Who could pass the board’s test? Barack Obama’s evolution on gay marriage resembles Lincoln’s own two-steps forward, one-step back progress on slavery and race. Obama asserted religious reservations at one point and as late as 2012 gently rebuked his vice president, Joe Biden, for committing their ticket to the idea earlier than Obama deemed politically wise.
Did that “significantly diminish opportunities”? In 2019, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) hailed “the bold and visionary leadership of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt,” and promised to model a Sanders presidency on FDR’s. According to the panel advising the school board, though, Sanders’s hero is unworthy of a school naming, in part because of his wartime internment of U.S. citizens and noncitizens of Japanese descent.
“Change is a good thing,” board member Matt Alexander breezily observed, apropos his vote for the board’s plan — and, indeed, there’s a case for some updating of San Francisco’s school names to account for new norms and new heroes. As the board proposed, James Lick Middle School could go, especially since the private Lick-Wilmerding High School still honors this 19th-century business tycoon and philanthropist.