NYC schools must drop Native American mascots or lose funding, state Department of Education says
New York State schools must stop using Native American references in mascots, team names and logos by the end of the current school year or face penalties, including including a loss of state aid, the state Department of Education said.
« Arguments that community members support the use of such images or that they are ‘respectful’ of Native Americans are no longer tenable, » the department said in the memo released Thursday.
“Students learn as much through observation of their surroundings as through direct instruction,” the memo adds. « School boards that continue to use Native American mascots need to consider the message their choices send to students, parents, and their communities. »
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The memo noted a state court ruling in June in favor of the department over the Cambridge Central School District north of Albany, New York, which decided to stop using a Native American reference in the name of his team last year only to reverse weeks later.
The state Department of Education, which had issued a directive in 2001 for schools to stop using Native American imagery as soon as possible, ordered the district to comply with its original decision. The memo says districts that do not have approval from a recognized tribe to continue using the images « should immediately come into compliance. »
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Cambridge Central filed a complaint against the order, which a court dismissed. The school district has announced its intention to appeal.
Native American activists have spoken out on the issue at all levels of the sport, from schools to professional leagues, for years, and have seen some teams make changes while others have shown resistance.
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The National Congress of American Indians views mascots as harmful stereotypes. He maintains a database of K-12 schools he says have Native American-themed mascots, puts the number at just over 1,900 schools across the country in 970 school districts, including more than 100 schools. At New York.