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Written by Rambling Rose

The adage “Spare the rod and spoil the child” is not Biblical, nor does it have to be interpreted as a call for corporal punishment. But current discipline policies that provide no accountability may be just as bad or worse.

Public outrage is graphic and loud after events such as the most recent school shooting in Parkland, Florida in mid-February. Indignation was expressed after the previous massacres but not to the extent of the nationwide protests by teachers and students, politicians and activists…many who marched without knowing the reason for the manifestation because they were too young. Yet they marched because their teachers/parents told them to do so. This week, central Minnesotans are asking at what age should children be deemed to have attained the age of accountability for violent actions.

But the hype and media coverage do not always reveal the whole truth. Fortunately, not all are willing to take news coverage at face value. RealClearInvestigations (RCI) is the investigative arm of RealClearPolitics. Their publication on April 15th reveals that there is more to the story—WHY the officers did not enter the school during the shooting—WHY the perpetrator knew the school and its policies—WHY he had little to fear with a firearm in a gun-free zone, etc.

After the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, many learned of PROMISE (Preventing Recidivism through Opportunities, Mentoring, Interventions, Supports & Education). It is far more than a program to keep students in school for minor infractions. The truth is very disturbing.

The program was adopted by the Broward Schools in 2013 with a strong push from Superintendent Robert Runcie. Prior to that, Runcie had worked in Chicago for Arne Duncan, Obama’s Secretary of Education…the plot thickens.
“That new discipline policy took effect in 2013. It was at the vanguard of the Obama administration’s efforts to address the “school to prison” pipeline. Beginning in 2009, it opened hundreds of investigations or sued to force districts to adopt lenient discipline guidelines. This push was formalized in a 2014 “Dear Colleague” letter to the nation’s public school superintendents and board members that not only discourages student arrests, but holds districts liable for the actions of school resource officers.”

“After meeting with Obama officials in the White House, Runcie persuaded the Broward County Sheriff’s Office and Fort Lauderdale Police Department to agree to stop arresting students who committed misdemeanor crimes the district deemed “nonviolent” – including assault, theft, vandalism, drugs and public fighting. Runcie argued that diverting minor offenders from jail to ‘restorative justice’ counseling and other positive behavioral interventions would help close the academic “achievement gap” by disrupting the flow of black students into the so-called ‘schoolhouse to jailhouse pipeline.’ Though African-Americans made up about 40 percent of the Broward student body, they accounted for more than 70 percent of juvenile arrests in the county.'”

This sounds very similar to the local news about a week ago. District 742 and the Minnesota Department of Human Rights are dealing with issues related to restorative justice policies, the demographics of the student population and the demographics of those named as offenders in efforts to eliminate the disparity in suspensions and expulsions. By looking at data and not specific reports about offenses, it was decided that the racial percentages of the student body and the violators should be equal. Who determined that there is a direct correlation between the racial makeup of a community and the number of violations committed? Is that a reasonable expectation in schools or in society? Is there a direct correlation between the ethnic/racial demographics in society and that of the incarcerated?

Accountability does seem any longer to be addressed by discipline policies in many schools. The explanation comes again from Florida:

“Thousands of arrested Broward students have had their records deleted in the system as part of a program to end ‘disproportionate minority contact’ with law enforcement, blindfolding both street cops and school resource officers to the criminal history of potential juvenile threats.”

So deleting disciplinary records is a way to make the numbers balance, right? No, wrong. What is restorative justice? How has restorative justice worked for Broward county?

“In a related program, Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel also agreed to back off arrests of students who commit such crimes outside of schools, offering them civil citations and the same restorative justice counseling instead of incarceration, even for repeat offenders. Restorative justice is a controversial alternative punishment in which delinquents gather in ‘healing circles’ with counselors – and sometimes even the victims of their crime – and discuss their feelings and the ‘root causes’ of their anger and actions.” In Broward County, the juvenile recidivism rate grew much faster than the rate for the entire state. Is that a measure of success?

The level of violence has risen in the schools and spread to the community. The community is uneasy. According to the County’s chief juvenile probation officer, Broward County now boasts the highest percentage of “serious, violent [and] chronic juvenile delinquents in the state. Meanwhile, murders, armed robberies and other violent felonies committed by children outside of schools have hit record levels, and some see a connection with what’s happening on school grounds. Since the relaxing of discipline, Broward youths have not only brazenly punched out their teachers, but terrorized Broward neighborhoods with drive-by shootings, gang rapes, home invasions and carjackings.”

Prosecutors and probation officers lament the number of violent crimes involving Broward youths has risen dramatically while juvenile arrests overall have dropped. “Juvenile arrests for murder and manslaughter increased 150 percent between 2013 and 2016. They increased by another 50 percent in 2017. County juveniles were responsible for a total of 16 murders or manslaughters in the past two years alone, according to the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice.”

“Last year, the number of Broward juveniles collared for armed robbery totaled 92, up 46 percent from 2013, department data show. Arrests for auto thefts jumped 170 percent between 2013 and 2017 – from 105 to 284. Juveniles charged with kidnapping, moreover, surged 157 percent in 2016 and another 43 percent last year.”

