ST. PAUL, Minn. – A new majority took control of the St. Paul school board earlier this week, and the members want quick change.
They made that clear by giving embattled Superintendent Valeria Silva a list of topics to quickly address, starting with student discipline and school safety.
Amazingly, Silva seemed stunned and angered by the demands.
“I’m not upset about the (agenda) … but the reality is I don’t like surprises,” she was quoted as saying by the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
It’s hard to imagine how Silva could be surprised.
The district has been cursed in recent years by a growing number of student disciplinary issues, which have included an increasing number of student assaults on teachers and other staff members.
In one week in October, several teachers were injured when trying to stop an outbreak of fights between students, a student was found with a gun in his backpack, and a student was tased by a school resource officer after disrupting a classroom and repeatedly refusing to leave.
The situation boiled over last month, when a 16-year-old student assaulted and severely injured a high school teacher who was trying to break up a fight.
The St. Paul teachers union reacted to that incident by suggesting it may strike if administrators fail to improve safety for teachers and other staff members.
One teacher was quoted across the nation, after she anonymously told a St. Paul columnist that “we’re afraid.”
Many blame the district’s consulting relationship with the Pacific Educational Group, a radical San Francisco company that contracts with public schools around the nation to address “white privilege.”
PEG officials believe most schools are operated for the primary benefit of white students, based on white cultural norms. As a result, they believe black and other minority students are shortchanged.
According to media reports and statements from various teachers, PEG played a leading role in the development and implementation of a more relaxed disciplinary approach toward black students in St. Paul, with an emphasis on reducing the number of suspensions.
Many say that new approach has gone off the deep end, with many black students getting off the hook for violent or unruly behavior. The result, they say, has been a state of chaos and fear in many of the district’s schools. Read More