Alright – so, on a Thursday afternoon at 5:18pm in May of 2018, I received an email from Jaysen Anderson of Jefferson High School that my son with autism was suspended for a week for a behavior he had the day before. I kid you not. My son does not know nor understand what the heck suspension is. His white female teacher Kelly Morris did not give him his communication device as he has nonverbal autism, she changed his routine even though he and kazillian other kids with autism are routine oriented. Then when he had a behavior because they did not understand what he wanted which was to go to his locker and finish his routine of getting his school bag, Kelly calls the security guard, the principal (Jaysen) and bunch of other white people to prevent him from going to his locker.
As that was not bad enough, she and the principal suspend my kid. I am still livid to this day about this and have been from then on trying to advocate in the state legislature about racial discipline disparities for black and brown students as well as kids with disabilities to no success. Why – you ask. Two words, Education Minnesota. Who are they? Teacher’s Union also known as the modernized mafia gang. They protect teachers who are mostly white females and screw with the kids who are mostly black, brown or disabled. Sad – yes 100%.
I have to say as an autism mom who has advocated successfully for many laws and policies locally and nationally, this has been the most challenging and difficult issue. Let me rephrase that. The issue is not difficult. The challenge was and still is the unions are 100% protected by the democratic legislatures while the principals and administrators are protected 100% by republican legislators. Yep, you read that right. So then who the heck protects the kids? no one. I mean no one. There are advocacy agencies who do their best but are sadly no match to the lobbyist who represent school administrators and the unions for the teachers.
Then couple of weeks ago or so, I saw a light in this dark tunnel. MN House Speaker Hortman appointed Rep Ruth Richardson to chair the education policy in the house. Who is Ruth? Let’s see maybe a gift to families, a blessing to children and a nightmare to the unions and lobbyists. At least I hope she stays this way. Richardson authored a bill couple of years ago to ban suspending preschoolers. Yeah, those are 3 to 5 year olds. I know who in their right mind kicks them out of school before they are even first grade. You guessed it teachers and principals protected by bad-ass unions and lobbyists. Last year her bill finally passed with stupid restrictions.
Meanwhile, everything else failed like oh I don’t know how about schools and teachers try non-exclusionary methods before kicking kids from their educational environment and so many other good measures.
My advice to Richardson is this:
Stay pure, don’t buy into whatever teacher’s unions are selling, don’t listen to the useless lobbyists for principals and administrators and most of all listen to your voters, constituents, students and families. After all, isn’t education about the kids.
Please pass meaningful legislations that hold teachers and administrators accountable for the horrible and shameful racial discipline and education gap Minnesota has which is among the worst in the nation.
I also heard Hortman named another minority chair for the very powerful committee of ways and means. Rep. Moran, you literally sit where all fiscal notes will go through. This is your moment to shine and ensure equity finally prevails in how Minnesota allocates funding. I hope you rise to this moment.
Above words do not reflect any candidate, agency or committee.
Idil – Autism Mom and Advocate