Nashville Program to Avoid Punishing Minority Students Long on Jargon, Short on Specifics


Too many minority kids in Nashville get suspended for disrupting class, and government central planners say it’s their job to equal everything out in terms of racial disparities.

For the sake of fairness, members of the Metro Nashville Public School System say they have a system that spares those minority students traditional types of punishment.

School officials identify the program as Positive and Safe Schools Advancing Greater Equity, or PASSAGE for short.

Online resources that supposedly describe PASSAGE offer few specifics.

Online material about PASSAGE contains phrases such as “holistic restorative models,” “social-emotional learning supports,” and “a culture of collective problem solving.”

Metro Nashville Schools spokeswoman Dawn Rutledge said she could not answer all of The Tennessee Star’s questions about PASSAGE Wednesday. She did offer a few details in an emailed response.

“We understand that while disruptive behavior is not solely tied to factors such as race, ethnicity or gender, we cannot ignore what the research and the data clearly tells us – when certain students from specific ethnic or racial groups are disciplined at higher levels, it contributes to higher dropout rates and perpetuates the school-to-prison pipeline,” Rutledge said.

“MNPS is committed to creating an equitable space where all students can learn and grow, and we have been aggressive in implementing restorative practices and social-emotional learning supports, in which the district has received national recognition.”

Members of the Metro Nashville Board of Education did not return The Star’s requests for comment Wednesday.

According to information on the school district’s website, Nashville participates in PASSAGE along with the three largest school districts in the country: New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago.

Another passage on the school district’s website said school officials “are committed to addressing the root causes of discipline problems.”

School system officials put out a press release about the program five years ago.

“Nationally, African-American students are three and a half times more likely to be suspended or expelled from school than white students, while Latino students are two times as likely,” the press release said.

“It’s an issue that contributes to the achievement gap among groups of students and one that must be changed for students to achieve.”

Rutledge told The Star she would answer more of The Star’s detailed questions within a realistic time frame.

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Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star. Follow Chris on Facebook. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “MNPS” by MNPS. Background Photo “Students in the Classroom” by MNPS.



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11 Thoughts to “Nashville Program to Avoid Punishing Minority Students Long on Jargon, Short on Specifics”

  1. Frank List

    A Speech Every American High School Principal Should Give.
    — By Dennis Prager.

    To the students and faculty of our high school:

    I am your new principal and honored to be so.
    There is no greater calling than to teach young people.

    I would like to apprise you of some important changes coming to our school. I am making these changes because I am convinced that most of
    the ideas that have dominated public education in America have worked against you, against your teachers and against our country.

    First —

    this school will no longer honor race or ethnicity. I could not care less if your racial makeup is black, brown, red, yellow or white I could not care less if your origins are African, Latin American, Asian
    or European, or if your ancestors arrived here on the Mayflower or on slave ships. The only identity I care about, the only one this school will recognize, is your individual identity — your character, your scholarship, your humanity. And the only national identity this school
    will care about is American.

    This is an American public school, and American public schools were created to make better Americans. If you wish to affirm an ethnic,
    racial or religious identity through school, you will have to go elsewhere. We will end all ethnicity, race and non-American nationality-based celebrations. They undermine the motto of America, one of its three central values — E Pluribus Unum, “from many, one.” And this school will be guided by America’s values. This includes all after-school clubs. I will not authorize clubs that divide students based on any identities. This includes race, language, religion, sexual orientation or whatever else may become in vogue in a society divided by political correctness.

    Your clubs will be based on interests and passions, not blood, ethnic, racial or other physically defined ties. Those clubs just cultivate
    narcissism — an unhealthy preoccupation with the self — while the purpose of education is to get you to think beyond yourself. So we will have clubs that transport you to the wonders and glories of art, music, astronomy, languages you do not already speak, carpentry and more. If the only extracurricular activities you can imagine being
    interested in are those based on ethnic, racial or sexual identity, that means that little outside of yourself really interests you.

    Second —

    I am uninterested in whether English is your native language. My only interest in terms of language is that you leave this school speaking
    and writing English as fluently as possible. The English language has united America’s citizens for over 200 years, and it will unite us at this school. It is one of the indispensable reasons this country of immigrants has always come to be one country. And if you leave this school without excellent English language skills, I would be remiss in my duty to ensure that you will be prepared to successfully compete in the American job market. We will learn other languages here — it is deplorable that most Americans only speak English — but if you want
    classes taught in your native language rather than in English, this is not your school.

    Third —

    Because I regard learning as a sacred endeavor, everything in this school will reflect learning’s elevated status. This means, among other things, that you and your teachers will dress accordingly. Many people in our society dress more formally for Hollywood events than for church or school. These people have their priorities backward.
    Therefore, there will be a formal dress code at this school.

