Off the Schoolbus

Multicultural schoolbusA couple of days ago I posted about the two St. Paul schoolchildren who (according to their mother) were denied further use of their schoolbus because they were native English speakers. The argument that followed prompted me to do some more research on the topic, which led into a Borgesian labyrinth of bureaucratic multiculturalism.

But first, the context. For my original post I was quite rightly taken to task by a reader in New Zealand for the way I presented the story. In a followup note my correspondent said this:

Thanks for a reply and to your credit it had been made public. The issue I have is that it looks like you left out the rest of the story for the sake of convenience leaving it opened to an attack from a wrong angle.

Emphasising that “white Christian English kids” were left out is more reactive then constructive. According to the article all academies have their own route and busses and the issue is IMO more in logistics then the school being racist or discriminatory. Surely more can be done to speed up the integration of Hmong kids into the society but you left this idea untouched.

I don’t know whether there is a “bureaucratic monstrosity” that left the kids without any means to get back home. The article simply doesn’t provide enough information but I would optimistically assume that there is a bus that is designated to their school and operates on the route that suits most of the kids in the area and is available for them to get back home. I would be outraged if the school doesn’t give the parents time and opportunity to arrange an alternative transport, but I doubt there is a school that would simply leave any kid without any means to get back home from one day to another without a single warning. But I can only guess as there is nothing further on this in the article.

The problem simply isn’t where your blog post seems to be pointing, that’s all.

Our reader is right: In my outrage I left out the school’s side of the story (the family had moved out of the school’s district; it was all a misunderstanding) in order to emphasize the appalling fact that the kids were left stranded at school because they were not allowed to ride the bus home.

Various commenters weighed in on the topic. Some agreed that I was sensationalizing the incident; others thought I was presenting the outrage in a straightforward fashion.

But the reader from New Zealand isn’t right about Hmong students being in a separate school — they go to the same elementary school that the two English-speaking children attend, Phalen Lake Elementary School.

Commenter pigpaws had this to say:

1.   From what I understand, the buses are shared by different schools and students. Pay your taxes, buses are provided. Get yourself to a stop, you can ride. What I don’t get is why the school waited until now to remove the kids. Children are usually told which bus they are to ride at the beginning of each school year. Even if this family moved, by the way the bus system is provided, it shouldn’t have mattered. The bus still goes to the school that the children attend.
2.   Looking at the school website, Hmong and Spanish are the languages of choice for the accelerated program of the school. Or am I looking at it wrong and it is for Hmong and Spanish only?

No, you’re right: Hmong and Spanish are the two languages selected out for special attention.

I spent a long time last night looking at the nooks and crannies of the school’s website, and then the St. Paul school district’s sites, and then various Minnesota state government sites, staying up into the wee hours googling and peering until my eyes went crossed from staring at the screen.
– – – – – – – – – –
I found out that Phalen Lake’s Core Knowledge Academic Program is “a school reform model described nationally as ‘gifted education for all.’“

That sounds like Lake Wobegon to me: “At Phalen Lake, all children are above average.”

But leave that aside. The site goes on to say this:

The school’s NEW World Languages enrichment classes allow students to explore the cultures and customs of the Spanish and Hmong speaking worlds.

Based on the experience of the two children stranded at school last Monday, it would appear that only children who already speak the language are allowed to “explore the cultures and customs” of those exotic folk.

According to a 1998 article in Minneapolis Star Tribune, “Hmong is the language most widely spoken by immigrant children in Minnesota.” Yet it seems that the Hmong program at Phalen Lake doesn’t have much of a web presence — the largest amount of information I could find was a single sentence on the Hmong language class: “We are practicing on how to prounouce [sic] words.”

But Spanish — that’s another matter. When I looked at the Spanish-language section of the school’s website, the first thing I encountered was the acronym LCD.

“Aha!” you say. “They’ve bought liquid crystal displays for the children! A good use of school funds.”

Well, not quite. The number of TLAs is finite, and they have to be recycled. “LCD” is used throughout the Minnesota educational establishment to refer to the “Latino Consent Decree”. The LCD is an elusive legal decision which compels the state to expend large amounts of money on bilingual education, cultural awareness, celebrating diversity, and all the other multicultural activities which have become so depressingly familiar.

The Phalen Lake LCD page contains a single paragraph:

The Latino Consent Decree(LCD) program services Latino students in our Phalen Lake Elementary School. The program provides bilingual support for students who are in the process of learning academic English.

