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Name schools for our values
A Times Editorial
Published November 25, 2007
MOSI Partnership is an awkward name for a school. It sounds like a marketing ploy. But there is logic to naming a school after its home - in this case, Tampa's Museum of Science and Industry - and plenty of middle ground to replace "Partnership" with something warm, like the name of a civic leader. The debate is a reminder why the Hillsborough County School District needs to consider the symbolism when naming schools.
The School Board is split over what to name a new K-5 school at MOSI. Some want to keep the working moniker, MOSI Partnership, while other activists want the school named for John J. Iorio, a longtime professor of English at the University of South Florida who died in February. While "Partnership" has a commercial ring to it, turning elementary kids into advertising cogs, the choice here is not some narrow distinction between a corporate entity and academe. MOSI has an educational mission. Iorio is the father of Tampa's mayor. They both have a broad following and have impacted generations of young people in positive ways.
Drawing the line on what names are appropriate for schools gets down to what values the school system hopes to instill in the community. Hills-borough's 206 schools are named after many of the usual suspects - presidents, governors, generals. But they also honor pioneers, developers, growers, even a dairy farmer. Schools named after parts of town give those areas an identity - some good, some bad.
The district needs to make the naming process less arbitrary. It needs to honor civic leaders like Iorio and figure out how to recognize institutions like MOSI without going commercial. Schools serve a unique public purpose and their names should reflect not only what a community has to offer but the values it wants to endure.