From today’s email inbox:
From: “Zenith City Weekly”
Sent: Sat, 25 Jun 2016 02:50:48 +0000 (UTC)
Subject: Thanks for the plug!
So, would ISD 709 still have the highest racial disparity in graduation rates in the country if it weren’t for the Red Plan? Honestly, I think that’s a big oversimplification.
The Red Plan isn’t responsible for why our teachers are 96% white. The Red Plan isn’t responsible for why black and Indian students are getting a disproportionate amount of the discipline. The Red Plan isn’t responsible for racial bullying that student after student after student reports is rampant, but ignored by staff. The Red Plan isn’t responsible for why other cultures are not taught by people who have lived that culture, or for why a family of color may not feel exactly safe showing up to a Think Kids meeting and saying things that white people don’t want to hear.
I think the Red Plan is as much an excuse as the state’s party line that the achievement gap is caused by high curriculum standards (which (a) is kinda racist when you think about it, and (b) was reported by MPR, not by us—http://www.mprnews.org/story/2016/03/07/graduation-gap-by-the-numbers).
I’m not claiming I have the answers. (I wish I did!) But Brenna found a good variety of sources who suggested a whole variety of ways to initiate some change. Personally, I was really affected by what Brandon Clokey had to say. People of color have been made to feel like outsiders here for generations.
I’m one of those people who grew up here. Would you believe (and this is embarrassing to admit) I didn’t know Indians were REAL when I was being educated in the Duluth schools? We live in ceded territory, but in my young mind, they were as mythical as unicorns. In second grade, I remember coloring a picture of the “first Thanksgiving”—or, at least, white people’s fictional version thereof—and the teacher telling me to “color the Indians with the red crayon.” They looked like they’d had an unfortunate encounter with a vat of Christmas icing. And this wasn’t all that long ago. I was in second grade in 1978.
No, the Red Plan is just an excuse. You know how Alcoholics Anonymous talks about a “searching and fearless moral inventory”? Well, we need to do some searching and fearless moral inventory of the ways in which Duluth is a hostile, unwelcoming place for a whole lot of people. The achievement gap is just the tip of a big, ugly iceberg.
To which I replied:
You are right Jennifer”
My blaming the Red Plan for the learning gap is a great oversimplification. On the other hand, to the extent that we have put more children in classrooms it makes it that much easier not to pay them as much attention as they may need. Call it an aggravating factor.
I will post this as a little corrective to my Red Plan myopia and make sure my readers know it was the article’s editor, not its author, that did the correcting.