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ANOTHER FAILURE After string of IT disasters, have state

TO LAUNCH? agencies learned any lessons?

ISSUE 9
FALL 2017
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WHOSE VALUES? Educational excellence threatened


THINKING MINNESOTA FALL 2017
by ideology
in Edina schools
WHOSE
VALUES?
Educational excellence threatened by ideology
in Edina schools.
26 FALL 2017 THINKING MINNESOTA
T
en years ago the Edina stick it out until they can afford to retire.
Public Schools (EPS) were Meanwhile, high school students in a
an academic showplacea number of other districts are performing
crown jewel among Min- significantly better. At Wayzata High
nesota school districts. School, for example, reading and math
Parents who moved to proficiency are 85 percent and 77 per-
Edina were happy to pay a premium
for a house, knowing it bought their
kids access to the districts renowned
schools. Students from other districts
might roll their eyes at the Edina Hor-
nets affluencebranding them cake-
eatersbut they had to acknowledge
their academic success. The Edina districts
Today, the Edina districts test scores unrelenting focus on skin
are dropping. In 2014, 86 percent of
Edina High School (EHS) students met color is the leading edge
state reading standards; today its 79 per- of a larger ideological
cent. In 2014, 79 percent of high school campaign to shape
students were doing grade-level work in
math; today its only 66 percent. In other students attitudes and
words, one in five Edina High School beliefs on a range of
students now cant read at grade level,
and one-third cant do grade-level math.
controversial issuesmost
These test results dropped EHSs importantly, the familiar
ranking among Minnesota high schools litany of race, class,
from fifth to 29th in reading proficiency
and from 10th to 40th in math proficiency, gender. Meanwhile,
according to Minnesota Department ordinary students are
of Education data. This reveals a more too often falling through
substantial decline than the high school
rankings U.S. News & World Report the cracks and gifted
publishes annually, which show EHS education is languishing.
dropping from first place in 2014 to
fourth place today.
In the district as a whole, about 30 per-
cent of kids are not on track for success cent, respectively. At Orono High School,
in reading, and the same goes for math. the figures are 85 percent and 73 percent.
Many parents are frustrated, and there Most impressive may be Eastview
are reports of families leaving the district. Senior High School in Rosemount-Apple
Some teachers say an increasing number Valley-Eagan. At Eastview, 82 percent of
By of their colleagues are grimly trying to students are reading at grade level and 83

Katherine
Kersten Katherine Kersten, a writer and attorney, is a Senior Policy
Fellow at Center of the American Experiment. She served as a
Metro columnist for the Star Tribune from 2005 to 2008, and as
an opinion columnist for the paper for 15 years between 1996
and 2013. She was a founding director of the Center, and served
as its chair from 1996 to 1998.

