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Residents Voice Support, Concern Over Possible Renaming of Middle School

The Board of Education listened to the public discuss renaming Alvarado Middle School after Filipino-American leaders Tuesday night.

More than a hundred community members attended a public hearing Tuesday night to discuss the possible renaming of Alvarado Middle School.

The district has proposed renaming the middle school after Filipino American labor leaders Larry Itliong and Philip Vera Cruz, contemporaries of Cesar Chavez who fought for the rights of farm workers.

About 50 people signed up to speak on the matter. Board officials, however, limited the number of speakers to 10 in support and 10 in opposition, upsetting some who felt the board’s action was stifling the public hearing process. After a short recess to sort out speakers, members of the public approached the podium one-by-one.

The meeting drew an overwhelming number of supporters including members of Filipino Advocates for Justice and the New Haven Pilipino American Society for Education, as well as political leaders such as Union City councilman Jim Navarro and representatives for assemblymembers Bill Quirk and Rob Bonta.

Though Bonta, the first Filipino American in California legislature, does not represent Union City, he recently authored Assembly Bill 123 to push for Filipino American history to be taught in California public schools. Bonta highlights Itliong and Vera Cruz and their role in the farm labor movement as inspiring him to draft the bill.

“Naming the school in their honor will be a great testament to their work,” a representative for Bonta said Tuesday night.

Other supporters agreed, noting that the new name would celebrate the community’s diversity, raise more awareness about Filipino Americans — often labeled “the invisible minority” — and instill a sense of community pride.

“We can be learners today and leaders tomorrow,” one teenager said.

Though outnumbered, opponents took to the podium to voice their concerns, which ranged from preserving Union City’s history to the cost the already cash-strapped district may incur if the school changed its name.

Alvarado Middle School athletics department head Veronica Moreno said the name change would have a significant impact on the school’s budget. 

“What am I going to do about this?” Moreno said, pointing to an Alvarado Middle School t-shirt — one of thousands in her inventory. “Every piece of clothing we do not sell is a piece of equipment we don’t get to order. It’s not financially responsible.”

Addressing the issue of cost, PASE member Joe Angeles said, “We should not put a price tag on diversity.”

Among the most vocal supporters of the name change was school board president Linda Canlas. 

“Filipino Americans have been in California since the 1500s. That’s over 500 years ago. How long do we have to wait?” Canlas said. “It’s just one school. We’re not naming the United States.” 

If the school were renamed, it would fall in with the diversity already represented by New Haven’s school names.

Other schools are named after Tom Kitayama, Union City’s first mayor and the first Japanese American in public office in California; Delaine Eastin, the first woman elected as State Superintendent; and labor and civil rights leader Cesar Chavez.

According to board officials, it took 12 years to rename New Haven Middle School after Chavez.

Board member Jonas Dino said that the idea of renaming a school after Itliong and Vera Cruz has been in discussion for the past 13 years that he’s been in office.

In the end, board members agreed that further discussion was required before a decision could be made as some residents expressed concerns over a lack of information.

According to community members, many were notified about the possible name change via an automated recorded phone call from the school district.

“More information needs to get out,” Dino, a Filipino American, said. “I think everyone needs to step back and start talking with each other, and I think we can find a solution that will help everyone.”

Do you support changing the school's name? Tell us in the comments below.

Edward April 03, 2013 at 05:17 AM
You know they are selling off "Cabellio Elementary" to raise funds for the School District and the adjacent park could be named after these two Union leaders without all this hassle. Just 3 blocks from Alvarado Middle School, this park has Lighted Tennis Courts, Baseball Diamond and is owned by the City. Here is a perfect oppertunity to name somehting that will change it's Name anyway. As a Union Member myself, I know there needs to be recognition without Alienation. It's time we take this off the School Board Agenda and put it on the City Agenda to rename the Park after the District Sells Cabellio School. After All, Cabellio School sits on old Agricultural land that used to be worked on by both Mexican and Phillipino (filipino) workers prior to being built.
Edward April 03, 2013 at 05:19 AM
Quincy...You know they are selling off "Cabellio Elementary" to raise funds for the School District and the adjacent park could be named after these two Union leaders without all this hassle. Just 3 blocks from Alvarado Middle School, this park has Lighted Tennis Courts, Baseball Diamond and is owned by the City. Here is a perfect oppertunity to name somehting that will change it's Name anyway. As a Union Member myself, I know there needs to be recognition without Alienation. It's time we take this off the School Board Agenda and put it on the City Agenda to rename the Park after the District Sells Cabellio School. After All, Cabellio School sits on old Agricultural land that used to be worked on by both Mexican and Phillipino (filipino) workers prior to being built.
Edward April 14, 2013 at 03:06 AM
Hey Kids!!~ lets name that school!!! Lets see what funny names we can call the Middle Schools of Union City. Lets start with Cesar Chavez Middle School. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C%C3%A9sar_Ch%C3%A1vez How About "Lit'le Ceasars" after the Pizzas they try to bribe us with. http://www.littlecaesars.com/home.aspx. And how about the New name for the west side middle school they want to name Lary Itliong ( http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/19/us/larry-itliong-forgotten-filipino-labor-leader.html?pagewanted=all&_r=1&; ) and Philip Vera Cruz ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philip_Vera_Cruz ) Both were contrivercial like Marajuana so we could call it "Itchy BONG" because the school board must be "smoking something" to be so itch to change the name. Just look at all the posters of these guys to know they wanted change and nothing like implying legalization of marajuana to embody their revolutionary spirit. http://legalizationofmarijuana.com/ Hey Kids, It's your school. You Name the school for the 4 years you are there, then, the next Class gets to re-name it.
Lance Nishihira April 15, 2013 at 11:42 PM
SURVEY RESULTS. The School Site Council has conducted a survey and would like to share the results. Of the 201 respondents, 97% want the name to continue to be Alvarado Middle School. Here are the full survey results: https://sites.google.com/site/amsname/key-findings
Edward April 19, 2013 at 02:51 AM
Re-naming Schools after labor leaders, when the School District does not Honor labor in Contracts, it has with contractors, service providers and even with it's own teachers, like what happened to all the Music Teachers and Band Leaders, does not honor the persons they are naming the Schools after at all. What Larry Itliong. Philip Vera Cruz and Cesar Chavez all had in common was getting workers united to gain a fair share in the wealth of California dominated by Agriculture and Land Barons. Now that the School District is commited to naming their schools after these labor leaders, they need to step up and stop playing Games with Labor. Union City needs to be a UNION TOWN and New Haven Unified needs to do it's part and not just give "lip Sevice" to ethnic groups by saying they "Honor Labor" when they realy don't. Watch who gets the School building and modification contracts with that $29.2 Million they had bestowed on them. One of the first things the New Haven Unified School Board should do is to "Honor Labor" by signing a "Project Labor Agreement" (PLA) where they will get competative bidding only from union Signatory Contractors and suppliers. They get Guanteed Quality workmanship, Fair Bidding, Lowest Reasonable prices without having to go back and fix what "LOW BALL BIDDING" gets you. If you are brash enough to name two schools after labor leaders, in a town named Union City, you should be smart enough to sign a PLA with the Alameda County Building Trades.

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