SF Board of Education to honor three Chinatown public schools’ namesakes and history

SF Board of Education to honor three Chinatown public schools’ namesakes and history

Press Release

December 9, 2015 (San Francisco) – The San Francisco Board of Education plans to install plaques at three of San Francisco Unified School District’s (SFUSD) Chinatown-area schools to commemorate the contributions Chinese have made to San Francisco and public education.

Yick Wo Elementary is named in honor of the 1885 Supreme Court case, Yick Wo v. Hopkins, where a Chinese businessman sued for the right to operate his laundry business. It was the first case to use the 14th Amendment Equal Protection Clause to strike down a law that was being unequally enforced.

Spring Valley Elementary school is the oldest operating public school in California. It was also the site of the 1887 California Supreme Court case of a Chinese American family that won the right for their children to attend San Francisco public schools, a precursor to the Brown v. Board of Education decision almost 70 years later.

Gordon J. Lau Elementary was named in honor of the first Chinese person elected to serve on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1977.

“These schools represent part of the many contributions Chinese people have made to the national civil rights movement,” said the resolution’s author Commissioner Sandra Lee Fewer. “With these plaques, we are further recognizing and respecting the work of these important leaders in our city’s history.”

 “It’s important that everybody knows who our schools are named after. These are important people in our history,” said SFUSD Superintendent Richard A. Carranza. “SFUSD has a long and deep history of serving Chinese Americans and these Chinatown schools and their namesakes have been at the forefront of leading us toward the values we still hold most sacred today – equity and social justice.”

A plaque will be placed at each school site. With the guidance of organizations such as the Chinese Historical Society of San Francisco, the San Francisco Chinese Cultural Center, and the College of Ethnic Studies at UC Berkeley, each plaque will tell the story of the school’s namesake or the historical significance of the school.

Plaques will be installed before April 2016.

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Page updated on 12/09/15

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