3 lawmakers to discuss Native American dance from Riverside teacher – press enterprise
The Riverside School Board plans to meet with three prominent Inland Empire lawmakers next week to chart a more responsive educational course for Native American students, officials said on Tuesday (November 9th).
The convening of the special meeting follows widespread outrage sparked by an October 19 incident at North High School in Riverside, in which a teacher put on a fake headdress, danced in a classroom and performed a false song, while trying to convey an advanced mathematical concept.
Riverside Unified School District spokeswoman Diana Meza said board members and lawmakers intend to examine how the district’s policies, practices and program affect Native Americans. They also plan to discuss how to prevent similar incidents from happening again in the future, she wrote in a press release.
District administrators plan to meet with Assembly members Sabrina Cervantes, D-Corona; José Medina, D-Riverside; and James Ramos, D-Highland. The study session is set for Monday, Nov. 15, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the boardroom of the Riverside County Office of Education, the statement said. The office is located at 3939 13th St., Riverside.
Meza said the meeting is open to the public and will be streamed live online.
Medina is a former teacher at Poly High School in Riverside. Ramos, a longtime resident of the San Manuel Indian Reservation in San Bernardino County, is the first Native American from California to serve in the state assembly.
The meeting schedule also follows an announcement over the weekend that educators at Riverside are taking steps to prevent a recurrence. Steps include expanding diversity training to all district employees, working with local tribal representatives, seeking a federal grant to help Native American students, and ensuring that educational materials for such vacations. that Thanksgiving is historically accurate and respectful, Meza said.
In a statement, School Board President Tom Hunt said, “We would like to reiterate that RUSD is deeply committed to implementing inclusive practices and policies that honor the rich diversity of our district and the greater region. . That is why the Board of Education and district leaders are keeping this commitment and actively exploring how we can learn from it and put in place policies that will eliminate cultural insensitivity.
The teacher’s actions were captured in a student’s video which was shared on social media and quickly went viral. In the video, the teacher appeared to share with the students the word “SohCahToa,” a mnemonic device used to help students remember an advanced mathematical concept. The instructor, whose name has not been released, is on paid administrative leave, Meza said.
The California Mathematics Council criticized the teaching approach in an Oct. 22 statement.
“We understand that teachers can use the mnemonic device, Soh-Cah-Toa, to help students remember trigonometric ratios,” the board wrote. “However, it is NEVER appropriate to invent or perpetuate stories that disrespect and appropriate a culture or community.”