If you troll through all the individual schools of the “” (St. Paul Public Schools) sites, you’ll find clones of the same paragraph with the school’s name changed. Some schools have additional information, most of which seems to be drawn from a document available here (in pdf format).

The Latino Consent Decree is a legally binding court order that requires the district to provide specific educational services for Hispanic/ Latino students in the district. The Latino Consent Decree program (LCD) in Saint Paul Public Schools is designed for Spanish-speaking students who need additional support; LCD students also learn about Latino culture and history.

At the elementary level, the LCD program provides eligible elementary students with bilingual content support and ESL services. The extent of these services is determined by the student’s Spanish language proficiency, divided into three categories of services:

Secondary LCD students take high school courses in various academic subjects taught in Spanish as they continue to learn English. Courses include U.S. History, World History and Diverse Perspectives, Math, and Science. At ELC schools, content courses are offered in Spanish that include the cultural component as well, with students learning about their Latino history and culture both in English and in Spanish. Coursework is aligned with district standards to ensure that students learn the essential skills in the subject areas needed for graduation.


Latino Culture

In 2006, the ELL department developed ‘Embedding Latino Culture in the K-3 Social Studies Curriculum. General education teachers attend workshops to learn how to embed elements of Latino culture in the social studies curriculum. They also receive Latino culture kits, which include lesson plans, books, flags, maracas, and other items.

My blood started to simmer as I read through all this material, because we all know what this bilingual multicultural jive means: forcing students to speak Spanish and remain “Mexican”, and preventing them from becoming Americans.

But I reached a full boil when I hit that last paragraph: “how to embed elements of Latino culture in the social studies curriculum.” Yup. Uh-huh. Mexican history, Latino pride, the Spanish language, Cinco de Mayo, the whole ball of wax. “Flags”? Flags of what country? I’ll give you three guesses.

There is a huge chunk of the educational bureaucracy wedded to these multicultural ideals. They’re convinced that America is bad. They’re certain that encouraging foreign children to speak English and join the mainstream culture is a racist act, and they’re determined to prevent it.

All ordered by some judge, and paid for by your tax dollars.

But what, exactly, is the “Latino Consent Decree”? Where and when was it issued, and by whom?

That’s actually very difficult to find out. The most I was able to discover about it was contained in the Strib article from 1998, “Kids Learn English But Stick with Native Tongues, Too”:

The number of students in Minnesota who speak little or no English has more than tripled in the past 10 years to about 29,000, with most attending schools in St. Paul and Minneapolis. That’s about 5 percent of total student enrollment, according to the state Department of Children, Families and Learning.

While Spanish is the dominant foreign language in California schools, Hmong is the language most widely spoken by immigrant children in Minnesota. Spanish comes in second here, and at least another 80 native tongues can be heard in school halls, including Russian and Farsi, the official language of Iran.


In St. Paul the kindergarten program offered at Homecroft and at Roosevelt Elementary School is the only daylong bilingual class under the Latino Consent Decree, a settlement reached in a lawsuit filed in the late 1970s by Hispanic parents demanding fair education. [emphasis added]

A total of about 1,500 Hispanic students receive special instruction under the terms of the decree.

In schools with few Hispanics, children attend only ESL classes.

The St. Paul School District’s roughly 8,500 Hmong students also receive ESL instruction, Serrano said. “We just don’t have the materials, the teachers or the resources for bilingual classes in Hmong and English.”

“Fair education”. Right. Meaning “being educated to remain Mexican”.

In the course of my LCD search I encountered this little gem of a memo, issued by the St. Paul Public Schools last winter:

Mexican Consulate to visit Saint Paul Public Schools

2/10/2006 3:20 PM

TO:   All Principals and Staff
FROM:   Valeria Silva, Director, English Language Learner Programs (ELL) Pablo Matamoros, Latino Consent Decree (LCD) Resource Teacher
RE:   Mexican Consulate to visit Saint Paul Public Schools

We are pleased to announce that Saint Paul Public Schools will have the honor of receiving Mr. Juan Matus, a representative from the Mexican Consulate in Saint Paul, who will present to SPPS Latino families what services are provided by the Consulate and how families can access these services. He will also discuss ways in which the Consulate can partner with Saint Paul Public Schools to better students’ educational experiences and to increase parent involvement. There will be a question-and-answer period at the end of Mr. Matus’ presentation so that community members can express their concerns and ideas.

This event will be held on Monday, February 27, in the auditorium at Humboldt Senior High School, from 6:00-8:00 p.m. We sincerely hope that you will be able to attend. The presentation will be given in Spanish, and an English interpreter will be present.

