JERSEY CITY, N.J. – New Jersey state Assemblywoman Angela McKnight wants to rename Jersey City’s School 20 after President Barack Obama because “he has done great work regarding education reform.”
She thinks he could be a “positive inspiration” to students at the 1199th ranked elementary school in New Jersey, according to NJ.com and SchoolDigger. The site notes only 25.6% of third graders are proficient in reading and writing.
“Wouldn’t it be nice to have Barack Obama to come and actually see it, and the kids can actually meet him?” said McKnight, who just started her first term assemblywoman last month.
School 20 is relocating this fall and McKnight believes it’s a good opportunity to rename it after 44th president. She said Obama’s focus on education is her motivation.
“While in office, our president has done great work regarding education reform,” McKnight told the Jersey City Council last week, pointing to the president’s “Every Student Succeeds Act” signed in December.
“(The act) prepares students (for) success for college careers and more importantly guaranteed steps are taken to help students and their schools improve,” she told the council, according to the Hudson County View.
Plus, McKnight said, Obama wants to give away two years of college to every student in America, though it hasn’t happened.
“President Obama recently stated and I quote, providing two years of community college at no cost for every responsible student is one of the best ways to do that, and I’m going to keep fighting to get that started this year, it’s the right thing to do,” she said.
NJ.com reports Obama won both the 2008 and 2012 presidential contests in Jersey City, where he garnered over 80 percent of the votes in both elections.
Jersey City council members, of course, believe a Barack Obama Elementary is a splendid idea.
“I just want to suggest to the assemblywoman that when it comes to naming any building, that you always get the community to support you too. And the reason why I said that is because we named the West Precinct after Melvin Santiago – and we did find resistance,” Jersey City assemblywoman at large Joyce Watterman told McKnight, according to the View.
Melvin Santiago was a 23-year-old Jersey City police officer who was shot in the head responding to an armed robbery at a Walgreens in July 2014. He had been on the job about a year when he was murdered, according to NJ.com.
Parents at School 20 seem to be split on the idea of naming the building after Obama.
Janice Narvaez said it’s a “stupid idea.”
“I don’t think he’s really done that much,” she said.
Parent Orlando Turner thinks “a lot of kids could learn from him.”
There’s certainly a lot students can learn, judging by student test scores.
“In 2015, PS 20 ranked worse than 88.5 percent of elementary schools in New Jersey,” SchoolDigger reports. “It also ranked 17th among 25 ranked elementary schools in the Jersey City Public Schools District.”
Niche.com contends about half of PS 20’s roughly 640 students are proficient in math or reading.
“Is this a failing school?” commenter “Too Much Government!” posted to NJ.com. “If so, then it would be appropriate to name it for this failed president. Otherwise, leave it alone.”
“Why on Earth would you name a school after the worst president in history,” tvmo posted. “Are you kidding me?”
“There are hungry people to feed. Spend the money on food. Name changes are a luxury. I would think that the liberal faction would feel bad for hungry people rather than spend on inanimate iconic symbolism,” abitha wrote. “Jersey City receives a lot of state aid yet there is money for name changes?”