The evidence indicts the leniency policy of restorative justice, whatever the name. Max Eden, education policy expert and senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, declared that the no-arrest policies have emboldened crimes by Broward youth. The infractions became steadily more violent regardless of race. He noted that the crimes committed become more violent when petty crimes are not punished.

Tracy Clark, Chief Public Information Officer of the Broward schools, denied that district policies have weakened safety. The administrators have refused to provide any documents to support those claims. However, the parents whose children have been bullied and beaten do not agree. Those victims were bullied and beaten repeatedly by fellow students who suffered few or no consequences for those actions. Lowell Levine, whose Stop Bullying Now Foundation is in Lake Worth, Florida, has collected dozens of complaints from those parents. When he contacted Runcie’s office about the complaints of school violence in 2015, the superintendent rejected outside advice, claiming that he had the situation under control.

Under control? “After Broward schools began emphasizing rehabilitation over incarceration, fights broke out virtually every day in classrooms, hallways, cafeterias and campuses across the district. Last year, more than 3,000 fights erupted in the district’s 300-plus schools, including the altercations involving Cruz. No brawlers were arrested, even after their third fight, and even if they sent other children to the hospital.”

In 2017, even without cooperation from the Broward county schools, federal data reveal that nearly half of the Broward middle school students were involved in fights, many requiring medical attention. Parents are aware; parents are contacting school administrators; parents are not being heard. One of the teachers in one of the Broward schools explained why when fights are more frequent and more violent but not reported with these words, “because of politics.” What a sad commentary on those schools, on today’s culture.

News media sources seem to suggest that male students are the aggressive ones. Females are also offenders:

“In a December 2016 fight caught on video at Plantation High School, several girls beat and dragged another girl to the ground and took turns kicking her. Campus police did not break up the fight and the girls who jumped her were not arrested. The attacked girl’s mother said the school failed to stop bullying before it escalated into violence, and then swept the incident under the rug. Three other fights reportedly broke out the same day at the school.”

Such attacks by females do not occur only in Florida. A similar event was shared with me by a family member of the victim at a school in St. Cloud, Minnesota. There was no video to capture the attack. The victim was thrown to the ground and kicked by the others. She had a hall pass; the attackers reportedly did not. The victim reported the incident to the school’s administrator but did not know the names of her attackers. When the offenders approached the principal with their version of the story, there was no discipline measured out for them. However, the victim was suspended for an extended period of time. Yes, the victim was white. The attackers were not.

In Broward schools, the perpetrators participate in the PROMISE program but are not held accountable and no records are kept. They are restored. One wonders if the attackers in the St. Cloud school participated in restorative justice or was it just ignored?

Other shootings were avoided prior to the February 14th shooting by observant students who were brave enough to report them to security, and security intervened. There are other reports of physical attacks to teachers for trying to maintain discipline within the classroom. No arrests were made. No entries were made in the attackers’ school records. They suffered no consequences. Recall the words of Max Eden cited above. The lax policies have “emboldened” the unpunished perpetrators to escalate the violence of their continuing crimes.

Maria Schneider, Broward juvenile prosecutor, signed the original PROMISE agreement but warned a few months later that a failure to arrest and prosecute the delinquent students could have undesired consequences of “making the schools a more dangerous place.” While administrators were worried about criminal records “stigmatizing” minority students, the prosecutor retorted that “There has to be accountability for bad behavior.” At a recent Juvenile Justice Circuit Advisory Board meeting, the prosecutor reported that “the actual police reports are being destroyed.” There appears to be no accountability for bad actions at any level in Broward county.

Even though the schools discontinued a 21-year-old practice of surveying the students about their school climate and safety, federal data revealed “a deterioration in safety indicators after the discipline reforms were adopted.”

Sadly, PROMISE and the Behavior Intervention Programs have not achieved their core objectives of “closing the racial disparity in suspensions, expulsions and arrests between black students and white students.” Since 2013, despite the aggressive implementation of restorative justice policies and the destruction of official police reports, as noted by Schneider, internal school district reports show that black students are suspended more than white students. In 2013, the disparity was 2.3 times greater for black students, and last year, after the implementation of the race-based discipline reforms, the rate was 3.4 times more frequent for the targeted group.

“The PROMISE and Behavior Intervention Programs have not accomplished the core objectives they were created to achieve in 2013 – closing the racial disparity in suspensions, expulsions and arrests between black students and white students. That gap is now wider than ever, in spite of a “very aggressive” Broward system goal of decreasing the black arrest rate by 5 percent each year and 33 percent overall.”

Rather than re-examining the effectiveness of the program, the teachers and administrators are being compelled to participate in training programs to examine their “whiteness” and eliminate their “implicit biases.” (This seems strangely similar to the “White Privilege” training forced upon some educators in central Minnesota.)

Or as reported by RCI, “…instead of blaming these students for committing a higher rate of infractions, Runcie and his team are putting teachers and principals on the spot for harboring deep-seated prejudices that lead them to “subconsciously” mete out harsher punishments for them.”

