There is no doubt that in Oshkosh and the surrounding area almost 90% of the population is white. However, the percentage of students of color in our public schools is approximately 21%, significantly higher than in the general population. Of those, Latinos and Hmong students represent the highest numbers. The League of Women Voters of Winnebago County has been exploring ethnic diversity in this geographic area in an effort to educate ourselves and others about real and perceived issues that may be present.
We have invited Erin Kohl, Principal at Oshkosh West High School to be our Food for Thought luncheon speaker on Wednesday, February 14. Three years ago, West High uncovered some serious issues regarding the treatment of students of color. These issues had not come to light earlier because students of color assumed that if they reported incidents, nothing would change, so instead they endured regular derogatory and insensitive comments from their peers. Once the school administration was made aware of the negative experiences that these students were having at West, they reached out to Tracey Robertson of Fit Oshkosh for help. As a result of West’s partnership with Fit Oshkosh, several actions have been taken, including a school-wide viewing of the documentary, “I’m Not Racist, Am I?” This school year, Oshkosh West was selected to engage in intensive training in culturally responsive practices and is committed to transforming the climate and culture at the school so that all students feel safe and respected and have the opportunity to become college, career, and community ready.
The public is welcome to attend this program and no advance registration is necessary. The lunch will be held on Wednesday at the Primo Restaurant, 2605 Jackson St., Oshkosh. If you plan to have lunch please arrive by 11:50 a.m. so you may place your order from the menu before the program begins shortly after noon. Audience questions and discussion are encouraged.
Contact Ann Marshall at 920-231-8002 for more information about the luncheon and/or to learn more about the League of Women Voters of Winnebago County.