My name is Lew Andrew Welge (lewwelge.com) and I’m a 65-years young Jacksonville-born Licensed Mental Health Counselor-Intern who recently ran for the Duval County School Board District One Seat occupied, I’m pleased to say, by my friend, the eminently capable Kelly Coker.
Last evening was only my second time speaking publicly “on the record” before Jacksonville’s Duval County School Board, the first time being at the conclusion of my. 18-year career as a State of Florida Public School Guidance Counselor; the three of my last eleven here in Duval County at Kirby-Smith Science & Technology Magnet Middle School. I was four years at Highlands Middle, my “salad days” where I coached #Basketball prior to that, & was the Guidance Counselor at Thomas Jefferson, Arlington, & John Love Elementary Schools before that.
Having begun working for the DCSB in the Spring of 1993 at the then defacto segregated Northwestern Middle School as an In-School Suspension Counselor under Theresa Hodge, I know that Change is THE One Certainty, but that it, Change, is also the thing that is very challenging for we individuals, #WeThePeople. We naturally strive to get into Comfort Zones of Safety & Security. For the Groups, Families, Teams and Associations to which we belong, Change is even more difficult. For our Institutions like the Police and the Public School Systems, Change is NEARLY impossible without intense and ongoing effort; struggle.
Now, We Counselors are “Change Agents,” and we look to find compromise between opposing positions. We seek that “Golden Mean” Middle Ground where neither group of stakeholders are likely to get ALL they desire, but each achieves at least some of their objectives. As a trained and experienced Counselor advocating for Progressive Systemic Change, I suggest this board consider renaming not All nine, as has been proposed, but only those schools with antiquated monikers currently named after and thus still honoring the violently oppressive Confederate secessionists who wanted to cleve and thus destroy the Union, our United States, to not just preserve, but to extend their so-called “curious institution” of human chattel Slavery.
Especially Robert E. Lee and Kirby Smith should be changed, and I propose Lee High School’s name be changed to President James Earl “Jimmy” Carter High School not leastwise because he was and is the last “moral president” we’ve had. And here’s the kicker, President Carter is still alive and active in nearby Plains, Georgia, and could possibly be persuaded to personally attend, to officially rename our city’s oldest High School and to dedicate it to the Ideal of true Social Justice and to the cause of a sorely needed “New Birth of Freedom” here in our “Bold New City of the South.” It would be the Right Thing to Do.