Efforts are underway to extend this training to local police officers as well.

This adage is Biblical. From Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.

What training does society owe its young people? Do we teach, through modeling and policies, that there is accountability for bad decisions/actions? Or, do we perpetuate the racial divide and allow a “free pass” for special groups and sensitivity training for others?

ISD 742 was one of the 43 school districts that received a letter that “for suspension and expulsion disparities that the department claims violate the state Human Rights Act ‘because they deny students of color and students with disabilities educational access and negatively impact academic achievement.’ The human rights department offered the district two agreements to consider as a way to eliminate those disparities. A lawyer offered the district a modified agreement.”

Unfortunately, the District has already bought into this liberal ideology. According to the article, “the board voted Wednesday to offer the human rights department a fourth option, a version that highlights the work the district is already doing to eliminate suspension disparities and to change the focus of the agreement to keeping all students in school by using nonexclusionary practices.”

Discipline in the district was effectively nonexistent already. Commissioner Lindsey’s Department will make things worse.

The ‘remedy’ is worse than the disease:

The agreement the board approved submitting to the human rights department lists policies implemented by the district to reduce instances where student behaviors result in exclusionary discipline. Those include:

  1. Eliminating zero tolerance policies except where required by law,
  2. Having an in-school suspension policy designed to result in less adverse effects on minorities while still allowing disciplined students to be separated from the student body when necessary,
  3. Having a Positive Behavior Intervention and Support program,
  4. Practicing restorative justice,
  5. Implementing culturally responsive instructional practices,
  6. Implementing social and emotional learning initiatives,
  7. Providing additional staff training in classroom management, conflict resolution and ways to deescalate classroom disruption and misconduct,
  8. Providing programs to engage families,
  9. Educating students on conflict resolution skills, and
  10. Providing district resources to provide in-school alternatives to suspension.

Setting discipline based on racial quotas rather than behavior is counterproductive. This isn’t discipline. Potentially, it’s a protection racket. Don’t think that gangs won’t keep track of this. Thanks to ‘quota-based discipline’, gangs will know when disciplining them is off-limits.

Further, there’s no proof that restorative justice leads to better educational outcomes. After reading this article, I’m more than skeptical of restorative justice’s viability. That term is similar to strategic patience or leading from behind, which are different ways of saying doing nothing.

The MDHR is an activist position that pays a person a bloated salary. Further, the threats MDHR extends aren’t based on actual complaints but from statistics. Quota-based discipline is a collectivist’s system of discipline. That sounds more like a system based on implicit bias than on what’s actually happening.

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Ditch Common Core
By Rambling Rose

“Follow the money” is frequently sage advice if politicians are involved. That certainly is true for the Gates Foundation that since 2009 has spent more than $400 million itself and influenced $4 trillion in U.S. taxpayer funds towards the goal of a national curriculum and tests. This occurred under the previous Obama administration although a federal curriculum is prohibited by law, specifically by the 1965 Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the General Education Provisions Act of 1970 and creation of the Department of Education in 1979.

In 2002, No Child Left Behind (NCLB) was passed with bipartisan support as a way to close the gap in academic achievement in schools. All 50 states adopted or revised their standards to annually assess students in grades 3-8 and again in high school. Schools were to achieve 100 percent passing rates on the state tests.

The results were disastrous. Over half the nation’s schools were designated “failing,” and the rest were close behind. Forty states were granted conditional waivers from the NCLB standards if they concentrated efforts on the schools with the greatest needs AND used the test results to evaluate all teachers.

At that point, President Obama and Secretary Duncan initiated the Race to the Top program with a promise of $250 million to each participating state, plus a waiver from NCLB. While the federal government did not require states to accept Common Core, the Obama administration coerced and bribed.

Enter Common Core (Common Core States Standards—CCSS). While the rhetoric lauds the implementation of a system of standards for students to achieve, the reality was greatly different. The work of writing the standards was not done by educators as some would like to claim. It was the work of the National Governors Association, the Council for State School Officers (professional organizations; not elected representatives) and the nonprofit Achieve Inc. The group (25 persons who worked behind closed doors) was principally comprised of academics and assessment experts—six test makers from the College Board, five test publishers for ACT and four with Achieve. No teachers were included in the work groups. All work was funded with more than $200 million from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

At the outset, the two national teacher unions were the leading proponents of the efforts. They anticipated greater funding. However, when they realized that their students were failing in even greater numbers than with NCLB and that their own evaluations were tied to the students’ results, they withdrew their support.

Yet one would have expected the teachers to remain advocates of the program since a paramount principle of Common Core is to teach to the lowest common denominator, leading to the assumption that all students would achieve the standards. Enthusiastic students could not advance beyond where the lowest achieving students were; they lost interest. Struggling students were overwhelmed, stressed, ill and missed school. Students were required to use multiple steps to achieve answers in math and to explain the process; the right answer was NOT important. In language arts, assessments did not include sentence or paragraph development, nor spelling and punctuation. The regurgitation of the leftist ideology was required and rewarded. Individual opinion was penalized.

