By Shereen Siewert

An effort led by the Wausau School board to retire Native American mascots statewide was defeated by a large margin Wednesday at the Wisconsin Association of School Board’s annual convention.

In 2005, the American Psychological Association called for immediate retirement of Native American mascots, logos, nicknames, imagery and symbols due to the harmful effects on the educational experience of all students, which has detrimental lifelong implications, said Wausau School Board President Tricia Zunker, who advocated statewide for the changes.

“This is not a matter of local control because they do not stay confined within their district,” Zunker told Wausau Pilot and Review. “Nor is this a matter of personal opinion, but a matter of educational policy based on peer-reviewed, credible evidence. It is never good educational policy to stereotype against an entire race of people. Public education must be inclusive and this practice of allowing interscholastic discrimination must end.”

The resolution called the continued use of Native American mascots offensive and intolerable, an issue that “establishes an unwelcome, divisive and hostile learning environment for Native American students that affirms negative stereotypes that are promoted in mainstream society.”

Despite support from 18 school boards and all 11 federally recognized Wisconsin tribes, the resolution failed by a vote of 218-101, which means the group will not lobby the state Legislature for a proposed change.

A second resolution submitted by Wausau which urges legislation to prevent stigmatization of students through lunch shaming practices did pass by a margin of 283-27.

Top photo: Wausau Board of Education President Tricia Zunker addresses the Madison Metropolitan School Board requesting their support of co-sponsorship of the Wausau mascot resolution. Wausau Pilot and Review file photo