While the argument rages on concerning the supposed controversy of anything being named after anything recognized as Confederate, many schools are now trying to get on the bandwagon of name changes, and some are creating more issues then they are fixing. One Texas High School named after the Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee did take a vote to change the name, but many are angry that the new name chosen does not leave much to be desired.
The North East Independent School District trustees voted Monday that Lee High School will instead now be called Legacy of Educational Excellence High School. That would make the acronym show as L.E.E High School. This is a development that many are claiming to be a way around an actual name change.
Board President Shannon Grona stated that the name is a compromise that retains the school’s history and lessens the expensive process of renaming and rebranding the school with an entirely different name.
Trustee Edd White said the acronym does nothing but defeat the renaming purpose in the first place and amounts to “trying to put lipstick on a pig.”
The board however, voted 5-2 in favor of replacing Robert E. Lee High School with the Legacy of Educational Excellence (L.E.E HS) beginning in the 2018-19 school year.
Grona, also stated that the cost to the district could have been “extensive” if they had not have found a compromise on the name change.
“The marquee, signs around campus, the end zone, all of the athletic uniforms, dance, cheer and band uniforms, etc,” Grona said. “As a trustee, it is our responsibility to be fiscally responsible. We can minimize the number of things that need to be changed at the school.”
NEISD received 2,443 online suggestions from the community to help rename the high school. Only 542 submissions (22 percent) from the public met criteria before the school board ultimately decided on the new name.
One district spokeswoman said that many of the 1,901 submissions did not meet the criteria and contained “offensive and inappropriate references, such as profanity and racially charged statements.”
The school board had already voted 5-2 to keep the school’s name back in 2015 when the issue first surfaced. Two years later the board flipped its stance and voted to unanimously change the name in August, and a dangerous and controversial rally was held in Charlottesville, Virginia.
The school board called the decision a “no-win situation.”
“We’re in a very different time than two years ago,” said board member Sandi Wolff in August. “Our students are different. Our environment is different and we want to be reflective of that.”
People in favor of the name change said it’s time to distance the school from the Confederate General. Opponents said the name is about cultural pride rather than overt racism. It is worth adding however that General Robert E. Lee was in no way a slave holder and was far from racist, but many choose to lump him and a few others in with the few that do give the South a bad name.
To be fair, racism should in all aspects be something that we shouldn’t see in 2017, but we should also not try to lump all historic leaders in with the new ideal that all things Confederate are racist. They are in fact not, and historical research would show as much if it was taught truthfully. We should be spending more time teaching how to learn from mistakes of the past and a lot less time trying to make the past disappear.
History is something that America prides itself on, and should maintain that pride in all things. If a part of our past is ugly then it is up to us to teach that and to point out a better way to move forward, but we cannot do that if we are systematically placing a revisionist ideal in front of truth and fact.
District officials say they will now focus on working to decide new colors and the best mascot for the school in future meetings.
The current name will remain in place for the 2017-18 school year. It is not yet known if the name will come under speculation to change again in future school years.