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According to this AP article, the DFL’s investigation (I use that term loosely) into Keith Ellison’s alleged domestic abuse is drawing to a close. What that investigation will find is anyone’s guess.

According to the article, “The longtime Minnesota congressman and Democratic National Committee deputy chairman has called the allegations false and tried to ride out the storm of questions after winning the Aug. 14 primary. But the old sexual assault allegations that have thrown Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination in doubt have renewed focus on Ellison and a six-week old investigation into his conduct that has shown few outward signs of progress.”

Ken Martin, the chairman of the Minnesota DFL (Democratic-Farmer-Labor) party is getting frustrated:

Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party Chairman Ken Martin said he believes the investigation has concluded and that a final report should be issued in the coming days. “I’m starting to get a little frustrated because it’s been a long time now, almost two months,” he said. “I hope soon. I hope any day here.”

That won’t happen after Karen Monahan’s Twitter rampage last night:


That’s just one of her tweets. Here’s another:


Then there’s this:


Based on this new information, I’m skeptical that the investigation is finished. I suspect this is just getting restarted. If these types of tweets keep coming out, the DFL won’t have a choice but to throw Ellison under the #MeToo bus.

I first wrote about Dan Wolgamott’s LTE in this post. I noted at the time that Wolgamott whined that “our current elected officials aren’t making our kids a priority. We’ve seen the same story play out too many times in our schools: budget deficits that lead to increased class sizes, fewer opportunities for our kids than we had, and when budget deficits get too large, a referendum for a higher local levy. Lily and all of her classmates deserve an outstanding education and a chance to succeed! If we want Minnesota to continue to be a leader, we have to do better, and the Republican-led Legislature needs to step up and adequately fund our schools.”

The problem with that statement is that it’s rubbish. It was a prediction based on Wolgamott’s partisan bias. The truth is that Republicans stepped up and funded education. The bill they passed and sent to Gov. Dayton’s desk would’ve spent $90,000,000 more than Gov. Dayton requested.

The problem? In another of Gov. Dayton’s infamous temper tantrums, Gov. Dayton vetoed the bill. In his LTE, Wolgamott said that if “we want Minnesota to continue to be a leader, we have to do better, and the Republican-led Legislature needs to step up and adequately fund our schools.” Actually, what’s needed is to elect a Republican as governor and never let another spoiled brat DFL politician in as governor. Gov. Dayton was a 2-term failure. He fought with the DFL Senate Leader in 2014. He shut down government in 2011 because he didn’t get everything he wanted. That sounds familiar:

In 2015, Speaker Daudt and Sen. Bakk tried negotiating a bipartisan budget bill. After a week of negotiating, they still hadn’t reached an agreement with Gov. Dayton so they decided to negotiate between themselves. An hour later, they’d reached an agreement. Once again, Gov. Dayton was the impediment.

During his watch, Gov. Dayton watched the MNLARS project fail repeatedly. Further, Gov. Dayton didn’t catch the child care fraud even though a whistleblower told them about it in 2014. Finally, Gov. Dayton didn’t notice the elder abuse scandal. That didn’t get his attention until Republican Sen. Karin Housley started investigating.

In summation, Wolgamott is a blowhard. He accused Republicans of not stepping up for ‘the children’, only to watch Gov. Dayton not step up for the children. We don’t need partisans like Wolgamott in the legislature. We need solutions-oriented men like Jim Knoblach in there. Chairman Knoblach has a history of putting solid, bipartisan budgets together.

Doug Schoen’s op-ed in the Hill explains why Democrats just can’t win for losing. In his op-ed, Schoen wrote “Despite this, the Republicans steadily made ground in the six months leading up to the 1994 midterm elections, all the while promoting their set of alternative policies, famously titled the ‘Contract with America,’ and eventually winning the actual vote by 7 points nationally. Thus, while the minority party would suffer setbacks and trail in the generic ballot from time to time, a persuasive plan for governing, focused on detailed and moderate policy ideas, compelled voters to flip the House by a landslide.”

After Trump’s victory, the Democrats were so upset that they started “The Resistance.” The end result of the Resistance is the Democrats’ inability to agree with President Trump on anything. When President Trump says that the sun rises in the east, Democrats feel compelled to say something like ‘Trump isn’t an expert. He should consult with a scientist.’ The point is that sometimes they’ll just say he’s wrong, sometimes they’ll just question him.

At no time have they offered fresh ideas.

