'White Privilege' Survey Sparks Debate in St. Paul Public Schools

Updated: 05/19/2014 11:37 AM
Created: 05/18/2014 10:11 PM
By: Jay Kolls

It's part of a larger racial equity training program, but there are some employees at the St. Paul Public School District who are not crazy about an optional survey called "White Privilege." 

St. Paul Schools have spent $1.3 million on a racial equity program designed to reduce the achievement gap between minority and white students. Part of that program is a survey called "White Privilege" that every employee has the option of taking.

A white employee takes the survey and scores his or herself and then compares their score with a minority employee who takes the same survey. The exercise is supposed to open up discussion about race, in part, to help white teachers who have predominantly minority students.

Critics of the "White Privilege" survey say it has nothing to do with closing the achievement gaps in classrooms but is rather part of a much larger agenda, blaming minority problems on white people.

Supporters of the program disagree, arguing the survey is a closer look at a philosophical idea that has been around for years and could actually be a useful tool for white teachers to better understand their students.

St. Paul School officials say three of their high schools -- Como, Johnson and Central -- have all decreased the achievement gap between whites and certain minorities since the racial equity program was introduced three years ago.

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