San Francisco Unified School District Drops Word “Chief” Out of Respect to Native Americans

We have been following the language guidelines and word bans that have become common in academia. The latest is out of California where the San Francisco Unified School District is reportedly dropping the use of the word “chief” in job titles to show respect for Native Americans. Critics have objected that the word has nothing to do with the reference to the head of a tribe. The District also notified people that “a replacement term has yet to be determined.”

SFUSD spokesperson Gentle Blythe told the San Francisco Chronicle that, “[w]hile there are many opinions on the matter, our leadership team agreed that, given that Native American members of our community have expressed concerns over the use of the title, we are no longer going to use it.”

The change will immediately impact 13 officials who use the word “chief” in their titles, but they will have to wait until a new alternative is found, according to the New York Post.

The word is actually derived from the Old French word “chef,” meaning “the head of a group.”

There have been an array of such controversies over terms being dropped for what some may incorrectly assume to be their meaning or origin.

There was the decision at Harvard to drop the traditional term “House master” despite the lack of any connection to slavery. There was also the school district which dropped a cougar mascot as disrespectful to older women.  There was also the move to drop the term “quantum supremacy” in physics. Many schools have moved to drop the term “alumni,” which is already gender neutral.

We have faced the same type of debate over the campaign to drop the “Colonials” mascot at The George Washington University. SA Sen. Hayley Margolis, CCAS-U, is quoted in the Hatchet as saying “When we talk about the Colonial in history, what does it mean? And is that really what we want our school identity to be?”

The Colonials is not a general reference to colonialism or a celebration of colonization. To the contrary, the Colonials (including George Washington) fought against being a colony. They fought the British Empire and its belief that you could subject a people to such foreign rule. The term “Colonials” is an obvious and direct reference to those who fought in the Revolutionary War. It is an inspiring symbol for any school.

As educators, we have some responsibility to maintain a principled, if not grammatical, position in the use of terminology and language.


93 thoughts on “San Francisco Unified School District Drops Word “Chief” Out of Respect to Native Americans”

  1. Natacha says;

    “What’s your price for buying into the Big Lie? You’ve already tried to soft-pedal it as “questioning” the election results, which you know is misleading–there wasn’t any “questioning” at all: when polls predicted his loss, even before Election Day”

    I agree that Turley was a Pollyanna as to claims of massive election fraud, but he did concede that the Trump lawyers had an uphill battle. While to this very day he has never acknowledged the Big Lie as such, Turley definitely does not believe it himself.

    Similarly, Turley has raised questions about the impartiality of some of the jurors in the Sussman trial whose verdict is due next week. On Fox however, another Big Lie is brewing. Commentators there insist that if the jury finds Sussman “not guilty,” it is a case of jury nullification because they have decided the evidence against Sussman is overwhelming- not unlike evidence of voter fraud. The Fox audience is being primed that a “not guilty” verdict is a miscarriage of Justice so that it does not vitiate its narrative that Russian collusion was a “hoax,” a Trumpist narrative which Turley, to his credit, has NEVER endorsed.

    If there is a “not guilty” verdict, Turley’s reaction will be fascinating. Will he abide by the jury’s judgment (as I will) or will he side with his Fox colleagues who will charge that the jury were Trump haters.

    I predict he will not.

    1. Jeff, I agree. And Turley would be foolish not to accept the jury’s verdict. Hopefully he will see that his credibility is at stake if he disputes a not guilty verdict. Which by the way, is exactly what I predict will happen.

      1. Fellas, OJ’s jury acquitted him. Juries can have biases, and the Sussman jury is one of those. It’s not the Professor’s fault for stating the obvious.

        As for Russian collusion, your guys have the Justice Department, but your guys won’t retry it because they never really believed it themselves. Strzok privately admitted as much. All Russian collusion ever did was get a bunch of FBI types fired for pushing it.

