A battle is brewing in Como Park High School in St. Paul, Minnesota, between Black Lives Matter activists and local parents and teachers after special educator Theodore Olson was suspended over a social media rant about his students, who he compared to drug dealers.
Black Lives Matter activists believe that Olson's rant was racially fueled, while teachers are standing up for Olson and instead have called for the job of Superintendent Valeria Silva, who suspended him.
The rant in question was posted on March 9, and has since been removed. But EAGnews was able to capture his comments:
“Anyone care to explain to me the school-to-prison pipeline my colleagues and I have somehow created, or perpetuated, or not done enough to interrupt? Because if you can’t prove it, the campaigns you’ve waged to deconstruct adult authority in my building by enabling student misconduct, you seriously owe us real teachers an apology. Actually, an apology won’t cut it.”
“Phones and iPad devices, used for social media and gaming. There have always been rules for ‘devices,’ and defined levels of misconduct. Since we now have no backup, no functional location to send kids who won’t quit gaming, setting up fights, selling drugs, whoring trains, or cyber bullying, we’re screwed, just designing our own classroom rules.”
The Minneapolis Star Tribune reported that local Black Lives Matter activists believe that Olson portrayed students as drug dealers and gang bangers in his Facebook posts. The group had, at one time, threatened a “shut-down action” at the school if Olson was not fired.
In response to the Black Lives Matter assertions, teachers and other educators have rallied behind Olson, and have opened a petition calling for Superintendent Silva's resignation. That petition currently has 2,251 with a goal of 3,000 signatures. They are claiming that Olson's post was focused on his belief that local educators need more support, and was not racist.
“This petition has been started because the current incumbent Valeria Silva has constantly demonstrated her inability to drive improvements in local St Paul schools," the petition reads, adding, "Her inability to make changes to benefit the teachers and students include, but are not limited to, rapid increase in violence towards students and teachers; the lack of support for teachers; the removal of disciplinary actions for violent students, and the lack of transparency between her and protagonists....”
The decision will be left to the school board on whose side to choose in this heated debate.
Racism is prevalent in our country's schools, from public institutions to the Ivy League. Last year students at Yale stood up to demand big changes on campus following complaints of racism:
(Photo: Support Theo Olson via Facebook)