Katherine Kersten’s gift to Edina for Black History Month
I thought I smelled bile.
But it’s just the Center of the American Experiment’s Katherine Kersten – St. Katie, the patron saint of the intolerant – with a follow-up Bradley or Koch foundation wingnut-paid screed about the public schools in my home burg, Edina. Just a few of you may know that St. Katie was my original muse for writing on the ‘net, over ten years ago, first at a blog I called the Cucking Stool, a medieval device for giving a cold bath to a communis rixatrix, the common scold.
She hasn’t changed a bit. In fairness, I probably haven’t either. Kersten has always made a passionate defense of the intolerant, whether it’s intolerance of (unaccountably) women, Muslims, abortion rights supporters, gays and lesbians, or recycling (not kidding). Tolerate the intolerant, that’s St. Katie’s motto.
Kersten has always had a bug up her – well, you figure out where – about public school education. In responding to one of her first columns in the Strib, way back when it was improvident enough to give her some regular ink, I called her a “bug-eyed control freak.” I stand by the remark.
She wrote a piece last fall about the ideological gulags, known to the rest of us as the Edina Public Schools, in the weeks leading up to the school board election. Here are stories here at LeftMN about that:
In the current issue of the Center of the American Experiment’s house organ containing St. Katie’s new screed, CAE chair Ron Eibensteiner writes that St. Katie’s first piece “touched a nerve.” It was really a gag reflex, Ron, but there was a lot of discussion about it.
At the Center of the American Gripe’s well, gripe, is Edina’s All for All program. What is it? You can read about it at the link, but here’s the district’s description of the goal of it: Measured growth and high achievement for each and every student without predictable links to race and income. But according to Kersten, the Edina school district is a just gulag of political indoctrination where white students are shamed and discriminated against just for being white.
It probably wouldn’t come as a surprise to you, but it would come as a surprise to Kersten: the State of Minnesota directs school districts to develop plans to address diversity and equity in education and to strive to close the achievement gap between white students and students of color. Edina is hardly the only school with such a program. But she doesn’t mention that.
That St. Katie, a resident of Edina – Our Fair City – could pen a couple of such poisonous polemics is evidence, indeed it’s Exhibit A, in why programs like All for All are needed.
But in addition to being malignant and pestilent, Kersten’s offerings are just bad. The current piece has two sources, well, in addition to herself.
The first source was apparently a supporter of the former Somoza regime in Nicaragua who knows political indoctrination when he sees it. Her second source is the widow of somebody who used to drive a bus for the district.
Where have you gone, Judith Miller? A city turns its lonely eyes to you.
Now, I admit I wasn’t there either, but Kersten’s source says that his son made a presentation in English class that sounds a little dicey to me, and he was called on to defend it. In particular, the teacher made him stand before the class and mount a defense when he much preferred to offer his smarmy remarks and sit down.
It is times like this that I quote my old Dutch Calvinist grandmother who said, “When you burn your butt, you have to sit on the blisters.” (“Wie zijn billen brandt, moet op de blaren zitten.“) This is actually a respectable conservative principle; I am surprised that Kersten doesn’t recognize it.
Kersten’s source also says that minority students were leaving the district in droves, but offers no proof, nor does she. And a second source for the claim? Forgeddabout it.
The less that is said about the widow of the bus driver the better.
Kersten admits that she didn’t have the actual materials used for the All for All training sessions for the teachers or the staff, including the bus drivers – or their widows!
Let’s be direct: as a journalist, St. Katie couldn’t cover a grass fire.
Kersten reserves a special, vicious ad hominem contempt for Jackie Roehl, an English teacher at Edina High School who had a hand in designing the All for All program. Jackie Roehl also happens to be the only Edina teacher ever named Education Minnesota’s Teacher of the Year.
Kersten says that the schools should teach students to be colorblind. But claims to be colorblind are actually a form of racism. It denies persons of color the distinctness of their history and their culture: their identity. You can be okay if you are just like me is really what “colorblind” means. St. Katie is a big fan of Western (white) culture, and that is exactly what she means.
And let’s be honest: everyone sees race; it’s just what you decide to do with it that matters.
Although it is a bit of a digression, I want to give you an example of a form of “colorblindness” at work. Over the years, I represented many Canadian and US business people doing business with each other. People from this side of the border were prone to say, in cringe-worthy fashion, I like Canadians; you are just like us. First of all, they are not, and Canadians hate to be described that way. It denies them their identity.
St. Katie assumes that everybody wants to be like her, and she offers them the chance, maybe, but not really, if they just don’t make waves.
St. Katie has the luxury of ignoring race if she wants to; she doesn’t cotton to the idea of having to change that. People of color don’t have that luxury. It takes only the smallest measure of humility and empathy to recognize that, but Katherine Kersten clearly does not possess it.
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