Lawmakers should be fighting DISCRIMINATION in Wisconsin!
I have been “behind the 8 ball” as I have been studying and reading to gain information and perspective to be most objective and up-to-date in teaching “American Government & Politics” – the course I am teaching this semester at UW-Whitewater. I have a blog brewing on this challenge.
RIGHT NOW, I am already tardy to raise an issue which goes to a vote in our WI STATE ASSEMBLY today – the GOP's pushback to the past with support/protection of DISCRIMINATION in WISCONSIN! I am embarrassed by this move which I am convinced is totally POLITICALLY DEMEANING of WE THE PEOPLE of WI! I thought we had matured beyond the attitudes and behaviors provided for in AB297/SB317 – Race-based nicknames, logos, mascots.
I join the citizens of WI who want to maintain the 2009 law – Wisconsin Act 250 which provides for a healthy EDUCATIONAL process through which concerns about race-based nicknames, logos, mascots in our PK-12 PUBLIC SCHOOLS are evaluated.
I do NOT understand the GOP's problem with the provision that a concerned citizen is able to file a complaint with our Department of Public Instruction. It is, after all, the CONSTITUTIONAL STATE AGENCY with an ELECTED STATE CONSTITUTIONAL SECRETARY focusing on PK-12 public education. The complaint leads to an investigative hearing. The school district brings its defense of its nickname, logo and/or mascot. The hearing evaluates whether there is discrimination. It is the DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC EDUCATION which then implements whatever the decision of the hearing is on the complaint whether dismissing the complaint or requiring a local school district to change. What's wrong with this process?
Now, the GOP wants to make the situation VERY DISRUPTIVE to the WHOLE COMMUNITY by requiring a petition which would be filed with the DEPARTMENT OF ADMINISTRATION. Why shift from the CONSTITUIOITNAL DEPARTMENT for PUBLIC EDUCATION to the NON-Constitutional department which is the GOVERNOR's agency to administer state government. A keenly POLITICAL department. TRUTH BE TOLD, this is the DEPARTMENT which Governor Walker controls! Does this legislation mean that Governor Walker supports racial DISCRIMINATION in WISCONSIN? What does Scott say? He is, after all, a self-touted EAGLE BOY SCOUT and a “CHRISTIAN.” Why do YOU support this change of process, Scott?
I think you should be aware of the wide-range of citizens of the STATE OF WI who have filed a strong statement OPPOSING the change with STRONG SUPPORT for the 2009 Wisconsin Act 250. These support groups are: Wisconsin School Social Workers Association; Wisconsin Jewish Conference; Wisconsin Council of Churches, Southeastern United Church of Christ Southeast Wisconsin Association; National Association of Social Workers; Wisconsin Chapter, NAACP; Milwaukee Branch, Jewish Community Relations Council of the Milwaukee Jewish Federation; Islamic Society of Milwaukee; Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee; Cream City Foundation and American Civil Liberties.
I regret that my blog post is too late to encourage readers to contact their Assembly Representative. The GOOD NEWS for most of the readers of my WE THE PEOPLE blog is that our representatives – Assembly 43, 44 and 45 will all vote against this bill in the Assembly today. The same is true when the vote comes in the Senate since our State Senator Tim Cullen opposes the change.
I would URGE readers concerned to support the present healthy process to evaluate race-based nicknames, logos, mascots, to contact the SENATE Committee on Government Operations, Public Works and Telecommunications – the website for the Committee is: http://legis.wisconsin.gov/pages/comm-info.aspx?c=1052.
I am resigned to the fact that the GOP dominated WI state government will pass these regressive bills and send them to GOP Governor Walker so the NEW LEGAL REALITY is that DISCRIMINATION will be protected. I would assert that there is less than 1% that a legally filed petition on a PK-12 race-based nickname, logo and/or mascot would be found discriminatory. WHY? I know the mentality in WI State Government at-large today, especially the Department of Administration. Review the actions of the DOA! Does DOA really mean, “Dead on arrival”? What do YOU think?
John W. Eyster lives in the Edgerton area. He is an adjunct professor of political science at UW-Whitewater and an advocate for Project Citizen, a model curriculum for democracy/civics education in Wisconsin high schools. John is a community blogger and is not a part of The Gazette staff. His opinion is not necessarily that of the The Gazette staff or management.