Mayhem In the Schools
The Center’s Kathy Kersten has an article about violence in the St. Paul public schools in this month’s City Journal. Over the last six months, Kathy has brought both local and national attention to this critical education issue. How can children possibly learn if they are constantly worried about their physical safety?
In the Obama years, America’s public education system embarked on a vast social experiment that threatened to turn schools into educational free-fire zones. The campaign—carried out in the name of “racial equity”—sought to reduce dramatically the suspension rate of black students, who get referred for discipline at much higher rates than other students. From the top down, the U.S. Department of Education drove the effort; from the bottom up, local educational bureaucrats have supported and implemented it.
Equity advocates’ central premise is that teachers, not students, are to blame for the racial-equity discipline gap. They claim that teachers’ biases, cultural ignorance, or insensitivity are the gap’s primary causes. The key to eliminating disparities, they maintain, is to change not students’ but adults’ behavior. Equity supporters justify their agenda on grounds that the racial-equity discipline gap severely hampers black students’ chances of success in life. Kids who get suspended generally fail to graduate on time and are more likely to get caught up in the juvenile-justice system, they say.
Donald Trump’s Department of Education won’t have to wait to see how this project has played out in the real world. The public schools of St. Paul, Minnesota, are ahead of the curve in the racial-equity crusade. The violence and chaos that racial-equity policies have produced there should sound alarms across the nation about what can be expected by pursuing this course.
Read the whole thing for chapter and verse on how misguided liberal policies have led to violence. Here is a sample:
As the school year progressed, some high schools increasingly came to resemble war zones. Teachers suffered injuries while resisting classroom invasions or intervening in fights; police were compelled to Taser a disruptive student; and one teen brought a loaded gun to school, saying that he needed it to defend himself against rival gang members. At Harding High School, teacher Becky McQueen found her own solution to the chaos. McQueen—who had been threatened with death and shoved into a shelf by classroom interlopers—told City Pages that, to keep invaders out, she now asks her students to use a “secret knock” to enter her classroom.
Safety is the first prerequisite of a functioning school system. Unfortunately, in too many places, that prerequisite is not now being met.