City’s Planned Move to Downtown Offers New Rochelle School District Historic Opportunity

Has the Time Come for New Rochelle to Rename Its Public Schools?

Written By: Robert Cox

NEW ROCHELLE, NY — New Rochelle has ten public schools, one with no name (New Rochelle High School) three named for past school officials (Albert Leonard Middle School, Isaac E. Young Middle School and George M. Davis Jr. Elementary School), one for a street (Trinity Elementary School), one for a bread baker (William B. Ward Elementary School), one for an educator from Connecticut (Barnard Early Childhood Center), two for elected officials with no connection to New Rochelle (Thomas Jefferson Elementary School, Daniel Webster Elementary School) and a 15th-16th century explorer (Christopher Columbus Elementary School).

Only four of these people have a substantive connection to New Rochelle: Albert Leonard and Isaac E. Young were the first two Superintendents of Schools in New Rochelle, George M. Davis Jr. was a School Board President, William B. Ward was a businessman who donated property to the City of New Rochelle and the City School District of New Rochelle.

In a school district that claims to champion diversity and pride in New Rochelle, there is a stunning lack of diversity among the people honored with school names and little sense of local pride in prominent New Rochelleans. The 8 people who have public schools named for them share a common thread: white men.

Few seem to question why these schools were named for school board members, or historical figures with no connection to the City of New Rochelle. Or why there are no women. Or no African-Americans in a city with a long history of prominent African-American residents.

There are plenty of important figures with genuine connections to New Rochelle to choose from – they were born here, raised here or lived here during their time of prominence on the national stage.

Here is a random sample taken from an online list.

  • Lee Archer
  • Carrie Chapman Catt
  • Ossie Davis
  • Ruby Dee
  • E.L. Doctorow
  • Lou Gehrig
  • Jerome Kohlberg Jr.
  • Willie Mays
  • Robert Merrill
  • Thomas Paine
  • Carl Reiner
  • Frederic Remington
  • Norman Rockwell
  • Mariano Rivera
  • Frances Sternhagen
  • Joe Torre
  • Paul Zuber

Anyone of these people would be better candidates than those honored today.

Maybe the New Rochelle Board of Education should appoint a School Renaming Committee to select Names for Schools with two criteria:

  1. Highly-regarded leaders in their field.
  2. Substantive connection to New Rochelle.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Feel free to add your own suggestions in the comments section. Latinos do not have the same history in New Rochelle so there is just one Latino on the list but if a reader wants to make the case for more do so in the comments.

35 thoughts on “Has the Time Come for New Rochelle to Rename Its Public Schools?”

  1. Amen, America will never be a socialist country – Make America Great Again !
    I will never vote for a democrat ever again.
    Trump 2020
    Vote Republican !

  2. Forget all the names lets give them numbers. Failed Public School #1, F.P.S. #2 – 3 – 4 etc….
    For what we pay in taxes we can send all public school students to private schools, win win situation, great education and a budget surplus.
    I went to NR public schools, as students we laughed at the wacko communists they hire as teachers. The teachers sucked, a lot of them were sexual perverts that fondle and sexually abuse our children, the teachers union is corrupted and don’t care about educating our students. Its a failed racist system that for 50 years has done nothing to better the lives of poor children, failed to give them the tools to succeed and doomed them to a life of poverty.
    Defund Public Schools !

  3. Truly groundbreaking television. Absolutely.

    But it can’t hold a candle to your Socialism worship. “The Bernie & Hugo Show“ probably won’t get renewed.

  4. I’ll take the “antediluvian” Rob & Laura Junior High over the socialist/anarchists every day.

    … your statement here says it all. I’m sure you were an Archie Bunker fan as well.

  5. Well, actually no. It looks like you misspelled “anarchist” in your first sentence.

    Your word salad definition of socialism, “simply meaning group ownership administered by government” is a hoot. It seems you conveniently left out the “Destroy the nuclear family/Wreck the capitalism that built America/ Cradle to grave welfare state”.
    Maybe in your spare time you could take a look at the most recent example of Socialism in or own hemisphere. It only took two decades to turn one of Latin America’s richest countries, Venezuela, into a socialist hellhole of misery and hunger.

    Bravo Socialism!
    Let’s give it a shot here.

    I’ll take the “antediluvian” Rob & Laura Junior High over the socialist/anarchists every day.

