Donald J. Trump’s name topped a 15-page list of nominees for the new namesake of a Texas elementary school in one of the state’s school districts driven by political correctness to strip campuses of monikers associated with the Confederacy, a push that swept the nation following last year’s tragic shootings at a Charleston, South Carolina, church.
The 15-page list of nominations, released on Friday, April 22, reflects noticeable pushback to the Austin Independent School District Board of Trustees’ decision to rebrand an elementary school named for Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. In March, the board voted unanimously to change the school’s name after hearing community and parental feedback. Trustees said their decision was about “changing the culture and starting the conversation on how the district handles race and equity,” Austin NBC affiliate KXAN-TV reported.
The Top 10 (with number of votes in parentheses) include present and past public figures, local, state and national icons, locales, and even a questionable World War II historical pick:
- Donald J. Trump Elementary (45)
- Robert E. Lee Elementary (34)
- Russell Lee Elementary (32)
- Harper Lee Elementary (30)
- Elisabet Ney Elementary (15)
- Lee Elementary (13)
- Adolf Hitler School for Friendship and Tolerance (8)
- Waller Creek Elementary (8)
- Frances J. Nesmith Elementary School (7)
- Guy Bizzell Elementary (6)
Dropping the “Robert E.” portion of the name to rebrand as “Lee Elementary” ranked #6, although many steadfastly supported the current name in its entirety since Robert E. Lee came in second to Trump on the list of proposed new school names. Some sought out other notable individuals named “Lee.” One creative redo on Lee’s name was the acronym Leadership & Excellence in Education (LEE). It got one vote in the 15-pages of proposed names, where as many submissions appear to be as cheeky as they do serious.
On the list, filmmaker Spike Lee got four votes while presidents Ronald Reagan, Barack Obama and late Texas Congresswoman Barbara Jordan only received three votes, respectively. Other prominent historical and/or cultural figures like Abraham Lincoln, Rosa Parks, Chris Kyle, Christie McAuliffe, Kanye West, John F, Kennedy, Malcolm X, former First Ladies Laura Bush and Lady Bird Johnson, author Louis Sachar, and country music’s Willie Nelson only got two votes per person.
Those with only one vote each included Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson, Flava-Flav, George Santayana, and presidents (Geo. W.) Bush, Washington, Carter, and Theodore Roosevelt, plus U.S. founding father Alexander Hamilton. So did early American educrat John Dewey, Leonardo da Vinci, King Leopold II, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Maya Angelou, Michelle Obama, Nicola Tesla, Norman Mailer, OJ Simpson, Texas Union commander Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger, WWII hero Robert Armstrong, Cuba’s Raul Castro, wrestler John Cena, comedian Richard Pryor, Texas blues icon Steve Ray Vaughn, astronaut Sally Ride, and Oveta Culp Hobby, the first U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare secretary.
A slew of nominations make a strong statement against the rebrand: Bleeding Heart Liberal Elementary, Austin Taliban Elementary School, Black Lives Matter Elementary, Communist Elementary, Feel Good Elementary, Galaxy Elementary, Generic School Name Elementary, Idiocracy Elementary, Peacemaker Elementary, Politically Correct Elementary School #1, Revisionist Elementary, School of Progressive and Socialist Studies, Texas Declaration of Independence, Texas Revolution, Illuminati, Traitor Elementary, Waterloo, and the Elementary School Formerly Known as Robert E. Lee.
Hitler was not the only Nazi to make the list, albeit the only to be nominated with an ironic nod to “friendship and tolerance.” Rudolf Hess, the heinous Third Reich’s deputy fuhrer, received one vote while German SS rocket scientist Wernher von Braun, also on the list, landed two votes.
Steeped deep in apparent sarcasm were recommendations like Hypothetical Perfect Person Memorial Elementary School, Ignorance is Bliss Elementary, Keep Austin Weird, and Rubber Duckies. The mockery continued with contenders including Forgetting the Past Dooms You Repeat It Elementary, Boaty McBoatface Elementary School, Adam Lanza’s School of Fun, Bee Movie, Schoolie McSchoolface, Schooly McSchoolerson and Schooly McSchoolerton.
In November, Breitbart Texas reported that the Austin ISD Board of Trustees voted right before Thanksgiving to change a district policy that allowed schools named after Confederate historical figures to dump those names. This led to a contentious battle where dueling petitions circulated with more than 500 Austinites and the school’s campus advisory council supporting the name change while 450 area residents wanted the school’s name to stand, which the campus has been named since 1939.
Name changes do not come cheaply. Houston ISD school board trustees voted to change eight public high school campuses named for historical Confederate figures. The estimated cost to Houston taxpayers for politically correct, non-offensive names will be at least $2 million in a district already saddled with a $107 million dollar shortfall.
In Austin ISD, the renaming process was open to the district’s community. As part of the Robert E. Lee Elementary rebrand, the school board sought input for new names between March 29 and April 15. However, school board members have final say on the school’s new name.
Follow Merrill Hope on Twitter @OutOfTheBoxMom.