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Column: The Whiteboard Jungle: Burbank Unified should focus on students, not the district’s logo

Steve Ferguson a member of the Burbank Unified School District Board of Education during the Burbank
Burbank Unified School District board member Steve Ferguson, pictured, wants to change the district’s logo. Columnist Brian Crosby says the board should instead concentrate its efforts on schools and students.
(File Photo)

“Survey shows lax support for tax.” That was the top story in the Burbank Leader on June 1.

The Burbank Unified School District wanted to find out if there was any support for another proposed parcel tax measure similar to the one that barely failed in November (evidently not).

Meanwhile, further down the front page below the fold was “School board member seeks change in logo.”

Burbank Unified school board member Steve Ferguson opposes the district’s logo for its depiction of, according to him, “a man and a woman and a child figure.”


He says that “not all families look like that anymore.”

First of all, who says that the figures represent a family?

Take a look at the logo: one larger filled-in outline figure genderless touching two smaller figures on either side, one male and one female. That is all that is clear about it.

Yes, one interpretation could be that it is a child standing with a mother and father, though why would the child be so large?


If the larger figure is supposed to be a father, then why are the smaller figures roughly the same size? Shouldn’t the figure on the right (if it is supposed to be a mother) be closer in size to the larger father and not the smaller child?

Burbank school officials recently initiated a contest asking community members to create a new logo
Burbank school officials recently initiated a contest asking community members to create a new logo for the district.
(Courtesy of the Burbank Unified School District)

Another interpretation could be that the smaller figures represent children of both genders. If so, who is the middle figure? The teacher? The “district”?

I challenge anyone to examine the logo’s figures and determine unequivocally what sex or role each represents.

The logo does exude a positive image of Burbank Unified since the figures appear standing in a sunburst with the words “Burbank Unified School District,” overhead and the phrase “Equity and Excellence” serving as the foundation underneath the figures — an accurate logo promoting Burbank Unified not requiring any modifications.

I’ve lived in Burbank almost my entire life and never bothered to be concerned about this.

It seems to me that Ferguson is looking to focus on inconsequential items that have no bearing on the bigger picture — the $3.5-million budget deficit that has had a negative impact on teachers and students.

The district is already spending money on a name change for Jordan Middle School. What will be the next school whose namesake is discovered to have a dark past?


And how much would hiring a public relations firm cost Burbank Unified to redesign the logo anyway? Enough to hire one more music teacher? Which expenditure would best improve the education of the student: the logo or the teacher?

Let’s take a look at another logo. Los Angeles Laker legend Jerry West has been the logo of the NBA since 1969.

When West played basketball, the majority of the players were white and none had tattoos. Today, 80% of the league has players of color and a great many have ink all over their bodies.

Even though the NBA logo is just an outline filled in with no distinctive features of West, should the NBA change its 50-year-old logo because of the demographic changes in that sport? Should slash marks be placed on the limbs of the logo to denote tattoos?

The district does not have the luxury of expending energy and money on an issue that hardly anyone thinks is an issue.

The focus should be on paying teachers a professional wage to ensure children receive a quality education.

I don’t think repackaging logos is what taxpayers are clamoring for.

By the way, I emailed each of the five board members regarding my concerns as a private citizen not as a journalist and never heard back from any of them.


Perhaps more than a logo needs changing.

BRIAN CROSBY is a teacher in the Glendale Unified School District and the author of “Smart Kids, Bad Schools” and “The $100,000 Teacher.” He can be reached at

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