Thursday, January 12, 2006

Injuns, Part II

When it rains, it pours.

Having just written about Native Americans (or American Indians, or First Nations people, or whatever the politically correct term is this week) I saw on a table in our staff lounge today a packet from our district's Indian Education Program. I didn't even know we had an Indian Education Program.

Page one was an introductory letter seeking teachers to serve as tutors for Native American students. Page three was a generic, informational flier from our Indian Eduaction Program, from which I learned the program is funded by Title VII funds--and that our district of 45,000 students has 600 Indians, of which 450 are entitled to services. Anyway, page two gave some specific information about what this tutoring program is about:

Tutoring is conducted at the school site of the student.
  • After school
  • One-in-one
  • Monday-Friday
  • 1-2 hours per week
  • Maximum of 12 hours of tutoring within a ten-week period of time
  • Scheduled with the tutor, student, and parent/guardian

Skip down a bit and you get
The goal: One grade level improvement in one subject area
(i.e., math, reading, language arts)

Ok, I'm obviously not understanding here. Are we saying that this 12 hrs of one-on-one tutoring in 10 weeks (perhaps up to 45 hours in a school year?) will allow the students to improve one grade level in a subject? Or are we saying that this additional tutoring time merely augments normal classroom time, during which we expect a year of growth anyway? The first sounds unrealistic, the second sounds rather expensive--not just expensive, in fact, but egregiously expensive for a race-based program that shouldn't exist anyway.

Yes, I'm familiar with our past treatment of Native Americans. No, it's not one to be proud of. As is my way, I'm hard pressed to visit the sins of the fathers upon the children and take personal responsibility for what occurred in the past. I don't stomach race-based programs, no matter which race we're discussing. Educational programs should be based on student need, not student ancestry.

But enough of the politics. Let's talk political correctness, shall we? What decorates each of these three papers? Why, symbology we might associate with Native Americans! Here's a decorated tamborine-like drum with feathers hanging on it, here's a set of feathers, here's a "Southwest" design with feathers, there's another "Southwest" design, and there's a decorated clay pot. Are these symbols from the Maidu, the Apaches, the Cherokees, the Iroquois--who, exactly? Why is it not offensive to put these symbols all over paperwork related to American Indians, but it would be to put pictures of tacos all over something related to Mexicans? Am I right, and the people who staff our district's Indian Education Program are just highly insensitive?

And why can I not have a stylized Native American as a school mascot, but I can have a stylized Viking (obviously a white guy, and Vikings didn't wear horns!) or a Demon Deacon (a slur on Christianity?) or a Leprechaun (and he's Fighting Irish, too, those angry drunks!) without complaint?

Do you lefties ever get tired of your double standards and blatant hypocrisy?

Update: How expensive is this program? My chintzy school district will pay $22.33 an hour to tutor. Multiply that by 12 hours and 450 eligible students and you get $120,582 that the district is willing to spend--every 10 weeks! School year is 36 weeks, so let's just multiply that number by 3 (instead of 3.6 or 4) and we get over $361,000 dollars.


Dan Edwards said...

Good points! It was interesting when I taught up on the Rez in AZ. when Navajo "artists" came by the teacherage selling Kachina Dolls. They looked good and were priced considerably less than Kachina Dolls made and sold by the Hopi. THIS was a major problem between the two tribes (as well as who got money from the coal at Black Mesa). Hopi claimed it was sacreligious for Navajos to be making copies of THEIR religious figures and selling them. .....I agree with your question....WHOSE symbols decorated those papers? Those title VII funds are part of the guilt our government believes it has for its brutal treatment of Native Americans. Throwing money at them isn't going to change much.....Casinos are the Indians great revenge.

Darren said...

Ah yes, the Hopi and Navajo. "Southwest" indians--must have been *their* designs on the paper.

Because you know, all Indians look alike. They're monolithic.

Title VII=Guilt Money. So true.