Friday, February 17, 2012

A Brave Teacher In Minnesota

From the Minneapolis Star Tribune: St. Paul fifth-grade teacher Aaron Benner is fed up with administrators who are reluctant to suspend black students and who tell him to accept their behavior as cultural misunderstanding.
In a passionate speech to the board of education midway through the school year, Benner said it is not the responsibility of teachers, administrators or even board members to lower the suspension rate. That responsibility rests with parents and the community leaders who allow a disrespectful culture to fester, he said.
It's rare for individual teachers to speak against district policy and Benner, who is black, has been the lone public voice among his peers. He says frustration drove him: "It's a black problem and I want to help solve this."
The emotional and contentious issue of black student suspension has been debated for decades between St. Paul's black community and St. Paul school employees. Fifteen percent of the district's black students were suspended at least once last year -- five times more than white students.
The issue is discussed often, most recently at the board's November meeting where board member Anne Carroll singled out teachers and administrators.
"Most of these issues are adult behavior, which should be turned around quickly," Carroll said. "There needs to be ramifications for this behavior. This is about how we teach, what we expect, and responding in accordance with our own policies and procedures in a more consistent and effective way."
That rankled Benner, who says it's not that simple.
"Some of these kids have no respect for authority," he said. "They walk around the classroom while the teacher is talking. They have this thug mentality, this subculture that just can't be tolerated. They need to be separated from the class."
I know many teachers who are black and many of them have the same feeling as Mr. Benner.  The black teachers want to hold black students tot he same standards as everyone else.  It also seems that there are many black teachers are conservative- imagine that.
I guess Mr. Benner probably won't won't be invited to the next NAACP dinner.

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