Recent violent attacks against teachers in the St. Paul, Minnesota public schools are being linked to the adoption of the Obama administration’s “equity” policies that have grown into an ideology in which certain racial and ethnic groups have become “untouchable” when it comes to school disciplinary action.
— OSERS (@ED_Sped_Rehab) March 17, 2016
St. Paul Central High School has recently seen a teacher “choked and body-slammed by a student and hospitalized with a traumatic brain injury,” according to Katherine Kersten in a column at the Star Tribune. Another teacher has experienced a concussion after being thrown to the ground by two fighting fifth-grade girls. In yet another incident, police were forced to use a chemical irritant to break up a riot at Como Park High School.
St. Paul school officials have refused to acknowledge that the increasing violence and dangers to teachers and other students in the school district are a direct result of new “restorative justice” procedures promoted by the Obama administration’s Department of Education and Department of Justice over the last several years. The new guidelines urge schools to remove consequences for bad conduct, particularly for students of color and other minority ethnic groups, and are based on the concern that these students are “disproportionately impacted” by suspensions and expulsions.
“We have a segment of kids who consider themselves untouchable,” said one teacher about the new “ideology.”
Most parents will tell you that if you eliminate consequences for kids’ bad behavior, you can expect a lot more of it.
It’s common sense.
But we’re not talking about common sense here. We’re talking about a powerful ideology that has gripped the imagination of Twin Cities school officials — and far beyond. That’s the notion of “equity” — a buzzword that is rapidly becoming the all-purpose justification for dubious policies not only in education but in many public arenas.
Equity, in today’s “newspeak,” is not about fairness — that is, the same rules for everyone. It means quite the opposite. The equity crusade regards people — not as individuals responsible for their own conduct — but, first and foremost, as members of racial and ethnic groups. If one group’s outcomes on social measures are not identical to all of the others’, the cause is presumed to be discrimination and the proper response to be government policies designed to ensure equal statistical results.
Some large city school districts have been employing the Obama administration directives, which include training for teachers in developing “true appreciation” of the multicultural differences represented in their students, and in understanding how their “white privilege” biases may affect their inclination to dole out discipline to specific races and ethnic groups.
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— US Dept of Education (@usedgov) March 23, 2016
Two years ago, education attorneys began referring to the Minneapolis Public Schools’ (MPS) announcement that suspensions of non-white students must receive the approval of the superintendent of schools as an establishment of “racial quotas.”
An editorial in Investors Business Daily (IBD) was critical of the “quotas,” referring to them as “state-sanctioned racism.”
“If you think that sounds a bit racist, you’re not alone,” wrote the editors. “Like most urban school districts, MPS suspends blacks at a higher rate than whites due to the fact that black students commit a disproportionately high share of campus crimes.”
“But the Obama regime, which sees racism behind every corner, blames biased teachers and administrators for the disparity,” they added.
IBD also observed that San Diego schools have become more violent due to similar racial quotas in that city, resulting in more black-on-black violence that will deprive black kids of a decent education.
“At its premier charter school, Lincoln High, students report daily fights now, mostly involving black kids,” reported IBD. “In the past month, there have been several arrests, including one involving a butcher knife, according to local reports. Victims have been hauled off by ambulance.”
In St. Paul’s school district, despite millions of dollars spent on training teachers in these counter-intuitive methods, the discipline gap is unchanged. Since continuing the statistical disparities is not politically correct, the district’s officials have moved on to Plan B: lowering the behavior standards to the extent that meaningful consequences to unacceptable behavior are eliminated. As a result, offenses such as “willful disobedience,” for example, are no longer subject to disciplinary action. Students engaging in this type of behavior may either chat with a school psychologist or simply be moved to another classroom.
Traditional discipline is being replaced with “restorative justice” and “peer juries,” wrote Hoover Institution media fellow Paul Sperry at the New York Post in March of 2015.
In Portland, Oregon, Sperry reported, where millions of dollars have been spent on restorative justice and “courageous conversations about race,” a black high school student repeatedly punched his white teacher in the face, sending her to the emergency room. Subsequently, the teacher was reportedly counseled by the assistant principal not to press charges against the student, and was “lectured … about how hard it is for young black men to overcome a criminal record.” Additionally, the teacher said, according to the Willamette Week, the administrator told her to examine what role she, “as a white woman” with white privilege bias, played in her own attack.
The situation in St. Paul’s school district deteriorated further earlier this month at Como Park High School: Black Lives Matter attacked teacher Theo Olson, who was placed on paid administrative leave following his Facebook posts about the dysfunctional behavior displayed by students at the school. Olson reportedly expressed his frustration with having to deal with “kids who won’t quit gaming, setting up fights, selling drugs, whoring trains or cyber bullying.”
According to the Star Tribune, Black Lives Matter “threatened a ‘shutdown action’ at Como Park if Olson were not fired,” while the group’s leader – former school board candidate Rashad Turner — met with superintendent Valeria Silva, who announced she was able to negotiate a positive outcome. Turner agreed, revealing, “We need to rid the district of all employees who share the belief in the racial bias and disdain that Mr. Olson shared so comfortably.”
Subsequently, calls for Silva’s resignation have grown, as Fox News reports.
“The Obama administration has forced school districts to enter into consent decrees containing race-based targets to prevent school officials from disciplining more minority than white students,” observes Hans Bader, a Washington, D.C. attorney, at Liberty Unyielding. “Even if that just reflects the fact that more minority students violated school rules, and even though that violates a federal appeals court ruling.”
Bader, who has practiced civil rights and constitutional law, explains, “A federal appeals court ruled in People Who Care v. Rockford Board of Education (1997) that schools cannot use racial caps or proportions in discipline.”
“To try to reduce unintended racial disparities, schools, encouraged by the Office for Civil Rights, are replacing suspension for violent offenders with talking circles and ‘restorative justice’ (even as they continue to suspend kids for things like toy guns),” he told Breitbart News. “As a result, school violence is increasing, and students are escaping discipline for things like threatening teachers and setting classmates’ hair on fire.”