Katherine Kersten joins Brian Anderson to discuss how public school leaders in St. Paul, Minnesota abandoned student discipline—and unleashed mayhem—in the name of “racial equity.”

In January 2014, the Obama administration’s Departments of Education and Justice issued a “Dear Colleague” letter to every school district in the country, laying out guidelines to local officials for how to avoid racial bias when suspending or expelling students. Equity proponents view “disparate impact”—when the same policies yield different outcomes among demographic groups—as conclusive proof of discrimination.

But nearly half a decade before that order was announced, the superintendent of St. Paul Public Schools had already embarked on a crusade to dismantle the purported “school-to-prison pipeline”—with disastrous effects for teachers and students.

Read Katherine’s piece in the Winter 2017 Issue of City Journal, “No Thug Left Behind.”

City Journal is a magazine of urban affairs, published by the Manhattan Institute.

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  1. EugeneKriegsmann Member

    We went through a similar situation in Seattle with the “Courageous Conversation” narrative and the rest. It was not as extreme in final result in Seattle, and, as of the current time, there has been no teacher revolt, although there is lots of dissatisfaction with the disciplinary procedures as they apply to Black students. In my school, a middle school located in a largely minority area of West Seattle, the unwillingness of administrators to act on disciplinary referrals from teachers was a major problem. It as clear that someone was watching the numbers of suspensions to insure that the “disproportionality” of minority, specifically Black, suspensions was not continued. This despite the simple fact that Blacks were involved in far more incidents of racial animus, fighting, refusal for follow the lawful directions of a teacher or other school authority, and disruption of classrooms and hallways during passing periods, all considered suspendable offenses. My personal ballywick was special education for Behaviorally/Emotionally Disabled students. In a school population with approximately 40% Blacks, my classes were generally between 50% and 60% Black. Of those students a far greater percentage would fit the definition of Conduct Disorder as defined in the DSM than one would expect in the general population. When I compared my students with students remaining in the general education population, I would say that there were many students in the General Ed who were as badly behaved or worse than the students I served. My class limit was 10 students.

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  2. EugeneKriegsmann Member

    Regular Ed classes had between 25 and 30 students. When extremely disruptive students are included in a large class they are far more difficult to deal with than they would be in a class set up to work with them. They interfere with the lesson, distract the attention of other students, and reduce the effectiveness of even the best teachers. When there are no consequences for these behaviors, they continue or escalate. They don’t go away.

    Pretending that the real reason for the disproportional number of failing minority students, specifically Blacks, to function in schools is due to poor teaching or the failure of teachers acknowledge their own inherent prejudices is patently absurd. Students either come to school prepared at home to learn or they don’t. I well remember noticing on a daily basis when standing out in front of the school to meet the buses carrying my students that arriving general ed students carried such items as basketballs and game consoles, but very few books. These items could not be confiscated and were frequently the cause of disruption. If one was insensitive enough to point these things out at a “Courageous Conversation”, one was immediately labeled insensitive to racial stereotyping. In other words, if you are white, check your privilege and keep you mouth shut.

    Just finished reading the article, absolutely superb! The only addition I would make to it is that what happened in St. Paul did not occur in a vacuum. This is happening everywhere.

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