This article refers to an article by Scott Johnson of Powerline, posted on December, 11, 2015. It’s about an issue of some personal importance to me, and of great importance to us all, though many may not realize its urgency: adolescent violence in the schools. As you read, gentle readers, keep in mind that Powerline’s authors are based in Minnesota, a progressive power center still living the glory days of the 60s.
Public school teachers and their unions are a critical component of the Democrats’ coalition in Minnesota, especially in the Democrats’ urban strongholds. One-party rule is the order of the day in Minneapolis and St. Paul. That would be the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party.
The St. Paul public high schools have encountered serious turbulence following the district’s removal of ‘continual willful disobedience’ from the list of suspendable violations three years ago — in the name of racial equity of course. To quote President Obamas favorite clergyman, ‘the chickens are coming home to roost.
About what is Johnson talking? The St. Paul Schools no longer remove the most disruptive and violent kids, and the worst criminals–they are often one in the same–from the schools. Why? Because too many of them were, and are, black. Since white, Asian and other kids couldn’t be encouraged to misbehave and commit crimes at a higher rate, the St. Paul Schools reacted by eliminating the problem entirely: they elected to ignore the most persistent, worst and most violent black misbehavior and crime.
Violence has become a staple of school life at St. Paul public high schools. Fights among students are commonplace. Teachers have been injured breaking them up. When a loaded gun turned up in the backpack of a student at Harding High School earlier this year (authorities were looking for marijuana they smelled on him), the Pioneer Press and the Star Tribune took a look back at the action. Just to add more spicy to an already spicy story, the 16-year-old student claimed in juvenile court to have found the (stolen) gun lying in the weeds, like Moses.
Uh-huh. In the weeds. And this is an excuse for bringing a gun to school because…? This student and his friends had no cell phones? They couldn’t call the police? They couldn’t have a principal come out of the school to take the gun? They couldn’t call their parents?
St. Paul Schools Superintendent Valeria Silva called a press conference to announce: ‘It’s a pretty sad day for me as a superintendent of St. Paul Public Schools to be standing here and talking about issues of violence’ (KSTP story with Silva press conference below). The days since then have only gotten sadder for Silva.
Silva’s statement alone, gentle readers, should tell you all you need to know about what’s going on in St. Paul. Is there a school, anywhere, free of “issues of violence?” Tragically, even the adults in charge of schools without predominant black violence sometimes refuse to acknowledge the violence, drug use and crime that takes place there. It’s easier to ignore it than to behave like adults and maintain a safe environment conducive to learning. This may sound bizarre, but consider that a great many educators come from progressive backgrounds and hold progressive philosophies. If one understands that such people actually believe that crime is caused by social conditions, which particularly disadvantage minorities, rather than individual choices, it’s easier to understand how easy it is to fail to deal with misbehavior and criminals.
This week a popular teacher at St. Paul’s Central High School was hospitalized with a brain injury that he sustained while trying to break up a fight. He had been choked into unconsciousness in a fight over football statistics. An assistant principal was also injured in the process. A 16-year-old student has been charged with felony assault.
In its story on the incident, the Star Tribune reports that Silva has announced the expulsion of an unnamed student in a letter to teachers. The Star Tribune adds this piquant fact: ‘It would be the first time since Nov. 2009 that the school board has voted to expel a student[.]…District officials did not confirm if the student expelled was the one who brought a loaded gun to St. Paul Harding High School in October. The expulsion was the first to occur under Silva’s watch.’
But at least we’re getting closer to racial equity in school discipline. Zero expulsions in five years is quite an achievement. So how have the past five years gone in the absence of expulsions? This must be a coincidence:
Ramsey County Attorney John Choi revealed data that give a local glimpse, saying his office has seen an alarming increase in cases of student-on-staff school violence. Choi said that the Central case was the 27th presented to his office this year under a gross misdemeanor statute that protects school officials from being assaulted or harmed. Cases have almost doubled in the past year, he said, and are up 60 percent over the previous five-year average.
Gee. What a coincidence. Surely the teachers–who happen to be unionized (surprise!)–want to do something about this? Oh, they do indeed:
St. Paul Federation of Teachers President Denise Rodriguez has a good question. The Star Tribune quotes her: ‘Ask yourself this. Do students and staff deserve to come to work every day and not expect to be assaulted? … Teachers want to know who has our back with this violence.’
Rodriguez has filed a petition for mediation, the predicate to calling a strike. The union’s ideas for mitigating the violence would be about as effectual as Silva herself, to whom the petition comes as a great surprise. The union is ‘calling for restorative justice practices being implemented across the district — a move [Silva] said she does not oppose…’ The Star Tribune summarizes the union’s proposal (more details here):
The teachers union is pitching a proposal to improve school climate by drawing upon the expertise of counselors, social workers, nurses and psychologists, and by putting schools in charge of efforts to turn around problem behavior. The district, eyeing what could be an expensive proposal, instead has offered to convene a committee to study the issue and develop a plan that is financially sustainable.
