"What are today's students learning about U.S. history and what are they learning about real, living American Indian people? Do today's students believe that American Indians receive a free college education from the government? That all Indians are well compensated by casino revenue? That American Indians don't pay taxes? Is the only thing they are being taught about American Indians is it is OK to stereotype them as sports mascots?
"Professional teams like the Cleveland Indians and Washington Redskins do it. Why can't we?" This is an extremely narrow view of what has long been a national disgrace. We are teaching America's children nothing substantive about American Indians. But who is to blame?
In Massachusetts, the body "charged with the responsibility of ensuring improved teaching and learning in all of the commonwealth's public schools" is the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE).
According to the General Laws of Massachusetts, the DESE "shall establish a set of statewide educational goals for all public elementary and secondary schools in the commonwealth." In addition, the DESE board "shall direct the commissioner to institute a process to develop academic standards for the core subjects of mathematics, science and technology, history and social science, English, foreign languages, and the arts." These standards "shall be designed to inculcate respect for the cultural, ethnic, and racial diversity of the commonwealth and for the contributions made by diverse cultural, ethnic, and racial groups to the life of the commonwealth. ... Academic standards shall be designed to avoid perpetuating gender, cultural, ethnic or racial stereotypes."
The DESE is also responsible for establishing curriculum frameworks. According to the state's own documentation regarding the History and Social Science Curriculum, "The ironies and surprises of history, the great tragedies and achievements of human experience, cannot be captured through mindless or simple regurgitation of dates and names. To illuminate the drama of history requires an examination of the larger themes and ideas of history."
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Peter Sanfacon: Indian mascots perpetuate national disgrace
(Gatehouse News Service 4/21)