Katherine Kersten, Star Tribune, October 6, 2017
For years, the Edina Public Schools (EPS) have been one of the brightest stars in the firmament of Minnesota public education. Parents who moved to the affluent Twin Cities suburb gladly paid a hefty premium for a house, because it meant their kids could attend the district’s top-notch schools.
But today, test scores are sinking in Edina’s fabled schools.
In place of academic excellence for all, the district’s primary mission is now to ensure that students think correctly on social and political issues — most importantly, on race and “white privilege.”
District leaders enshrined this new mission in EPS’s “All for All” strategic plan, adopted in 2013. The plan mandates that, going forward, the EPS must view “all teaching and learning experiences” through the “lens of racial equity.”
If “equity” meant “treating kids equally,” all thinking Minnesotans would support it. In this context, however, it’s code for racial identity politics — a simplistic blaming of “white privilege” for the racial learning gap and any other problems that minority populations experience.
The “All for All” plan mandates sweeping change to how education is delivered in Edina. For example, it dictates that, from now on, the district will hire “racially conscious teachers and administrators.”
Katie Mahoney, Highlands’ “racially conscious” principal, was hired in 2016. This fall, she announced that the school’s “challenges” for 2017-18 are to teach children “how to embrace ancestry, genetic code and melanin,” and to how “to be changemakers.”
But Mahoney’s political agenda seems much broader. For example, on the school’s “Wonder” blog, she has promoted an A-B-C book for young children entitled “A is for Activist.” The book features texts like the following: “Are you an Activist?” “C is for … Creative Counter to Corporate vultures,” “F is for Feminist,” “T is for Trans,” and “X is” for “Malcolm X.”
The lockstep partisanship they complain of was on display after the 2016 elections, when 80 staff members (all but a handful of whom were teachers) co-signed a partisan manifesto in the student newspaper bashing President-elect Donald Trump as a racist and aligning themselves with the Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton.
EHS policy prohibits partisan bias by teachers, but the teacher charged with keeping it out of the school paper herself signed the editorial.
On Aug. 24, 2017, Peter Kirsanow — a member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights — wrote to the chair of the Edina school board about this and other recent incidents at Edina High School. He admonished the board about teachers’ “discrimination” against and “bullying” of students “with different political beliefs,” and reminded them that federal civil rights law prohibits such discrimination in public schools.
In a response dated Sept. 21, EPS Superintendent John Schultz essentially acknowledged that the high school has failed to meet its First Amendment obligations.
Today, Edina students are being deprived of their right to a solid education by teachers and administrators who substitute indoctrination and intimidation for effective instruction. It’s time for Edina’s citizens to demand that changes.