Do you, gentle readers, get the sense that in the St. Paul Schools, the lunatics are running the asylum?
It is not well appreciated how damaging a single misbehaving student can be. One continually misbehaving student, in one class, even if that student is not violent or malicious, can seriously hamper learning for everyone else, or make it practically impossible. Imagine if that student were violent or malicious…
Any school that does not have serious, fair, systematic and certain disciplinary procedures is not a school. It’s merely a training ground for criminals, and a dangerous, violent daycare for everyone else. Any school where the adults are not unquestionably in control in every way is a disaster.
How can such a thing exist? Progressive thinking. Rational, professional educators understand that kids are kids. If they are allowed to get away with small misbehaviors, they’ll immediately push to larger and more dangerous misbehaviors. If allowed to get away with those, they’ll immediately escalate to crimes. If allowed to get away with those, they’ll escalate to unrestrained violence, and no one will be safe, not students, and particularly not teachers. In such schools, the most deranged, violent, vicious children rule the school by default.
Why would adults allow that to happen? Progressive thinking. Progressives see kids as future progressives. They want to indoctrinate, not teach, them. They want children to be their friends, their comrades, to think they are “cool.” They think that dialogue can solve everything, even with children who cannot understand abstract psychological concepts–essentially everyone under 18.
Such people are particularly vulnerable to racial issues. White guilt is their constant companion. In schools where large black populations commit disciplinary infractions and crimes far out of proportion to their actual numbers, rational educators would be targeting those behaviors and crimes, caring nothing for race except to understand that it would idiotic–and dangerous–not to keep a closer eye on certain black kids that are known to be the most frequent violators. Progressives would consider that approach to be profiling, and would instead seek “restorative justice,” which essentially means allowing the little criminals free reign, unless and until they actually nearly kill a teacher and cause them brain damage. Then public backlash might force them to actually do something about it.
What’s particularly insane about this is that a professional disciplinary policy, carried out without reference to race, eliminates these problems, including serving as a deterrent to most attacks on teachers. It is the misbehavior that is targeted, and race is irrelevant. Where threats and attacks on teachers are involved, students must be immediately suspended and after being afforded due process, expelled for at least one school year. Should students commit crimes in the process of misbehavior, particularly if they should assault a teacher, they must be prosecuted apart from whatever consequences their school levies.
These are kids. If they understand that they can brutalize teachers and suffer little or no consequence, they’ll brutalize teachers when the mood strikes them.
Rational discipline is, fortunately, the default position in most American schools. One would think this the only rational approach. How could anyone think doing otherwise makes any sense? Progressive thinking.
Imagine a school with a black population of 34%. Let us say that black kids commit 63% of all disciplinary infractions at that school, and 72% of all crimes. This, by the way, would not be an unusual statistical distribution. Refining the statistics even more, let’s say that black boys commit 52% of all infractions, and 64% of all crimes.
Progressives viewing these statistics would be struck by the statistical disparity. Obviously, since a relatively small population of black kids–just over 1/3–are committing nearly 2/3 of all disciplinary infractions and nearly ¾ of all crimes, and most of those infractions and crimes are committed by black boys, there are real problems. And what problems will they invariably see? They’ll see bigotry, prejudice, racial profiling, an oppressive system that fails to appreciate and recognize unique black cultural norms. Obviously, the system is racist and designed to deny black children, particularly boys, equal educational opportunity.
Progressives, gentle readers, really do think this way. Because these imaginary kids are black, they are not responsible for their choices. Far less is expected of them than kids of other races. They are presumed unable to control their worst impulses and excused when they don’t.
Does this mean counselors and similar resources are of no use? Of course not, but they must never be used to excuse or rationalize misbehavior or crimes. They are best employed to help misbehaving children learn self-control and to avoid self-destructive behaviors.
And when that fails, the solution is a race-neutral system of discipline focused on inappropriate behaviors and crimes, regardless of who commits them or why. If Johnny does “A,” the consequence for a first offense is “Z.” If Johnny does “A” again, the consequence is “X.” It doesn’t matter who does “A,” or their race or gender, the consequence is the same. One’s background, disabilities, and other issues are topics fit only for mitigation once discipline has been imposed, never as a means to avoid swift and just discipline.
A primary goal of K-12 education is socialization, teaching children how to behave in adult society so that when they join it, they will be able not only to survive, but to thrive. The goal is that they become producers and consumers, not destroyers and parasites, that they be able to participate in a republican democracy.
In St. Paul, and surely in other places, progressivism is producing a generation of destroyers and parasites, people who will forever be dependent on progressive government. That’s the point; willful stupidity for which we will all suffer.