Next, Schoen highlighted the Republicans’ strategy in 2010:

Once again, it is important to point out that the Republicans were only as successful as they were in 2010, flipping 63 seats, because they presented a compelling and effective alternative to Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic leadership at that time. The Republicans clearly articulated to voters what they intended to accomplish.

Instead of offering fresh ideas, Democrats are left to this pandering:

Teacher pay might or might not be enough. What’s certain is that the ratio of administrators to teachers keeps increasing. At the rate that ratio keeps increasing, administrators will outnumber faculty within the next few years. With so many federal regulations in place, the administrators are required to administer each program.

If Democrats wanted to raise teacher pay and provide better learning experiences, they’d offer reforms rather than pander to the special interests. If Democrats broke free of these special interests, they might actually offer a compelling solution, which would help them win voters’ trust. Because they won’t (and haven’t) done that, everyone loses.

The reason why tax cuts are popular is because people are tired of feeling like ATMs. Each week, people feel like the Democrats’ special interest groups have thought of another way to spend our money. The people have noticed that the Democrats’ special interest groups haven’t thought of ways to save money or make things better.

The GOP has its faults but it’ll never be accused of not coming up with fresh ideas. That’s why Republicans are well-positioned to buck history this year.

UPDATE: Jeff at LidBlog has a great post on the disappearing blue wave that’s today’s must-read. Jeff’s advice is the right advice at the moment:

While the political news is good for the GOP, now is the time for us to be increasing our efforts at turning out conservative voters and making sure our message of personal and economic freedom is getting out to the average, middle-of-the-road voter. Encourage your fellow conservatives to be more active in their work, and to be reminding their friends and families about the importance of staying involved and voting for suitable candidates. Let’s not allow the Democrats to slow down our string of economic, political, and foreign policy victories… get out there and make sure that Republicans hold on to the House and maybe even grow their lead in the Senate!

I have 1 slight quibble with Jeff. If GOP activists do their job, we’ll definitely expand the GOP majority in the Senate. Finally, it’s worth noting that the RNC has invested a ton of $$$ in GOTV infrastructure. It isn’t the sexiest topic with journalists — until it produces great results.

While reading through this MPR article, I discovered a provocative insight into Gov. Dayton’s thinking. Specifically, I’m talking about when he said “Divided government has not worked well for Minnesota over the last eight years but it has worked better than it did this time.”

This puts the final piece of the puzzle in place to figuring out (to the best that’s possible) Gov. Dayton’s thinking and attitude. Consider these things:

  • In 3 of the 4 budget years, Gov. Dayton either shut government down or pushed things to a special session.
  • In 2015, Sen. Bakk and Speaker Daudt spent an entire week negotiating with Gov. Dayton on a budget agreement without success. After their Friday meeting with Gov. Dayton, they took it upon themselves to fashion a bipartisan budget agreement. An hour later, they’d reached agreement.
  • This year, Gov. Dayton vetoed a standalone bill because it wasn’t part of a bigger bill.
  • Gov. Dayton vetoed other bills because they were too big.
  • Gov. Dayton vetoed a spending bill, saying it didn’t have new money in it even though it had new money in it.

These aren’t the actions of a rational man. They’re either the actions of a man that’s falling apart or the actions of a man who’s playing political games with people’s lives.

It’s impossible to deal with irrational people like this. It’s like trying to predict the flight pattern of butterflies. It’s just simply impossible. These are the people who will get hurt thanks to Gov. Dayton’s irrational vetoes:

Gov. Dayton accused Republicans of putting together bad bills for their campaigns. Sen. Gazelka quickly shot that accusation down:

“Everywhere we turn, somebody is impacted, because in the end we are too stubborn to give in,” said Gazelka, R-Nisswa. It’s unfair, he added, to say Republicans are only interested in their campaigns for re-election, particularly in the Senate, where members are not on the ballot this year. “It feels impulsive, it feels vindictive and it didn’t help anybody in Minnesota,” he said of the vetoes. “I don’t know where we go from here.”

Gov. Dayton made that accusation to put the blame anywhere except on him. Like Gov. Dayton, the accusation is the product of Gov. Dayton’s impulses and his dishonesty.

The budget bill would have used money from the state surplus to help boost school security, take steps to attack the opioid epidemic, begin addressing problems with the elder care system and more. The tax bill authorized $225 million in spending for schools meant to avert layoffs and program cuts in some districts, but Dayton had called it “fake,” because only $50 million of it was new money.

What a blithering idiot. I’m betting those parents and students don’t care whether the money is new or tapped from reserves. They care whether they’ll be safe next fall.

