California district's decision to name new school for bandit proves controversial

Dive Summary:

  • Last month, California's Alisal Union School District found itself in the middle of a controversy after it announced plans to open an elementary school in Salinas named after notorious 19th century outlaw Tiburcio Vasquez, who the district presents as an injustice-fighting hero to the Hispanic community.
  • A University of Southern California biography of Vasquez describes him as the most notorious bandit California ever saw, detailing his time in San Quentin State Prison for horse theft and later capture, conviction and hanging following a string of robberies and murders.
  • The county Office of Education issued a statement citing high rates of youth violence and murder in Salinas, but retired school teacher and naming committee member Francisco Estrada said it was ridiculous to link those numbers to the school's name, citing a more noble side of the bandit and his belief that Vasquez was falsely accused of murder.

From the article:

Tiburcio Vasquez, a 19th century outlaw, is remembered in historical accounts as a notorious criminal who terrorized southern California. But one school district in California wants to remember him another way: as a hero to the Hispanic community who fought back against injustice. The Alisal Union School District set off a controversy last month when it announced that an elementary school in Salinas to be opened this year will be named after Vasquez. ...

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Filed Under: K12 Policy & Regulation
Top image credit: Naotake Murayama