Racial Identity Policies Are Lowering Student Scores In Edina, MN

The Weekly Standard has published an alarming article on the failures of one of Minnesota public school districts.  A district that was known as “the gold standard among the state’s school districts.”  In 2013 Edina, MN public schools changed its curriculum and began teaching from the “All for All” plan.  A high quality school district is now that is now churning out uneducated students.

The shift began in 2013, when Edina school leaders adopted the “All for All” strategic plan—a sweeping initiative that reordered the district’s mission from academic excellence for all students to “racial equity.”

“Equity” in this context does not mean “equality” or “fairness.” It means racial identity politics—an ideology that blames minority students’ academic challenges on institutional racial bias, repudiates Martin Luther King, Jr.’s color-blind ideal, and focuses on uprooting “white privilege.”

It was not promoting racial harmony but instead trying to show the fictional concept of institutional biases are are keeping minority students at the bottom of the class..

Lens of Radical Equity

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.”

As a result, the school system’s obsession with “white privilege” now begins in kindergarten. At Edina’s Highlands Elementary School, for example, K-2 students participate in the Melanin Project. The children trace their hands, color them to reflect their skin tone, and place the cut-outs on a poster reading, “Stop thinking your skin color is better than anyone elses!-[sic] Everyone is special!”

Highlands Elementary’s new “racially conscious” elementary school principal runs a blog for the school’s community. On it, she approvingly posted pictures of Black Lives Matter propaganda and rainbow gay-pride flags—along with a picture of protesters holding a banner proclaiming “Gay Marriage Is Our Right.” On a more age-appropriate post, she recommended an A-B-C book for small children entitled A is for Activist. (Peruse the book and you find all sorts of solid-gold: “F is for Feminist,” “C is for…Creative Counter to Corporate Vultures,” and “T is for Trans.”)

Some Children Pulled Out Of The Schools

For example, Orlando Flores and his wife pulled their son—an academic superstar—out of Edina High School in his senior year to escape its hyper-political environment.

Flores, who fled a Marxist regime in Nicaragua as a child, had this to say: “Years ago, we fled Communism to escape indoctrination, absolutist thinking and restrictions on our freedom of speech. If we see these traits in our schools in America, we must speak out and oppose it.”

Flores says that when his son was at Edina High, 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.

Dropping Grades

The very demographic group this was suppose to help, their grades have dropped.

Math scores for black students in 11th grade at Edina Senior High dropped from 31 percent proficiency in 2014 to 14.6 percent in 2017. In reading, scores for black students in 10th grade at Edina Senior High dropped from 51.7 percent proficiency in 2014 to 40 percent in 2017.

Chicago

Last year in a Chicago school.

In a Chicago school this past April, one kindergartener fretted to a friend that he wouldn’t be able to get to his spare underpants if he had an accident. Why? Staff at the prestigious, private Catherine Cook School had opted to deny five- and six-year-olds access to their cubbies in order to school them on discrimination.

If one student did this to another, we would rightly call it bullying. But what do we call it when educators do it? ..

At the Catherine Cook School, kindergarten teachers each week send updates to their “Happy Puppy Families” to keep parents abreast of the goings-on in their child’s classroom. (“Happy Puppies” is the school’s nickname for the students.)  [A school should NOT call students by the nickname “Happy Puppies”  that is degrading!] AEI

Problems With These Programs

Instead of interacting with students in a manner that  shows respect and dignity; teaching an educational curriculum, exposure to different views, and expanding student potential these programs harm students and teach racism.

Research justifying the kind of instruction taking place at Catherine Cook is wafer-thin. The bulk of relevant scholarship is far removed from the classroom, focusing on attempts to measure individuals’ level of racial prejudice or bias and ways to reduce or eliminate observed bias in laboratory or controlled training environments…

As for the actual effect of “prejudice-reducing” programs such as those attempted at Catherine Cook, the simple fact is that most have never been experimentally evaluated. As a seminal 2009 study in the Annual Review of Psychology noted, “Although antibias, multicultural, and moral education are popular approaches, they have not been examined with a great deal of rigor, and many applications are theoretically ungrounded.”

Some of what we do know about promoting racial tolerance raises disconcerting questions about what transpired at Catherine Cook. One review of more than 500 studies on racial and ethnic interactions found, for instance, that the benefits from those interactions are conditional on the presence of positive forces, such as common goals, a sense of cooperation, and equal status, and vanish when individuals become anxious or nervous about cross-group interactions. The result? Efforts to combat bias, ineptly handled, can actually magnify racial tensions and conflict. In the hands of kindergarten teachers asked to haphazardly tackle sensitive instruction in between explaining shapes and reading stories, well-intended lessons might do more harm than good. AEI

The articles are worth the read.

Weekly Standard – Inside a Public School Social Justice Factory
[A longer version of this article appears in the fall 2017 issue of ‘Thinking Minnesota,’ a publication of the Center of the American Experiment.]

Thinking Minnesota: Issue 9, Fall 2017 is available as a pdf or can be read in your browser.

AEI –  Classes of kindergarteners