Week of April 1

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This week's news and discussions

-- Anonymous, April 01, 2001


Were there any letters to the Freeman regarding the Civl rights Commission article on the front page last week?

-- Anonymous, April 01, 2001

Freeman online articles:

office repair budget "Onteora school district voters will be asked to authorize spending $150,000 in district funds, supplemented by insurance money, to pay for repairs to the district office..."

Trustees to discuss total construction budgets

Barbara Clare replies online March 25 regarding the Civil Rights Commission's planned announcement on Indian Mascots "Must be an election coming up that Mr.Kemble decided to bring up Indian Issues once again. Get to the financial disclosures that have come up at board meetings and move on." Yet a little bird told us that the election signs for Perry and Johansen feature exhortations about the Indian mascot, or heritage, or somesuch. A split in CARE's ranks?

-- Anonymous, April 02, 2001

Barbara Clare's remark is disengenuous. They seem to be hoping it'll carry the day again to visit that...along with Hal bashing...and money talk.

We need to push District Climate...bad vibes/intimidation attempts, etc...

-- Anonymous, April 02, 2001

Although I don't have details, I just heard that the NY State Commissioner of Ed will release his report on mascot use in NY Schools tomorrow. I am told it will basically say they aren't helpful, and should be removed...he isn't ordering them down, but calling on local school superintendents and board presidents top take the lead and hold local discussions leading to their change.

Good news, I should think. More will be revealed soon. Tobe Carey

-- Anonymous, April 04, 2001

My fax is 657-2366, if you have the document to fax.

-- Anonymous, April 05, 2001

"Stopping just short of demanding an immediate removal, he clearly says they must be removed by local action after an appropriate period of reflection. Onteora, of course has had more than its share of "reflection" but we'll wait and see how the pro mascot board majority reacts to this slap in their collective face." -- Tobe

We've had more reflection than a hall of mirrors!

-- Anonymous, April 05, 2001

The text of the State paper (Toby, you don't need to fax me after all).

This is so much stronger than I expected. Disposes of the other side's arguments without bending over backward to not alienate them as previous responses from the office have shown.

Do report back and let us know if it comes up at the board meeting, and what board and public comments were.

-- Anonymous, April 05, 2001

Today's Freeman article on it. They haven't changed the online front page yet.

"'Indian' nicknames must go, state education boss says" By William Kemble

IN A MOVE that forces the hands of three local school districts, state Education Commissioner Richard Mills said Thursday that the generations-old use of Indians for school nicknames and mascots should end. In a letter to all public schools in the state, Mills wrote: "I have concluded that the use of Native American symbols or depictions as mascots can become a barrier to building a safe and nurturing school community and improving academic achievement for all students. I ask the superintendents and presidents of school boards to lead their communities to a new understanding on this matter." The letter said the use of Indian team names and symbols could be a violation of the U.S. Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Locally, the Onteora, Rhinebeck and Coxsackie-Athens school districts all have teams called Indians. In Onteora, where the issue has sharply divided district residents, the school board voted in early 2000 to do away with all references to Indians, but a new board elected in the spring of 2000 overturned the decision.

ONTEORA school board President Martin Millman, a staunch supporter of keeping the Indians name in Onteora, said he disagreed with Mills decision.

"I'd like Mr. Mills to come down and sit in our boots in our community and know what the people feel, and then he can make a better determination," Millman said Thursday evening.

"I'm in contact with hundreds of people a day, and I know what their feeling is on this mascot issue," he said. "There's no prejudice, there's no racial stereotyping. It's just a feeling they've had 50 years of heritage, and I want Mr. Mills to come down here ... just like they did from the state Attorney General's Office."

In his statement on Thursday, Mills noted an August 2000 letter sent by state Attorney General Eliot Spitzer to the Onteora board members that urged caution in the Indian controversy.

"His (Spitzer's) opinion identified many factors that school districts should consider in examining their use of these symbols and mascot, particularly areas such as stereotypical nicknames, images, gestures and use of historical and religious symbols such as feather headdresses, face paint or totem poles," the commissioner wrote.

COXSACKIE-ATHENS Superintendent L. Jeffrey Baltes said the Board of Education in his district will be given Mills' letter and will have serious discussions about the issue.

But Baltes said Coxsackie-Athens has not experienced any of the controversy that has hung over Onteora.

"I've never, ever received a complaint from a Native American over our mascot in the 12 years that I've been here, and we've always considered it a source of strength and pride," Baltes said.

Of Mills' letter, he said: "This doesn't rise to the level of 'remove the symbol or face a loss of aid' ... (but) it is formal correspondence and recommendation from the state commissioner. If nothing else, it will certainly generate some discussion, and I suspect very heated discussion, because this is a very tradition- bound community, and I believe the contingent to embrace the tradition will be every bit as strong as what the opposition might be."

RHINEBECK Superintendent Joseph Phelan said the school board in his district will review Mills' opinion before deciding whether to eliminate Indian references and symbols.

"We haven't had too much discussion in the past ... but I'd imagine there is going to be something brought to the board's attention," Phelan said. "I haven't looked at the letter yet, so it's hard to say what impact it might have on us."

LUCIA Ferrante, spokeswoman for Community One Love One Race, cites the Indian controversy as the reason she took her three children out of the Onteora schools and said members of her organization are pleased with Mills' position.

"We're delighted ... and we're hoping the Onteora district is going jump on this and act appropriately," she said.

"At very least, they should follow the recommendations to explore whether there are people who have been unintentionally offended," Ferrante said.

MILLS did not establish a timeframe in which school districts must act, though he wrote he will "formally evaluate the progress on this issue" next year.

He said he recognized that there are "cherished traditions surrounding many of the mascots," and he suggested "local remedies ... be exhausted first."

"Many communities have engaged the issue and made changes," he said. "Many other communities will now do so."

The education commissioner decided against an immediate ban because "people in many communities haven't had an opportunity to talk about this and listen to one another," he wrote. He also noted there could be "significant costs involved," such as the expense of changing team uniforms and gymnasium floors.

MILLS POINTED to colleges that have done away with Indian nicknames as an indication that educators have begun to recognize the negative impact that Indian symbols can have.

"The use of Native American names, symbols and mascots is such a significant issue that it is being looked at in other states, in professional sports, at the collegiate level, as well as at the local level in some New York school districts," Mills said.

St. John's University changed its team name from the Redmen to the Red Storm a few years ago, and many Native American groups have urged the Cleveland Indians, Atlanta Braves, Washington Redskins and Kansas City Chiefs to change their names.

"SCHOOLS must provide a safe and supportive environment that promotes achievement of the of the standards for all children," Mills wrote. "The use of Native American mascots by some schools can make that school environment seem less safe and supportive to some children and may send an inappropriate message to children about what is or is not respectful behavior towards others."

-- Anonymous, April 06, 2001

the latest from the Freeman

Go Here: http://www.zwire.com/site/news.cfm?BRD=1769&dept_id=74969&newsid=16448 87&PAG=461&rfi=9

-- Anonymous, April 08, 2001

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