Facebook posts critical of students are racist, BLM says

The latest controversy involving a public employee posting on Facebook doesn’t involve any specific racial mentions, but Black Lives Matter wants a Como Park Senior High School teacher fired anyway.

The posts from Theodore Olson have been deleted but BLM kept screenshots of them and say it’s an example of a “white supremacist teacher.”


The posts aren’t that much different from what a lot of teachers have said more privately over the years: kids run amok at high schools.

Como Park’s student body, however, is only about 24 percent white, with a third of the students listed as African American and about an equal number as Asian, according to the school’s website.

Which students was Olson talking about?

Black Lives Matter’s Rashad Turner says on his Facebook page when he tried to confront Olson, he was thrown out of the school.

Another indication that we need more teachers of color and more teachers who care about and will teach all kids. Its teachers like Theodore Olson who bring the reputation of the great teachers in our district down. If the SPFT is protecting bad teachers like this one, who the is protecting our children ???? We have to be the ones to protect our children, they are under attack from the SPFT. This same teacher, feels that the teachers should govern the school.

Clearly Olson is critical of his school’s inability to control some students. But does that qualify as racist speech? Olson’s daughter, Juju, insisted online that the posts weren’t racist, but BLM supporters said the reference to “pipeline-to-prison” is.

“You are trying to get my dad fired,” Juju Olson wrote. “I would get anybody fired if they were racist. My dad isn’t. People commenting on here have no idea what they’re talking about they’re only trying to get him fired. My dad is a supporter of black lives matter. Please explain to me what he has done that is racist. I am asking you to remove this and revoke whatever you have said to anybody in the union my dad doesn’t deserve this. You are wasting your time fighting and trying get the wrong person fired my dad is an anti racist person. You are both on the same side of the battle against racism.”

Turner will meet with St. Paul schools superintendent Valeria Silva over the postings, the Star Tribune reports today.

  • Gary F

    It’s not just Como, I hear the same from Central and Highland, the teachers are tired of the chaotic system that Silva has instilled. The bad kids are ruining it for the good kids and the teachers and the teachers can do nothing about it. It won’t be long before many teachers leave the school district over this.

    I hope BLM asks for the old rules get reinstated and the 20% who are causing 80% of the problem can be kicked out. The policy now isn’t working. I don’t blame this guy, he’s just sick of the current policy.

  • Fred, Just Fred

    A great opportunity for the teachers union to step up and apply some embarrassing context for BLM to choke on. Too bad there is no political or financial incentive for them to do so.

    • Rob

      You could make a donation

      • Fred, Just Fred

        I’ve been donating for 20 years.

        • Rob

          To the teachers unions?

  • Paul

    I read Olson’s post as a challenge to someone who is claiming a school-to-prison pipeline exists, not claiming it to be true, or his own words. He framed it as a question?

    Hard to say without context on both posts.

  • jon

    I don’t know if it’s racist or not… but the attitude is certainly not a constructive one for fixing a very real problem….

    A problem that might start with the schools but the are certainly not the only offender in that pipeline… we’ve got a justice system, prison systems, corporate hiring guidelines, minimum wage laws, mandatory sentencing requirements, all compounding these things…

    Traditionally the goal if you want to fix an issue is to be look for solutions, particularly solutions within your realm of control… now I don’t know what this teacher has done in his classroom or not… perhaps he is a great teacher, and nothing more is within his realm of control (a problem that teachers face more and more as control of their classroom is legislated at higher and higher levels). Then if he is serious about solving the problem the next step would be to lobby for better solutions from those with other realms of control, or move into one of those positions…

    Saying asking for evidence and/or solutions would be great, asking for an apology (or something more) is just setting up for a combative situation, and then acting surprised when it happens is just dumb.

  • Gordon near Two Harbors

    The teacher spoke the truth. People don’t want the truth. The school to prison pipeline is largely a result of a culture that does not value hard work, does not see that education is a two-way street (you have to show up, pay attention, and do the work), and is always willing to blame “the system” for the failure of its young people to succeed.

  • Brian Simon

    I’m just another white guy, but the first post seems to be challenging the “school-to-prison pipeline, ” not endorsing the idea.

    • jon

      But therein (I suspect) lies the point that I think BLM is trying to make.

      To make a more obvious (i.e. historical and generally accepted) argument, were a teacher to come out and say the holocaust didn’t really happen, we’d suspect they were an anti-semite.

      To say that something that disproportionately affects minorities doesn’t exist suggests that they support some level of institutional racism.

      That being said, I also am a white male.

      • Paul

        You make a good point.

