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VA District Changes School Names Back to Confederate Soldiers

VA District Changes School Names Back to Confederate Soldiers


In 2020, school districts across the South removed Confederate names from their schools. Shenandoah County, in rural Virginia, has a population of about 45,000 and sits roughly 100 miles west of the nation’s capital. They had changed the names of several schools in 2020 as well. The district voted to change the names, saying they were “inappropriate in light of a recently passed resolution condemning racism.” 

Symbols of Slavery

Since 2020, several schools, military bases, and landmarks removed Confederate names and monuments, which are seen as symbols of slavery and racial inequality.

Approximately 340 schools in 21 states are currently named after Confederate figures. According to Education Week, at least 59 Confederate-named schools, including two in Shenandoah County, have been changed to non-Confederate names since June 29, 2020. But around 190 schools in 19 states still bear the names of men with ties to the Confederacy.

A Symbol of Pride or Racism?

A school name is very important as it stands as a symbol of pride for students and staff. Yet “almost all of the Confederate-named schools are in states that were part of the Confederacy that fought to preserve the enslavement of Black people in the U.S. Civil War. Many schools take their names from local cities, towns, or the county they are in, which are already named after Confederate soldiers.” 

A Reversal

Shenandoah County is the first district to change school names back to Confederate names. The reversal had been expected, as many people living in the more than 90% white county said the previous changes happened too quickly and “ignored popular sentiment and due process when the names were stripped in 2020,” according to The New York Times. 

On Friday, May 10th, the Shenandoah County school board voted 5-1 to rename Mountain View High School as Stonewall Jackson High School and Honey Run Elementary as Ashby Lee Elementary. Tom Streett, one of the board members who voted for the reinstatement, actually said, “When you read about this man — who he was, what he stood for, his character, his loyalty, his leadership, how Godly a man he was — those standards that he had were much higher than any leadership of the school system in 2020.” He seems to be leaving out one major part of the soldier’s life: he fought in favor of slavery. 

A Majority of Residents Don’t Support This

Shenandoah County board member Gloria Carlineo said that opponents of the Confederate school names should “stop bringing racism and prejudice into everything” because it “detracts from true cases of racism.” However, having kids go to school every day in a building that is named after a Confederate soldier feels like it detracts quite a bit from racism. 

Kyle Gutshall, the only board member to vote against reinstating the names, said he respects both sides of the debate but believes that a majority of residents in his district wanted to keep the Mountain View and Honey Run school names in place. 

According to the resolution, private donations will be used to pay for the name changes. 

Find Out More

Education Week has a database of schools named for Confederate figures, where they are located, who their namesake is, which have changed their names since June 2020, and the demographics of the students who attend them.

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Jane Morris

Jane Morris is the pen name of an ex-teacher who would really like to tell you more about herself but is worried awful administrators will come after her for spilling their dirty little secrets. Jane has taught English for over 15 years in a major American city. She received her B.A. in English and Secondary Education from a well-known university and her M.A. in Writing and Literature from an even fancier (and more expensive) university. As a professional queen of commiseration turned published author, Jane’s foremost passion in life is to make people laugh through the tears.

She has written several highly acclaimed books unpacking the reality of teaching and life inside the school system. You can view her full library of works here.