Since all was driven by the standardized tests, textbooks, teacher training and evaluations were also aligned with the tests. That meant that private, charter and home-school programs also had to follow the standards. Parents, school districts and states lost control of the curriculum to the federal government.

In December, 2015, Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). This did not replace Common Core; it just moved it to the states. It is alive and well in the state departments of education, especially in the states with a Democrat governor who appointed a like-minded commissioner of education. Alabama, Georgia, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Utah decided not to use the CCSS tests. Alaska, Nebraska, Texas and Virginia never adopted the Standards.

Betsy DeVos, the current Secretary of Education in President Trump’s cabinet has challenged parents and other stakeholders to answer some questions in order to reshape the educational system so that it works for the learners. “It’s past time to ask some of the questions that often get labeled as ‘non-negotiable’ or just don’t get asked at all,” she said. “Why do we group students by age? Why do schools close for the summer? Why must the school day start with the rise of the sun? Why are schools assigned by your address? Why do students have to go to a school building in the first place? Why is choice only available to those who can buy their way out? Or buy their way in? Why can’t a student learn at his or her own pace? Why isn’t technology more widely embraced in schools? Why do we limit what a student can learn based upon the faculty and facilities available? Why? We must answer these questions. We must acknowledge what is and what is not working for students.”

Peter Greene, contributor in the Huffington Post (what? where? surprise!—personal comment) wrote some scathing truths about Common Core on January 14, 2018:

When the Common Core wave passed, it had swept away the notion that actual teachers and administrators are experts in education. Teaching, it turns out, is somehow too hard for mere teachers. Instead, the standards-based school district now assumes that nobody in the school system actually knows what should be taught, and that the most they can be trusted with is to “unpack” the standards and create a checklist-certified list of education activities that will meet the standards’ demands. That’s the best-case scenario. In the worst-case scenario, the district doesn’t believe that trained education professionals can be trusted with even that much, and should just be handed materials that dictate the teacher’s every move, throwing aside their professional judgment and replacing it with the judgment of some bureaucrat or textbook publisher.

Worst of all for the long run, this approach has infected schools of education who prepare their few remaining future teachers to accept this, to envision for themselves a diminished role as content delivery specialists or instructional facilitators or classroom coaches.

Common Core was pitched against a definite enemy? the teachers who insisted in teaching things in their own classroom just because they thought those things were worth teaching, the teacher who insisted on using her own professional judgment, the teacher who wanted to function as an autonomous individual. Ironically, even though the Common Core did not conquer the nation’s school districts as it had hoped, it did manage to deliver a serious defeat to its chosen enemy. We now understand in (too many) districts that we must adhere to the Standards, which have descended manna-like from some mysterious, magical higher power. They are not to be argued with or contradicted, nor will there be any discussion of the educational wisdom (or lack thereof) behind them. They are to be treated as our compass, our grail, our North Star. Teachers should sit down, shut up, and start aligning.

And that defeat of professional educators, that clampdown on teacher autonomy? that’s the one victory that Common Core State (sic) Standards can claim. There is hope, if…

Schools need to abandon Common Core and return to proven methods of teaching. That is what Mason Classical Academy in Naples, Florida did. They went back to teaching phonics and abandoned whole word memorization demanded in Kindergarten by Common Core. (Phonics is introduced later in CCSS and confuses learners since they already learned only whole word recognition.) The test scores revealed that the third-graders were 90% proficient in language arts while the rest of the schools in the county were only 58% proficient. The third-graders were in the top 2% in the state, and the fifth-graders were in the top 1% in Florida.

Social media has examples of students’ math problems earning no credit, even though the answers were correct, because the students had not included all the CCSS mandated steps and explanations. In the video “Common Core: 3 * 4 = 11 is okay,” Amanda August explains that the process is more important than the answer.

All stakeholders should view it and learn from a CCSS advocate what is really expected and demanded by this curriculum that is not a curriculum.

One of the goals for CCSS is to prepare students to be competitive in a global society. Let’s look at the 2015 test results of the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA). Looks like students in the USA are not as competitive as some politicians and even teachers would have us believe.

Yes, Minnesota has received approval from the US Department of Education for its implementation of ESSA, that is, Common Core 2.0. This statement from the MN Department of Education website is troublesome:

“Please note it is important that all [emphasis added] students be taught and satisfactorily complete all [emphasis added] academic standards.”

Does that mean that MN continues to embrace the CCSS ideology and standards? No, that is not a rhetorical question; it needs to be answered and addressed by stakeholders…all of us.

Follow the money. Politicians frequently approve more expenditures for education with hopes for better learning. But do they or parents really understand what is taught and tested in our MN schools? Are Minnesota test scores still high or are they following the national trends?

Local teachers have shared information that the textbooks now include the scripts that they are to use to teach so that all students in all classrooms in the country will be on the same page on the same day. Is that local control or is that the Gates/Obama/Duncan federal curriculum alive and strong in central MN?

A chill ran through me when I read this article. What’s frightening is that this program is built on the theory that disparities in discipline are based in racism. This isn’t just wrong. It’s dangerous. It’s political correctness gone too far.

