MADISON–A bill authored by Sen. Spencer Coggs (6th state Senate district) that could lead to a ban at individual schools across the state on race-based Indian team names, logos, mascots, and nicknames passed the state Senate today with just days left in the two-year session of the Legislature.
Nearly 40 schools in Wisconsin still use nicknames such as the Redmen, Chieftains, Red Raiders and the Hatchets. More than 30 other schools have eliminated the use of race-based names.
The legislation, Senate Bill 25 (SB 25) passed the Senate on a 17-16 vote Tuesday. Several attempts were made by Republicans to water down the effects of the legislation, but they were thwarted.
“As an African American, I would be disgusted if a local school adopted a racial nickname such as the Custer High Colored Warriors, even if they’re named after the famed Buffalo Soldiers,” Sen. Coggs said. “The use of racial stereotypes is wrong, and that’s why I’m pleased with the action of the Senate.”
The legislation would allow a school district resident to file a complaint with the state Superintendent of Schools against a local school board objecting to the use of a race-based name, nickname, logo or mascot. The Superintendent then would be required to hold a hearing within 45 dfays, and the school board would have the burden of proving that the name, logo or mascot does not promote discrimination, pupil harassment, or stereotyping.
The American Psychological Association and the National Association of Social Workers have publicly condemned the use of such steretypes because of their negative impact on the self-esteem of American Indian childen, and their impact in classrooms where such names establish an unwelcome and oftentimes hostile learning environment.
“Schools, communities, even families have been split by this issue. In northwest Wisconsin, disputes over the school team nickname, the Chieftains, led to the vandalism of homes owned by Native Aemricans, and Native American students were bullied and harassed in class. That’s unacceptable,” Coggs said. “this bill establishes a way to decide these issues rationally and without rancor.”
The regular session of the Legislature ends April 22. The bill now goes to the Assembly. If the Assembly passes the bill without changing it, the legislation would have enough time to go to Gov. Jim Doyle for his signature into law.
August 19, 2012 //
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