A friend in education sent me a link yesterday to a story about the Minneapolis School District placing a moratorium on all suspensions and expulsions for students of color. The District had been under fire from Federal Department of Education for high rates of minority suspensions and expulsions--so it initially appeared that they simply chose to just stop taking those kids out of classes--regardless of their disruption to others' learning or damage to school property.
But after doing some further reading, I found that the Minneapolis Schools had actually adopted something called the "Model Code on Education and Dignity" from a group called Dignity In Schools. And what is contained in that "code" is enough to scare the pants off many parents.
First off, the Model Code places the blame for high rates of minority suspensions and expulsions on an increasingly common target in education today: white teachers and administrators. The basis for the so-called "discipline gap" is cited as being the same as the cause of the "achievement gap" for minority students--majority-white instructors are "culturally insensitive" to students of color. Minority students cannot be expected to abide by the same standards of behavior as white children--and teachers must learn to accept that--even if it disrupts the learning environment for everyone else in the class.
The Code also demands that inappropriate actions be "decriminalized"--meaning kids that act up should not be singled out for discipline. Instead, the boy who goes around at recess shoving everyone to the ground should not be brought to the principal's office--but instead he and all of his victims should be included in "restorative circles" to discuss all of their actions and the impact they have on one another.
I should also mention that the term "parent" appears a scarce number of times in the Model Code. This is of course, because minority parents have been absolved of any responsibility for their children. Their "job" is done, they have created the "ward of the State"--and now the State must do it's job of raising them (at your expense).
While all of the "feel good, restorative justice" stuff was to be expected, what is scary are the further recommendations in the Model Code that just plain put the lives of other students and adults in schools in jeopardy. Like the recommendation that schools no longer conduct drug searches. Or that kids caught dealing drugs on campus be put into school counseling programs--instead of being referred to police. That all arrests on campus be done only after consultation with the principal (a person with a background in education and administration--not criminal justice and law enforcement). And perhaps most disturbing, the elimination of Police Liason Officers in schools. We wouldn't want to have students of color seeing policemen as someone they can trust--that would ruin the narrative of how all cops are racist and just want to incarcerate or kill young black men.
Now you may think "Who cares, Jonathan, that's the Minneapolis School District." But keep in mind that public education is a copycat industry--and programs adopted in one district become the "hot new trend" at hundreds of other districts--at least until the next "revolution in education" comes along and everything we were doing before gets thrown out the window again (remember "Everyday Math" here in Oshkosh?). A process that works because the customer base is always turning over--and there is no one to question the continuous 180-degree turns. And new standards that require the hiring of more teachers, administrators, para-professionals and the purchase of new technology are especially popular. So we'll let you know when the Model Code of Education and Dignity comes to Oshkosh--providing more cover for adults who refuse to do their jobs as parents.