ST. PAUL, Minn. – Parents and taxpayers throughout Minnesota might be wise to ask their local school administrators a few important questions:
Is their school district affiliated in any way with the Pacific Educational Group (PEG), or any spinoffs of that organization?
If so, how much does the district pay PEG, and what sort of philosophy is PEG spreading around the district?
It’s been largely assumed that PEG’s influence in the state has been largely limited to the St. Paul school district, which has paid the organization about $3 million since 2010 for consulting services.
Many observers believe PEG convinced district officials to adopt weak disciplinary policies that have resulted in a spike in student violence.
But St. Paul is apparently not alone. Simple research reveals that many more Minnesota school districts have had relationships of one sort or another with PEG, or similar organizations.
PEG bases its philosophy on the notion that “white privilege” dominates American schools. It believes the education system is based on white cultural norms, to the benefit of white students and the detriment of black and other minority students.
One of PEG’s main concerns is student discipline – more specifically, the high number of black students who are suspended from schools across the nation every year, compared to white students.
In St. Paul, PEG helped school administrators devise a less punitive student disciplinary policy that ignores acts of willful disobedience, replaces suspensions with short time-outs, and largely ignores acts of violence.
The result has been a state of general chaos in many St. Paul schools in recent years, culminating with the serious assault of a teacher by a student last month at Central High School.
Voices of anger and frustration have been rising throughout the community, with many observers pointing the finger at PEG, claiming that it encourages tolerance of violet behavior in the name of racial equity.
According to the news site BetterEd.org, “…The problems started when the district decided to hire Pacific Educational Group (PEG) which believed that solving the achievement gap between white and minority students, particularly African-American students, required confronting white privilege and systemic racism.
“The results of the changes have been appalling learning environments for both students and teachers:
“If you misdiagnose the problem, you will oftentimes make things worse. Even if you diagnose the problem correctly, but offer the wrong solution, you will make things worse. Sadly, in the monolithic education system we have today, everyone is caught up in the fallout of the mistakes. In the case of St. Paul, those mistakes are resulting in tremendous harm.”
Aaron Benner, a former longtime elementary teacher in the St. Paul district, has been outspoken on the issue.
“The students of SPPS are being used in some sort of social experiment where they are not being held accountable for their behavior,” Benner, who is black, wrote in a published editorial. “This is only setting our children up to fail in the future, especially our black students. Who would conduct such an experiment on our kids? I blame the San Francisco-based consulting firm, Pacific Educational Group (PEG).
“PEG was hired by SPPS in 2010 to help close the achievement gap. PEG makes no secret of the fact that its prescription for closing the gap is based on the Critical Race Theory. This theory argues that racism is so ingrained in the American way of life – its economy, schools, and government – that things must be made unequal in order to compensate for that racism.
“PEG pushes the idea that black students are victims of white school policies that make it difficult or impossible for them to learn. So, when a black student is disruptive, PEG, as I see it, stresses that it’s not their fault.”
Columnist Joe Soucheray of the St. Paul Pioneer Press wrote the following after last month’s assault of the Central High School teacher:
“The St. Paul Public Schools are adhering to some ridiculous nonsense that have St. Paul taxpayers on the hook for millions of dollars paid to a consultant, The Pacific Education Group.
“In a nutshell, it is a policy that attempts to convince school administrators to be, well, extra lenient on disruptive students on the grounds that the students are themselves the victims of some sort of systemic deprivation.
“Often, disruptive kids are simply hauled off to the gym and allowed to play basketball until they cool off. The student should just take a break, and then return to class shortly thereafter.”
Do other school districts around Minnesota want the same sort of problems?
Obviously not, but clues keeping popping up in the media that PEG’s tentacles have spread to districts across the state.
Last summer BetterEd.org published a list of 23 other Minnesota districts that have done business with PEG, including Minneapolis.
And a new story, published by AlphaNewsMN.com, says the East Metro Integration District, comprised of eight school districts in the St. Paul area, recently paid Dr. Jamie Almanzan, the head of a company called The Equity Collaborative, $25,000 for “equity training.”
“Previously, Dr. Almanzan was Associate Director of Teacher Development for Pacific Educational Group, the same consultant group used by St. Paul Public Schools to develop its now highly-criticized discipline policies,” the news report noted.
Are the officials in all of these school districts aware of what they may be signing up for? Are the parents and taxpayers of the districts aware?
Perhaps they should take notice, and start asking key questions, before it’s too late.