Steve Gunn, EAG News, June 8, 2015
Last week we were stunned to learn that chaos has been the norm in the St. Paul, Minnesota school district, due to a student disciplinary policy that replaces suspensions with time-outs, counseling and other less punitive measures.
We also learned that the controversial policy was influenced by the Pacific Educational Group (PEG), a radical San Francisco-based consulting firm that claims black students lag behind academically, and tend to have more disciplinary problems, because American K-12 education is designed to benefit white students–aka “white privilege.”
Now it’s becoming obvious that several other large school districts around the nation are in the same situation as St. Paul.
They’ve all instituted radical disciplinary policies to reduce the number of black student suspensions, they’ve all experienced serious behavioral problems as a result, and they’re all included on a recent list of PEG client school districts.
That begs a simple, disturbing question–is PEG making a lot of money by promoting policies in public schools that lead to chaos and danger for students and staff?
In St. Paul, the media directly connected PEG to the radical new disciplinary policies that have teachers, parents and union officials complaining about a lack of safety in hallways and classrooms.
The St. Paul Pioneer Press wrote that “PEG’s input has spurred district-wide changes in St. Paul, from a push to reduce suspensions to a bid to integrate students with intensive special needs into mainstream classrooms.
“Critics say PEG’s work has alienated some educators and, in recasting certain discipline issues as cultural misunderstandings, let disruptive students and their families off the hook.”
PEG’s connection to similarly passive disciplinary policies in the Madison, Wisconsin; Denver; Philadelphia; Los Angeles, Oakland and Portland school districts is not quite as obvious.
No news reports have surfaced claiming the organization played a direct role in encouraging school officials to adopt or implement policies that allow violent and unruly behavior to go unchecked.
But all six of those districts were included on a PEG client list that was published on the organization’s website last October. A more recent list was pulled off the PEG website last week, following revelations about the severe disciplinary problems in St. Paul.
Meanwhile, we know that Glenn Singleton, founder and CEO of PEG, tends to excuse violent behavior committed by black students.
“White educators are prone to wondering why black and brown boys are prone to fighting in school,” Singleton was quoted as saying by the American Thinker.
“They question why violence is taught in homes of color. Missing from this analysis however is how these boys might be affected by growing up in a white-governed country which threatens young men of color at will, distrusts their ability to succeed and follow the law, and allows daily racial stress to mount in neighborhoods, schools and classrooms.”
Teacher dissatisfaction in Madison is apparently mild compared to some other school district around the nation.
A good example is the Denver school district, where a new student discipline policy reportedly is creating disorder, fear and anger.
According to a recent story posted on Chalkbeat.org:
The aim of the discipline policy, revised in recent years, is to reduce in-school or out-of-school suspensions and expulsions so that students can continue to be in a learning environment. It also aims to erase the longstanding disparity between white students and students of color in terms of consequences for student misbehavior.
However, some teachers are complaining about the policy’s numerous tiered approaches to handle each infraction, abundant paperwork and uneven distribution of resources for teachers and students. That complexity has led to confusion, some teachers say, which in turn means students are getting away with bad behavior that wreaks havoc on a quality learning environment.
Board member Andrea Merida asked for an update on the discipline policy from the district’s student services office after a 14-year-old girl was attacked at Henry World Middle School on March 8. The girl’s classmates lured the teacher out of the classroom so another girl could attack the victim. Students videotaped the assault and posted it on social media.
And on March 20, 60 Bruce Randolph Middle School teachers, office staff and custodians sent a letter to Superintendent Tom Boasberg complaining about the policy. And 44 staff and teachers at Morey Middle School sent a letter the following day expressing similar concerns.
[Paul] Sperry’s story on the New York Post, titled “How liberal discipline polices are making schools less safe,” addressed problems in several other districts on the PEG client list.
In Los Angeles, “even threats against teachers are ignored, as administrators’ hands are tied by the news policies,” Sperry wrote.
The Post story quoted an L.A. teacher as saying, “I was terrified and bullied by a fourth grade student. The black student told me to ‘Back off b — h,’ I told him to go to the office and he said, ‘No, b — h and nobody can make me.”
Sperry wrote about Allen Zolman, a former middle school teacher in the Philadelphia school district, who testified in front of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights about the pratfalls of overly forgiving disciplinary policies.
“I’m going to torture you,” Zolman claims one student told him. “I’m doing this because I can’t be removed.”
“The less we are willing or able to respond, the more they will control the classroom, the hallways and the school,” Zolman was quoted as saying.
In the Oakland school district, a student who set another student’s hair on fire was talked to instead of suspended, according to Sperry’s story.
In the Portland school district, which has long embraced PEG’s philosophies, Sperry wrote that “After a black high school boy repeatedly punched his teacher in the face, sending her to the emergency room, the teacher, who is white, was advised by the assistant principal not to press charges. The administrator lectured her about how hard it is for young black men to overcome a criminal record.”