OSSEO, Minn. – The budget for Osseo Area Schools is in limbo as school board members remain split over whether to fund a controversial racial equity consulting group.
The school district has contracted with Pacific Educational Group (PEG) since 2012. While PEG does not work directly in the classrooms, the group does instruct teachers throughout the school year on racial equity issues, including lessons on white privilege and systemic racism built into the educational systems.
Two of the six school board members, Jessica Craig and Stephanie Fortner, voted “no” on the proposed budget, which included $45,000 to continue contracting with PEG – not including additional licensing and travel fees for PEG trainings. Three school board members voted “yes” on the budget, with a sixth member, Jim Burgett, voting “no” because he wanted increased funding for PEG.
“We have spent a lot of money, and there’s no direct evidence that shows the money is worth it,” Craig told Alpha News, “In fact, 18 of our schools have increased the achievement gap, so we are not getting the results we are hoping for.”
Craig took one of the courses offered by PEG, and said she was shocked by how controversial the training was.
“The overall message of the course is that there is systemic racism within our schools, and because there’s white privilege and courses are taught from a white perspective, our children of color fail,” said Craig.
Executive Director of African Immigrant Services Abdullah Kiatamba testified at a previous school board meeting that the district is terminating the contract with PEG due to the discomfort experienced surrounding the topics discussed, including white privilege.
Craig and Fortner believe the funds could be better spent directly in the classrooms, providing additional resources to students. Craig said as of last year the funding for PEG is redundant because the district now also contracts with National Urban Alliance, which Craig says offers racial equity training “without the divisive rhetoric.”
Craig said she expects another meeting soon to renegotiate the budget, but is unsure what the outcome will be.
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