Barbara Munson in Native Condition. Discussion »
The legislation that became Act 250 was first drafted in the 1999 legislative session, I participated in that drafting session. I know that the intent of this legislation was to provide a path for change that would lessen community division, and would protect school board members, administrators and complainants. Once drafted, this legislation was introduced with nearly identical language in all six consecutive legislative sessions between 1999 and 2009. All six of the bills had these provisions in common:
The change in the 2009-10 Bill when it was introduced was the use of "race-based" as a descriptor. Prior to passage a legacy tribe endorsement rule that could affect the Auburndale "Apache" identity was introduced, this was the compromise in Act 250.
Five Assembly Republicans voted for passage of Act 250. This bill should never have been about partisanship. Senators and Assemblypersons from both parties have schools within their legislative districts with "Indian" race-based sports team identities. The issue is about eliminating a form of discriminatory practice from our schools.
Act 250 has nothing to do with a complainant being "offended" Act 250 is concerned with discrimination. Act 250 effected changes to Wisconsin's Pupil Non-discrimination law.
Wisconsin Indian educators want school environments where all students can thrive and we want accurate and authentic historical and contemporary information taught about all people. In school districts where the prevailing thought was that the issue was a power struggle about local control, people defending an "Indian" moniker often became more and more rigid in their defense and less able to frame the issue as an education policy issue involving harm to children.
Since 2002, a rigorous and ever expanding research base has grown around the impact of race-based "Indian" stereotypes on Native students, students from other minority populations and indeed all students. This research supports the anecdotal and experiential testimony of Indian parents and educators. It has been replicated and duplicated and expanded into several disciplines such as applied and clinical psychology, and sports psychology to name a few. This body of research shows that "Indian" mascot, logo and name stereotyping is harmful and that it teaches students to stereotype other groups of people than the depicted "Indians."
The Department of Public Instruction (DPI) has rule-making authority under Administrative Law, it is a department of Wisconsin State Government. An administrative hearing was conducted by an administrative law judge under administrative rule and specific rules were promulgated by law to administer Act 250. I attended the rules hearing for Act 250 held in Madison.
I was case manager for the young man from Mukwonago who brought the case against the Mukwonago Area School District (MASD). Several of our witnesses were from outside of Mukwonago. One does not have to reside in Mukwonago to understand that its race-based stereotypes are harmful or to experience harm from the symbols. Three of our witnesses were researchers in the areas of Clinical Psychology, Business Administration and Cultural Geography. One of these "outsiders" photographed several "Indian" images from within the Mukwonago High school that the school itself failed to enter into evidence when asked by the DPI to provide all such imagery. Some of our witnesses had ties to MASD. One was a past graduate, one a past educator who brought a discrimination complaint involving the Mukwonago "Indian" under earlier law, and one a grandparent concerned for her family members living in the Mukwonago community during the then current "Indian" identity controversy.
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posted September 17, 2013 8:20 am edt