        1. Diogenes,

          I’m not blaming Turley! As a defense lawyer, he would stack the jury too. And as a defendant, you would fire him if he didn’t! All’s fair in love and litigation. Turley himself conceded that “liberal and Democratic jurors still can be fair and impartial….” Jurors take an oath. It’s not surprising, however, that Trumpists like Trump himself scoff at the notion of oath-taking. As someone who lives by the code that everyone should look out for numero uno, it’s no wonder that Trump believes that anyone doing the right thing is a SUCKER.

          As far as Russian collusion, there is much we still don’t know:

          “Previously secret ‘alternative’ Mueller report goes public: Compendium of evidence gathered by the special counsel’s ‘Team M’ is heavily redacted.”

          See for yourself the highly redacted Team M Final Report:

          NeverTrumpers are determined to reveal the FULL EXTENT of Manafort’s known Russian collusion just like Trumpists are determined to discover whether there was massive voter fraud. Time will tell which side ultimately produces the most evidence for the history books.

          Wanna bet?

  2. Well, I’m chiefly concerned about the lack of American Indian names for public schools, many of which are on former Indian lands. For example, “Chief Crazy Horse High School” would be an outstanding and respectful name change for any San Francisco public high school.

  3. There is no such thing as a “native American,” which is, in fact, an oxymoronic contradiction in terms.

    “According to an autosomal genetic study from 2012,[24] Native Americans descend from at least three main migrant waves from East Asia.”

    – Wiki

    “As of 2008, genetic findings suggest that a single population of modern humans migrated from southern Siberia toward the land mass known as the Bering Land Bridge as early as 30,000 years ago, and crossed over to the Americas by 16,500 years ago.”

    – NPS

    Indians, or native Americans, came from Asia over the Bering Land Bridge.

    Americans did not exist before 1789.

    No self-respecting Indian wants to be known by the name of his “enemy,” American.

    If one’s desire is to show respect, one should refer to particular Indians as members by tribe name, or as “people” in the respective language.

    The Indian Affairs office in Montana uses the title Indian Affairs, distinctly and correctly not American Affairs.

  4. Rampant homelessness, crime out of control, Boudin under recall, outdoor drug abuse and this is what they are worried about. I used to go to California a couple times a year for business, I now refuse to spend one dime in any state that borders the Pacific. They are all out of their mind with Wokeness. I know they will survive without my money. Unfortunately, I live in Illinois.
    The land of Prickster. At least I got out of Chicago and Cook County .Actively looking for property in Florida. As soon as my wife retires next year, I am outta here!!!! But not before I do everything in my power to defeat my Congressman Schneider and Pricksker.

    1. Highlyeducatedsuburbanwoman rages:

      “The Left (and the Democrat party in which they are housed) are racist, sexist, xenophobes.”

      On the other hand, here is an example of Turley’s approach to such word origin controversies, i.e., “House Master”:

      “I can understand that some students might be concerned about the term when they first arrive at Harvard. However, since the term is not connected historically to slavery, it would seem like a case could be made for the preservation of the tradition through better understanding of its meaning and origins. The concern is that traditional terms or titles will be set aside despite their misinterpretation by some students or faculty. I can honestly understand the negative connotation raised by the title “House Master.” Indeed, this may be the ultimate decision for the majority of the students, faculty and staff of Harvard. A case can certainly be made that, despite its non-racist origins, it is now a term associated with racial supremacy. Yet, it would seem worthy of a greater public debate on how to handle historically non-racist terms that are interpreted as offensive on a contemporary basis.”

      I prefer the compassionate and understanding temperament of Turley than the pig-headed and callous attitude of Highlyeducatedsuburbanwoman. One can reason with Turley though not with her.

    2. Our children are illiterate and this is what they concerns themselves with. Also, showing their own ignorance of history. How will I survive.

      1. More concerning, how will our children and grandchildren survive? What world will we be leaving our progeny to if it continues down this path (and other additionally concerning paths)? 🙁

  5. General Mark Milley, Adm Christopher W. Grady, Lt. Gen. Andrew Poppas, SEAC Ramon Colon-Lopez, Jeffrey R. Jones, David Kostelancik, and other Military Chief Officers, and not to forget all the Chief Petty Officers, Master Chiefs, Command Master Chiefs, and Chief Warrant Officers should be advised that their honorary title is no longer allowed in the “City by the Bay”.