THINKING MINNESOTA FALL 2017 27


percent are doing grade-level math. Sig-
nificantly, Eastview has a much larger
percentage of minority and low-income
students than Edina: 32 percent minority
and 17 percent low-income, compared
to Edinas 24 percent minority and 9
percent low-income.
Whats happened to the Edina
schools? A variety of factors may be
at work, but one thing is clear: Theres
been a sea change in educational phi-
losophy, and it comes from the top.
Instead of giving Edina students the
intellectual tools necessary to thrive in
the 21st century, Edina public school
leaders are increasingly using limited
school time to indoctrinate students in
left-wing political orthodoxies.
Today, for example, K-2 students at
Edina Highlands Elementary School are
learningthrough the Melanin Proj-
ectto focus on skin color and to think [Principal Katie] Mahoney uses Highlands social
of white skin as cause for guilt. Equity mediaincluding her equity corner on the schools
is listed as a primary criterion on the Wonder blogto promote a range of left-wing
districts evaluation for K-5 math curri-
cula. At Edina High School, teachers are ideological propaganda. One such resource, typical
haranguing students on White Privi- of the rest, is an A-B-C book for kids entitled A is for
lege, and drilling into them that white
males oppress and endanger women. In
Activist. Its pages feature texts like the following: A is
a U.S. Literature and Composition class, for Activist... Are you An Activist? C is for... Creative
11th-graders are being taught to apply Counter to Corporate vultures. F is for Feminist. T
marxist [sic], feminist and post-colo-
nial lenses to literature. is for Trans. X is for Malcolm As in Malcolm X.
In short, in Edina, reading, writing,
math and critical thinking skills are tak-
ing a backseat to an ideological crusade.
A veteran teacher sums it up this way: on skin color is the leading edge of a The districts new superintendent,
In the last few years, the EPS admin- larger ideological campaign to shape John Schultz, appears oblivious to the
istration has shifted from a focus on students attitudes and beliefs on a range real state of affairs. I have always
excellence for all students to a focus on of controversial issuesmost impor- known Edina to be a high-quality,
equity racial equity, that is. tantly, the familiar litany of race, class, destination school district, he told the
In education-ese, equity doesnt gender. Meanwhile, ordinary students Edina Sun Current in August. This has
have its common-sense meaning of are too often falling through the cracks become even more clear to me since
equal treatment for all. On the contrary, and gifted education is languishing. taking over leadership in July [2017].
it signals an obsession with white privi- Edina district leaders, however, show Though a growing number of parents,
lege, and an effort to blame any aca- little concern about falling scores or the students and teachers are angry and frus-
demic challenge that minority students increasing role of indoctrination in the trated about recent developments, they
may have on institutional racial bias. classroom. In fact, the Edina School hesitate to protest publicly. Students
Equity, understood as equal treatment, is Board voted unanimously on August and parents fear bullying and retalia-
a standard with universal support. But as 14, 2017, to authorize an election on tion in terms of grades and classroom
a mask for racial identity politics, it can November 7 to seek a hefty increase humiliation. Teachers who dont toe
undermine a school districts fundamen- in Edinas school levy. Residents can the orthodox line fear ostracism and a
tal educational mission. expect those funds to be used to double tainted career. The climate of intimida-
The Edina districts unrelenting focus down on the status quo. tion is so intense that not one of those

28 FALL 2017 THINKING MINNESOTA


interviewed for this article would speak math and science to transforming society. diversities. (Translation: Schools
on the record. To achieve this ambitious goal, the All must teach students that their
for All plan mandated a shift in how all personal identity is irrevocably
The dramatic shift district employees approach their work. linked to the color of their skin.
The dramatic shift in focus at EPS first Going forward, the Edina Public Schools What would Dr. Martin Luther
came to the attention of Center of the must view all teaching and learning King, Jr., say?);
American Experiment when we learned experiences through a lens of racial eq-
of the partisan circus at Edina High uity, according to the districts position A comprehensive program of co-
School that followed the November 2016 statement on equity. and extracurricular activities to
presidential election. After we exposed In line with this new mission, the dis- promote district leaders race-based
this on our web site, numerous Edina par- trict has adopted the following policies, vision; and
ents and students contacted us by email among others:
and Facebook and on our web site, eager A concerted outreach to parents and
to relate their own stories of indoctrina- A commitment to recruit, families with a focus on race, lower
tion and persecution. hire and retain high-quality, socio-economic status and cultural
We quickly discovered that the crisis racially conscious teachers and diversity.
at EPS goes much deeper than we had administrators (emphasis added);
suspected. In sum, the All for All plan seeks to
The Edina schools have embraced an A policy of ensuring that students groom students, parents and teachers to
ideologically-tinged focus on issues of acquire an awareness of their be agents of social change.
racial identity for some time. However, in own cultural identity and value Four years later, the results are in.
2012, that emphasis ramped up big-time, racial, cultural and ethnic
when the district launched a Strategic Cornelia
Planning and Revision process to address Elementary School
the racial achievement gap. (In Edina, a Cornelia Elementary
large gap exists between white students School, K-5, has one
academic performance and of the districts largest
that of black and Hispanic populations of elemen-
students, on average, while tary-aged minority and
Asian students, on average, low-income students. Its
do better than white students student body is 53 percent
in both reading and math.) white, 24 percent Asian,
The result was an initiative 9 percent Hispanic, 9
called the All for All plan, percent black, 20 percent
adopted in 2013. low-income and 18
The All for All plans fun- percent English Lan-
damental premise is that white guage Learner (ELL). If
racismnot socio-economic a race-based approach
factors like family break- to education benefits
downis the primary minority studentsas
cause of the achievement its advocates maintain
gap. If minority students Cornelia should be among the schools
academic performance is to seeing the greatest gains. Unfortunate-
improve, systems that per- ly, the opposite is true.
petuate inequities must be Cornelias principal, Lisa Masica,
interrupt[ed] and barriers was named principal in 2014, as part of
rooted in racial constructs the districts strategy of hiring race-
and cultural misunderstand- Last year, Highlands students in conscious administrators. She began her
ings must be eliminate[d], according grades K-2 participated in the tenure by obtaining a curriculum called
Melanin Project, learning to view
to the districts position statement on Perspectives for a Diverse America,
themselves and their classmates in
Racial Equity and Cultural Competence terms of skin color. Educators have part of the Teaching Tolerance Anti-Bias
in Edina Public Schools. no business prompting immature and Framework of the far-left Southern Pov-
In other words, EPS has committed impressionable children to think in erty Law Center. The activist-oriented
terms of skin color at all.
itself to move beyond teaching reading, curriculum focuses on four social justice