Paul Sperry’s investigation lies at the heart of this potential crisis. Sperry’s investigation into the PROMISE Program revealed that “Nikolas Cruz was able to escape the attention of law enforcement, pass a background check and purchase the weapon he used to slaughter three staff members and 14 fellow students because of Obama administration efforts to make school discipline more lenient. Documents reviewed by RealClearInvestigations and interviews show that his school district in Florida’s Broward County was in the vanguard of a strategy, adopted by more than 50 other major school districts nationwide, allowing thousands of troubled, often violent, students to commit crimes without legal consequence.”

Whether the Minnesota program is called the PROMISE Program or not, the guiding principles are virtually identical. The Minnesota Department of Human Rights “announced 43 districts have suspension and expulsion disparities that violate the state Human Rights Act ‘because they deny students of color and students with disabilities educational access and negatively impact academic achievement.'”

What’s required is a discipline system that outlines each district’s behavioral expectations. Penalizing schools for disciplining students of color based on quotas is dangerous. Disciplining schools based on legitimate racism is one thing. Disciplining schools based on liberal fantasies like implicit bias and white privilege is dangerous. Either a student isn’t behaving or he/she is. The color of their skin, their ethnic background or their country of origin is utterly irrelevant.

This statement is frightening:

“Studies have proven that higher rates of school suspensions and expulsions among students of color and students with disabilities can have lasting negative impacts in their lives and education. That is why the (department) takes seriously any allegation or evidence that indicate disciplinary measures are falling disproportionately upon children of color and students with disabilities in our schools. It is our responsibility to fully review such allegations, and work with local school officials to ensure equal treatment under the law for all kids.”

According to this article, the federal directive was “issued jointly in 2014 by the US departments of Education and Justice” and “warned public school districts receiving federal funding and that they could face investigation and funding cuts if they fail to reduce statistical ‘disparities’ in discipline by race.”

This isn’t proof of racism. Again, school districts have the right to expect proper behavior. Period. If students of color are getting disciplined more often, perhaps the remedy is to insist that students of color improve their behavior. In the system described by Commissioner Lindsey, what criteria is his department using in determining who gets investigated?

For more information on this subject, check out Heather MacDonald’s article.

Many of the Parkland people that’ve hogged the spotlight (pun intended) can’t hold a candle to one of the true heroes of that horrific day. At the age of 15, Anthony Borges has done more heroic things than David Hogg and Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel will likely do in their combined lifetimes. All young Mr. Borges did on that fateful day was use his body to protect the lives of 20 other students.

Compare that with disgraced Deputy Scot Peterson, who stayed outside to establish a perimeter while Nikolas Cruz allegedly fired his weapon, killing 14 students and 3 teachers. But I digress.

Borges “was released from the hospital Wednesday after suffering wounds to the lungs, abdomen and legs.” In his statement, which was read by his attorney, Borges said Superintendent Runcie and Sheriff Israel “failed us students, teachers and parents alike on so many levels. I want all of us to move forward to end the environment that allowed people like Nikolas Cruz to fall through the cracks. You knew he was a problem years ago and you did nothing. He should have never been in school with us.”

The FBI and the Broward County Sheriff’s Office have come under intense scrutiny following the shooting. The FBI admitted days after the shooting that they received a call on Jan. 5 from a person close to Cruz expressing concerns about his erratic behavior and disturbing social media posts. The former school resource deputy, Scot Peterson, did not enter the school during the shooting. The former deputy denied wrongdoing and retired from the office before an investigation was launched.

Peterson is the poster child for a disgrace. What he did fits the description of a coward. Rest assured that he’ll be one of the defendants in the Borges’ civil lawsuit.

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Contained in Brenda Cassellius’ counterpoint is a bigotry that’s frightening. Contained in Cassellius’ counterpoint is a startling set of admissions:

American Indian students are 10 times more likely to be suspended or expelled than are their white peers.
African-American students are eight times more likely to be suspended or expelled than are their white peers.

By themselves, these statistics are meaningless. From Cassellius standpoint, though, they’re proof of racism. Then Cassellius makes this statement:

Contrary to Kersten’s claims, no one wants to take away a principal’s ability to suspend or expel a student for violent offenses or criminal activity, which we all agree will never be acceptable.

That isn’t accurate. The Promise Program was implemented by the Obama administration. According to Paul Sperry’s reporting, its stated goal was to “slow the ‘school-to-prison pipeline.'” The end result: “[Nikolas Cruz] had a clean record, so alarm bells didn’t go off when they looked him up in the system,” veteran FBI agent Michael Biasello told RCI. ‘He probably wouldn’t have been able to buy the murder weapon if the school had referred him to law enforcement.'”

It’s obvious that the goal of the PROMISE Program was to not report bad behavior. Then there’s this:

Broward school Superintendent Robert W. Runcie, a Chicagoan and Harvard graduate with close ties to President Obama and his Education Department, signed an agreement with the county sheriff and other local jurisdictions to trade cops for counseling. Students charged with various misdemeanors, including assault, would now be disciplined through participation in “healing circles,” obstacle courses and other “self-esteem building” exercises.

