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Summer Fair Help pleae

(15 Posts)
Jaijai38 Wed 24-Jun-15 10:08:50

We have our summer fair next Friday and have an agreed theme of Cowboys and Indians. This was agreed last September - date booked, theme run by head etc. We have had posters up from the last month - changing regularly to promote the fair.

Today we have received a demand from a governor that we change the word to Native American so as not to cause offence.

Other than the fact Cowboys & Native Americans will not excite the children - this will lead to a lot of extra work on posters, leaflets stall etc. All work that we have given up our free time to do. The head is not siding with the governor and wants us to respond in writing rather than change things instantly.

Any help?

Firstly we will raise that the governor is copied into all minutes of PTA meetings, received newsletters weekly so was not unaware of the event or the theme so has left is rather late in day. Would we be unfair to request that the governor issue a cheque for costs of changing things?
We have also not sided with either cowboys or Indians - children have been asked to dress up as either for free entry so we are making no reference to historically who was right or wrong. Any other ideas?

BreconBeBuggered Wed 24-Jun-15 12:11:23

One single governor doesn't have the authority to demand anything. If the letter represents the views of the whole governing body, you can ask them for assistance both in terms of time and finance, reminding them that these views could and should have been expressed much earlier. (Try not to use the word 'reservations' if you possibly can.) Not saying you'd get either, but it puts the ball back into their court.

Millymollymama Wed 24-Jun-15 13:40:00

The Governor has no right to ask the PTA to do anything. As you, presumably, don't have any Native Americans in the school, who, exactly is taking offence? Just one Givernor who is acting beyond their jurisdiction - and I say that as a Governor.

Just to be clear, the Governors' role is the strategic direction of the school. Complaining about the theme of the PTA, is not strategic. I would reply to the Governor stating that:

The theme had been agreed by everyone involved in advance.
There would be a large cost incurred, in time and money, to change everything.
Thank them for making you aware that the modern term for "Indians" is Native Americans.
The PTA would be grateful if the Governor concentrated on the strategic direction of the school and not the day to day decisions of the PTA which is a forum for parents and separate from the Governing Body.

That should do the trick. They have no right to ask that you do anything so stick to what you are doing. Good luck.

matchingmoll Wed 24-Jun-15 13:54:24

It doesn't really matter if you have any Native Americans in the school or not. It doesn't matter of the children are "excited" by it or not. It is wrong and it's slightly amazing that anyone ever thought it was a good idea in the first place.
It should have been spotted earlier by this governor, yes, you are right to feel a bit aggrieved about that, but it should be changed, regardless of who pays for it. Wild West, at a push, maybe, rather than "Cowboys And Native Americans" although the whole thing is dubious. Still, I suspect the "it's political correctness gone mad!" brigade will win out and you will get to keep everything as it was anyway, especially if nobody, remarkably, has raised any issues with it so far.

Millymollymama Wed 24-Jun-15 15:01:26

I do agree it is an outdated and not unacceptable term, but in this context it is difficult to see who is offended. It is not the Governor's place to demand that alterations are made. I don't think this term is illegal, but I might be wrong. The complaint might make the PTA more aware of current standards of how to address native peoples and choose a more suitable theme next time. The Governor should have spoken to the Head before raising the issue with the PTA, but what the PTA does is not anything to do with the Givernor if such a theme is not illegal.

There are many parents who still use the Cowboys and Indians theme for parties and there are lots of fancy dress shops that still have cowboys and Indians clothes for hire or sale. The incorrect use of the word "Indians" is far less widely understood than use of other incorrect and offensive terms for black or indigenous peoples. I replied from the perspective that, although this term is wrong, the greater inconvenience and upset would be caused by changing everything. I am absolutely not quoting "political correctness" as a reason not to change. Just the balance of common sense vs expense and time.

BreconBeBuggered Wed 24-Jun-15 15:41:34

All else aside, I don't really see how the PTA responding in writing to the governor(s) can begin to resolve the issue at this late stage. The HT should take a stronger line, really, rather than acting as though they were stuck in the middle.

TeenAndTween Wed 24-Jun-15 15:56:50

I agree with everyone else who has said not to change at this point.