  6. Yes, she was a socialist and unionist.

    The modern definition of socialism simply means group ownership of production / capital, usually, administered by a government representing the people. Social security, welfare, unemployment compensation (stimulus checks) public education and anything that relies on tax dollars (industry bailouts) except for national defense and the protection of private property.

    So in as much as we think we’re a nation built solely of free enterprise; there are many socialist/unionist principles we rely on to function as a community, as a nation.

    My larger point is, as Mr. Cox pointed out, we in New Rochelle claim to celebrate diversity but when it comes to naming our publicly funded schools (social & public commitment), which are also the largest single employer in New Rochelle (largest single UNION) … why can’t we move away from ethnic entitlement when (re) naming these buildings?

    My post was to simply throw out a few names for consideration. Inclusive of the Alternative High School, I’d suggest at least three schools be named after accomplished women regardless of there immediate connection to New Rochelle.

    To much of this city’s thinking is trapped in antediluvian thinking as if the “Dick Van Dyke Show” of the 1960s is still “filmed” here.

  7. Yeah, sure.
    Angela Bambace, anarchist, married to Nino Capraro, Communist, organizer for the ACWA, and writer for the Socialist newspaper “The New York Call”. Divorced and later married to anarchist and Communist Luigi Quintilano.

    From the article ‘What the Anarchists Want” (summarizing their political credo in 1893 which Bambace certainly adhered to in 1917, when she was an 18 year old seamstress and anarchist living in NYC)

    “In the first place the destruction of authority, private property, religions and family. Instead of private property, anarchists want common ownership for the social good. Instead of religion they demand progress and science; and instead of the current family, based on material interest and hypocritical conventions, they call for free unions based on mutual love.”

    Hmm. Sounds eerily familiar to a certain creed making the rounds these day, no?

    I’m gonna’ go way out on a limb and maybe give a thumbs down to naming an elementary school after her?

  8. I am offering an idea and encouraging readers to respond, make suggestions, which you have done. As indicated I picked a few names off a list on Wikipedia. I encouraged readers to make suggestions as you have done.

    I do not understand why you say my offering two criteria is more limiting than your offering three criteria but I have no problem with adding minimum qualifications. I just do not want the names to be a popularity contest among a chosen few so we ended up with unsubstantial people who are politically connected.

    Both your name suggestions sound worthy of consideration to me — although not sure why you limit them to Columbus School.

    Names, in my view, should not be based on current circumstances but take a larger perspective. I would not like to see 10 committees working on individual school but 1 committee coming up with 10 names then deciding which name goes with which school.

    1. Offhand, I’d say keep the name of the high school the same with an addendum to redress the changing ethnic makeup of the school district:




      … etc.

      But, unless certain underlying issues within the district aren’t met head on, and certain hard conversations aren’t had within the community, then changing the name of any of the schools, will be little more than ‘putting lipstick 💄 on a pig.’

    2. The reason I highlighted Columbus specifically was because it’s the school most in need of a name overall, if only for the fact, Columbus was not the first “explorer” to reach the Americas.

      Next would be Jefferson. The fact that the school is named after a man who fathered four children with a woman he owned (Sally Hemings) is ludicrous by today’s standards.

      Trinity is named after a street it doesn’t even sit on anymore.

      Renaming these three schools, preferably with the names of women who have contributed to the larger global fabric would be a wonderful progressive step in New Rochelle.

  9. With all due respect to your parameters Mr. Cox,
    your nominating qualifications are quite limiting in that a person for consideration should have been a contributor to the New Rochelle community. At a quick glance there are some on that list that did little more than retire and die in New Rochelle.

    As New Rochelle is becoming more and more of an international city with the makeup of its’ school population, perhaps the we should consider those whose life’s works had positive global outcomes:

    Rita Levi Montalcini – born of Italian Jewish heritage OMRI OMCA was an Nobel laureate, honored for her work in neurobiology. She was awarded the 1986 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine jointly with colleague Stanley Cohen for the discovery of nerve growth factor.

    Angela Bambace (February 14, 1898, – April 3, 1975) was an Italo-Brazilian-American labor union organizer for the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union for over fifty years.

    Either of these two women would make strong candidates for the renaming of the Columbus School.