This is another situation where Gov. Dayton insisted on something, then vetoed the legislation whether it took care of the people’s needs. If it met the people’s needs but not his demandments, it got vetoed. Wasn’t the biggest requirement of the job to make the people’s lives better? I don’t recall it being that important to make the politicians happy.

We haven’t gotten to the campaign yet and I’m already tired of his whining. In this LTE, Wolgamott essentially whines about the tough job of governing, saying “But unfortunately, our current elected officials aren’t making our kids a priority. We’ve seen the same story play out too many times in our schools: budget deficits that lead to increased class sizes, fewer opportunities for our kids than we had, and when budget deficits get too large, a referendum for a higher local levy. Lily and all of her classmates deserve an outstanding education and a chance to succeed! If we want Minnesota to continue to be a leader, we have to do better, and the Republican-led Legislature needs to step up and adequately fund our schools.”

First, the only thing that Minnesota is a leader in is having people leave the state for other destinations. The state demographer verifies that. So does the IRS. Next, liberal-infested school boards are to blame for this manufactured crisis. We’re told that 59 school districts are running deficits. Then we’re told that 10 percent per biennium spending increases aren’t enough. When’s the last time you got a 10% increase in your wage over 2 years and it wasn’t enough? Third, Mr. Wolgamott, what’s your definition of ‘adequately funding our schools’? Is there a definition? I suspect there isn’t.

But even with a budget surplus, Republicans in the legislature, including Rep. Jim Knoblach, are refusing to support the Emergency School Aid proposal. Some even questioned whether there is an emergency or need for the funding. Politicians are continuing to shortchange our schools just to put corporations and the wealthy first. That’s just not right, and it’s not fair to our children.

I’m tired of the DFL’s lying about Republicans shortchanging kids so they can “put corporations and the wealthy first.” It’s an outright lie. First, Republicans are willing to work with Gov. Dayton on addressing the needs of the 59 districts. They just aren’t willing to add 2% to the K-12 spending formula, which helps schools running surpluses and those running deficits. Instead, Gov. Dayton is insisting on his way only. That isn’t negotiating. That’s what autocrats do.

Next, it’s worth noting that Mr. Wolgamott intentionally omitted the part about a GOP counteroffer. Why? It’s impossible to climb inside a mind like Wolgamott’s but I suspect it’s because he wants to create the impression that Republicans simply don’t care about education. Anyone that works that hard at creating the impression that Republicans don’t care isn’t the type of guy that’d bring people together. I don’t have to question whether Jim Knoblach can bring people together. I’ve seen him do it. I must question Wolgamott on bringing people together because all I’ve got to go on is his claim that he’ll bring people together. That isn’t much to go on with someone as deceptive as he is.

Ensuring all of our children have access to a great education is critical for the future of our state. It’s the key to good jobs and a great economy, and making sure our kids can live a better life than their parents. It’s time for leaders from both parties to work together and pass this Emergency School Aid. And if they won’t, let’s replace them with people who will put our kids first.

What Mr. Wolgamott didn’t say in that paragraph is that Minnesota also needs competitive tax rates and fewer regulations to create jobs and a bright future. Apparently, Wolgamott hasn’t figured it out that people from each age group and each income group are leaving Minnesota because Minnesota just isn’t the desirable state to live in anymore thanks to the DFL’s policies.

We’ve had divided government, in which case the DFL won the budget fight. We’ve had unified DFL government, which resulted in the DFL winning the budget fight. What we haven’t had is unified Republican government. What we know is that Gov. Dayton and the Metrocrats have spent tons of money on Twin Cities things while ignoring rural Minnesota. That’s why voters threw out DFL legislators and gave the legislative keys to Republicans.

That’s pretty astonishing considering the fact that Gov. Dayton repeatedly told voters that he wanted DFL majorities in the House and Senate in 2017. Instead, voters gave him Republican majorities in the House and Senate in 2017. They know the Dayton plan isn’t working. What’s most needed is competence, something that’s been lacking in the governor’s mansion the past 8 years. Think MNLARS, MNsure, the nursing home crisis and the child care fraud scandal.

It’s safe to say that Bruce Hentges’ attempt to bully John Palmer backfired. In the interest of full disclosure, Dr. Palmer has been a friend of mine for quite some time, meaning I’m quite biased. Nonetheless, I’m confident that I can make a compelling case proving my opening statement.