Thanks to the PROMISE Program, Nikolas Cruz had an unblemished record, which allowed him to get the gun that killed 14 students and 3 teachers. Cassellius said that “violent offenses or criminal activity … will never be acceptable.” It’s not only acceptable. It’s policy. It isn’t just policy. It’s that ignoring the PROMISE Program’s policies will get federal funding cut and get the school investigated by the US Department of Justice.

Minnesota needs an educated, skilled population to ensure shared social and economic success. An education system that works for all students must be our highest priority, and the truth is that currently, school discipline practices are hindering too many of our children’s chances at academic and social success.

This is BS. In the 1940s through the 1970s, we were told that disciplining students was stifling these students’ abilities. The leader of that movement was Dr. Benjamin Spock:

When Dr. Spock’s book Baby and Child Care was published in 1946, its simple core message was revolutionary: “Don’t be afraid to trust your own common sense.” Between that and his insistence that parents should show love and affection to their children rather than constant strict discipline, Dr. Spock challenged the conventional wisdom of early 20th-century childrearing like no one else.

Actually, Dr. Spock didn’t challenge conventional wisdom as much as he disagreed with the principles of the Bible. It’s worth noting that once he became a parent, Dr. Spock started rejecting the principles he espoused as an author and child-rearing expert.

Finally, it’s worth rejecting Commissioner Cassellius’ insinuations that teachers are racist. She leveled the same accusation against Kathy Kersten. It isn’t that she thinks this. It’s that progressives utilize that tactic to stifle dissenting opinions.

(Editor’s note: This is the first of many posts on LFR by Rambling Rose.)

Academic Balance: Education vs. Indoctrination

No one need be surprised when educational topics are discussed/debated that there are divergent views. “Controversial” is the term chosen by the Pioneer Press to describe a bill (SF 2487) introduced by State Senator Carla Nelson (R-Rochester). She states “it is necessary to protect students from being forced to express political viewpoints, to require that teachers present a variety of opinions on curriculum and to prohibit discrimination based on political or religious beliefs.”

The need arose following a lawsuit by high school students against the Edina school district as reported by the Star Tribune. The high school’s Young Conservative Club charged that their free speech rights were violated when they protested …. and the district revoked their status as a school-sponsored organization (denied by the school district). Five students exchanged private chats about the students who refused to stand for the national anthem at a Veterans Day program. A YouTube video was produced by an anti-fascist group demanding an apology. The district denies any evidence that the video was produced by Edina students. The lawsuit was dropped in early March without the district admitting guilt or paying damages. However, the Young Conservative Club may be re-instated as a school-sponsored club, or not, but has assurances that they may organize “with the ability to exercise free speech without consequence.” However, they are denied the possibility of future legal actions against the school district.

Edina’s school district has also sparked controversy with its “All for All” program for the past 4 years. While touted to increase student learning, the state-wide test scores reveal different results.

While black students’ reading scores did increase from 45.5% to 46.6%, that is still less than 50% and their scores in other academic areas, according to state assessments, declined. Scores for all students declined. Data from the Minnesota Department of Education reveal that Edina has dropped from 5th to 29th in reading proficiency scores and from 10th to 40th in math. The Edina program bespeaks an ideology of indoctrination and not one of creative and critical thinking.

With the revisions approved last session by the Minnesota Legislature for teacher licensure requirements, this type of leftist, progressive ideology will be the norm across all schools in Minnesota. The label is “cultural competency.”

The statute is 8710.0310 DEFINITIONS AND GENERAL RULES FOR TEACHING LICENSES, Minnesota Statutes, section 120B.30, 1.23 subdivision 1, paragraph (q). (q) For purposes of statewide accountability, “cultural competence,” “cultural competency,” or “culturally competent” means the ability of families and educators to interact effectively with people of different cultures, native languages, and socioeconomic backgrounds is non-offensive and an admirable goal for all classrooms. However, the application of the training as defined in Subpart 1. D. is not producing the declared goals. It targets problems by turning cultural competency into programs of indoctrination rather on the focus of improving student learning and test scores.

D. “Cultural competency training” means a training program that promotes self-reflection and discussion on all of the following topics: racial, cultural, and socioeconomic groups; American Indian students; implicit bias; systemic racism; gender identity, including transgender students; sexual orientation; language diversity; and individuals with disabilities.

Democrats on the Senate Education Policy Committee in response to Senator Nelson’s bill claimed that it would restrict district’s local control. Please refer to the preceding paragraph and study the topics to be required by the State in K-12 curricula.

Take a look at some of the materials included in Edina’s program. The Weekly Standard reported in early February, 2018 that Black Lives Matter posters and gay-pride rainbow flags are common in the schools. An ABC book for small children is entitled A is for Activist (F-feminist; T-trans, for example). A required English course for 10th graders focuses not on literature and improved communication skills but rather on the themes of colonization, immigration, race, class and gender. An 11th grade literature and composition class lists applying Marxist, feminist, post-colonial and psychoanalytical lenses to literature.