    Only the WOKE could think of something so ??????????????

    1. It’s not so bad. Such a move eliminates the need for CEOs and CFOs–since they’d now be the same as everyone else, perhaps their outlandish salaries (and other power absurdities) ought to be dispensed with, too.

  6. Inasmuch as our president is referred to as the “Commander in Chief”, I propose that we now refer to “Big Joey”.

  7. Since when did any government functionary or appointed bureaucrat get the authority in this nation to decide what words can and cannot be spoken in this “Land of the Free”. Until we stand up with force and push back with a big HELL- NO to these morons we will continue to lose our freedoms until the point where we dare not utter a word until it has passed the censors and been ok’d for speaking.

        1. I inadvertently hit pause before I could finish my thought which is just as well on this blog.

  8. So, how long until California decides to make everyone rename all the standard corporate C-suite positions?

  9. FOOLS in action! As someone said last evening on The Gutfeld Show, the same people should apologize to Catholics for maintaining the name of St. Francis; they disgrace the name. (It is my understanding that “chief” is not a word in any Native language.)

  10. Bad news, folks. We need to stop using the terms “king” and “queen” out of respect for Europeans. All you readers of European background already know that our culture has historically used those terms to describe our top-level leaders. Therefore:

    * No more prom or homecoming king or queen
    * No more expressions like “Great MAGA King,” “King of Pop,” or “Junk Bond King”
    * Mattress sizes and playing card suits must be renamed
    * A queen bee will be known as a primary bee
    * Drag queens (and drag kings) will be called drag persons, or to the truly woke, drag folks

    Thank you all so much for your sensitivity towards my culture.

  11. “Critics have objected that the word . . .”

    I object to the definite article “the.” It’s too specific and, well, definite — and discriminatory. In this squishy age of identity-flux, and let’s-all-be-inclusive, replace all “the’s” with indefinite articles (“a” or “an”).

  12. Watch your back Kansas City they will be coming for the name of your football team sooner than you think. You have to admire the leaders of the San Francisco school district they have elevated the virtue signal to an art form.

  13. I guess now we are going to have expunge the word fox from our vocabulary. vix·en
    Learn to pronounce
    noun: vixen; plural noun: vixens
    a female fox.
    a spirited or fierce woman, especially one seen as sexually attractive.
    “an outrageous shaven-headed vixen. Poor Jimmy Hendrix. Today he would be harangued because he dared to do a song called foxy lady. Some ladies have their tail feathers in a bunch so the next word not allowed for team names will be The Eagles. What a bunch of Turkeys.

    1. Agreed. I also think Indians should be called Indians or their tribal names. Native American means born in America, not autochthonous.

  14. The funny thing about nonsense like this, there are other academics trying to preserve or at least record indigenous languages before they disappear, and these woke “academics” are erasing any trace of indigenous languages from all languages other than the original.

    They should coordinate better

    1. Actually Cindy, you are using a cancelled word. “Reservations” was cancelled long ago, along with “Plantations”.

    2. Speaking of Reservations I guess the word Oklahoma , the land of the Redman, is got to go according to the insane idiots.

      But the word police can go to hell as I’m keeping my antique ceramic ashtray that says: Squaw Transit Co. with a picture of an Indian Squaw on it.

      We could just call them in for a lengthy Mental Wellness Check. Clearly something is wrong with them that they should be pulled off the streets & have their hormones adjusted.

      1. Oky1……..Mental Wellness Check—absolutely.
        When I was a little girl in Oklahoma, my mother had a squaw dress, like many of her friends.
        We moved to Texas, and found they weren’t as popular.

        1. In Skiatook OK there’s still an Indian store that sells Indian attire for Fancy Dancers at Pow Wows.

          Real works of art, rack after rack.

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