This got started when Mr. Hentges sent this email to Dr. Palmer, Willie Jett, Al Dahlgren and Stephanie Dickrell. Jett is the superintendent of schools in ISD 742. Mr. Dahlgren is the chairman of the ISD 742 School Board. Ms. Dickrell is a reporter for the St. Cloud Times. Ms. Dickrell covers the education beat in St. Cloud.

(Click to enlarge.)

The final paragraph is where Mr. Hentges gets himself in trouble. That’s where he said “If you ever decide to focus on the necessity of providing adequate funding to educate ALL children, I’ll be with you. Until then, I must say that I am diametrically opposed to your message and request that you not mention my name again in any way, at any-time, in relation to your ’cause’.”

Here’s how Dr. Palmer responded:

The key paragraph in Dr. Palmer’s email comes when he said “I am glad you believe we should educate “All of God’s Children who reside in the district. Does that mean you support vouchers and charter schools? These children who attend charter and private schools also reside in the district and family wealth should not restrict school access to the best education for each individual student. Children have diverse needs and need diverse options.”

Of course, Mr. Hentges doesn’t support giving parents additional options. He’s long believed that the money should go to the school, not the student. Finally, Dr. Palmer said “Finally, after your and the full school boards silencing me last Thursday night, it is simply outrageous that you are trying to restrict my First Amendment rights. I will continue to do the right things for the right reasons and use my research and scholarship talents to shed light on important topics in a fair and unbiased basis.”

It isn’t coincidence that Hentges cc’ed the Times education beat reporter on this email. The School Board hasn’t tried to be accountable in recent years. The Times called them out for not holding enough listening sessions after the initial bonding referendum was defeated.

The incident Dr. Palmer is talking about happened when he tried to speak at the last School Board meeting. He was invited to the meeting to talk about the Minnesota Department of Human Rights, aka MDHR.. At the actual meeting, though, they didn’t invite Dr. Palmer to speak.

The School Board and the City Council have become deaf to anyone who isn’t part of their clique. They represent the people. They represent the special interests. Thankfully, Dr. Palmer is highlighting their excesses.

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In April, 2013, then-Speaker Paul Thissen issued this statement bragging about their “historic investment in education.” Back then, Thissen wrote “We’re making 2013 the ‘education session’ because we know that a world-class education system is the gateway to a world-class economy. The House DFL budget keeps our promise to Minnesotans by paying back the $850 million owed to our schools while investing in our future and putting our kids on the path to the world’s best workforce.”

That’s when the DFL was strutting, telling whoever would listen that they’d finally straightened out Minnesota’s budget, which they blamed on Minnesota Republicans. A year after that, I wrote this post about the St. Cloud School Board and the Princeton School Board raising property taxes. In Thissen’s statement in 2013, he predicted that the DFL’s “education budget’ would ‘reduce property taxes.'”

Apparently, math wasn’t Thissen’s specialty:

St. Cloud school district has imposed its largest tax levy increase in six years for 2015. The district’s property-tax levy will increase by $3.3 million, or 14.75 percent, to nearly $26 million. The school board voted unanimously Thursday night to approve the 2015 levy. District officials say the increase is needed to pay for a spate of improvements to facilities.

That property tax increase was preceded by Princeton’s property tax increase:

The Princeton School Board, in a split vote on Dec. 16, increased the school district tax levy by 25.16 percent for taxes payable 2015 to fund the 2015-16 school year. This was a departure from the board’s originally proposed 33.87 percent hike. The total levy will be a little more than $6.091 million, a $300,000 increase over this year’s levy. The original proposal would have increased the levy $724,000.

You’re likely wondering where I’m going with this. Here’s where I’m heading with this:

Gov. Mark Dayton is calling for $138 million in emergency funding for Minnesota schools as districts across the state grapple with budget shortfalls. Dayton unveiled his request to lawmakers Tuesday as the Legislature heads toward a mandatory May 22 adjournment. The Democratic governor’s proposal would increase the state’s per-pupil funding formula by 2 percent.

How is this possible? The DFL told us that they’d made an historic investment in education. Less than a year later, people were getting hit with gigantic property tax hits. Question: how historic could the investment be if it disappeared less than a year later?


Let’s be blunt. The DFL’s ‘investment’ did nothing except encourage school districts to spend like drunken sailors. The lesson to be learned from this is that raising taxes and spending only leads to increased taxes and increased reckless spending.

Follow the money—again!!
Written by Rambling Rose

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the investment (current years/dollars as reported) in K-12 education with state and federal tax dollars:

Total expenditures for public elementary and secondary schools in the United States in 2013–14 amounted to $634 billion, or $12,509 per public school student enrolled in the fall (in constant 2015–16 dollars).