THINKING MINNESOTA FALL 2017 29


basis) during one period of the
day, according to their current
abilities. This allowed teachers
to target instruction to a narrower
range of students, so they could
build on their strengths and work
to correct their weaknesses.
Masica eliminated the practice
of flex groups, according to those fa-
miliar with the situation. Instead, during
flex time, each classroom was required to
include students of a broad range of abili-
tiesfrom those above the norm to those
Tom Rademacher, Minnesotas 2014 Teacher of the Year, is a frequently several grade levels below. A classroom
quoted liberal activist in the schools.
like this might look more equitable,
since skin colors were more evenly dis-
standards Unpacking Identity, Yet another resource was an essay
Unpacking Diversity, Understanding from Raising Race Conscious Chil-
Justice and Unpacking Action. dren, an internet site whose goal is to
In August 2015, Masica wrote in Cor- dismantle the color-blind framework and At staff meetings,
nelias Week at a Glancea weekly prepare young people to work toward ra- equity was the only
agenda for teachersthat she would be cial justice. The essay was entitled Are
sharing something equity related with You a Boy or a Girl? Helping Young
thing we talked about,
them on a regular basis, ideally every Children Think Through Gender, by not the nuts and bolts
week. At staff meetings, equity was the Katie Schaffer. Schaffer describes herself of teaching reading
only thing we talked about, not the nuts as a white cis queer woman dedicated to
and bolts of teaching reading and math, collectively envisioning and implement- and math, according
according to one teacher. ing liberatory educational practices. to one teacher.
Generally, the resources Masica cir- Masica bombarded teachers with
culated had a political, not an academic equity-related resources like those just
slant. In one video, for example, black described all year, Cornelia teachers say.
In 2016, Masica changed the way tributed. But it impeded teachers ability
reading and math instruction is delivered to give struggling kids the targeted help
at Cornelia, according to educators and they needed, according to teachers and
The All for All plans parents familiar with the situation. Ap- parents.
parently, the goal was to make instruction The change, though well-intentioned,
fundamental premise is more racially equitable. The All for All seems to have backfired. Cornelias
that white racismnot plan states that equity will be achieved scores on Minnesotas MCA-III tests
socio-economic factors when academic performance is no longer from 2015 to 2017 appear to tell the tale.
predictable by race and income. Un- Rather than hoped-for improvement,
like family breakdown fortunately, as yet, this state of affairs has there was a decline in reading profi-
is the primary cause of been achieved at few, if any, schools in ciencythe key to success in all other
the nation. This means that at Cornelia disciplines.
the achievement gap.
as elsewherestudents who need special From 2015 to 2017, reading profi-
help tend to be disproportionately black ciency for Cornelia students, all grades,
and Hispanic. fell from 78 percent to 70 percent. But
slam poet Clint Smith praises Black Masica instituted instructional changes minority students (including black, His-
Lives Matter and denounces what he calls that made it harder for struggling stu- panic, Asian and two or more races) abil-
police racism and brutality. In another, dents to get the intensive, focused help ity to read at grade level dropped from
tri-tongued poet Jamila Lyiscott deliv- they needed to improve their skills in 70 percent to 58 percent. The reading
ers an impassioned presentation that Ma- reading and/or math, Cornelia teachers proficiency rate of black, Hispanic, and
sica characterized as micro-aggression, and parents say. Previously, the school students of two or more races dropped
cultural adaptation, and equity all rolled had used a district-endorsed process of from 58 percent to 34 percent. For low-
into one four-minute spoken word! grouping students together (on a flexible income students, the percentage reading

