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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.

Ed March 08, 2013 at 03:35 PM
Perhaps someone from the Patch or the Argus could do some fact finding on renaming New Haven Middle to Cesar Chavez. New Haven was always suppose to be Cesar Chavez but at the time he was still alive and the district did not name schools after people who were still living. Once Cesar Chavez died there was a push to rename Barnard White but a communitly member remembered the original plan to name New Haven Middle. The fact that NHMS had to wait 12 or 17 years in correct but not factual-there is a reason, Cesar Chavez had to die first. So when Ms. Canals on the school board said it took 12 years to rename that school she left out some important and factual information. Not all of what is being said is the whole truth. I think we call that propaganda.
Green Is Better March 08, 2013 at 04:03 PM
Let's honor Mr. Vera Cruz and Mr. Itilong by renaming a park. There is little financial cost to do this, and park funding is also separate from school funding. Further, a park can be enjoyed by all Union City residents - not just students. A beautiful bronze plaque can be installed, a nice shade structure can be built, and Filipino festivals can be held there as well. A small rental can be charged by the City for the use of the park - by any group. It is a win-win for all.
Davis March 08, 2013 at 04:21 PM
If the bias school board HAS to do this, why not re-name Pioneer School. It is an inert name. Changing the name of Pioneer is a win-win and wouldn't offend that many people. Alvarado has too much history.
Student March 08, 2013 at 10:16 PM
It's basically up to the board so if you have a problem with the name change, you should have gone to the public hearing. If u didn't attend it that's on you. So stop complaining cause if its such a problem you would have gone to the hearing.
Davis March 08, 2013 at 10:35 PM
I guess you didn't read the posts, only 20 people were allowed to speak for one minute out of the 70 or so that attended, so young student get the facts first!
Davis March 09, 2013 at 12:15 AM
ZONEIL, Why did you bury this thread so early?, did they get to you? The opposition to this travesty is overwhelming.
Bob R March 09, 2013 at 12:51 AM
It was engineered from the start to deceive and avoid public comment. The Filipino board members are in the pocket of the special interest group (with money) who want the name change. The board will say and I am quite sure of this that since the argument against appears to be mostly financial there is no issue with the name change because the Filipino community will pay for it. Mark my words, that's how it will go down.
Alvarado 4 ever March 10, 2013 at 05:11 PM
@student....There is no respect in your post. Apparently you are not a product of Alvarado Middle.
Bob R March 11, 2013 at 09:57 PM
"NoHistoryNoSelf" . Wow, isn't that interesting. However I guess it depends upon what history we all choose to remember and consider relevant. Itliong and Vera Cruz mean nothing to me historically. Alvarado is certainly a huge part of Union City's history and at least a common history all of us share. Why isn't the history of Alvarado preserved by retaining the school name? What? I hear crickets...
TTFN March 12, 2013 at 07:28 PM
Let's just all put it to a vote of the Union City population. That will take the NHUSD politics out of it. That way in 20 years we can re-vote on it and change the name again and again.
Green Is Better March 12, 2013 at 08:29 PM
As it seems that local Filipinos are determined to honor someone who was important to them, so why not rename the school "Douglas MacArthur". MacArthur defended the Philippines for two years against the Japanese. He saved many Filipino lives and received the Medal of Honor for his actions. He also returned to the country as he promised and liberated them. I think it is poor judgement and self-centered for local Filipinos to have made the renaming of the school a racial thing. It is so divisive for our community, and sad because we have come so far. A plaque for Vera Crus and Itliong can still be put in a local park. In fact we can have several plaques that honor lots of different people.
UnionCity360 March 13, 2013 at 11:29 AM
Mike, i'm actually white, and open minded. what made you think i was brown? racist defending another racist i see.
UnionCity360 March 14, 2013 at 12:28 PM
Correct me if I'm wrong, but won't the Alvarado name still be present in Alvarado Elementary, Alvarado Blvd, and Alvarado Niles? its not like the filipino community wants to change everything. And if what i heard is right, its going to be funded privately so no City/school funds won't be used. not sure what the real issue is, besides people don't like change and or racism still strongly exists in this day in age. please answer respectively. I just don't understand the bigger picture i guess. just dont understand what the REAL problem is. if that makes any sense.
Green Is Better March 16, 2013 at 03:20 AM
To UnionCity360, I understand your point about how the Alvarado name already exists elsewhere. My point is that we do not need to rename things for racial reasons, especially publicly-owned properties. Some exceptions: it would be okay to name something after a person if they used to own the land or influenced the neighborhood directly; or if a particular ethnic community named something for their own race or ethnicity if they built it or donated the money to have it built. Race-based decisions invariably are not inclusive when applied to publicly owned facilities. Even the University of California system does not allow scholarships based on race for this very reason. We ought to be bonded as Americans, not separated as "Something - American".
Student-of-Life March 22, 2013 at 09:54 PM
Funny I've asked Bob R where his gets his information from. I looked up AMS STAR Test results and Filipinos actually do bring up the schools ranking. As for Mike - truth is in the numbers, look up grades, test scores, student involvement. The success of AMS band, color guar, and most of the sports are due to Filipino students and their families who support them.
