Michigan Senator, Under Fire for Racial Comments, Apologizes for ‘Clunky’ Word Choice

Jonathan Oosting, MLive, December 7, 2015

Michigan state Senator Marty Knollenberg, accused of making “racist” comments in a committee hearing last week, apologized Monday for what he called a “clunky” choice of words.

The Troy Republican sits on the Senate Education Committee, which heard testimony on Thursday from Natasha Baker of the State School Reform Office, which is tasked with turning around the state’s worst-performing schools.

“You mention why these schools fail, you mention, you know, the economically disadvantaged, and you know, the non-white population are contributors to that,” Knollenberg said. “And you know, we can’t fix that. We can’t make an African American white. That’s just–it is what it is.”

Knollenberg went on to ask Baker whether the reform office has had any success turning in turning around struggling schools, saying the goal should be to improve them all.

Short clips of his comments spread online Thursday and Friday, prompting a visceral response from critics.

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Knollenberg, in a Monday morning radio interview on “Michigan’s Big Show” in Lansing, apologized for a “clunky choice of words, unfortunately, that I had made.”

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