30 FALL 2017 THINKING MINNESOTA


at grade level fell from 50 to 40 percent. credentials as a race-conscious social class time focusing on race. Many
The number of Hispanic students, all justice warrior. In her first year on the students were lectured on the topic
grades, who did not meet the reading job, Mahoney moved to implement the and carried out a biographical research
standards at all (versus partially meeting All for All strategy in a variety of re- project in which they were encouraged
them) increased from four to 14 between spects, including teaching youngsters to to write about a black historical or
2015 and 2017. define themselves by race and initiating contemporary figure.
A similar pattern, though not as race-based outreach to parents. Mahoney uses Highlands social
dramatic, also occurred in math perfor- For example, last year, children in mediaincluding her equity corner on
mance. The ability of minority students, grades K-2 participated in the Melanin the schools Wonder blogto promote
as a group, to do math at grade level Project, learning to view themselves and a broad range of left-wing ideological
declined from 71 percent in 2015 to 64 their classmates in terms of skin color. propaganda. One such resource, typical of
percent in 2017. The proficiency rate of Among other things, they traced their the rest, is an A-B-C book for kids entitled
black, Hispanic and stu- A is for Activist. Its pages
dents of two or more races feature texts like the fol-
dropped from 51.5 percent lowing: A is for Activist...
to 38 percent. Low-income Are you An Activist? C
students fell from 51 per- is for... Creative Counter
cent to 41 percent. to Corporate vultures. F
When questioned, the is for Feminist. T is for
Edina School Districts di- Trans. X is for Malcolm
rector of communications, As in Malcolm X.
Susan Brott, did not respond What do Edina parents
directly to a query about how who work in businessand
reading and math instruction taxpayers who finance the
changed at Cornelia under schoolthink about being
Masica. She merely stated that tarred as corporate vultures?
All elementary schools in Mahoney also uses High-
Edina made some changes last lands parent nights as a ve-
year in how reading and math hicle for proselytizing families
learning groups were identi- on racial identity ideology. For
fied. example, the 2016-17 school
The students at Cornelia year opened in October
will soon be high school with a dinner and discus-
students. Unless things sion entitled SPEAK
change quickly, the trend UP AGAINST BIAS:
underway there will Microaggressions and
soon be dragging down how to talk about difficult
academic performance at racial issues and current
Edina High School, and Highlands principal Katie Mahoney
events with kids. It closed in April,
far more importantlyblighting the lives congratulates a first grader for with another parent dinner and discussion
of the students who dont appear to be creating a political poem. focused on talking to our kids about
getting the help they need. race.
hands and colored them to reflect their Mahoney has held up the Berkeley
Highlands Elementary School skin tone for a classroom poster. The School in Berkeley, California, to High-
Highlands Elementary School is another poster reads, Stop thinking your skin lands parents and students as a model of
institution that exemplifies the direction color is better than anyone elses [sic]! social activism going forward. She at-
the All for All plan is taking the Edina Everyone is Special! tended the Changemaker School Summit
school district. Highlands student body The posters message is that five-to- in New Mexico in February 2017, and
is 73 percent white, 4 percent Hispanic, 6 seven-year olds naturally think of them- posted photos on the Wonder blog of re-
percent black, 11 percent Asian, 6 percent selves and others in terms of skin color, search students did on activist groups.
low-income and 5 percent ELL. and must be reprimanded for doing so. One featured project praised Black Lives
Katie Mahoney, a former Highlands Ironically, the project conditions young Matter and denounced police brutality.
teacher, was named the schools princi- children to do the very thing it condemns. Another read, Black Lives Matter is
pal in 2016, apparently because of her Older Highlands students also spent an amazing organization that is helping

