The dictionary defines a sham as a trick that deludes, a hoax, a cheap falseness, hypocrisy. Could any better term be used to describe the actions of the Anchorage School District School Board’s recent action that renamed East High? ASD’s sham is the alleged process used to garner community input on the renaming of an ASD school and then totally ignoring it.
I believe the School Board ignored community input to leave East as East and renamed it to Bettye Davis East Anchorage High School because they caved to the African-American community in Anchorage who has been insistent and persistent on its renaming since the Black Lives Matter movement exploded here. I believe they acted without regard to the Alaska Native community, whose traditional homeland ASD buildings sit on. I believe that renaming East after a Black woman is their attempt to placate the African-American community for the district’s pitiful record on Alaska Native, Asian Pacific Islander, Black and Hispanic student performance for years.
A sham is a sham. If ASD had not already made up its mind to rename East, how could they, one day after they voted to change it, made all the name changes to East on its website, to the daily health screening tool used by staff, and goodness knows what else. It appears they had no intention of listening; their minds were made up.
I am an Alaska Native. I am an East High alum, as are my four siblings. I’ve lived in Anchorage, the “largest Alaska Native village,” since 1960, and take great pride in growing up on the east side. Rather than renaming East after a Black civil rights leader, what consideration was given to renaming East in honor of an Alaska Native civil rights leader? For instance: Elizabeth Peratrovich, Katie John or Alberta Schenk Adams. Yes, Ms. Davis should be honored for her work and her accomplishments, but her work came long after the work of these Alaska Native women! Maybe ASD should focus its renaming efforts on schools that have been named after some very shady characters or the white men whose claim to fame was homesteading on traditionally Native land.
Undoubtedly, the school board is relishing in the fact that it can finally check this business item off its to-do-list.
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