Fifth-Grader Goes Viral with Petition to Rename School After RBG

"We have a lot of schools (far too many, in my opinion) named after white businessmen."

Sep 29 2020, 3:03 PM

A fifth-grader in Portland, Oregon, has a modest proposal: rename the middle school she’s slated to attend after her hero, the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

In a change.org petition her parents helped her set up, Ruby Waas Shull writes that she feels “strongly that we should change the name of Kellogg Middle School to Ruth Bader Ginsburg Middle School” as the school, which closed in 2006, reopens in a brand-new building next year.

“We have a lot of schools (far too many, in my opinion) named after white businessmen,” Ruby continued. “Lastly, if kids go to schools centered only on white males then kids who are not those two things may feel unimportant, or worthless even.”

Ruby has apparently been a fan of Ginsburg’s for quite some time. A year ago, she sent the Portland Public Schools a letter with the same request, acknowledging that PPS rules dictate that someone must be dead for three years to have a school named after them. She argued for an exception then, and she’s doing the same now.

The current namesake of the school is Joseph Kellogg, a businessman who built flour mills, steamboats, a canal, and a successful transportation company in Portland. The district has not listed Kellogg as one of the two schools going through its renaming process — those are Madison and Wilson.

“It’s important that this process be as thoughtful as possible and fully engaging with students,” the district said in a statement. “We must take a balanced approach that centers on the voices of students, especially students of color.”

So it remains to be seen if Ruby’s campaign will be successful, but whether or not Kellogg Middle becomes Ginsburg Middle, it’s clear that she learned a lot from her hero.