Flawed reasoning blocked Garrison school naming

April 24, 2024

I write to urge Concord residents to vote at the April 29 Town Meeting in favor of naming the new middle school for Ellen Garrison. 

I attended the School Committee meeting where they decided on Concord Middle School, and was shocked by the shallowness of the justifications put forth by several committee members. The first rationale was, “…so many names have been proposed — how can we pick one over all the others.” This is the very definition of a false equivalence, as clearly only one name had broad community support.  

The second rationale was the evidence-free assertion that, “No one is naming schools after people anymore.” Yet, as recently as April 10, the Boston Public School system renamed the Boston Community Leadership Academy to the Ruth Batson Academy in honor of the local Black community activist who helped to launch the METCO program. Last year, Boston renamed its McKinley schools for Mel King and honored Boston’s first Black school committee member by naming the John D. O’Bryant School for him. 

We should expect more sophisticated thinking from the committee responsible for education policy in our town. The School Committee shamefully missed a once in a generation opportunity to make a meaningful statement. “Concord Middle School” isn’t a name — it’s a description.

Steven Block

Cambridge Turnpike