One of the weirder aspects of our never-ending War to Sniff Out Racists is that many of the accused witches are nice liberal anti-racists themselves. For example, what percentage of Minneapolis-St. Paul public schoolteachers voted for Obama? Maybe 75%, right?
Well, they still smell racist. Just look at 'em. And we can prove they're evil because Data.
Thus, the big front page package on Sunday's Minneapolis Star-Tribune:
Article by: JEFFREY MEITRODT
Star Tribune Updated: December 15, 2013 - 9:25 PM
The little yellow buses line up every morning outside Harrison Education Center in north Minneapolis, discharging dozens of teenagers to a high school no parents choose for their child.
Classrooms are kept locked at all times. Fights and suspensions are common. No one has graduated in a couple of years.
The school is where Minneapolis sends special education students with the worst behavior problems, kids who typically failed everywhere else they went.
Administrators say the high school is supposed to be a temporary stop for students to learn self-control before going back to a less restrictive setting.
But few ever leave. And nearly 90 percent of the students are black.
Discrimination in the way students are labeled and disciplined has plagued special education across the country for decades, but a Star Tribune review of state and federal enrollment records shows that the problem is especially acute in Minnesota. ...
Similarly, black students account for 13 percent of special-ed enrollment but more than 40 percent of discipline measures.
Minneapolis and St. Paul have been cited twice by state officials for suspending or expelling a disproportionate number of disabled black students since the state started tracking such data in 2009.
The federal Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights is investigating Minneapolis’ discipline record.
“This is at a crisis level,” said Liz Keenan, who oversees special education programs in St. Paul. “We can’t keep ignoring the fact that racially driven practices are occurring every day in school systems that are not benefiting our kids of color. … We can’t keep saying we didn’t know when we have the data right in front of us.” ...
In Minnesota, she said, mostly white educators decide who has a disorder and who doesn’t. ...
St. Paul administrators have decided to confront the problem, and this fall, the district moved about 270 EBD [Emotional or Behavioral Disturbance] children out of their self-contained “learning centers” and into mainstream classes. The move affected 19 schools across the district, including seven elementary schools.
That change in approach came after the district slashed suspensions of black students by 25 percent last year, well above its target of 10 percent, said Michelle Walker, CEO of St. Paul schools. Walker said the key was holding teachers and other school workers accountable for “their role in escalating the incident.” ...
But the approach has polarized the district, leaving many teachers unhappy. They say the switch has compromised the quality of instruction and jeopardized the safety of students and staff members.
“I have never been assaulted more in my entire career,” said one St. Paul teacher, who joined colleagues to protest the switch at a union meeting.
Teachers at Hamline Elementary cite problems: A first-grader was slapped in the face by a newly mainstreamed EBD student; a disabled kindergartner took advantage of looser controls and ran away; nearly half of students in one class are EBD, causing frequent disruptions.
Craig Anderson, Hamline’s principal, acknowledged the transition has been rough. He said it was too ambitious to think that every EBD student could handle a mainstream class all the time, and he agreed it was a mistake to put 11 kids with behavioral problems in a fifth-grade classroom.
But he said his teachers, and most of his students, are making the adjustment. “This is the right thing to do. The kids are proving time and again that they can do it.”
The transition dominated a St. Paul school board meeting in early December. Several board members said they had been inundated with calls and e-mails from teachers questioning the new approach.
Board Member John Brodrick, a former teacher, said his impression was that moving so many EBD children into mainstream classes “is not working.”
Administrators refused to back down, noting that 80 percent of the children who made the switch have been able to spend most of their time in the classroom.
“The adults are the ones who are struggling,” not the kids, Frost Lake Principal Stacey Kadrmas said. ...
Federal officials first notified Minnesota about that issue in 2010, concluding that the state’s ratio for defining unequal treatment was “too high.” At the time, a school district could face consequences only if minorities were disciplined five times as often as whites or dominated a disability category, such as EBD, by a ratio of 5-1. Under Minnesota’s rules, a district also has to be cited three years in a row and must have practices that caused the problem.
Minnesota lowered its ratio to 4-1 in 2011. That remains among the highest thresholds in the country, according to a report this year from the Government Accountability Office. At least six other states use a similar ratio.
By contrast, Louisiana regulators require action when racial groups are identified for special education at twice the rate of other students in any given year. They recently demanded changes in 73 school districts, according to the GAO.
You know, maybe there's a difference between white people in Lake Wobegon and white people in Louisiana? At least that's my impression from listening to Prairie Home Companion and Born on the Bayou. (Yes, I know CCR was from the San Francisco Bay.)