Will this be the year, for legislation to end racist school logos? Bills that would require Wisconsin school districts to end use of racially derogatory Indian nicknames and logos have been introduced in every session for more than a decade. Milwaukee Democrat, state Senator Spencer Coggs, thinks this may be the breakthrough year, with both houses of the legislature under Democratic control. “This has always been a bill that was forwarded by Democratic leaders,” says Coggs.
Coggs is Senate author of the bill, supported by Barb Munson with the Wisconsin Indian Education Association. “I think this is a bipartisan issue,” says Munson. She says we can't really wait for the districts to make the change on their own. “Times have changed, and there is now replicated research that shows that Indian mascots and logos have a harmful effect on the self esteem of Native American students, and that they artificially boost the self esteem of European American students.”
The most recent tally by the WIEA's Indian Mascot & Logo Taskforce shows 31 school districts have dropped the use of race-based “Indian” names or logos, while 39 have not. “If they are offending some students and offending some parents, they can choose to change them, too,” says Coggs.
Legislation from Coggs and Green Assembly Democrat Jim Soletski would require that the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction investigate complaints about race-based names or mascots. If a district doesn't quit within a year, it could be fined up to a thousand dollars a day.