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  10. SCRATCH … Catt Chapman from your list Mr. Cox. Per wiki

    In her efforts to win women’s suffrage state by state, Catt sometimes appealed to the prejudices of the time. In a speech possibly given at the New York State Convention in November 16, 1892, Catt lamented that while women lacked suffrage, “The murderous Sioux is given the right to franchise which he is ready and anxious to sell to the highest bidder.”[22] In 1894, Catt urged that uneducated immigrants be stripped of their right to vote – the United States should “cut off the vote of the slums and give it to woman.”[23] “White supremacy will be strengthened, not weakened, by women’s suffrage,” was her argument when trying to win over Mississippi and South Carolina in 1919.[24]

  11. Yeah, Lee, and thanks.

    I’m pretty much up to date on the human race social construct idea, notwithstanding your passive aggressive shot at whether or not I get it about Europe/African differences. Nice try.

    “Black Lives Matter,” by its own admission, not mine, is a Neo-Marxist movement encapsulating all the ideaology referred to in my previous post.

    We don’t agree about anything, so lets not get confused here. And we’re not going anywhere with this, so what’s the point?

    It’s my opinion, and not an attack, that you and yours are in for the shock of your very lives come November 3rd.

    And all of this destruction will be a huge part of reaping what you’ve sowed.

    1. Want to make folks aware that if they were to create their own (free) account, this site has been setup to allow posts from such accounts to appear here with the need for me to approve the comments. I have not tried it myself (for obvious reasons) but it should work.

  12. Mike Two, you are beginning to attack me personally, rather than debating the merits of our arguments. Let’s keep this intellectual, not make it personal.
    We have very different understandings of what Black Lives Matter represents. Let’s start where we agree then. Do we agree that human race is a social construct, with no underlying basis in human biology? By this I mean: there exist no significant physical or intellectual differences between Europeans and Africans. Or do you believe these two groups are fundamentally different. If you believe the latter, then I can understand why my points about American history have missed the mark.

    (Regarding “black on black” violence- it’s a tragedy that is widely acknowledged, so I am not sure why you insist it isn’t. The point of Black Lives Matter is to address the problem of discrimination in law enforcement, not that that’s the only issue our society needs to deal with.)

    Yes, it would be great if we could both chat with Sowell! I am sure he’d bring a fascinating third perspective.


  13. BLM happily self-identifies as a neo-Marxist movement with various far left objectives, including defunding the police (an evolution of the Panther position of public open-carry to control the police), to dismantling capitalism and the patriarchal system, disrupting the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure, seeking reparations from slavery to redistribute wealth and via various offshoot appeals, to raise money to bail black prisoners awaiting trial.

    It’s a hell of a lot more than a cry for “equal protection from law enforcement”.

  14. As of the last two weeks, BLM and its subsidiaries, have been torching, toppling and destroying as much private property as they can. If you want to call that demonstrating for civil rights and “revealing American history more fully” you might need help in more of a medical direction than the obvious educational one that you do.

    I didn’t misattribute a thing. (if only I could “trot” out Sowell in person. He’d rip your points to shreds. Alas, I’m no Thomas Sowell)) But if Sowell’s admonition to his own race to stop having babies without fathers in the home, and the destruction to the black family which that one thing has caused, if that isn’t plain enough for you to understand, well, that says a lot about you.

    18 black Americans were murdered by other black Americans in Chicago in one day. May 31, 2020.

    “Black Lives Matter” couldn’t have cared less about those black lives. Never showed up to protest those deaths. Not. A. Peep.

    Where was Sharpton? Jackson? Biden? Clinton? Obama?


  15. Mike Two, you seem to simply be “blaming the victim”. You reference an alarming statistic, but you misattribute liberal policies as the cause.
    Surely you would agree that the descendents of African slaves have been systematically (in law and in practice) denied equal access to education, health care, housing, and employment for over a hundred years, right? And yet you believe that it is welfare policies (admittedly band-aids, not cures) that are responsible for broken families? You should reconsider that.
    How ironic that you trot out Thomas Sowell, who himself was raised in a fatherless household, and who has been quite successful in spite of that. I think you are confusing the symptom (single-parent families) with the cause (gross societal inequities).
    I am not sure why demonstrating for civil rights should be considered a waste of time and energy. It has been historically effective.
    And you still haven’t mentioned your objection to bringing African Americans from the margins and into the mainstream of U.S. society!
    No one is burning down American history, only revealing it more fully.
    Black Lives Matter is a cry for equal protection from law enforcement, not an organization funded by George Soros! I am not sure why you think otherwise. You might simply tell me, as I will not be launching an investigation! I appreciate the dialogue nevertheless.

