Inside a Public School Social Justice Factory

Katherine Kersten, Weekly Standard, February 1, 2018

For decades, the public schools of Edina, Minnesota, were the gold standard among the state’s school districts. {snip} Academic rigor is unraveling, high school reading and math test scores are sliding, and students increasingly fear bullying and persecution.

The shift began in 2013, when Edina school leaders adopted the “All for All” strategic plan—a sweeping initiative that reordered the district’s mission from academic excellence for all students to “racial equity.”

“Equity” in this context does not mean “equality” or “fairness.” It means racial identity politics—an ideology that blames minority students’ academic challenges on institutional racial bias, repudiates Martin Luther King, Jr.’s color-blind ideal, and focuses on uprooting “white privilege.”

The Edina school district’s All for All plan mandated that henceforth “all teaching and learning experiences” would be viewed through the “lens of racial equity,” and that only “racially conscious” teachers and administrators should be hired. District leaders assured parents this would reduce Edina’s racial achievement gap, which they attributed to “barriers rooted in racial constructs and cultural misunderstandings.”

As a result, the school system’s obsession with “white privilege” now begins in kindergarten. At Edina’s Highlands Elementary School, for example, K-2 students participate in the Melanin Project. {snip}

Highlands Elementary’s new “racially conscious” elementary school principal runs a blog for the school’s community. On it, she approvingly posted pictures of Black Lives Matter propaganda and rainbow gay-pride flags—along with a picture of protesters holding a banner proclaiming “Gay Marriage Is Our Right.” {snip}

At Edina High School, the equity agenda is the leading edge of a full-scale ideological reeducation campaign. A course description of an 11th-grade U.S. Literature and Composition course puts it this way: “By the end of the year, you will have … learned how to apply marxist [sic], feminist, post-colonial [and] psychoanalytical … lenses to literature.”

The primary vehicle in the indoctrination effort is a year-long English course—required of all 10th-graders—that centers, not on reading literature and enhancing writing skills, but on the politicized themes of “Colonization,” “Immigration” and “Social Constructions of Race, Class and Gender.”

Increasingly, families who are serious about education are leaving the Edina schools. {snip}

Flores, who fled a Marxist regime in Nicaragua as a child, had this to say: “Years ago, we fled Communism to escape indoctrination, absolutist thinking and restrictions on our freedom of speech. If we see these traits in our schools in America, we must speak out and oppose it.”

{snip}

The final straw for the Flores family occurred when an English teacher subjected their son and a classmate to a lengthy, humiliating and ideologically charged grilling—unlike that faced by other students—after the boys made a presentation with which she disagreed following racially-charged incidents in Ferguson, Missouri.

When Flores’ son requested an apology, school authorities indignantly took the teacher’s side, says Flores. Fearing retaliation, the boy asked to transfer to another English class. There, a student teacher informed the class they would not be reading classic books because “dead white men are boring,” according to Flores.

{snip}

Like Edina students, the district’s faculty and staff must submit to racial equity re-education.

One such mandatory session for school bus drivers is illustrative. {snip}

{snip} [Trainers] instructed bus drivers that “dismantling white privilege” is “the core of our work as white folks,” and that working for the Edina schools requires “a major paradigm shift in the thinking of white people.” Drivers were exhorted to confess their racial guilt, and embrace the district’s “equity” ideology.

The result of all of this? Four years into the Edina schools’ equity crusade, black students’ test scores continue to disappoint. {snip}

{snip}

The drop was most notable at the high school level. Math scores for black students in 11th grade at Edina Senior High dropped from 31 percent proficiency in 2014 to 14.6 percent in 2017. In reading, scores for black students in 10th grade at Edina Senior High dropped from 51.7 percent proficiency in 2014 to 40 percent in 2017.

* * *

Recently, conservative students at Edina High School filed a federal lawsuit, claiming the district has violated its members’ rights of free speech and association.

The suit grew out of events following a Veteran’s Day assembly in the high school gym on November 9, 2017. There, a group of veterans spoke about their military service, and the school band played the National Anthem and Taps. During the music, some black students “protested” by refusing to stand, slouching by the bleachers, talking loudly, and blaring music on their cell phones.

Members of the school’s unofficial Young Conservatives Club (YCC) responded by criticizing the protesters’ behavior, at school and on social media. In response, the protesters and their allies harassed the conservative students, with groups “as large as 30 students … daily surrounding club members and threatening to injure them if they did not change their political views,” according to the lawsuit complaint. In addition, a group styling itself the “Edina High School Anti-Fascists” {snip} posted a threatening YouTube video aimed at the YCC, which declared, “[W]e will not stop until every tentacle of your evil monstrosity is sliced off at the nerve.”

{snip}

The principal disbanded the YCC after pressuring its president to show him texts its members had sent one another about these incidents on the club’s private GroupMe. Yet school authorities apparently took no disciplinary action against the protesters and other students who had threatened and harassed YCC members.

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