THINKING MINNESOTA FALL 2017 31


people realize that black lives matter and believe rather than teaching critical Another parent echoed these concerns:
our lives are all equal.... We hope you thinking and actual course work. Were
learn to love it just as much as we do tired of our kids coming home feel- During Edinas May Term, our child
after taking a look at our project! ing defeated because their beliefs are had no choice but to take a class called
I am excited to think with staff, stu- forbidden at school and they will be os- Race, Racism and Whiteness as all
dents and families of how to continue tracized if they speak out. Were tired other classes were full. The name
this work at HL [Highlands], Ma- of our kids telling us that all they hear alone says it all. It was in this class
honey wrote. in [Language Arts] and other classes that the teacher, while reading a poem
is that white people, especially white aloud, came to a word, stopped, and
Edina High School said that the word she was about to say
The ideological tidal wave that has hit next made her feel physically ill
the Edina schools reaches its crescendo just by saying it. The word was Police.
at the high school.
Edina High School is consumed by a Having family members who have
hyper-focus on left-wing identity poli- served in public safety, one of whom
tics. The epicenter may be the schools was killed in the line of duty, we
English/Language Arts department. The immediately went to the administra-
focus there goes beyond racial issues to tion and told them we were pulling
an angry, male-bashing feminism and a our child out of that class, our child
smorgasbord of left-wing ideological would not return and our child would
hobby horses. Students hear repeated receive full credit. We do give credit
calls for social justice, activism and to the administrative staff we worked
resistance from many of their English with, who was very responsive and
teachers. agreed to our terms without question.
In the high schools required 10th-
grade English course, called Pre-Ad- In a number of classrooms, stu-
vanced Placement English, for example, dents who dare to offer a dissenting
students read works that reflect diversity perspective can expect to be bullied
in race, gender, age, economics, and and humiliated. Many fear retalia-
geography. The themes of the course tionin terms of grades or humili-
are Colonization, Immigration, ation before peersif they voice a
Social Constructions of Race, Class [T]he teacher, while contrary opinion.
and Gender, and Humanity in the Face
of Destruction. The course description
reading a poem aloud, Both students and parents describe the
for Mrs. Joelle Reilings 11th-grade U.S. came to a word, politicized expectations in class discus-
Literature and Composition class states a stopped, and said that sions and writing assignments. Accord-
similar goal: By the end of the year, you ing to one mother,
will have...learned how to apply marxist the word she was about
[sic], feminist, post-colonial [and] psy- to say next made her My kids have written things they
choanalytic...lenses to literature. feel physically illjust dont believe just to survive. They
One disgusted student offered his own know exactly what the teacher wants.
perspective on Pre-AP English on the by saying it. They almost dont see anything incor-
Rate My Professor web site: [This] The word was Police. rect in doing that anymore, because
class should be renamed...with course its so engrained. They have endured
An Edina parent
description as Why white males are bad, enough public shaming to say they
and how oppressive they are. will not put themselves in that posi-
Many of the Edina students and tion again.
parents who made comments to Center men, are bad, over and over. Were
of the American Experiment complained absolutely sickened when our son tells Teachers Twitter feeds have become a
of the climate of fear and intimidation at us that he is labeled a racist, sexist and powerful platform for political indoc-
Edina High. One parent said this: rapist yes, a RAPIST because he trination. For example, EHS English
is a white male. (This was all in a Venn teacher Jackie Roehl, 2012 Minnesota
Were tired of them trying to indoctri- diagram on the white board. We have Teacher of the Year, invites students to
nate our children to believe what they a photo.) follow me on Twitter or send a Face-

