LETTER: Why not name new Columbia school for John McCain?

Monday, October 11, 2010 | 6:00 a.m. CDT

This is an open letter to our school board members.

Who is in charge of our schools, you or school employees?

The leading name choice for our new high school is someone who is still alive. This is a violation of written and approved school board policy. It is a clear attempt to intimidate you.

There will be opportunities in the future to name a high school after this person. Since when has it become policy to name schools after employees who are paid to do a good job for our schools?

If I would have known that living people would be eligible, I would have recommended John McCain, a true American hero, a man among men, one who suffered years of torture for his country and who has spent all of his life serving this country as a gentleman in victory and defeat, a veteran and leader truly worthy of having our high school named after him.

I challenge you school board members to find a truly deserving name for our high school if it is named for a person.

Gary Schmitz lives in Columbia.

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Kellie Kotraba October 11, 2010 | 10:23 a.m.

Hi, Gary. I'm Kellie, the reporter who wrote the story you mentioned in your letter. Thanks for joining the conversation. I have a few points of clarification to address some of your concerns.
I'd like to clarify that Battle is not "the leading name choice," but one among three. The committee did not rank them.
As for the board policy, it was a topic of conversation at the naming committee meeting. After looking closely at the wording of the policy, they concluded that the wording did not prohibit the naming of a living individual. The policy states names of living individuals “should” be avoided, not “shall” or “must” be avoided.
I also want to point out that the process of coming up with a name has not been left to the board alone. The board is making the final decision, but the discussion and narrowing down were left to the naming committee, a group of community volunteers. That committee, in turn, did not generate the names—the community did.
I hope that clears up some of the concerns. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

(Report Comment)
John Schultz October 11, 2010 | 10:35 a.m.

Not to mention that Muriel Battle, if the school was to be named after her, passed away several years ago while her husband Elliot is still living. Frankly, if we're going to name a school after a politician, John McCain (or Barack Obama) would be near the bottom of my list.

(Report Comment)
Leticia May Johnson October 11, 2010 | 5:30 p.m.

i have no comment on this particular story, but I just feel upset Ray Shapiro has been linking all blacks with Oprah Winfrey

(Report Comment)
John Mancini October 12, 2010 | 11:06 a.m.

I encourage Ray Shapiro and the rest of the electorate to vote for Robin Carnahan. Thank you

(Report Comment)
Harold Samson II October 13, 2010 | 11:12 a.m.

Ray Shapiro needs to understand the rules of decency and fair exchange

(Report Comment)

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