Many schools around New York have or will soon make major changes that the state is mandating. If schools don't make the changes, they risk losing their funding from the state and having their school officers removed. The changes must be made by the end of the 2022-2023 school year, which is in a few months.
The New York State Education Department made a huge announcement. The State Education Department told WAMC that more than 50 school districts in the state still have Native American mascots, team names, or logos.
James N. Baldwin, a Senior Deputy Commissioner with NYSED, sent out a memo stating that school districts in New York are not permitted to use Native American mascots, team names, or logos anymore. The memo starts off,
The State Education Department (SED) wishes to ensure school districts’ knowledge of a recent legal decision and their concomitant need to ensure that district mascots, team names, and logos are non-discriminatory.
The letter goes on to say that the NYSED has long opposed the use of Native American mascots,
In 2001, former Commissioner of Education Richard P. Mills issued a memorandum 'conclud[ing] that the use of Native American symbols or depictions as mascots can become a barrier to building a safe and nurturing school community and improving academic achievement for all students.'
The National Congress of American Indians agrees that native mascots can be stereotypical and offensive,
Indian mascots and stereotypes present a misleading image of Indian people and feed the historic myths that have been used to whitewash a history of oppression. Despite decades of work to eliminate the use of discrimination and derogatory images in American sports, the practice has not gone away.
With a recent court decision in favor of the Commissioner of Education's decision, all districts, that haven't already, must replace their Native American mascots. The letter states that any districts or schools that are not currently in compliance, must immediately come into compliance. If a school district chooses to disregard the directive, it could lose its state funding,
Should a district fail to affirmatively commit to replacing its Native American team name, logo, and/or imagery by the end of the 2022-23 school year, it may be in willful violation of the Dignity Act. The penalties for such a violation include the removal of school officers and the withholding of State Aid.
Schools do have the option of continuing to use a Native mascot, team name, or logo, but only if they receive permission from the tribe.
Overall, in the United States, there are 1,911 schools that have native mascots, according to the National Congress of American Indians.