Jordan Renaming Committee Narrows List To Five

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David Starr Jordan Middle School was renamed Dolores Huerta Middle School on March 4, 2021, in a decision by the Burbank Board of Education. (2016 File Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

Nearly two years after the Burbank Board of Education agreed to rename David Starr Jordan Middle School, the Jordan Renaming Committee has released its short list of the top five contenders for the school’s new name.

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The candidates, which will discussed by the Board of Education and the Jordan Renaming Committee further, are: Ruth Bader Ginsberg Middle School, Amelia Earhart Middle School, Dolores Huerta Middle School, Barbara Jordan Middle School and Mariposa Middle School.

In his report to the school board, Dr. John Paramo, Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services for Burbank Unified School District, outlined the process the Renaming Committee undertook to arrive at the five finalists.

The pandemic delayed the community survey, which ended up being held for five weeks in the Fall of 2020. Although conducted online, the survey was promoted community wide and allowed anyone to submit a suggestion for the new school name, along with the reasoning behind the suggestion. Those who did not wish to fill out the online survey were encouraged to pick up a paper survey at the school office to make their suggestion.

The Jordan Renaming Committee received 909 responses to the survey, including hundreds of responses for Ruth Bader Ginsberg specifically, Paramo told the Board. The top five community-suggested responses were: Ruth Bader Ginsberg Middle School, Amelia Earhart Middle School, Barbara Jordan Middle School, Jordan Middle School and Mariposa Middle School.

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Every committee member, which included Board of Education President Steve Frintner and Vice President Charlene Tabet, reviewed every one of the 909 responses, Paramo said. Then committee members submitted their top five suggestions, which resulted in a list of 20 names for further consideration.

After additional discussion, the list of 20 was reduced to 11, according to Paramo: Amelia Earhart, Barbara Jordan, Bonnie Gray, Bridget “Biddy” Mason, Dolores Huerta, Jordan, Malala Yousafazai, Mariposa, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Sonia Sotomayor and Sylvia Mendez or Felicia and Gonzalo Mendez.

After further consideration, the Jordan Renaming Committee voted again, each for their top three candidates. And thus the list of the top five contenders for the new school name was finalized.

Paramo asked the Board of Education members to discuss the five finalists and provide their input to the committee. The Jordan Renaming Committee will meet again for a final decision in coming weeks.

Many schools and institutions around the country, including Stanford University and Indiana University, have renamed buildings and streets bearing David Starr Jordan’s name in recent years. Jordan has a complicated legacy – he was a leader in science and education and one of the founders of Stanford University. However, he emphatically promoted eugenics and controlled reproduction based on a hierarchichal view of race, ethnicity and culture, unsupported by science, ultimately denigrating the value and equality of non-white peoples.

The Board-approved committee to rename Jordan Middle School consists of two Board members – Frintner and Tabet, the Principal of Jordan Middle School Dr. Jennifer Meglemre, a teacher, a student, three members of the community and Paramo.

The video and complete agenda, along with supplementary packets and documents, of the Burbank Board of Education meeting for February 18 can be found online here.

The Burbank Board of Education is comprised of President Steve Frintner, Vice President Charlene Tabet, Clerk Steve Ferguson and members Dr. Armond Aghakhanian and Dr. Emily Weisberg. More information on the Board can be found online on their webpage.