Submitted by David Anderson and Paul Wagemann.
In the December 13, 2021, meeting of the Clover Park School Board, the directors were unanimous in pausing the end-of-year deadline by which to have selected the new mascot of Clover Park High School.
As the school board director who initiated this recommendation that the deadline be extended, Director David Anderson believes the school board acted responsibly, communicating to the community on the very night new board directors were sworn in and new board officers elected, that just as the vote of the people matters, so the voice of the people matters as much or more.
Any time and anything we can do as a school board that puts the public back in public education is to at the same time be building upon the basics of Basic Education.
RCW 28A.150.210 Basic education – Goals of school districts:
“The legislature finds that improving student achievement will require: Parents to be primary partners in the education of their children, and to play a significantly greater role in local school decision making.”
That’s why a pause on the mascot matter, matters. It allows not only additional opportunity for the public to play a significantly greater role in local decision making, but at the same time encourages all concerned to see this for the educational, collaborative, and community-building process it affords.
Directors David Anderson and Paul Wagemann do not speak for the school board. But, like the rest of the school board, as elected representatives, we do want to speak for, and hear from, those we represent.
Hence a proposal.
We believe it is in the best interest of our school district – in this and all future ‘controversies’ – that a panel discussion be held in a public forum to discuss the issue.
It is American screenwriter, director, as well as a comic book writer, author, and actor Kevin Smith who wrote, “‘Controversial’ as we all know, is often a euphemism for ‘interesting and intelligent.”
In other words, what is ‘controversial’ can often be an educational blessing in disguise.
The next regular school board meeting is scheduled for January 10, 2022, 6 pm, at which time your presence and voice is encouraged.
Even better, however, is what Matt Zalaznick advised in the November 19, 2021, edition of the American monthly trade publication for education leaders in public K-12 school districts.
“Superintendents and their administration teams should hold more town hall-style meetings to allow the public to speak out on contentious issues. Such gatherings would be a better forum than school board meetings.”
Gathering leaders for a panel discussion from the Steilacoom and Puyallup Tribes, from the Cowlitz to the Tulalip, from the State Legislature to Northwest Indigenous Affairs (this list by no means exhaustive), and inviting the public – many of whom, including Director Wagemann, have suggested ‘Warrior’ remain given its ties to JBLM – would go a long ways toward achieving what, Zalaznick writes, is the purpose of this institution called education.
“Public schools are supposed to be sites where democracy is practiced and young people are learning democracy.
“District leaders need to support and encourage public engagement rather than see it as something to withdraw from—withdrawal is a losing strategy.
“Good public school leadership is about creating democratic moments throughout the school calendar.”
As education depends on information by which to make intelligent decisions, here following is a timeline that serves as a summary of how we got where we are.
1968 – The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), founded in 1944, launched a campaign to end negative and harmful stereotypes of Native Americans in the media and popular culture.
1993 – The Washington State Board of Education – though without statutory authority – adopted a resolution (and again in 2012), encouraging school districts to re-examine their policies and discontinue the use of Native American mascots.
2013 – From the NCAI report: “Rather than honoring Native peoples, these caricatures and stereotypes contribute to a disregard for the personhood of Native peoples.” (Papers entitled “Ending The Legacy of Racism In Sports & The Era Of Harmful ‘Indian’ Sports Mascots”, and “Of Warrior Chiefs and Indian Princesses: The Psychological Consequences of American Indian Mascots”)
February 2021 – House Bill 1356 is introduced by Washington State Rep. Debra Lekanoff, who is Tlingit and Aleut and the only Native American currently serving in the Washington State Legislature. The democrat serves the 40th District, which includes San Juan and portions of Whatcom and Skagit counties.
July 20, 2021 – Clover Park School District (CPSD), having reached out to the Puyallup, Nisqually and Steilacoom Tribes, receives information from the Puyallup Tribe of Indians concerning House Bill 1356 which prohibits the inappropriate use of Native American mascots, names, symbols and imagery in Washington public schools. The Nisqually and Steilacoom tribes had also been contacted by CPSD. Rep. Lekanoff said tribal consultation is an integral part of the bill. “This little bill says reach across the table to the Native American and shake their hand. Get to know them, understand them, teach their culture in your school, invite them to the table and build a relationship. But treat them with the respect that they should be treated with.”
July 25, 2021 – House Bill 1356 took effect.
August 2021 – A spokesperson for Clover Park High School told McClatchy’s Northwest Indigenous Affairs reporter Natasha Brennan that the school was in the process of reviewing the bill’s requirements.
November 24, 2021 – Clover Park High School announced it’s in the process of changing its mascot to comply with HB1356.
Early December 2021 – Online survey begins for families and alumni of Clover Park High School, as well as the community, to share their input on the top mascot names the school is considering before making a final mascot selection in mid-December with changes in imagery, equipment, uniforms, signage, and material to follow.
December 13, 2021 – Clover Park School District Board Directors unanimously call for a pause in the process to allow for further deliberation with the likelihood of a special meeting to be scheduled.
December 31, 2021 – Were it not for the December 13, 2021, unanimous decision of the Clover Park School District Board of Directors, schools would have had until Dec. 31 to make their new selections of mascot name, signage, and related.
In addition to the links imbedded, source material for this article:
Natasha Brennan, covers Indigenous Affairs for Northwest McClatchy Newspapers.
Allison Needles, covers city and education news for The Tacoma News Tribune.