School will be rebranded as Mary Jackson Elementary School in honor of NASA aeronautical engineer.

Students at Jackson Elementary School in Salt Lake City, Utah, will have to learn to deal with a major change to their school’s name. It will now be known as… Jackson Elementary School. In a unanimous decision following gauging the interests of the community, the school board has voted to change the longtime name.

This might seem like a non-issue to some, but the chance involves exactly which Jackson the school will be named after. Its original full name was Andrew Jackson Elementary School, but citing years of outcry over the character and actions of the former President, the school will be rebranded as Mary Jackson Elementary School in honor of NASA’s– and the country’s–first African-American female aeronautical engineer.

Hidden figures

Given more widespread recognition in the recent film Hidden Figures, Mary Jackson not only paved the way in the engineering field, she did so by upending segregation in Virginia public schools. At that time, segregation based on race was still the law in that state despite a 1955 US Supreme Court decision in Brown v Board of Education that ruled “separate but equal” to be unconstitutional.

Critics

Unfortunately, critics of this decision don’t see the recognition of a science and math advocate at work, but rather see this as a move to erase history with political correctness. Certainly one could argue that President Jackson had his good points and his contributions to both society and history; however, he will always be remembered for the deaths of thousands of Natives during forced relocation on the Trail of Tears, as well as being the owner of more than one hundred slaves.

High levels of support

According to the report that led the school board to change the elementary school’s name, 73% of the parents, students, and former students who were surveyed supported the change. Additionally, 85% of the students at the school identify as people of color, a factor that the board considered when selecting a more suitable role model for the school’s new name. Of course, all politics aside, naming more schools after STEM pioneers sends a valuable message to students about where their educational priorities should lie.