July 10, 2020

Let’s not have a double standard for unpublic schools that do dumb things (and apologize for it)

Is it time to beat up on private schools again?

Those damned private schools. They are so discriminatory.

Did you hear about the school in Wisconsin that asked students to offer three good reasons for slavery?


In response, Jim Van Dellen, the principal of Our Redeemer Lutheran Schools, had this to say:

Our Redeemer regrets deeply an unjustifiable assignment on slavery earlier this week…. [The church and school] work hard to promote the human dignity of all people, and this assignment did not reflect our core values or practices.

I can think of two reasons this makes a good story:

  1. The school is private and this example gives a mighty hammer to people who oppose school choice;
  2. The school is religious and there are a significant number of people who hate Jesus.

So, let’s say you’re a public school activist who believes public money should never be used to support children and families who want to be educated outside of the district system. A story like this comes along and it’s your moment to stick it to those callous fools who think private schools can be as transparent and accountable (hahahaha) as district schools.

Well, slow down there skippy.

Yes, it was a dumb assignment that I wouldn’t appreciate if my kid were in that class.

But, you’re not going to make the argument that district schools are somehow above racially problematic assignments – are you?

I hope not.

Here in Minnesota, where I live, we’ve seen this before.

Like, the time a black girl was asked to create the best way to colonize Africa.

Or, the time Minneapolis Public Schools used a curriculum from PBS that literally gamified slavery and made students slaves.

Or the time that the same district purchased reading curriculum that many in the community thought were racist.

Now, don’t get smug and think this is something that happens up here in Fargo-land.

Consider the teacher El Paso, Texas that gave students a true/false test that included these jewels: “Asians are small people” and “Black people eat chicken.”

Or is this from Charlotte, NC:

A taxpayer-funded high school in North Carolina has come under criticism from local parents because a history teacher gave students a blatantly racist assignment involving a bomb shelter and an impending nuclear war.

The unidentified teacher distributed the assignment at Olympic High School in Charlotte, reports local CBS affiliate WBTV.

The assignment — called “Bomb Shelter Activity” — forces students to use skin color and ethnic background to choose four strangers who will be allowed enter a bomb shelter prior to a nuclear attack.

All of this happened in those good old-fashioned traditional, bureaucratized, industrialized, unionized cornerstones of democracy that you call “public” schools – not private schools.

I could bury you in other examples, but I leave you with a classic from 2012:

In a bold comparative analysis of The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, Jada Williams, a 13-year old eighth grader at School #3 in Rochester, New York, asserted that in her experience, today’s education system is a modern-day version of slavery. According to the Fredrick Douglass Foundation of New York, the schools’ teachers and administrators were so offended by Williams’ essay that they began a campaign of harassmentkicking her out of class and trying to suspend her—that ultimately forced her parents to withdraw her from the school.

Are we all clear now?

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