32 FALL 2017 THINKING MINNESOTA


book friend request to Jac Roehl to From teacher Rachel Hatten (who is joritys discomfort, the paper maintained.
keep up with the latest class news. Her teaching elsewhere as of Fall 2017): Nicki Tait, Youth Serving Youth coordi-
Twitter account is replete with political nator and Multicultural Show advisor,
sentiments like the following: Black girls and women in our confirmed that organizers interpreted the
society are always ready for discomfort as a sign of success. We learn
Great cover on the latest whatever abuse is visited upon our biggest lessons when we shut up and
@NewYorker #WomensMarch them. (nytimes.com) were uncomfortable, she told Zephyrus.
#resist Had a performance by white or male stu-
Dismantling Obamacare & slash- dents offended Tait, however, one suspects
Happy to cast votes today for ing Medicaid would be a blow she would have denounced them to school
@keithellison and Justice Natalie against signature victories for authorities for bigotry and harassment.
Hudson #vote #MNPrimary racial equality in US. (retweet)
Post-election furor
@FossilFreeYale Love the sign The multicultural show The ideological brew at EHS boiled over
Yale Football Divest on @espn Edina High leaders willingness to use on November 9, 2016, the day after the
@Yale #TheGame their power to indoctrinate a captive stu- presidential election.
dent body was on display at the schools I felt like the school was descending
Roehls retweets for young peoples Multicultural Show in April 2017. into mass hysteria, one student com-
consumption lead students to Twitter Student performers used the show to call mented to the Center. Trumps victory,
feeds like #NoMoreWhiteLies, where students, faculty, staff and administrators others stated, was portrayed as the end
they can find tweets like: to act en masse to address racial injustice, of the world as we know it.
according to Zephyrus, the high schools Students and parents flooded the Cen-
CRAKKA JESUS GOTTA GO! student newspaper and official news site. ter with stories of post-election partisan
MARY AZZ TOO!... The shows organizers sought to ignite bullying. One student wrote:
#JESUSISTHE MASCOTFOR a conversation pertaining to white privi-
WHITESUPREMACY lege and the Black Lives Matter move- The day after the election I was
ment, the paper reports. For example, texting my mom to pick me up from
Other English teachers also use their juniors Guled Said and Suleqa Wasyo read school and she almost had to!! Every
Twitter accounts to broadcast their a poem titled White Privilege, which teacher was crying in class, one even
politics, most likely reflecting what kids reflected the complexities of the Black told the whole class Trump winning
hear in their classrooms. Heres teacher Lives Matter movement, according to is worse than 9/11 and the Columbine
Kristin Benson, for example: Zephyrus. An adapted poem called To shooting. The amount of liberal pro-
be Black, a Woman and Alive, empha- paganda that was pushed every single
Sophs, good discussion today about sized the hypocrisy of gender and racial day in class this year was worse than
The Color Purple and individual v standards. its ever beenand youre bullied by
systemic forms of power. Remember In another performance, a female the teachers and every student if you
prejudice + power = oppression. student delivered an explicit address about dare speak against it.
Or her sexual fantasies regarding a classmate.
Its banned book week. Read some- (A sample: I spent seventh-grade music Another student confirmed this:
thing that speaks truth to power. classes imagining her legs intertwining
with mine, her body constantly remind- Yeah its horrible, the teachers can ab-
From teacher Kari Discher (retweet): ing me of a violin, and I was begging to solutely do whatever they want. The
be allowed to pluck one string.) If a administration will do nothing about
Rob Sahli @RobSahliAP: Love this male student had spoken words like this it!! The day of the election every
push from @MrTomRad today. If in a school assembly, he would probably single student was in the commons
you havent, make this your goal have been hustled off the stage, accused of chanting F*** TRUMP and the
today! #mnlead sexual harassment. teachers never did anything. A LOT
The audience appeared restless of people are starting to complain and
Tom Rademacher @MrTomRad: during the multicultural show, according my mom has some friends who are
I will not contribute to systemic to Zephyrus, and no wonder. The event leaving the school district.
racism in my classroom today. seemed calculated to offend both whites
I will not contribute to systemic and males. The next day, the day after Trump
racism in my classroom today. I The show is an opportunity to give a won, was even harder. Teachers were
will not... voice to the minorities in spite of the ma- crying alongside students in the class-

