Goshen News, Goshen, IN

August 7, 2013

Nickname requires critical thought


— Thank you for your editorial (“School board drops the ball” — The Goshen News, Aug. 4). I agree that a discussion on the use of the “Redskins” identity fits well within Goshen Community School Board President Jane Troup’s themes of focus for the year. Including whether curriculum and programs are up to date and relevant.  

The GCS Board states publicly that its educational philosophy holds that dignity and respect for others is “necessary to create a successful learning environment” and also that “the school community must be prepared to creatively lead and adapt to change.” Does postponing a real discussion of continued use of “Redskins” demonstrate respect for others or creative leadership in adapting to change? Are we serving our students well by continuing to ask them to center their school pride around images and identity lodged in racial stereotypes? How are GHS students to understand the general prohibition in their handbook against harassment “directed at the characteristics of a person’s race or color, such as racial slurs, nicknames implying stereotypes, epithets and negative references relative to racial customs”?

I encourage the board to set up a task force that follows GCS Administrative Guidelines offered to our teachers for discussion of controversial issues in the classroom. Here is their guidance (for each stated position):

1. What is the person (group) saying?

2. What evidence is there that what is being said is true?

3. What is said that would lead you to think the position is valid?

4. What are the strengths and weaknesses of this position?

5. What do you think would happen if this point of view was accepted and was put into practice?”

In helping us use critical thinking (rather than nostalgia or outrage) to examine the issue, the GCS Board would demonstrate to community and students alike the integrity of its work.  

— Joe Springer