FCPS Considers High School Name Changes


(Photo courtesy of change.org)

Ryan Haynes, Managing Editor

Living in Northern Virginia we are surrounded by American history.  Fairfax County Public Schools have named schools such as J.E.B. Stuart and Robert E. Lee in remembrance of these historical figures.  A petition to change these school names was started back in June 2014 by a group of J.E.B. Stuart alumni.  The petition currently roughly 1200 supporters and you can sign it if you would like at www.change.org.

The petition states that “Current display of Confederate and segregationist names and themes on government buildings can only serve to fuel legitimacy among 21st century white supremacists.”  The schools were named in the early 1960s to, in the words of the name-changing petition, “fuel racial tension.”  The signers of this petition recommend if there were to be a name change that they would rededicate J.E.B. Stuart HS as Thurgood Marshall HS.  However, this would possibly make it confusing with George Marshall HS.

J.E.B. Stuart HS is named after the Confederate Cavalry General of the Army of Northern Virginia, and of course Robert E. Lee was the leader of the Confederate Army.  Not as famous though is W.T. Woodson, a long-time superintendent of FCPS who was pro-segregation. Luke Strother (10), thinks that “Even though J.E.B. Stuart is our rival they shouldn’t change the name because it will make the Confederate culture angry.”

The FCPS School Board unanimously voted the school naming process, so now a school name can be changed if given a “compelling reason”.  FCPS School board member Elizabeth Schultz does not want to change the school’s name because “The better option is educating and speaking with people about history in context.”

There is also a counter-petition to keep these names.  A majority of J.E.B. Stuart alumni said in a recent survey that they oppose a school name change.  This counter-petition currently has roughly 2000 signatures, you can sign it if you would like at www.change.org.  The petition says “Some people are trying to change history here in Fairfax County, scene of much history for our country; please think about the history of our county, before considering possible name changes to our hallowed school names!”

What do you think?  Should the names be changed?  Send us an email at [email protected] and let us know your opinion on this issue.