THINKING MINNESOTA FALL 2017 33


room. Speeches by teachers included hibits a teacher from using his/her posi- will teach rebellion against a broken
the phrase we will make it through tion to forward his/her own...political... world. We can do that, starting today.
this together. One teacher said in or social bias. Teachers may express
front of a class of 100, through tears a personal opinion if they identify it as Klobuchar is a fervent Democrat, and
that the election was rigged. Teach- such, but are barred from doing so for a relative of Minnesotas Senator Amy
ers bashed President Trump in front the purpose of persuading students to his/ Klobuchar, also a Democrat. He and the
of their students, and people contin- her point of view. teachers who signed this editorial were
ued to bully me for my views. I A striking violation of this policy aligning themselves with Hillary Clinton
had to have my mom come pick me occurred on November 22, 2016, when and the Democratic Party, and proposing
up after third hour that day. I couldnt Edina Highs student newspaper ran an that students who disagreed with them
stand to walk around a school filled editorial by English teacher Tim Klobu- were endangering others.
with both teachers and students cry- char about the presidential election. It This editorial had no place in a student
ing and looking to me through their was co-signed by 80 teachers. newspaper. EPS District Policy 512
tears with hurtful eyes. Klobuchars hyper-partisan editorial states that expression in an official school
suggested that Americas President-elect publication is subject to editorial control,
In an email to a school administra- was a racist, and that some people feel and that control should be used to ensure
tor (and then forwarded to the Center), the election result has validated them to that the school is not associated with
one mother wrote, In my 10th-graders unleash their worst impulses. any position other than neutrality on
AP World [History] class, [the teacher] matters of political controversy. Yet
called out any Trump supporters and Over the course of the long cam- the 80 teachers who signed the editorial
asked them to assure the class that they paign, the editorial intoned, apparently paid no penalty. Ironically,
werent racist. teacher Sally Larkins, who is charged
The hysteria was hardly confined to multiple groups of students might have with identifying and preventing bias as
the high school. A teacher wrote the felt targeted in some way: black, His- the papers faculty advisor, signed the
Center that at one elementary school, a panic, Muslim, Jewish, LGBTQ+, and editorial herself.
third-grade student wore a Trump t-shirt female studentsparticularly sexual After the editorial sparked criticism,
following the election. This is what fol- assault survivorsamong them. Intellectual Takeouta Minnesota public
lowed, the teacher said: policy institutionasked Tim Klobuchar
Right now, many of you in these for a comment. I stand behind every
The teacher went into the staff groups feel more vulnerable than word..., Klobuchar wrote in response. It
lounge, announcing she was so up- usual because of the racist image is not political, he added, to take a stand
set...she asked the student not to wear spread on social media, as well as the in the classroom against racism, sexism,
it into her classroom again, and went results of the election. and other statements that are intended
on to disparage his family...asking all to harass, bully or marginalize other
teachers in the lounge if they knew In a display of moral posturing, Klobu- students.
this family was Republican, and stat- char and his co-signers urged allegedly
ing that she was so disappointed, etc. trembling students to turn to their teach- Parents and
ers for protection: teachers reaction
Will that teacher, and all who voiced Edina parents are increasingly up in arms
the shock about this third-graders Many of you have made clear through about EPSs heavy-handed indoctrination
family...treat him and his siblings dif- conversations with us that right now, of students and intolerance of diverse
ferently through the years, because of you dont feel physically safe. This viewpoints. What we are saying is that
his familys political point of view? is unacceptable, and we will do ev- the district must follow its own rules,
erything in our power to fight against one father says.
Partisan editorializing forces that could harm you. To ease parents concerns about the
Edina School District Policies clearly districts falling test scores, EPS lead-
prohibit the lack of balance and ideologi- For our part, well do everything we ers are reportedly suggesting that lower
cal strong-arming that appear to be the can to abide by these words from scores are the result of student opt-outs
norm at the high school. Tom Rademacher, Minnesotas 2014 from MCA-III tests. In fact, in 2017, only
Policy 606, for example, addresses Teacher of the Year, which he wrote 20 students in an 11th-grade class of 676
controversial issues, among other top- two days after the election: were opted out of the math test by their
ics. The policy requires that all sides of parents, and only seven out of a 10th-
[an] issue be given proper hearing in the We will fail, but will not accept grade class of 687 were opted out of the
classroom and that students learn about failure. We will teach. We will teach reading test, according to the Minnesota
alternative points of view. It also pro- to fix a world we cannot fix. We Department of Education.