"Thank you for your feedback with respect to this year's theme for the summer fair. The committee have discussed your comments with the head and the conclusion is that it is not practical to change the theme at this late stage, especially since it has been set since September (as you will be aware since you are copied on the minutes). We will be careful with the selection and naming of any themes in future years. Regards"

Jaijai38 Wed 24-Jun-15 16:05:53

Thank yo so much for all taking the time to reply. We have taken advice from pTa UK who have advised they would not deem the word offensive and would use it in this situation . We have asked for the objection in writing before we consider responding - the emails have been sent to the head and not to the pta until we have this we have changed nothing. We no objection to someone objecting just the way and the timescale and how it is being dealt with . I know sometimes PTAs can be seen as inapproachable but these are people that socialise with some of us

cariadlet Wed 24-Jun-15 19:51:15

The theme does seem rather outdated and I'm surprised that it wasn't queried earlier. But it's ridiculous to expect you to change everything at this late stage.
TeenandTween's suggested wording for an email is perfect.

DamsonInDistress Wed 24-Jun-15 20:35:45

I'm stunned that none of the people on the PTA, the Head, the deputy, the governors, or parents who've seen any of the promotional material so far, not one of them, has raised the issue before now. The term and what it represents is a nasty part of American history and I can't believe any of you were foolish enough to think it appropriate to use in the first place.

That aside there's little you can do now except apologise profusely, and I do think you should, and think a lot more carefully about next year's theme. This would never have got beyond a thirty second discussion in our PTA, no one would have sanctioned it. I'm still going 'wow, just wow' in my head.

Wellthen Thu 25-Jun-15 19:42:55

A school is there to educate. It doesn't matter who 'might' be offended. By using the term you are suggesting to children that it is acceptable.

Using the correct language is basically equalities 101. Its the least a school can do and I find the flippant attitude of many posters amazing. You made a bad choice and now you're annoyed that you have to deal with the consequences.

Jaijai38 Thu 25-Jun-15 20:31:46

thank you for more feedback - we are confused with regards to the word choice and not the fair choice - this has not been questioned so although everyone is entitled to their opinions it is not the subject of this thread -

we are struggling as we have now been told the word Native American is offensive by some and first generation American should be used. Also it seems that America still use the word Indian. can you please offer some constructive advice or references so we can reference the correct information. I am pushing for a Wild West wording now.

But I found the below on research and as some posters seem to be shaking their head at our ignorance it would be better to educated rather than mocked I think

Senior Member
New York
USA - English
The term "Indian" used to refer to descendants of the original inhabitants of the Americas (with no "Red" before it, which was a British rather than American use to differentiate such peoples from inhabitants of India) is not offensive, or derogatory, or an ethnic slur. Indeed, it is the term preferred by the greatest number of those in the US to whom the term can be applied. In a 1995 survey conducted by the United States Census Bureau of the term preferred by people who were members of various groups so identified, 50% preferred to be called "American Indians", 37% preferred "Native Americans", 3% preferred "Alaskan Native", 4% preferred some other term, and 6% had no preference. The US government still has a Bureau of Indian Affairs, and the activist group "American Indian Movement" hardly consider the name of their organization to be derogatory.

GreenWhiteBlue, Apr 30, 2009 #9

odyssey2001 Thu 25-Jun-15 20:44:07

I had the pleasure of speaking to the Chief of one of the Indian nations about 10 years ago for some university research I was doing and his preference was Indian over Native American. Opinions of political correctness are simply opinions.

Don't back down.

DamsonInDistress Fri 26-Jun-15 10:59:32

Def push for Wild West as the alternative. My point was simply that any attempt at referring to a race or ethnicity in something that needs to be as short and snappy like a fair title was just bound to get sticky and difficult. I'm fine with the subject choice but not the naming. Someone, somewhere should have picked this up in the first week of planning, they really should. That's where I'm coming from, that no one on our committee would have gone anywhere near Indian/Native American/First Peoples/First Nations etc etc in the first place. Race relations, diversity and inclusion are cornerstone school policies these days surely, I just don't understand why no one brought it up?

Jaijai38 Fri 26-Jun-15 11:25:43

Thank you - this is more the point we are trying to address, changing the name is a small thing and on more investigation the word is the smallest possible issue . The person how has complained has been copied into all minutes since January 2015 and has not contacted the PTA but sent a governor wide email.
The PTA is under supported and this could be the final nail and as a small school I think the governor does not realised how much they would miss the £4000 we donate each year. We not horrible people and coming to speak to us six months ago would make the playground a much nicer place.

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