San Francisco schools arts department declares ‘acronyms are a symptom of white supremacy culture’

The San Francisco school district’s department of Visual and Performing Arts, referred to as VAPA, is changing its name because “acronyms are a symptom of white supremacy culture,” officials said Monday.

Schools are still closed for in-person learning in San Francisco due to the coronavirus pandemic, but officials of the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) board of education have turned their focus to racial justice. Last week, they voted to approve the renaming of 44 schools in the district named after historical figures like George Washington and Abraham Lincoln because of their connections to slavery and the oppression of indigenous peoples.

Now, the director of SFUSD’s VAPA is dropping the acronym in favor of “SFUSD Arts Department,” saying in a statement: “We are prioritizing antiracist arts instruction in our work.”

“It is a very simple step we can take to just be referred to as the SFUSD Arts Department for families to better understand who we are,” Director Sam Bass told ABC 7. 

“The use of so many acronyms within the educational field oftentimes tends to alienate those who maybe don’t speak English to understand those acronyms,” he added.

ABC 7’s Lyanne Melendez noted that the school district currently uses countless acronyms and even has a guide on its website on how to read them, but that the school district currently has no district-wide plan to stop using them.

Mayor London Breed, who previously spoke out against the renaming plan, said a conversation is needed.

“We definitely need to have a robust conversation about what we need to do but not a rushed conversation,” she said.

In October, Ms. Breed condemned school officials for proposing the schools be renamed instead of working on a plan to get students back in the classroom, calling the plan “offensive” to parents.

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