Aaron Benner

Recent Articles

Some class sizes reduced in new St. Paul teachers’ contract

Trust an ongoing issue between teachers, district
 

By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer

 

 

The St. Paul Federation of Teachers (SPFT) and St. Paul Public Schools (SPPS) both cite “seven community-developed priorities” in the three-year “landmark contract” that was settled last month and approved earlier this month. These priorities include smaller classes and hiring more teachers and staff. Two key persons directly involved in the negotiations, SPFT President Mary Cathryn Ricker and SPPS Chief of Staff Michelle Walker, last week spoke to the MSR in separate interviews. Continue Reading →

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How best reduce school suspensions? – Teacher argues the answer is not ignoring classroom misbehavior

 

 

By Charles Hallman 

Staff Writer

 

St. Paul Public Schools’ (SPPS) Black suspension rate dropped only two percent from 2010-11 to 2011-12. Black students there still receive nearly 70 percent of all suspensions. SPPS Chief of Staff Michelle Walker told the MSR that Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports (PBIS) and “Courageous Conversations” strategies, used to help teachers respond more positively to student behaviors — especially those of Black students — has played a huge role in the decline in suspensions. “Suspensions as a [disciplinary] strategy doesn’t work,” she points out. Continue Reading →

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More student suspensions for bad behavior?

 

 

By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer

 

Last week the MSR reported that Black students in the Twin Cities are being suspended from school at rates far exceeding those of other students [“Black student suspensions soar”]. This week we hear from a St. Paul schoolteacher who argues that disruptive students are not being suspended often enough, and that schools across the nation are not holding Black students sufficiently accountable for their behavior. At one time, Saint Paul Public School (SPPS) District policies called for “zero tolerance” for such negative behavior as fighting in school. SPPS teacher Aaron Benner says he didn’t believe the rumors a few years ago that principals had been told by school officials “to stop suspending Black boys.” However, after a former principal later admitted as much, Benner said he began to believe it. Continue Reading →

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