The Group Behind Race Education in Twin Cities Schools

Jun 2, 2015 by

race baiters

Michael Lotti –

Given the recent (and probably ongoing) turmoil in St. Paul Public Schools, it’s time to ask questions about Pacific Educational Group (PEG).

This San Francisco-based education company has collected over $3 million in fees from SPPS over the past three years. It has also been cited as one of the reasons – along with the mainstreaming of children with behavior problems — that led parents and teachers, via the DFL nominating process, to term-limit three of SPPS’s seven Board members.

PEG’s Minnesota reach is not limited to St. Paul. According to PEG’s website, the seven largest school districts in Minnesota have contracted with PEG, along with 15 others and Blake, a private school in Minneapolis. All told, that amounts to more than 315,000 students (or about one-third of Minnesota’s K-12 population) touched, in one way or another, by PEG’s offerings.

So what exactly does PEG offer? This should be easy to answer, but PEG’s website doesn’t give much away. What’s there, though, should give one pause – or at least raise questions, especially in light of the troubles in St. Paul. Consider these claims:

  • “PEG transforms educational systems into racially conscious and socially just environments.” It’s not clear what “racially conscious” means or why it’s desirable. If it’s nothing more than “teachers and administrators need to be aware of cultural patterns that tend to fall along racial lines,” that’s no more controversial than “girls tend to learn differently than boys.” But for $3 million, of course, PEG delivers more than that. Read on:
  • “PEG recognizes that in order for racial equity in education to truly be achieved and sustained, the entire system must be transformed.” As the saying goes, it takes an intellectual to think that improvements only happen by upending “the system.” PEG wants to reach far into a district’s operational structure, not just change or enlighten minds and attitudes.
  • “Systemic racism is the most devastating factor contributing to the diminished capacity of all children, especially children of color and American Indian children.” Really? More than transience, hunger, parental neglect, and other factors that – as common sense and reams of data suggest – impede a student’s ability to learn, regardless of his or her race?
  • PEG claims to show “how ‘good teaching’ does not currently meet the needs of all students and discover how culturally relevant pedagogy can be used to examine and eventually eliminate racial disparities in our schools.” Is there evidence that this is the case? Have any studies been done that correlate PEG’s “systemic” and “culturally relevant” approach with smaller achievement gaps? PEG doesn’t refer to any on its website, and none of the educational research I’m familiar with supports such a claim.

Across the river from St. Paul is a family of charter schools (Harvest Preparatory, Best Academy, Best Academy East, S.I.S.T.E.R. Academy) with African-American majority populations that often beat state averages in reading and math proficiency (not to mention minority averages). There’s even a book about how they do it. This leads me to ask two questions: 1) If SPPS wanted to close racial achievement gaps, why did they start with PEG instead of studying nearby schools where this actually happens? 2) Is it not telling that these high-performing African-American majority schools are charter schools – that is, they had to be free of “the system” to eliminate racial educational disparities?

These and other questions about PEG need to be asked by all those interested in holding SPPS accountable for its spending. The current contract with PEG can’t be changed, but perhaps future $3 million expenditures can be more obviously connected with student achievement.

Source: The Group Behind Race Education in Twin Cities Schools | Better Ed

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