Petition update

GMHS & TJ School Name Debate and FCCPS Schedule

Melissa Teates
Falls Church, VA, United States

Oct 9, 2020 — 

The Falls Church News-Press did a recent article on the school name debate for GMHS and TJ. I was quoted as were several other people on both sides of the issue.

The School Board has the set the calendar for the process. If you want to comment, you can send an email in now for the October 13th School Board meeting to gadellm@fccps.org. And for the October 22 and 29 they will have live comments, if you register by noon the previous day. The information on registering is not up yet, but it will be on fccps.org.

Schedule (https://www.fccps.org/article/322150?org=fccps):

  •  October 13 - School Board will receive cost information on a possible name change.
  • October 14 - K-12 Insights will conduct a two-week survey of all staff and parents, and all students at Henderson and George Mason.
  • October 22 and 29 - Public hearings to gather comments from the community. The hearings will be via Zoom. Participants will pre-register.
  • November 10 - School Board Worksession to review draft results of the survey.
  • November 13 - K-12 Insights delivers final survey results.
  • November 17 - School Board will meet to review all information.
  • December 8 - Final vote on whether to move forward with renaming the schools. If yes, a process would then begin to determine the new names.

I have been discussing the issue with friends around the city and I have been asked several questions over and over, so here is a short FAQ:

1)      If you want to remove George Mason from our school, are you going to ask for the Washington Monument to be renamed or torn down too?!

Absolutely not, no one has to go to the Washington Monument or wear George Washington’s name to play sports. A school is very different than a monument as a school name needs to reflect the values of the community and be someone our children can be proud to represent or emulate. I would hope they would add context to the Washington Monument and add more about slavery at Mt. Vernon though.

2)      The confederates are the real bad guys. Why are you going after founding fathers?!

First, George Mason was not a founding father in that he refused to sign the constitution and lobbied Virginia to not sign-on. Second, I disagree that the Confederates were worse as they were fighting to protect the “way of life” started by our slaveholding founding fathers and ancestors. Both George Mason and Thomas Jefferson said slaveholding was wrong, but increased the number of slaves they owned. Both said it will eventually lead to conflict (the civil war), but refused to consider joining the Northern States as they began abolishing slavery in the 1790’s. Both carefully wrote the founding documents including the VA Bill of Rights and the Declaration of Independence to exclude slaves. In fact, many history books point to economics as being the main reason for the revolutionary war including slavery as slavery had been abolished in England and there was fear that it would be abolished in the colonies under English rule.

3)      Won’t changing the name will cost too much?

Yes, changing the name will cost money, but not too much. With a new high school, the costs are less as everything is new including the gym, signs, etc. The costs can also be spaced out over 3 years to lessen the impact. Most uniforms are changed out every few years, so we can space those costs out too. We can keep the colors and the mascot lessening the changes as neither have anything to do with George Mason. TJ would have less costs with signage being the largest cost. I would also say as one of the most well-to-do communities in America if we decide to not change the names based on costs, shame on us. There will be no justice without cost and this is a minor cost to make a real statement that our community embraces justice


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