It is their stated policy to hire teachers who are willing to implement such a curriculum. “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’.” (Weekly Standard)

Not all parents agree with these policies and materials. They have lost their voice.

One parent reported “… teachers routinely pushed politicians and political positions they favored, shamed and browbeat students with dissenting views, and forced them to defend themselves against baseless allegations of racism. According to his son, he says, classroom discussions were often ‘one-sided indoctrination sessions,’ and students feared their grades would be penalized if they spoke out.” (Weekly Standard)

Parents agree that controversial topics should be included in class discussions and critical thinking skills promoted, but indoctrination is not to be tolerated. Following Donald J. Trump’s election, one teacher told the students that a Trump presidency was worse than 9/11 and the Columbine massacre. (more details, data and parental reactions: Thinking Minnesota, Issue 9, Fall 2017)

In other institutions of learning (PreK-20), teachers are typically mandated to refrain from the inclusion of personal political and religious views when working with students, parents and the community where they are seen as teachers. Neither students or teachers are allowed to display the Bible. Students have been suspended for praying in the cafeteria. Coaches have been fired for praying privately in the locker room or on the playing field. Faculty have lost their positions for having the Ten Commandments hanging above the desk in a private office. Unfortunately, double standards are now the norm!!

While some may think that charter or private schools, or even homeschooling, may be an alternative, it may not be so. The extreme ideologies are also the foundation of the ACT and SAT college entrance exams. Young people will be admitted to higher education on their ability to regurgitate the political and cultural views of the leftists. This is an echo of Common Core. It did not die with the change of administration and the Secretary of Education. The previous administration carefully moved it to the states before leaving office.

Testimony last Thursday included views on both sides of the bill (SF 2487).

Katherine Kersten, senior policy fellow for the conservative Center for the American Experiment, argued in favor of the bill, pointing to the indoctrination practices of the Edina schools. “Events in Edina make clear what happen when school officials and a core group of teachers, bent on imposing a narrow ideological framework on public education, are allowed to proceed unhampered…Today in Edina, students are under intense pressure to adopt and express a very specific set of social and political views.”

Teacher and education advocates opposed the bill. Josh Crosson, senior policy director for the education equity advocate Ed Allies, challenged the belief that equity programs were the same as indoctrination and disputed the claim of lower student achievement. He added that this type of legislation will produce unintended consequences if passed. The report did not include what he defines as “unintended consequences.”

Senator Eric Pratt (R-Prior Lake), chair of the committee, summed up the current status of the debate between conservatives and liberals on many societal issues. “Sometimes as conservatives we often feel as if we’re being asked to be empathetic to one side and one side is never asked to be empathetic to us.” Unfortunately, it’s true.

It’s been well-reported that the Edina Public Schools have implemented an indoctrination agenda. This Strib hit piece attempts to discredit those reports.

According to the Strib’s hit piece, “many parents and school board members dismissed the piece for providing little context and cherry-picking data.” That’s nonsense. Dictionary.com’s definition for cherrypicking is “to select with great care.” That isn’t what’s happening. Conservative students have testified in front of legislative committees. One of those students, Tatum Buyse, said during her testimony “The environment at school is so political. Everything is viewed as comparing white versus black when all I want to do is be a high-schooler.”

That’s just the tip of the iceberg. This article tells the story of Edina High School’s hostility towards conservatives:

Last month, some students sat in protest during the playing of taps and the national anthem in a Veterans Day assembly, the lawsuit says. Members of the Young Conservatives Club were outraged and took to Twitter to express that, according to a statement by the students who filed suit.

Members of the club also sent private chat messages among themselves that contained disparaging remarks about other students, including Somali-Americans. Those were made public in a YouTube video from an Edina High “anti-fascist” group, which demanded an apology. Afterward, school leaders revoked the Young Conservatives Club’s status as a school-sponsored organization, said attorney Erick Kaardal, who’s representing the students: Nick Spades, Elizabeth Ebner, Jazmine Edmond, Tatum Buyse and Ana Doval.

I’d argue that it’s difficult to “select with great care” episodes that apparently happen with great frequency. Further, I’d love hearing the Edina Public School’s explanation for revoking the Young Conservatives Club’s status as a school-sponsored organization. BTW, that’s a lawsuit EPS will lose.

Contained in John Hinderaker’s post is this information:

This one is from a student:

The day after the election I was texting my mom to pick me up from school and she almost had to!! Every teacher was crying in class, one even told the whole class “Trump winning is worse than 9/11 and the Columbine shooting.” The amount of liberal propaganda that was pushed every single day in class this year was worse than it’s ever been–and you’re bullied by the teachers and every student if you dare speak against it.
Yeah its horrible, the teachers can absolutely do whatever they want. The administration will do nothing about it!! The day of the election every single student was in the commons chanting “F*** TRUMP” and the teachers never did anything. A LOT of people are starting to complain and my mom has some friends who are leaving the school district.

