin, is that they were in some way tainted by slavery. Imagine the ignorance of school leaders who are going to investigate whether William Travis and Jim Bowie — both of whom died in 1836 at the Alamo — could have been involved with the Confederacy, which came into existence in 1861...
It’s disgusting, this iconoclasm. In 2015, 40 percent of DISD’s schools received a failing grade from the state. To be fair, over 90 percent of DISD’s students come from low income homes, meaning that the school system has tremendous barriers to overcome in educating them. Still, the fact that the DISD trustees are even considering a cosmetic, p.c. gesture like this is a farce.
As we've asked many times before: who will the PC mob come for next? If there's talk of purging history - even Texas history in Texas schools - then clearly it can and likely will happen anywhere. Will there perhaps be a future time when Texans themselves will no longer "Remember the Alamo!"...?