If you have any questions, or if you would like to suggest additional topics for Mr. Matus to discuss on the evening of February 27th, please contact Valeria or Pablo at 651-767-8320.

The Ranting ManAt this point I officially reached the state called High Dudgeon.

Why do we have to put up with this?

An official representative of a foreign government was invited by Minnesota state officials to come into the public schools and assist with the indoctrination of Spanish-speaking children and their parents, speaking in his own language.

Why is that a legitimate — or even legal — function of a taxpayer-funded state educational system?

Why don’t the residents of Minnesota rise up as one and dump tea into the Mississippi River?

“Wait a minute, Baron,” you say. “You’re sensationalizing these things again! The kind gentleman from the Mexican consulate was just there to help Mexican parents find a good recipe for refried beans, or perhaps to provide a list of places in greater St. Paul where they can get their maracas repaired.”

Well, that may be true; it might all be quite innocuous. If any of our readers were there, or could find the minutes of the meeting (translated into English), please let me know. In fact, that phone number is probably still good — you could try calling Valeria or Pablo and see what they have to say.

But I never did find out exactly what the Latino Consent Decree is, or was, or might have been. It happened in the 1970s, and continues to compel Minnesota taxpayers to fund the activities described above, year after year. Somebody sued somebody and won, and now all Minnesotans have to pay, and pay, and pay…

No mention of a judge’s name, or a date, or a case number, or a docket. As far as the internet is concerned, the Latino Consent Decree, although everybody knows about it and complies with it, does not exist.

No legislature ever passed a bill to create it. No governor signed it into law. The LCD was created ex nihilo. Although it is invisible, lacking both form and substance, it nonetheless continues to work its will on the citizens of Minnesota.

This all reminds me of the famous passage from Catch-22:

“Catch-22,” the old woman repeated, rocking her head up and down. “Catch-22. Catch-22 says they have a right to do anything we can’t stop them from doing.”


“Didn’t they show it to you?” Yossarian demanded, stamping about in anger and distress. “Didn’t you even make them read it?”

“They don’t have to show us Catch-22,” the old woman answered. “The law says they don’t have to.”

“What law says they don’t have to?”


Gates of Vienna readers, especially those in Minnesota, are invited to apply their distributed intelligence to this problem and see if they can locate the Latino Consent Decree of 1970-something. It may actually exist, bound in a dusty volume of legal documents somewhere deep in the storage archives of the Minnesota state government.

Me, I feel like Yossarian:

Yossarian strode away, cursing Catch-22 vehemently even though he knew there was no such thing. Catch-22 did not exist, he was positive of that, but it made no difference. What did matter was that everyone thought it existed, and that was much worse, for there was no object or text to ridicule or refute, to accuse, criticize, attack, amend, hate, revile, spit at, rip to shreds, trample upon, or burn up.

Who consented? And who decreed?

10 thoughts on “Off the Schoolbus

  1. Hi Baron:

    I’ll preface just saying I’m here in New Zealand, but no, I wasn’t the commenter referred to! — I can just say that I got a good portion of the story on FOX news (now thankfully broadcasting 24/7 in New Zealand).

    The offended parties were twin girls, who happened to be black (not white — not that it matters particularly, except to our assumptions perhaps).

    In the interviews on TV (yes, that’s right Vic suggests WATCH FOX all day long, and you get the tops and sometimes good sidelines of all the top stories). The kids were so cute, responding at the same time (as twins do) and their good humored mother was, while shocked at the situation, very pleasant in their astonishment about the ordeal.

    Basic story is they lived just a block or so from the bus stop, had moved, but this was something that happened during mid-school year; they had not been informed there was a ‘non-english speaking students only bus’. Yes, the kids were left, the principle apologized, saying she couldn’t do much about it because of the school board’s decision was above her head. The girls said the bus driver was not rude or mean; just told them they couldn’t ride the bus.

    Seems like the NEA and ACLU should be (ARE?!) involved. LOL

    Yep, shocking, and true.
    And I didn’t have to read a thing, nor leave my PC. (GOSH I LOVE TV! — on all day, 24/7.)

    Now — continuing the megatasking —
    I’ll get back to Denmark, where the Danes may be … Exiled! 😉

  2. I admire your tenacity and have to admit the issue of a referenced state mandate called “Latino Consent Decree” has eluded any identity beyond its title.

    I searched the state legistlative web page and found N-O-T-H-I-N-G !

    It boggles the mind that MN is funding an educational mandate that doesn’t exist on their legistlative record.