    Fourth —

    No obscene language will be tolerated anywhere on this school’s property — whether in class, in the hallways or at athletic events If you can’t speak without using the f-word, you can’t speak. By obscene language I mean the words banned by the Federal Communications Commission, plus epithets such as “N,” even when used by one black student to address another black, or “bitch,” even when addressed by a girl to a girlfriend. It is my intent that by the time
    you leave this school, you will be among the few your age to instinctively distinguish between the elevated and the degraded, the holy and the obscene.

    Fifth —

    We will end all self-esteem programs. In this school, self-esteem will be attained in only one way — the way people attained it until decided otherwise a generation ago — by earning it. One immediate consequence is that there will be one valedictorian, not eight.

    Sixth —

    And last, I am reorienting the school toward academics and away from politics and propaganda. No more time will be devoted to scaring you about smoking and caffeine, or terrifying you about sexual harassment
    or global warming. No more semesters will be devoted to condom wearing and teaching you to regard sexual relations as only or primarily a
    health issue.. There will be no more attempts to convince you that you are a victim because you are not white, or not male, or not heterosexual or not Christian. We will have failed if any one of you graduates this school and does not consider him or herself inordinately fortunate — to be alive and to be an American.

    Now, please stand and join me in the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag of our country. As many of you do not know the words, your teachers
    will hand them out to you

  2. […] The Tennessee Star reported this week, Nashville officials use this method, Positive and Safe Schools Advancing Greater Equity, or […]

  3. 83ragtop50

    MNPS = Misfit Nashville Pathetic Society

  4. Not2day

    Let me see if I have this right, if a student has dark skin they will be given somewhat of a pass for mis-behaving but if a student has light skin they will be held accountable for their actions. Yeah, that really makes sense to me. Really?
    I have a unique concept for our educators; how about equal treatment for all? Leave out the skin color, just require accountability from everyone. By including “skin color” in determining punishment you are setting a dangerous precedent. Eventually the non white student will believe that it’s OK to act up because I have dark skin.
    It never ceases to amaze me that so-called “educated” people come up with some of the dumbest ideas. Good Grief!

  5. M. Flatt

    So, they’re going to finally start holding parents accountable for the misdeeds of the disruptive students? Nope, not happening.
    We refuse to acknowledge the existence of a “poverty class” culture within the so-called “black community”. It would be racist to claim that poor urban blacks have a distinct, self defeating culture that encourages these disruptions and maintains the “school-to-prison pipeline”. That is a poor generalization. There are folks “of color” who do not participate in this poverty culture. (The odd thing is how these people are mistreated for “being white”.) To focus on minority students based solely on their racial claims smells similar to “affirmative action”, which we all know is a racial preference, too!

    A “realistic time frame”, huh? How about “Never”? Is “Never” a good time for you?

  6. Newell

    And there you have it. Liberals have taken over Nashville. Using statistical averages like this is not only misleading, (ignoring the unspoken that this means this demographic has been doing something to be suspended or otherwise punished), why not try to help stabilize the families that lead to this behavior.

  7. Steve Allen

    Can anyone really wonder why parents want to send their children to private or home school? To excuse behavior due to race, doesn’t that qualify as reverse racism. Behavior, good or ban, should be dealt with on an equal playing field. To excuse bed behavior due to a students race is inexcusable.

    1. Peter carson

      “Reverse rascism”? If a person is treated differently than another, because of race, THAT IS RACIST. It doesn’t matter what color of skin is. We must forget the idea that only white people are racist.

  8. Ralph

    This is exactly the type of policy that precipitated the Parkland shooting – a Hispanic kid that had a long history of emotional problems and disruptive behavior – he wasn’t properly disciplined (although the behavior ultimately led to his expulsion, by that time the damage was done.) In turn, that lack of discipline was due to the former U.S. President’s belief that minority students are unfairly singled out for disciplinary action and, thus, are given a pass.

    It’s a policy with racial bias at its core and destructive to teacher morale as well as fellow students. Why would any motivated, decent teacher want to deal with it? They don’t, so the good will leave for better conditions and the bad will stay, secure in their union protections.

    You want to instill racial animus in young adults? A policy of racial bias has proven time and time again to achieve that very result.

    Moreover, it places other children at risk and further erodes scholastic achievement, as if Tennessee didn’t have enough problems with that as it is, when 2 out of 3 cannot read at the appropriate grade level. An absurdly low performance. Start enforcing the rules for proper behavior in a consistent, fair manner, let the chips fall where they may, and then watch how those results magically improve.

  9. Rick

    One of the dumbest policies I have ever heard of. No wonder Metro Schools are bad. Allowing any student to upset a classroom is not to be allowed. Until we grow up and stop this social engineering toward any single group the students in their adult life will be the biggest loser. What an idiotic policy.

  10. Overtaxed Nashvillian

    What does it say when the police department pulls its officers out of MNPD schools because of constant threats and harassment by the students?