School Committee stance on Garrison naming is ‘embarrassing’

May 31, 2024

After dropping my kids off at school a couple weeks ago, I heard a WBUR story about the effort to name the new middle school in Concord after Black educator Ellen Garrison. While I think the discussion is valuable, the support at Town Meeting was overwhelming and the current stances and arguments of the Concord School Committee are both illogical and embarrassing. 

This past week, I was particularly disappointed that the School Committee again failed to support the democratic will of our community. Let’s be clear — naming a building is NOT the same as naming the entire school. 

While I acknowledge that the School Committee had a process, it was NOT well advertised to the greater community and once the community was informed, the town overwhelmingly supported naming the middle school after Ellen Garrison. It’s difficult to understand whether the arguments from School Committee Chair Alexa Anderson (as quoted in the WBUR piece or associated Boston Globe article) come from a sense of lost power, ignorance, or something deeper. 

Whatever the reason, it’s difficult to find logic in her argument that naming the school after a Black educator is “anachronistic” as I drive by the three elementary schools in Concord: Alcott, Thoreau, and Willard. Does the School Committee plan to change the names of those to “Concord Elementary Schools?” 

What does this teach our children about logic? About democracy? About power? About the importance of acknowledging those who history has refused to commemorate?

It’s not too late for the Concord School committee to do the right thing, but it will take some humility. The School Committee’s in/action makes me embarrassed to be from Concord. However, the enthusiasm around this topic gives me hope that Concordians will once again rise against injustice and set a good example for our children.

Andrew West

Mallard Drive