Should our school still be named after John Rogers?

John Rogers served in the 1890s, was the third governor of Washington, was an apparent European American, and a member of the “Fusion” party.
 
Governor Rogers has a few schools named after him in Washington, likely because he is said to have ushered the “Barefoot Schoolboy Law” through the state legislature. This law was an attempt by the legislature to reduce inequities in education funding across the state.
 
Governor Rogers also wrote an antisemitic book and arguably benefited politically from these populist ideas that conflict with JRE’s values today. Irrepressible Conflict or the American System of Money, published in 1892, promoted a conspiracy theory about powerful Jewish people in Europe controlling international financial systems.
 
Community members in Olympia wrote a guest opinion piece in which the following appears: 
 

… in the attached excerpts from Rogers’ book, The Irrepressible Conflict or the American System of Money (John R. Rogers & Company Publishers, Puyallup, 1892), he was unambiguously clear who he blamed for the woes of the U.S. economy: Jews.

To cite excerpts from this book, Rogers wrote, “Gold is shipped to Europe and the ability of our people to buy and sell or exchange labor and the products of our labor is to be still further reduced by making all money scarcer and harder to get. The excuse offered is ‘Europe wants our gold.’ And because Europe — or the Jewish Money Lords of the world — can thus interfere in American trade and take from the American laborer his opportunity to labor …”

Rogers also wrote in this same book, ”At the present time, the people of the United States confront a world-wide evil — the private monopoly of money. … (I)ts sleek and prosperous agents stand high in every community, occupying — as of yore — the highest seats in our synagogues. …”

Might the JR Elementary rebuild (closing summer 2023, reopening fall 2025) be an ideal opportunity to change the school’s name to better represent our community’s values? Email Ned Gignoux at ned.gignoux@gmail.com if you are interested in learning more or getting involved!