        To that end, the school-to-prison pipeline that Rashad wants to address is poorly executed if going after a teacher is his best effort. What makes the headlines from his efforts doesn’t promote his ideals very clearly – what good is he really doing for the black community?

      • The special education teacher being pilloried SUPPORTS Black Lives Mater & has marched in some of their protests. He NEVER MENTIONED RACE of any students—only talked about BEHAVIORS.

        • jon

          Institutional racism rarely mentions race. If it did it wouldn’t institutional racism, it’d just be regular racism.

  • Rob

    Another instance of a teacher being pilloried for merely commenting about bad student behavior and the fact that that he has little or no authority to control any of it. And we wonder why teachers are leaving the profession in droves.

  • Al

    I can see the first post being read as a critique of the system, or sarcasm. The second? Pretty clear in vilifying his students. Yes, he’s part of a broken system–but demonizing his kids on social media sure isn’t going to fix anything.

    I mean, imagine being one of his students, and having to face him in class this morning knowing THIS is what he thinks of you? Shaping young minds, indeed.

    • Imagine trying to teach a class of 30+ youth who refuse to stop using their smart phones when asked, starting pysical fights and otherwise disrupting educaiton for ALL the students in the room,. Imagine that the principal offers you NO back-up when you try to rein in disruptive behaviors and just sends disruptive students BACK to class 10 minutes later. Imagine calling students’ PARENTS about their child’s mis-behavior & being curses out & threatened. I don’t know when or where YOU went to K-12 school, but, it used to be that teachers & principles would NOT accept disruptions to class—much less PHYSICAL VIOLENCE—and there were CONSEQUENCES. When you acted up, YOUR PARENTS WERE CALLED and THEY laid down the law. Today—not so much….and it HARMS ALL STUDENTS trying to et an education. How about some CONCRETE suggestions for how to address the ACTUAL BEHAVIORS that this teacher raised?

  • Bill Smith 999935

    Will someone please stand up to BLM for once? Meet with them, listen to their complaints, tell them you will address any issues, but no, we are not firing this teacher. Thanks for expressing your desire, but the answer is no.

  • Mike Johnson

    Rashad Turner is a bully. “white supremacist teacher?” Are you kidding me? “When he tried to confront Olson, he was thrown out of the school.” Good, you have no business being there. Stop making everything about you and race. They bully groups to their will. Because Dayton and others have backed down the BLM has become more bold. Olson should be nominated as Minnesota Teacher of the year for speaking the truth.

  • chris

    Do people need more evidence that bringing real life online is just not worth it. Facebook is not worth any of this strife for this guy or anybody else. He would have been better off giving his opinion to his union reps and principal and leaving it at that.

    • John O.

      In today’s “online” world, one can occasionally stretch out their First Amendment rights, but it’s usually not wise to fully exercise them.

  • Mike Worcester

    I read the “pipeline” comment as one where he was challenging those who blame classroom teachers for the problem, when in reality it has been pretty much everyone but them (and yes, I am including petulant parents who complain to admins, school boards, etc., about teachers) that has contributed to mess.

    Broader item: Far too often we don’t ask the most important people in our education system — classroom educators — what should be done to help kids. Instead we rely on disconnected administrators who read some study somewhere that they think will work and even better, look good politically, to deal with high-profile issues such as disruptive behaviour.

  • All of my friends who are teachers do not use their real names on Facebook. They don’t want their students finding them. Mr. Olson should give it a shot.

    • Kassie

      Some of my teacher friends use their real names, but they don’t criticize students/schools/education systems or talk politics in anyway. They either talk about how awesome their students are, or they avoid work topics all together. It is the smartest thing to do I think.

  • Dan

    What’s the next unrelated public event for BLM to protest or “shut down”? I think it’s the St Paddy’s Day Parade.

    Now THAT could be interesting.

  • Khatti

    BLM reminds me of SDS from the Sixties. Not a good thing.

  • lindblomeagles

    This is another case of multiple viewpoints being correct simultaneously, but we as Americans, insist only one viewpoint can be right, and that, more than anything else, is the problem with our society. Black Lives Matter is unjustly receiving far too much criticism because Minnesota does have some REAL racial disparities that should and must be resolved. A great state, like Minnesota, to live and work, raise a family and send them to school, should not look like the 1950’s South when it comes to black unemployment and educational attainment or death and incarceration rates of young black men. The fear, anger, or even tired feelings some have expressed about Black Lives Matter SERIOUSLY IGNORES the evil that has befallen some of our native Minnesotans. Yet, obviously, there are problems at a few of Saint Paul’s elementary and high schools. The Central High School fight occurring some months ago that resulted in a beloved staff member being so physically injured BY A STUDENT that he may have lifelong symptoms from an irreversible brain injury can never be tolerated or blythely explained away as “too few teachers of color,” or “white teachers who don’t know how to teach our children.” There IS evidence some students enact a “fight or flight” response to simple directions, assignments, peer relationships, and administration. That TOO has a cause, and may take multiple advocates and multiple solutions. But we won’t reach BLM’s goals or the wishes of Saint Paul Public School Teachers if the two groups, and all of us, keep pointing fingers, giving our side of the story, or by being too afraid to hear what each of us has to say, and empathize with each other’s frustrations. As JFK once said, “We all inhabit this planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children’s future, and we are all mortal.

