Education Opinion

State Journal

March 31, 1999 1 min read

Mascot sensitivity

Wisconsin schools with American Indian mascots, nicknames, or logos should replace such symbols with more racially sensitive images, a state lawmaker says.

Legislation submitted to the House this month by Rep. Frank Boyle, a Democrat, proposes that the state schools superintendent be required to hold a hearing on all complaints about Native American images used by schools. Such hearings would determine whether a mascot or other symbol was derogatory.

The burden of proving that an image was not discriminatory would fall to the local school board, under Mr. Boyle’s measure. If the state superintendent ruled the symbol was inappropriate, the district would then be ordered to stop using the symbol within a year. Violating the order would cost between $100 and $1,000 a day in fines, the bill states.

“We ought to eliminate institutional racism,” Mr. Boyle said in an interview.

Some 43 schools around the state use such images, Mr. Boyle said. The proposal will likely be discussed by lawmakers next month, he said.

Personal appeal

Gov. Frank L. O'Bannon

Indiana Gov. Frank L. O’Bannon took up the pen this month to lobby state legislators for approval of optional, full-day kindergarten for all public schools in the state.

The Democrat sent a letter to all 50 of Indiana’s state senators asking them to approve his $111 million kindergarten proposal.

“We must not let the current legislative session pass without getting the basic program of optional, full-day kindergarten fully funded and under way,” the governor said in his March 15 letter.

Despite Mr. O’Bannon’s effort, the Senate finance committee decided last week not to approve the proposal, which has passed in the House.

Gov. O’Bannon has not yet given up hope, said his press secretary, Phil Bremen, because the Senate finance committee retained in next year’s budget the amount of money the governor had proposed for full-day kindergarten. Mr.Bremen believes the senators want to provide schools with flexibility in how they spend that money.

--Julie Blair & Mary Ann Zehr

A version of this article appeared in the March 31, 1999 edition of Education Week as State Journal