34 FALL 2017 THINKING MINNESOTA


One veteran teacher laments that, in an who refuses to conform to EPSs rigid being drilled into them (and their minor-
academic environment where race and ideological orthodoxy? One teacher ity classmates) as young as kindergarten.
ethnicity get so much attention, many wrote on the Centers web site that one This is a pernicious doctrine, which our
kids are simply getting lost in the shuf- of the reasons Im leaving the teaching nation should have abandoned decades
fle. Gifted parents are screaming, an- field is that Im tired of being a secret ago.
other teacher reports. The teacher points agent libertarian minded teacher. The Edina schools new race-based
out that the districts Young Scholars Another EPS faculty member respond- ideology undermines all students ability
program gives minority students prefer- ed this way: to think creatively and criticallythat is,
ence on gifted services. Minnetonka is to think freely. Students are learning to
eating us for lunch on gifted education, Wait. Theres another one out there? parrot orthodoxy back to teachers, and
she says. Although Im not a secret agent to look nervously over their shoulders in
And district administrators? A long- because Im out with my opinions case the authorities catch them in a for-
time teacher makes this observation: (not in my classroom) and am very bidden thought or a micro-aggression.
They are scared about the declining unpopular with our union president. They are learning that, at school, a top
scores. But they chose to go down this Ive been told on multiple occasions priority must be to please those in power.
path and now they are stuck with it. to quit my job and work at a private Disturbingly, some parents say that their
Whats it like to be an Edina teacher school or for the Koch brothers. I had children appear increasingly to see noth-
a curriculum trainer ask me this sum- ing out of the ordinary in this.
mer why I lived in the Twin Cities The Edina School Districts new
rather than in greater MN with more approach to education is dressed up as
of my kind. concern for equity. In fact, it is an
oppressive ideology with authoritarian
Why this is wrong undercurrents that steamrolls students
The ideological bias that saturates and intimidates parents.
the Edina Public Schools is seri- At the heart of the Edina schools new
ously harming students, parents ideology is an unspoken assumption that
and the larger Edina community. the districts leadership must confront
The All for All plans osten- and reject. It is the premise that underlies
sible goal is to improve minority the entire All for All project.
students academic achievement. This assumption is that people who
Yet overall, scores continue to object to categorizing others in terms
disappoint. At Corneliaan elemen- of race, or who dont see white males
tary school where the foundation for as oppressors, or who voted for Donald
My kids have written students future success or failure is Trump areby definition racists or
things they dont laidblack and Hispanic students per- sexists, benighted and bigoted. Put an-
formance in reading, on average, appears other way, it is the idea that such people
believe just to survive. to have declined substantially. There is are not just wrong, but evil.
They know exactly only so much time in the school day. In It is the conviction that well-inten-
what the teacher Edina, it seems, too much of that time is tioned leaders like Edina school policy
devoted to racial identity politics rather makers and teacherssimply by virtue
wants. They almost than instruction. of the enlightened attitudes they claim
dont see anything Edina minority students are being to holdare entitled to dominate discus-
harmed in another way. They are being sion, denouncing and silencing others.
incorrect in doing that conditioned at an early age to view Students who absorb this attitude from
anymore, because its themselves reflexively as victimsand their teachers will not be able to develop
so engrained. They have to succumb to the temptation, common true tolerance or to strive, in good faith,
to all people, to blame others for their to understand diverse points of view. In
endured enough public problems. Unfortunately, no attitude the future, if too many citizens adopt
shaming to say they will interferes more with success, happiness, such a position, neither civility nor
not put themselves in productivity and a sense of control in democratic governance will be possible.
ones life. No attitude raises a greater If EPS continues to embrace this
that position again. barrier to mature adulthood. ideology, the Edina public schools will
An Edina parent White students are also being harmed. continue a precipitous downward slide
The notion that racial identity is tied to from their former high repute on Min-
personal identity at the deepest level is nesotas educational stage.

THINKING MINNESOTA FALL 2017 35