by Willis Krumholz
Metropolitan State University in St. Paul, part of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities System, has an alumni magazine called “buzz.” The most recent cover of the magazine reads: “Most teacher education programs perpetuate white supremacy.”
The taxpayer-funded university’s paper then goes on to highlight their new program of “urban ed,” which is meant to “dismantle” the system of white supremacy in teacher education:
“Metropolitan State’s School of Urban Education, as mandated by the state and envisioned by its members, seeks to address that gap directly, by training and equipping educators with tools to ‘be an effective teacheractivist, who works for and with marginalized communities,’ according to UED Dean René Antrop-González.
“Antrop-González notes that this work is a critical part of UED’s mission. ‘Structures don’t happen by accident. I would argue that most teacher education programs reproduce white supremacy. Urban Ed is a different program; we set out to dismantle that system.’ Fotsch concurs, adding that, ‘We are unabashed, when we talk about our program, about white privilege, about institutional racism, about absent narratives and Eurocentric teaching that is out there.’”
The “buzz” article goes on to highlight that it is important for urban students of color to have teachers who are also ethnically diverse, and for classrooms to value diversity over conformity. These may be laudable goals, though no evidence is given as to whether these factors increase minority-student outcomes.
The article also never digs into why “most teacher education programs perpetuate white supremacy.” And Dean Antrop- González never explains why Metro State’s program, aside from training a diverse set of future teachers, is any different than other teacher education programs in the United States.
High school textbooks, even in greater Minnesota, cover how black Americans and women fared during World War II in far more detail than they cover the events of World War II, the reasons World War II occurred, or the evils of Nazism and Communism. There’s nothing wrong with examining the progress that black Americans and women made during the war, but that’s only part of the story, not all of the story.
It’s also interesting that the Metro State article highlights the huge racial gap in Minnesota’s education outcomes. That gap exists, but it exists in areas run entirely by Democrats, who have traditionally fancied themselves as advocates of racial equality.
Even more interesting, some of these “education is white supremacy” theories made their way into Minnesota schools several years ago and ended up harming school discipline and minority students. Aaron Benner, a black man, ended up being forced out of his teaching position when he protested a policy that was clearly leading to increased school violence, and harming the learning environment for black students.
Surely Dean René Antrop-González means well, but if public schools are already valuing diversity, and if students of color show no improvement based on the ethnicity of their teacher, maybe it’s time for a different approach when it comes to Minnesota’s urban education.
But Democratic Party politicians, at the behest of the education lobby, are pushing to crack down on high-performing charter schools, not expand them further. A fight on this is currently underway in St. Paul. But even the vast majority of Democratic voters don’t agree with that. Doing the same thing and expecting a different result—especially when Minnesota’s gap between black students and white students is the worst in the country—sounds a lot like the “institutional racism” that the college professors at Metro State keep talking about.
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Photo by Alpha News.