One would expect good returns on such investments, but the 2017 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), known as The Nation’s Report Card, released earlier in April, gives the nation’s schools a failing grade. Only 37% of the high school seniors tested as proficient or better in reading, and only 25% in math. Among the black students, the results were even lower: 17% proficient or better in reading, 7% ‘at least proficient’ in math.

It gets worse. Nationally, the graduation rate is over 80%. That means that the high school diploma has lost its meaning. With the high school diploma in hand, 63% of the graduates are declared proficient in reading at the 12th grade level when the test scores reveal the opposite. Likewise, 75% of high school graduates are deemed proficient in math skills when they are not. For black students, the numbers are even lower as noted by the test scores in the previous paragraph.

What does that diploma certify? Attendance? Are those young people ready to continue their postsecondary education?

Apparently. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that “70 percent of white high school graduates in 2016 enrolled in college, and 58 percent of black high school graduates enrolled in college.” Studies report that two-thirds of community college students enroll in at least one remedial course as do 40% of those in a four-year institution. Many universities hire special tutors to assist their athletes, many who read at the fourth- to eighth-grade levels.

College professors admit that they have had to “dumb down their classes” in order to teach their inadequately-prepared students. Others have removed the analytical components of the programs. Majors have become “studies” with the emphasis on social issues. Sadly, the cycle continues. Many of the least prepared enter education, as revealed by their intended majors reported by SAT scores—26th of 38 options.

The executive director of the Council of Chief State School Officers, the organization that represents every state’s top education official, Carissa Moffat Miller, stated “Today’s release of The Nation’s Report Card confirms that there is still much work to be done to close achievement gaps and ensure that our young people are ready for success in college, careers and life.”

Yes, there is much work to be done—by teachers, administrators, politicians, students and PARENTS. Parental involvement and schools with a focus on academics and not ‘justice’ issues would be a start.

It appears that dollars alone are not the answer.

What wasn’t written in Kathy Kersten’s latest article on Minnesota education is that the principles of implicit bias and restorative justice are destroying what’s left of education in Minnesota.

First, the article talks about how “MDHR also announced the filing of ‘charges’ of ‘educational discrimination’ against the St. Louis Park School District and Walker-Hackensack-Akeley School District. Apparently, these two districts declined sufficiently to bend to the department’s will, though a St. Louis Park school official told MinnPost that the district is, in fact, ‘seeking to enter into an agreement’ with the department.”

What’s particularly frightening is the fact that school districts that don’t heed the MDHR’s threats are faced “with a choice: enter into an agreement with the department to come up with a plan to address [discipline] disparities, or face litigation.” In other words, do it our way or we’ll destroy you with expensive litigation. The DFL hasn’t explained how that isn’t oppressive. The DFL hasn’t explained why these threats of intimidation and financial ruin aren’t based on official complaints instead of statistical disparities.

For districts and charters that have chosen to enter into a collaborative agreement with the Department, all have submitted three-year plans that outline the specific strategies they’ll be implementing. These strategies include a broad range of things like professional development trainings to help educators address the “implicit bias that influences perceptions of student behavior” and ways to increase student and community engagement.

This is insane. How can you fight something that exists only in the minds of the most whacked-out liberals? Let’s see if you can spot the flawed thinking in the opening paragraph of this article:

Ten Minnesota school districts and charter schools have reached a pact with the state Department of Human Rights to fix racial disparities in student discipline.

I’m betting everyone reading that noticed the flawed thinking that deals with discipline disparities, not behavioral disparities. Next, notice Commissioner Lindsey’s statement:

“I’m encouraged. There was some good ideas that came out of the conversations with the school districts and charter schools. They are going to drive change and we will see positive results in Minnesota because of their efforts.”

Next, check out this sentence:

State leaders say the discipline disparities amount to human rights violations.

Commissioner Lindsey didn’t define what is acceptable or unacceptable behavior. Until that’s defined, his declarations are subjective. Next, check out this video on implicit bias:

How many people think that “for like 75% of white Americans, it’s hard to put black and good together”? I don’t buy that for a split-second. I know that’s a phony ‘statistic.’ This isn’t the way to achieve justice. FYI- the definition of justice is “the quality of being just; righteousness, equitableness, or moral rightness.” Righteousness isn’t situation-based. It’s defined by the Word of God, who is never-changing.

Just like other progressive social experiments, restorative justice and implicit bias will fail. The only question left is how much society will be harmed.

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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?