SF Unified Bans “Chief” From Job Titles Out of Respect for Native Americans

The San Francisco Unified School District will no longer use the word “chief” as a title in leadership positions out of respect for Native Americans. The decision was made last Wednesday following discussions among SFUSD trustees.

“While 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,” said San Francisco Unified Schools District spokesperson Gentle Blythe. 

This is exactly the sort of thing that irritated the community over a year ago. The board’s focus on renaming 44 schools with controversial titles during the pandemic featured prominently in the successful recall of three SFUSD board members in February. 

The latest move — which is being mocked on social media and seized upon by conservative outlets — is particularly peculiar, given the origins of the word “chief,” which have nothing to do with Native American history or culture. It comes from the French word “chef,” meaning “group leader.” The word is synonymous with boss, head, or manager.


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