Advertisement

You will be redirected to the page you want to view in  seconds.

Race-based mascots discriminate. To move Wisconsin forward, Gov. Walker, veto the bad bill on your desk: column

2:03 PM, Dec. 9, 2013  |  Comments
  • Filed Under

Wisconsin has been a leader in education, civil rights and responsible government. To continue our proud history and tradition, Gov. Scott Walker must veto the race-based mascot bill, Assembly Bill 297, which would make eliminating stereotypes in the last 33 state school districts much more difficult.

In 2010 as the complainant in my Kewaunee school district I was able to use the existing law to start the process of evaluation of a district's name and logo. Upon reading the more than 600 pages of information I provided to the school board and the Department of Public Instruction, my school district administration decided to retire its mascot.

My district followed existing law, and a wonderful educational and community-building thing happened in Kewaunee. In 1937, the team name, "Indians," and the logo, a Plains Indian's head, had replaced the team name, "Hilltoppers." From that time, generations of my small town grew up with and played for their team. Many strongly believed that their love for community and school was inextricably tied to the name rather than their loyalty to their team and school. Any change was difficult for many people who had not been introduced to the changing views of civil rights and racial equality.

I hurt for them as they expressed their feelings, which often were similar to a grief process. Yet my district administration did understand all the educational research, beginning in 1991, that proved the harm caused by teaching and reinforcing stereotyping through names and mascots - not only for First Nation people but also for every child in a district, along with all the schools involved in athletic contests throughout our conference.

The administrative decision was educationally sound and responsible and, I would posit, also moral. The new name, Kewaunee Storm, was unfurled on a huge banner in our gymnasium to much excitement, delight, and celebration.

The Kewaunee Storm has gone on to win state and individual championships in football, girls' basketball and individual championships in wrestling and track. Certainly the new name did not make these wonderful athletes win. What it did was teach every student in the district a new awareness and respect for all people in our diverse world.

Students in my district and the community members continue to be proud supporters of their team. The Kewaunee School District has sent a message to students all over the state and the nation that we are listening to every person and want to make this world a place of equality and respect for all people.

As a teacher in the district for 36 years, I was proud of the many accomplishments and fine educational opportunities offered here. Now I am proud of each and every person in the community who worked so very hard to make a difficult decision to change while keeping the ideals of fairness and equality for all students at the foremost.

The Kewaunee School District is a marvelous example of small-town values and the values of my state. This district made the change wholeheartedly and is better for it. It can be done. And in the last few districts, where people seem to feel that love for a team name overrides tehe love of equality for all students, it should be done.

The Kewaunee School District respected and followed existing state law. Its leaders read existing educational research. They listened to all Wisconsin tribes from the Great Lakes Inter-Tribal Council. They listened to our state superintendent and his three predecessors. They listened. They heard. They changed for the better.

Now it is Walker's turn to act decisively. He can show that Wisconsin is proud of our diverse population and respectful of all the people he leads.

Go Storm. Forward Wisconsin.

What's your take on the Packers Family Night change?

Retrieving results.
Watching practice is fine.(Your vote)
15%
575 votes
I'd rather watch a scrimmage.(Your vote)
23%
856 votes
I don't want to pay to watch practice.(Your vote)
27%
1017 votes
It doesn't matter to me.(Your vote)
34%
1271 votes

Catch up on the latest in our pregame show every game day.

Football fans

If you've ever answered "Who has the ball?" with "It's halftime," you might recognize The Airhead. Check out the characters in our cartoon gallery of oddball fans.

Special Reports

ORDER YOURS

Football fans

If you've ever answered "Who has the ball?" with "It's halftime," you might recognize The Airhead. Check out the characters in our cartoon gallery of oddball fans.

Special Reports