Student-of-Life March 22, 2013 at 10:01 PM
" Itliong and Vera Cruz mean nothing to me historically. Alvarado is certainly a huge part of Union City's history and at least a common history all of us share. Why isn't the history of Alvarado preserved by retaining the school name? What? I hear crickets.." -- Alvarado had nothing to do with Union City. He was the governor of California. We have two streets, a park, and an elementary school named after him. Is that not preservation? Can you please get your facts straight? Crickets. Crickets.
Lance Nishihira March 26, 2013 at 05:12 AM
Long time Union City Resident: Excellent points. Consider signing our online petition. http://www.change.org/petitions/new-haven-unified-school-district-reverse-the-decision-to-rename-alvarado-middle-school
Lance Nishihira March 26, 2013 at 05:13 AM
Lisa, I know how you feel. That's why I helped the AMS SSC craft our letter to the board. One way you can speak up is by signing our online petition... http://www.change.org/petitions/new-haven-unified-school-district-reverse-the-decision-to-rename-alvarado-middle-school
Lance Nishihira March 26, 2013 at 05:16 AM
Well put, Green! Consider signing our petition... http://www.change.org/petitions/new-haven-unified-school-district-reverse-the-decision-to-rename-alvarado-middle-school
Quincy Jay Victoria March 27, 2013 at 08:14 PM
So what was the purpose of renaming New Haven Middle to Cesar Chavez Middle? Chavez, Itliong, and Vera Cruz fought for the EXACT same thing, yet the renaming of New Haven did not have this much opposition. This is why I must take issue with your statement: "Race-based decisions invariably are not inclusive when applied to publicly owned facilities." This is exactly what I mean in all of my responses to this issue: It's ok if it's related to Cesar Chavez and Mexican history, but you throw in 2 Filipino guys who weren't in the spotlight as much as Chavez but who, for the most part, started things and even encouraged Chavez, it suddenly doesn't sound acceptable, or people are trying to "Americanize" the name change by suggesting people like Gen. McArthur, who had some influence on Philippine history. THAT is what is unacceptable to me - that it's ok for one ethnicity, but not for another.
Student-of-Life March 27, 2013 at 10:00 PM
People opposed to the name change can pretend that this about the process. To that I say, board agendas and minutes are ALWAYS public. If you were so interested in the board's business, wouldn't it behoove you to check the agenda and the minutes? Why would you need a robocall to inform you if you were truly interested. The point is the decision has been made to rename the school and the issue at hand is what will it be renamed to. So now the opposition cite money as the reason. In fact, even Veronica Moreno daringly "looked everyone in the eye" at the public hearing to say this is not about race but simply about money. Well, the money issue has been addressed. But again, people raise the concern that our schools are not for sale. So is the issue really money or something else? Well, I've tried to be quiet about this until yesterday when I drove by the corner of Fredi and Horner. There stood a group of individuals waving two large Mexican flags and a UFW flag with signs asking drivers to honk to oppose the name change. That clarified everything to me with regards to what the opposition is about. At least they were finally honest about it. Thank you!
Green Is Better March 27, 2013 at 10:37 PM
To Quincy, I understand your comment - and to be consistent I would have opposed the name change of our other middle school to Caesar Chavez too. We can make this work for everyone by installing a plaque for Itliong + Vera Cruz and leave the current school name alone. If the name change is based on race or ethnicity, it will be divisive; and our community will never be able to catch up to all the name changes proposed in the future. What's more important, the "Something - American" notion should end. When I hear people say that they practice "tolerance" towards other races and ethnicities, what they're really saying is, "We don't really care for you, your color, or your beliefs - but we'll put up with you." Well no matter what color our kids' skin might be, or what they believe in - no one is better than another. Each of us is American.
Lance Nishihira March 28, 2013 at 01:27 AM
Student: Do you attend every Union Sanitary Board Meeting? Imagine if you got home one day to find this huge 12' vent right in the front of your house. You call the Union Sanitary District, and they say, "Well, you know we've had it on the agenda for the last 3 months. Those meeting minutes are a matter of public record. If you were concerned about it, you should have been to every meeting." Be honest. You would expect an earnest and diligent attempt to gather feedback. We are not pretending about anything. You know my real name. I've spoken at board meetings. Why are you hiding behind a pseudonym? The truth of the matter is that the opposition is not about one thing. Different people have different reasons. For some people it's about money. For others, it's about process. Unfortunately, for some it's about Latino pride. Don't think that the opposition is about any one thing and is one color. This argument cannot be boiled down that neatly. Now about money. The $10K is a pipe dream. There is NO WAY that it will cost that little. Would your group be willing to fund it if it were $100K? How about $200K? These are likely closer estimates. You say that the money thing is "addressed." No way. I've not seen a LEGALLY BINDING agreement that says, "We will put up collateral guaranteeing that every cent of this will not be taken out of general funds." Are you going to mortgage your house? The assurances that we have can be summarized as, "we'll do some fund raisers to cover the cost."
Union City March 28, 2013 at 02:06 AM
Don't understand how renaming something historic and relevant to the area to something not historic and not relevant to the AREA is even being thought of, some people have too much ignorance and focus to do things that aren't making anything better.
Edward April 03, 2013 at 05:14 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 05:17 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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