SF school board votes to rename Chinatown school after late Mayor Ed Lee

Students at the Chinese Education Center are seen here enjoying their first Thanksgiving meal. The school, which provides a transition for recent immigrants who are still learning English, will be renamed for the late Mayor Ed Lee. (Gabrielle Lurie/Special to the S.F. Examiner)

Two San Francisco elementary schools will get new names, one of them honoring the late Mayor Ed Lee, following a unanimous vote by the San Francisco Board of Education on Tuesday.

With the vote, the Chinese Education Center will be renamed Edwin and Anita Lee Newcomer School, while Fairmount Elementary School will be renamed Dolores Huerta Community School.

According to San Francisco Unified School District officials, the name changes are meant to reflect the communities they serve and inspire students.

“Renaming these schools after such influential leaders is a historic moment for the San Francisco Unified School District and for the city,” Hydra Mendoza-McDonnell, Board of Education president, said in a statement.

Mendoza-McDonnell said, “Mayor Ed Lee was my friend and colleague for many years, and now his name along with Anita’s will continue to serve as a symbol for our newest residents that they are welcome here. The name change for Fairmount, where my own children attended, will also remind students of the importance of fighting for the rights of everyone, which Dolores Huerta is so known for.”

The Chinese Education Center, located in San Francisco’s Chinatown, first opened in 1969 and serves immigrant students who have recently arrived to the U.S., orienting them in American culture and providing a strong foundation in academic subjects, according to school district officials.

“Our family is so honored by the proposal to rename the Chinese Education Center to the Edwin and Anita Lee Newcomer School. Both our parents are dedicated to improving the lives of immigrant children and care deeply about access to quality education that meets their unique needs,” Lee’s daughters, Tanya and Brianna Lee, said in a statement.

Lee, the city’s 43rd mayor, died unexpectedly in December 2017.

Fairmount Elementary School, in the city’s Glen Park neighborhood, was founded around 1864 and is known for offering a Spanish Dual Immersion Program for its 400 students.

It’s new name is in honor of Dolores Huerta, who co-founded the United Farm Workers along with Cesar Chavez and helped organize a strike by grape workers in 1965.

“By adopting the name of a strong Latina Leader, we also would like to send a message of empowerment to all our female students, particularly our female students of color,” Fairmount’s principal Luis Rodriguez said in a statement.

The name changes at the two schools are expected go into effect sometime this school year, school district officials said.

-Daniel Montes, Bay City Newseducation

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