    • WONDERFUL & REFRESHING response that acknowledges the real COMPLEXITY of these issues.

    • omg chickens

      Thank you! This is a great response. It’s refreshing to know that people hear and understand both sides and cab think rationally. There is no simple solution. There are so many factors that need to be addressed!

  • Tootyfruity

    Dear BLM,

    Under our current superintendent, district staff has been ordered to actively suppress efforts by parents or staff to identify and support special needs in kids, as long as they were children of color. You understand that–kids who need help are being denied it because of the color of their skin. I personally know of teachers told they are racist for asking to have a child assessed–including African-American teachers–, and parents of color who have been told, “Too many African-American parents are asking for their kids to get Special Ed. They’re just after the money,” or simply turned away. Why? Because that way, the superintendent can say she has lowered special ed rates for children of color, and that might get her a job at a bigger, fancier more expensive district, like the one she applied to last fall.

    Think of that for a minute. The white kid with problems gets identified and given help. The black kid with problems is ignored for another year and another year and another year. But the school district gets to claim that they have lowered their special ed rate. We’re all aware of the history of parking black children in special ed whether they had special needs or not. That is not happening here. And when a child with special needs–unsupported–gets into trouble or a fight, there is no identification of what has caused the problem and hardly any consequence, because the superintendent is trying to lower suspension rates for children of color without actually doing any work to lower the suspension rates. Because that, too, looks good on paper, even though, frankly, going through school without learning and with no consequences for bad behavior increases the risk of children not learning in the classroom not to mention a school-to-prison pipeline.

    This superintendent has turned me into an education activist because of this very issue. i have watched kids of color–and some white and other minority students– lose four years of their education. Four years when they could have had supports. Four years when they could have been taught self-calming techniques or how to identify an anxiety response before it becomes fight or flight or how to talk out a conflict without violence. Four years, from kindergarten to third grade. Four years, from ninth through twelfth grade. These are our kids, all of us, white, black, Asian, Karen, Somali, Oromo, Tibetan, Latino. As far as I am concerned, her actions are criminal.

    In the middle and high schools, it’s even worse. When we went to Ramsey last year, there were students in a crowded hallway outside the office SWINGING FROM THE STEAMPIPES across the ceiling. And yes, I am shouting those words. One girl ran INTO the office, playing hide and go, ducking behind the main desk. None of the office staff said a word to her, even when the boy she was hiding from came in and she flung herself at him, laughing wildly, hanging all over him. Even though there were visitors in the office. It was unbelievable.

    That is what our superintendent set up, so she could say that she had lowered her minority special ed and suspension rate so she could get a bigger job at a higher-paying district. Cheating our children of a chance to gain appropriate social skills, of a safe environment, of a place to grow and learn. They only get one year of being eight, or being fourteen or being seventeen. And already, they have lost that year times four to her bigotry masquerading as “Racial Equity.”

    That’s what Black Lives Matter needs to protest. Please, oh please, would you protest that? We’ve been trying to fight it for years now. The new school board is frantically working on it. Maybe you, BLM, can get somewhere, get someone’s attention. It’s sinful what she’s done–primarily to the African-American kids. It’s flat-out racist. Another teacher was assaulted at Como this week. An African-American parent told me she felt like a negligent parent sending her child to school these days, because it felt UNSAFE.

    Please, BLM make certain that children of color who have special needs get special supports so that they, too, can flourish in our school district. Make sure our schools get full-time nurses and full-time librarians and full-time social workers and counselors who can help and support these kids who are often struggling with the after effects of trauma, having fled a civil war or with refugee parents or witnessed violence in their neighborhoods. Our kids desperately need BLM to protest that. You can make a huge difference. I hope you will talk to our new school board, to John Broderick, too. Our kids desperately need it.

    • Best post yet on this issue. THANK YOU SO MUCH.

      • Tootyfruity

        Speak up. Speak out. it can feel so helpless, but we can make change. We are making it right now, in Saint Paul. It will take time, but our new school board members really get it and they really care and they will make change.