KEEP ROBERT E. LEE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL IN TAMPA
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Attending Robert E. Lee High Elementary has been a tradition in many families for generations. It is a well known and respected school and today is a Magnet School of World Studies and Technology.
For years, students, teachers, and the community have embraced Robert E. Lee Elementary School and have never complained, or even thought twice about the name.
The school mascot is perhaps America's most beloved horse, "Traveler", Robert E. Lee's horse.
Recently, here in Tampa and across the nation, some have demanded the removal of anything involving the Confederacy, from slogans, flags, and the shunning of their most famous and well known general, Robert E. Lee.
However, Robert E. Lee was not just a confederate leader. (In fact, he believed the nation should be whole. It was a difficult decision for him, but he sided with the Confederacy because he did not want to wage war against his family, like many others who fought with the Confederacy.) Robert E. Lee not only fought with Virginia in the war between north and south, but he also fought in the Mexican War, where he helped lead the American troops to victory. Robert E. Lee is honored and commemorated for his bravery and vast military knowledge. Historians and military generals today look up to his war plans and strategies.
He was also an educator. He was Superintendent of the US. Military Academy at West Point. After retiring from his military career, he became President of Washington College, which was renamed "Washington and Lee University" because of his significant contributions.
Lee was an advocate of lifelong learning. He said of education: it is "never completed" until one dies.
He was also a role model for all. He endured much hardship and sacrifice ...growing up in poverty...growing up without a father...the premature loss of a child...the loss of his wife's family's home to war, and much more. But despite adversity, he respected others around him and tried to do the right thing. And because of that he was/is not only respected but beloved by many.
Tens of thousands of American children for generations, of all colors, have been given the first or middle name "Lee". Here is a list of celebrities with the middle name "Lee" -
Hillsborough names schools after individuals who have made a significant contribution despite their skin color - like Booker T. Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, Henry Plant , Joseph Robles.
But School board member Tammy Shamburg thinks the name of the school has GOT TO GO!
She's joining up with those that want to strip away anything with Robert E. Lee's name because it is 'offensive' and a symbol of 'white supremacy' and 'divisive'. This seems to suggest that non-white children cannot learn at a school named after a historical American figure that had white skin. But they provide no proof. When has changing a name ever improved education? And if it is true, does that mean that black children must only have black teachers and visa versa? And who will be next? Jefferson, Washington? This would set a BAD PRECEDENT.
How can the school fulfill its mission of helping students exploring cultural differences, if part of the schools culture is ripped away...won't the message be "Robert E. Lee and his culture (i.e. American culture) is bad"? How is that inclusive?
Of course it IS NOT. The discussion itself even CREATES division and a more importantly a DISTRACTION from what should be occurring in the School District...education.
And then there's the money. Is Ms. Shamburg willing to spend school board funds (in Texas a name change cost over $200,000) on this - and divert it from the classroom?
Perhaps instead of changing the name of the school, the school board should see that students are taught about Robert E. Lee and why he is a worthy namesake.
Together, lets keep this School and it's pride strong by not stripping it of it's name and giving it a new one. Please sign this petition to keep the tradition strong and give respect to a worthy namesake. Then share it and send it on to others.
You can also e-mail the School board members and tell them you don't want the name changed here -
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