School Board to Vote on AMS Name Change Tonight

Groups both for and against changing the school’s name will hold rallies near the district office.


The New Haven Board of Education will vote tonight on whether it will rename Alvarado Middle School after Filipino American labor leaders Larry Itliong and Philip Vera Cruz, or keep its current name.

According to the school district's meeting agenda, the Facility Names Committee has advanced two names to be considered for the school: Alvarado Middle School and Itliong-Veracruz Middle School.

The naming committee, comprised of several community members appointed by school board members, recommended the names at a Feb. 13 meeting, according to the district. Committee members present during the Feb. 13 meeting included Nicholas Concepcion, Ben Menor, Jenniefer Nemecek, Jatinder Sal, Ivan Santos, Robert Singer and Pam Sison.

The issue has since divided the community, and groups both for and against the name change will be holding rallies this evening.

According to Kaisahan, a local social justice advocacy group, a solidarity rally will be held at the James Logan High School parking lot at 6 p.m. in support of changing the school’s name to Itliong-Veracruz Middle School. Organizers are asking supporters to bring flags, signs and shirts promoting diversity.

Similarly, community group (Old) Alvarado United will be holding a rally on the sidewalks in front of the district office to demand the school not be renamed. The rally will also be held at 6 p.m. The group is asking those who want to keep the name to stand together with signs and wear AMS colors (green and yellow) or AMS Cougar clothing.

Those supporting the name change say it will be a significant milestone in American history as it would be the first school named after Filipino Americans.

“We are not just trying to rename a facility, we are trying to instill a strong sense of self,” said Erica Viray-Santos, a San Leandro teacher and former New Haven teacher who has helped spearhead support for the name change, at a March 19 meeting. "This is not just Filipino history, it’s American history."

Kaisahan outlines in detail more reasons for pushing for the name change in a post on their Facebook page.

Those against the name change argue that renaming the school is not an “extraordinary circumstance” as outlined in the board’s naming policy and that a change would be a blow to Union City’s history.

“[We] recognize what the Filipino community is doing and respect that, but feel the history of the area should not be taken away in such a manner,” Josheph Garcia, an (Old) Alvarado United member, told Patch in a previous interview.

Meanwhile, some residents and members of the Alvarado Middle School Site council are calling foul on the district for a lack of public discourse prior to the board greenlighting a name change at their Jan. 15 meeting.

Members of the AMS SSC took the liberty to launch an online survey to get the community’s sentiments regarding the name change last week, but were snubbed when school officials asked people to disregard the SSC’s efforts.

Despite only being online for 27 hours, the survey received more than 200 responses, an overwhelming number of which was against changing the school’s name.

Read about the survey’s findings here.

At board meetings last month, a majority of the school board members seemed to lean toward supporting the name change.

“New Haven Unified celebrates diversity and equality. These ideas are the pillars of strength the district prides itself,” board president Linda Canlas said at a March 19 meeting. “This community is ready to make room for others that have been forgotten and have been invisible.”

Board members Michelle Matthews and Jonas Dino backed Canlas, with Dino adding that being the first district in the country with a school named after Filipino Americans was “extraordinary” in itself.

Board members Michael Ritche and Sarabjit Cheema were open to exploring other options, such as erecting statues or renaming a different facility after the Filipino American leaders as their names have been discussed for various New Haven sites in the past.

Tonight’s meeting will be held at 7:30 p.m. at the district office at 34200 Alvarado-Niles Rd.

How do you feel about renaming Alvarado Middle School? Tell us in the comments section below.

Edward April 18, 2013 at 05:07 AM
Actually they call Cesar Chavez "Ceasar Salad", Bernard White was called "Barnyard" But Alvarado was held sacred and respected. Now it is up for grabs by naming it after some Marxist Labor leaders who left the UFW because it was not radicle enough.
Edward April 18, 2013 at 08:09 PM
They stood up alright, with Clinched fists. This is not about Labor leaders getting their due, it is about "PINOY POWER". If it were about the Labor Movement, the school district would not hire non-union contractors to do the work on the schools over the summer. The winning bids on that 29.3 Million Grant would go to Union Contractors and their workers. "Double Gates" and renaming a school after labor leaders is "Double Talk". The Spirit of the Labor movement by these great leaders is being turned into "TURF WARS" based on ethnicity rather than their Works. Honor Labor Union? YES !
Veronica April 19, 2013 at 04:16 AM
I agree.
Veronica April 19, 2013 at 04:18 AM
Good points.
Edward April 19, 2013 at 04:23 AM
Union City was suposed to "unite" the townships of Decoto, Alvarado and Hew Haven into a UNION that would stop the anexation into Hayward in 1959 when Hayward tryed to anex the whole lot into South Hayward. Today, most have forgotten this and want "one upsmanship" to re-name what the founders never intended to change. Keeping the identities and history intact. 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. it should stay local by hireing local workers through local labor unions, not give pink slips to garner Votes in local Bond measures and put "Labor History" into the curiculum.


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