  3. I tried to find out about this Minnesota LCD. My trip through the jargon-laden world of the Minnesota public education system was fruitless and exasperating. While there is a lot of PC/multicultural claptrap referring to it, I couldn’t find a single viable link to the actual decree. Why? What links I did find on the various Minnesota public education web sites were either dead or irrelevant. One would think, since it’s held in such high esteem by the oh-so-PC educators in Minnesota, that the origins and wording of LCD would be more prominently displayed or easily accessible.

    After all, isn’t it in the interest of “World History and Diverse Perspectives” that such an important decree be prominent? The less progressive, knuckle dragging states could emulate, advocate, mandate, and “…learn how to embed elements of Latino culture in the social studies curriculum.” and “… receive Latino culture kits, which include lesson plans, books, flags, maracas, and other items.” I’m sure Hispanics are comforted by the idea that smarmy Minnesota educators, armed with maracas, are using tax bucks to spread ridiculous stereotypes.

    One last thing; I live in Southern NM and am getting into the Latino culture kit business. I’m thinking of specializing in the maraca.

  4. FOUND IT!

    Legal Foundations & Precedents

    Many experts involved in education, research, and the justice system acknowledge that the key factors leading to educational failure for minority students in the United States are linguistic and cultural differences. In 1974, the U.S. Supreme Court decided the “Lau vs. Nichols” case. This case required schools to provide services for English language learners. Additionally, the Minnesota Legislature passed the “Education for Limited English Proficient Students Act (LEP Act)” in 1980.

    Lau vs. Nichols
    With the recognition that the key factors of educational failure for minority students are linguistic and cultural differences, an important ruling was made in a legal case brought on behalf of ELL students in San Francisco Public Schools in 1974. The U.S. Supreme Court “Lau vs. Nichols” caseruled that school districts have a duty to see that students are not discriminated against because they do not speak English. Here is an excerpt from the court’s decision:
    There is no equality of treatment merely by providing students with the same facilities, textbooks, and curriculum, for students who do not understand English are effectively foreclosed from any meaningful education. Basic English skills are at the heart of what these schools teach. Imposition of a requirement that, before a child can effectively participate in the educational program, he must have already acquired those basic skills is to make a mockery of public education. We know that those who do not understand English are certain to find their classroom experiences wholly incomprehensible and in no way meaningful. (U.S. Supreme Court, 414 U.S. 563).

    Minnesota LEP Act
    In 1980, the Minnesota Legislature passed the “Education for Limited English Proficient Students Act.” This Act provided legal definitions for limited English proficient students, general requirements for programs, aid authorization, teacher licensures, and parental rights.

    Both the “Lau vs. Nichols” decision and the LEP Act have provided the general framework for the services provided to ELL students in Saint Paul Public Schools. Details of this framework have been specified in the LEP Compliance Plan submitted to the U.S. Office for Civil Rights (OCR), the Latino Consent Decree Advisory Council, and the ELL Hmong Parents Advisory Council.
    Following are some relevant excerpts from the Minnesota Education for Limited English Proficient Students Act (Statute 124D.58). You may read the entire statute at

    Who is an ELL?
    124D.59 DEFINITIONS.
    Subd. 2. “Pupil of limited English proficiency” means a pupil in kindergarten through grade 12 who meets the following requirements:
    (1) the pupil, as declared by a parent or guardian first learned a language other than English, comes from a home where the language usually spoken is other than English, or usually speaks a language other than English; and
    (2) the pupil is determined by developmentally appropriate measures, which might include observations, teacher judgment, parent recommendations, or developmentally appropriate assessment instruments, to lack the necessary English skills to participate fully in classes taught in English

    What does the home language questionnaire identify?
    124D.59 DEFINITIONS.
    Subd. 6. Primary language. “Primary language” means a language other than English which is the language normally used by the child or the language which is spoken in the child’s home environment.

    What is an ESL or bilingual education program?
    Subd. 4. English as a second language program. “English as a second language program” means a program for the instruction of pupils of limited English proficiency in the following English language skills: reading, writing, listening and speaking.
    Subd. 5. Bilingual education program. “Bilingual education program” means an educational program in which instruction is given in both English and the primary language of the pupil of limited English proficiency to the extent necessary to allow the pupil to progress effectively through the educational system and to attain the basic skills of reading, writing, listening, and speaking in the English language so that the pupil will be able to perform ordinary classwork successfully in English.
    Subd. 8. Educational program for pupils of limited English proficiency. “Educational program for pupils of limited English proficiency” means an English as a second language program, bilingual education program, or both an English as a second language and a bilingual education program.

