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Friday, February 02, 2007

Council Member Samuels On North High School: Burn It Down

Minneapolis St Paul Magazine

Though he's earned headlines for calling on his own community to see its role in its problems, he will also slaughter white sacred cows if he thinks their failures hurt black kids. To Minneapolis liberals with a near-religious belief in public education, the man who as a single father raised his son by his first wife says, "My children will not darken the door of a Minneapolis public school in this city at this time under these conditions. I've said burn North High School down! I can't be paying as a taxpayer for the education of my neighbors and 72 percent of them are failing—meaning black boys. Something worse than vouchers could come along. If it works, if it sacrifices the entire school system, fine! Get rid of the damn thing! It hasn't worked!"

This is the same guy who sued MTN because they didn't do enough to stop overheated rhetoric - including the infamous incident Booker T Hodges saying "we've got to kill the house nigger" - referring to Samuels. Samuels claimed this show made him feel unsafe.

Nick Coleman has an excellent column on this topic.

Samuels, whose ward includes North High, is profiled by David Brauer in this month's Mpls.-St. Paul Magazine. Watch you don't get your eyebrows singed off by this:

"I've said burn North High School down! I can't be paying as a taxpayer for the education of my neighbors and 72 percent of them are failing -- meaning the black boys."

Samuels says he read that 72 percent figure somewhere. I can't find it. As far as I can tell, North is not the worst high school in the city. In fact, it has some good things going for it, including a dynamic principal who is making changes. In my mind, public schools need help from public officials. They don't need a kick in the teeth.

North High Principal Mike Favor, a 1984 North High grad, says Samuels' flame-throwing is not aiding efforts to bring improvements to the school of 1,000 students (68 percent are black).

The school has been an anchor of the African-American community for decades.

"It's damaging," said Favor, who plans to meet with Samuels early this morning, before Samuels meets with the school's faculty to try to explain himself. "To hear something like that is offensive. I feel like I have to apologize to every North High graduate and to anyone who sends their kid here. It's disheartening."

By the way, Samuels is a close ally of Mayor R.T. Rybak. I called Rybak's office to ask where he stands on his friend's proposal to burn down a high school. I didn't get an answer.

I'm not surprised that Mayor pass the buck was hard to reach.

Samuels went to North High to confront angry parents and students.

This is the second email I've sent to Samuels in the last few months letting him know that I'm embarrassed to have voted for him.