  16. “Bring African Americans into the fabric of mainstream society?”

    They’ve most likely been part of the “fabric” since before your ancestors arrived here, but in your description of what is needed for them to escape “their 2nd class status” (your words) the clearer goal would be; what is needed for them to enter into the “American” fabric of society?

    That entrance will not be increasing it’s chances of success, when 72% of black infants in this country in 2015 were born into fatherless households. That’s just a stark fact.

    If our present society has learned anything in thirty years, it is that children living in single parent homes face greater chances of poverty and interaction with the criminal justice system, than those in two parent households.

    African American author and Stanford University Fellow, Thomas Sowell, writes: “The black family which has survived centuries of slavery and discrimination, began rapidly disintegrating in the liberal welfare state that subsidized unwed pregnancy and changed welfare from an emergency rescue to a way of life.”

    Part of your “plan” (of which you ask what my objections to it would be) is for you to continue this silly fantasy, that marching in streets, renaming schools, attacking statues, and burning down our American history wherever it can be accomplished, is anything but an olympic waste of time and energy. And until the core problems of the black family in America are addressed and real solutions sought, Black Lives will not Matter where it counts.

    In The Fabric of The American Mainstream of Society

    Those are my cards, not a code.

    George Soros funds BLM. Do your own investigative work.

  17. Mike Two,
    the plan is to bring African Americans into the fabric of mainstream society, rather than perpetuate their 2nd class status. That is the plan.
    What is your objection to it?
    Also, does Jefferson really need anymore things named after him? Why shouldn’t we honor our local successes?
    Put your cards on the table and stop writing in code (Soros! as if!).

    1. If we were a small town with no interesting people or history things might be different but we have many possibilities to name schools.

  18. “Stop with the PC garbage”- seems to simply mean “stop offering respect to people who aren’t straight, white men”. What is the problem with so-called political correctness? How can the resistance to “PC” be anything other than ethnocentrism/bigotry/insensitivity? Would you please explain, A?

  19. Yeah.
    Thomas Jefferson?
    Author of The Declaration of Independence? President of The United States.? Name for a school after him?

    Nah, let’s name our High School after some Hollywood actor.

    Better yet, let’s just call it “Juneteenth High School”, since that seems to be flavor of the month around here.

    Funny. Lived here for sixty five years. Schraft’s, RKO Proctor, Arnold Constable, Allen’s Sport Shop, Paul Scot, etc.

    I believe quite a few of my African American brothers were around also, back in the day.

    Anyone who says they heard, or spoke of, or remembered, or discussed, “Juneteenth” then, or as recently as last year, is completely full of crap.

    This is part of the plan. Sponsored by BLM, funded by the Democrat Party, and their cash cow, George Soros.

    Stay alert people. Tearing down the Washington Monument is probably next.

  20. Stop with the PC garbage…leave the names as they are..and btw New Rochelle High School was formerly Woodrow Wilson High School.

    1. Woodrow Wilson has nothing to do with New Rochelle. So, even if he was not an avowed racist, he would still be an inappropriate choice.

  21. James,
    While I couldn’t disagree with you more about abolishing unions (which is fascism) and developing private charter schools, your call to end school funding through property taxes has a lot of merit and should seriously be considered.
    I am curious to know how you define the failure of a school or a school system, and when you think American schools were ever great, or even better than they are today. Also, if we fire a teacher or an administrator, where will we find a better one? You make it sound so simple! Perhaps student success is more contingent upon factors outside of school than upon the performance of teachers or administrators. Perhaps to improve American schools, the changes we need to make are not even related to schooling.

  22. Many of the name listed are from people that may have lived in New Rochelle, but not native sons. I would suggest Bob Denver.

  23. make american scools great again !
    defund failed public school systems !
    abolish teachers unions, they are a detriment our children’s education !
    fire teachers and administrators in failed public schools !
    end property tax funding of public scools !
    develop private charter school system with school choice for every child !
    we owe our children a great education that prepares them for life !
    demand that poor children have the same educational choices as the wealthy !

  24. 1- I think Mariano Rivera would identify as Latino.
    2- William Ward was a highly regarded leader in his field with a substantive connection to New Rochelle. His namesake school sits upon property his family owned. It would be a mistake to rename the Ward school. Furthermore, to refer to him as a “bread baker” is like referring to Jeff Bezos as a bookseller!

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