    What are the general requirements for ESL or bilingual education programs?
    A district that enrolls one or more children of limited English proficiency must implement an educational program that includes at a minimum the following requirements:
    (1) identification and reclassification criteria for children of limited English proficiency and program entrance and exit criteria for children with limited English proficiency must be documented by the district, applied uniformly to children of limited English proficiency, and made available to parents and other stakeholders upon request;
    (2) a written plan of services that describes programming by English proficiency level made available to parents upon request. The plan must articulate the amount and scope of service offered to children of limited English proficiency through an educational program for children of limited English proficiency;
    (3) professional development opportunities for ESL, bilingual education, mainstream, and all staff working with children of limited English proficiency which are:
    (i) coordinated with the district’s professional development activities;
    (ii) related to the needs of children of limited English proficiency; and
    (iii) ongoing;
    (4) to the extent possible, avoid isolating children of limited English proficiency for a substantial part of the school day; and
    (5) in predominantly nonverbal subjects, such as art, music, and physical education, permit pupils of limited English proficiency to participate fully and on an equal basis with their contemporaries in public school classes provided for these subjects. To the extent possible, the district must assure to pupils enrolled in a program for limited English proficient students an equal and meaningful opportunity to participate fully with other pupils in all extracurricular activities.

    Improper classification of pupils
    No district shall classify its pupils with reference to race, color, social position, or nationality, nor separate its pupils into different schools or departments upon any of such grounds.Any district so classifying or separating any of its pupils, or denying school privileges to any of its pupils upon any such ground shall forfeit its share in all apportioned school funds for any apportionment period in which such classification, separation, or exclusion shall occur or continue. The state commissioner upon notice to the offending district and upon proof of the violation of the provisions of this section, shall withhold in the semiannual apportionment the share of such district and the county auditor shall thereupon exclude such district from the apportionment for each period.

  5. About the California case sited above:

    Lau v. Hopp (formerly Lau v. Nichols): This case, initially filed by the LAS-ELC and the San Francisco Neighborhood Legal Assistance Foundation in 1970, successfully challenged the failure of the San Francisco Unified School District (“SFUSD”) to afford equal educational opportunities to its Chinese-speaking students, most of whom were forced to sit through English-only classes without being able to comprehend their instruction. After a landmark 1974 U.S. Supreme Court decision finding that this failure constituted a violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the parties entered into a court-enforced consent decree requiring SFUSD to institute methods ensuring those students full and nondiscriminatory access to an equal education. The Project has been actively involved in monitoring SFUSD’s compliance with the Lau consent decree.

    Did the ‘L’ in “LCD”,morph from the ‘Lau’ Consent Decree into the ‘Latino’ Consent Decree in the St. Paul school district?

  6. As a citizen of MN, I have seen this BS in action!
    We live in a small town of 6,000 people. A family from India bought a local business and moved here. The family had 2 children, which we had to educate. This involved advertising for a teacher who could speak the Indian dialect spoken by this family. We had to import a teacher here…just for those TWO KIDS!!
    This is the same school district that doesn’t have enough funds to buy BOOKS for all the students!
    The family from India left town after a year…they didn’t like the cold climate. WTF?!

  7. Good work heroyalwhyness,

    I came across the Lau Consent Decree, but didn’t realize it was germane–I was looking for Latino, not Lau. After all, it is called the “Latino Consent Decree” according to our learned Minnesotan educators. They are too busy to make it plain for the simple folk, I suppose. Or, they may not completely agree with this clause:

    No district shall classify its pupils with reference to race, color, social position, or nationality, nor separate its pupils into different schools or departments upon any of such grounds.Any district so classifying or separating any of its pupils, or denying school privileges to any of its pupils upon any such ground shall forfeit its share in all apportioned school funds for any apportionment period in which such classification, separation, or exclusion shall occur or continue.

    I can envision an ACLU lawyer arguing that a school bus is a moving entity and not the province of any one district, but rather the municipality. As such, the white kids can be booted off the bus without loss of funds to any one district. Furthermore, the clause wasn’t meant for white kids, they’re rich. Therefore they don’t need buses, they can drive their Volvos to school. Too young to drive? Jeeves can take them.

    Had a Hmong or Hispanic student been left on the curb, the world’s axis would have shifted with the rush of ACLU shysters and leftist media bone heads to that same curb. They would all be screeching the above clause into every camera and microphone on the continent. And I can assure you that the LCD– Lau, Latino, or otherwise– would be VERY easy to find.

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