A parent describes her daughter being abused in class in an email to a school administrator:

In talking with [my daughters], it came out that yesterday in my 10th grader’s AP World class, [the teacher] called out any Trump supporters and asked them to assure the class that they weren’t racist. Both my husband and I were aghast and we felt strongly that we should say something to you. … Yesterday’s incident in her class really surprised us as it is so completely inappropriate and unprofessional. If you talk with [the teacher] about this, please don’t mention my daughter. She doesn’t want to be identified for fear of retribution.

It sounds like this retaliation is pretty widespread. It’s difficult to cherry-pick information when it’s this plentiful. Mr. Hinderaker expresses his thoughts in this presentation:

Almost 10 minutes into his presentation, Mr. Hinderaker listed a series of statements. The anti-conservative hostility was described as “pervasive.” Based on the information in the presentation, I’d consider that description indisputable. FYI- the definition of pervasive is “spread throughout.”

Please take the time to watch Mr. Hinderaker’s entire presentation. I did and I’m glad I did.

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It’s time to end what’s known as ‘rule by letter’ governance. Let’s finish it ASAP. ‘Rule by letter’ policies were implemented by, surprise, surprise, the Obama administration. Arne Duncan issued a ‘Dear Colleague’ letter in 2014 that threatened federal civil rights lawsuits “unless they reduce law-enforcement referrals, suspensions and expulsions of minority students.” The “2014 ‘Dear Colleague’ letter on school discipline” was “a joint guidance by the Education and Justice departments.”

Though the Obama administration is out of office, their policies live on. “Justice Department attorney Jeremy Thompson recently cited Broward and Miami-Dade as Florida school districts that have experienced ‘positive outcomes as a result of replacing zero-tolerance policies with restorative justice policies. By adopting programs similar to Miami-Dade and Broward County, other school districts can help eliminate the School-to-Prison Pipeline and decrease the disparate incarceration rates in the U.S.,’ Mr. Thompson said in the Feb. 2 edition of the Harvard Law and Policy Review.”

This ‘Dear Colleague Letter’ is what helped Nikolas Cruz escape discipline, which led to his shooting up Marjory Stoneman-Douglas HS. Why wouldn’t we totally scrap Mr. Holder’s program immediately? Here’s a possible reason why it won’t happen:

Any effort by Mrs. DeVos to overhaul the school-discipline directive undoubtedly would unleash a political outcry. “It’s almost a certainty that she will get clobbered by this by the education establishment, and it’s possible she’ll get clobbered about it by media establishment,” said Mr. Eden. “It’s my hope that with enough public debate and awareness, it will become, ‘The guidance tried to address it, it went too far, and we need a more balanced approach.'”

Libertarians like Rand Paul and Kennedy will be upset. Scheming progressives like Eric Holder will threaten lawsuits. Let them file lawsuits, then defend their lawsuits. I can’t wait to hear Democrats explain why thugs like Cruz deserve kid glove treatment while plotting their mass murder raids.

The students that everyone was praising are starting to show their true (progressive) colors. They’re showing that they’re really just pawns of organizations like Moms Demand Action or Everytown.

These students have gone through a ton of stuff that I wish they’d never gone through. That doesn’t mean I should be expected to tolerate their disrespectful actions. The types of things they’ve endured doesn’t mean they get to act like brats.

The bottom line is this: it’s time to fix the Obama administration’s mistakes. Tolerating policies that have gotten students killed isn’t acceptable.

Shortly after Nikolas Cruz’s deadly rampage at the Marjory Stoneman-Douglas HS, the Broward County School Board decided it was going to tell the rest of the nation how to run their schools. In its arrogance, the Broward County School Board got together to lecture America. It isn’t because they’re smarter than us. It isn’t that they’re wiser than the rest of us. It’s because they think they’re entitled to tell us what’s best.

That’s what progressives do.

Something that progressives don’t do is accept responsibility. (See Sheriff Scott Israel.) Days after the slaughter of 17 innocents, Sheriff Israel told CNN’s Jake Tapper that he’d provided “amazing leadership.” Unfortunately, 14 students and 3 teachers were unavailable to respond. It isn’t just that “dead men tell no tales.” It’s that they don’t issue responses to crackpot sheriffs either. But I digress. Let’s return to the geniuses of the Broward County School Board.

After losing 17 students and teachers in a barrage of gunfire, the Broward County school board is livid and demanding an array of nationwide changes. Board members passed a 24-point resolution Tuesday, calling for Congress to ban assault weapons, require universal background checks and broaden the perimeters of school gun-free zones.

How dare these people lecture us on how to protect children in our schools. They don’t know our neighborhoods or students. How would they know what’s best for people half a nation away?

Let’s be straight about something. Let individual school districts determine what’s best for their students. They’re the local experts. It’s time to ignore blowhards like Sen. Bill Nelson:

If pandering was political gold, Sen. Nelson would be a senator for life. Let’s be clear. Sen. Nelson knows that anti-gun rights organizations are paying for the Parkland protests. Why would I listen to Michael Bloomberg or Moms Demand Action?

Rather, I’ll choose to contribute to a local conversation on what’s needed here in St. Cloud.