Battle over Teacher Accused of Racism is Heating Up

Jon Miltimore | March 22, 2016

Battle over Teacher Accused of Racism is Heating Up

It has been quite a month for St. Paul’s Como Park High School.

On March 10, Intellectual Takeout shared with readers a video depicting two youths beating up a teacher, later identified as Mark Rawlings, a 48-year-old technology teacher at Como High.

It turns out that the same day Rawlings was thrashed by the two students—both of whom now face felony charges, according to the Star Tribune—another teacher was being placed on administrative leave after comments on Facebook raised the ire of at least one member of Black Lives Matter.

Theodore "Theo" Olson, a special education teacher at Como High, had vented in two separate Facebook posts about the lack of order at the school:

 

City Pages reports that Rashad Turner, a leader of BLM who apparently also is vying for a seat in the state legislature, said the comments were racially charged. Turner reportedly threatened to shut down the school if Olson was not fired.

Valeria Silva, the superintendent of St. Paul Public Schools, instead placed Olson on leave, a move that seemed to placate Turner but riled up others.  

Days after he was placed on leave pending investigation, a public rally was held in St. Paul in support of Olson, with lines of people passing out buttons reading: “I support Theo.”

Now Silva is facing calls to resign. A petition circulating on change.org was some 30 votes shy of the 2,000 required to send the recommendation to the Minnesota House, Senate, and Gov. Mark Dayton.  

Not to be outdone, on Monday the St. Paul chapter of Black Lives Matter posted some 60 pages of Olson’s personal blog on Google Drive.

A brief perusing of the documents suggests that Olson used the blog as a sounding board, sometimes to vent frustrations on educational bureaucracy (“dictatorial, topdown bullying”), other times to opine on literature (he was a fan of Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part I, one of my personal favorites) sometimes to attempt to write creatively (or so it appears).  

Where all of this ends up is anyone’s guess. But it is safe to say the episode is not a glowing case study on the health of U.S. public school systems, or public discourse.

Frankly, the entire episode sounds like something out of The Wire.

More to follow.  

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Jon Miltimore is the Senior Editor of Intellectual Takeout.  He is the former Senior Editor of The History Channel Magazine and a former Managing Editor at Scout Media.

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