News in Brief: A Washington Roundup

February 03, 1999 2 min read

Justice Dept. Evaluating Mascot Complaint

The Department of Justice’s civil rights division is evaluating whether the Buncombe County, N.C., school district has discriminated against Native American students after parents filed a complaint over one school’s Indian mascots. About 1 percent of the district’s 24,000 students are Native American.

The complaint was filed after officials refused to change the names of the teams at Clyde A. Erwin High School, according to Bruce Two Eagles, a local American Indian activist. A sign at the school calls Erwin High the “Home of the Warriors and the Squaws.” The complaint says that threatening taunts, such as “Kill the Indians,” are common at school sporting events, and that students who dress in eagle feathers and pound drums at football games make a mockery of objects that many Indians use in sacred ceremonies.

Although students and community members defended the use of the mascots as harmless, many have become more sensitive to the issue after classroom discussions of racial stereotypes and meetings with local tribal leaders, Superintendent Bob Bowers said. The school board will meet this week to decide whether a 30-foot statue of an Indian warrior and other depictions should be removed from school grounds.

--Kathleen Kennedy Manzo

First Lady Announces Childhood-Asthma Initiative

President Clinton plans to ask Congress for $68 million to target childhood asthma using a comprehensive national strategy.

First lady Hillary Rodham Clinton announced the initiative last Thursday. The plan is to be included in the proposed fiscal 2000 federal budget the president is set to submit to Congress this week.

The White House called the measure the “largest-ever federal investment” to fight childhood asthma, a leading cause of school absences. The initiative would help implement school-based programs that teach children how to manage their asthma; fund research to determine the environmental causes of asthma, as well as devise new strategies to reduce exposure to asthma triggers; provide money to states and health-care providers to craft disease-management strategies to decrease hospitalization, emergency room visits, and deaths from asthma; and include a new public information campaign.

If Congress approves the proposal, most funding would be used for competitive state grants to identify and treat poor children served by Medicaid.

--Adrienne D. Coles

A version of this article appeared in the February 03, 1999 edition of Education Week as News in Brief: A Washington Roundup