Minnesota schools could teach that police started as slave patrols, policy fellow says

Minnesota fifth-graders may soon learn that the police were founded as slave catchers — a claim experts describe as "ahistorical."

Feliphe Schiarolli/Unsplash

Minnesota students may soon be taught that their police departments originated as slave patrols, according to a policy fellow from the Center of the American Experiment.

Even though the Minnesota Legislature shot down an attempt to include “ethnic studies” in public school curriculum last year, the controversial subject is on track to the classroom anyway as private interest groups run through a backdoor opened for them by state bureaucrats.

The Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) is authorized to review what’s being taught in schools and “raise academic expectations” to keep pace with modernity. They have standards committees tasked with accomplishing this objective. However, MDE filled one of these committees with far-left activists from groups like Education for Liberation Minnesota (EdLib) who are advocating for radical changes, such as ethnic studies.

One EdLib member who sits on the committee even believes that the public school system itself is a “white supremacist puzzle that must be taken apart and exposed for the lie it is.” Katherine Kersten investigated the connections between EdLib and the MDE in a recent issue of Thinking Minnesota, unearthing this quote and much more.

With EdLibs’s help, the MDE drafted its new social studies standards to ask fifth-grade students to “examine contemporary policing” and its “historical roots in early America.” The apparent conclusion students are supposed to reach is that police got their start as slave patrols, according to Kersten. EdLib MN itself touts this theory, upholding that “modern police departments” evolved “directly” from “slave patrols,” as Kersten points out.

Others have noted that the assertion that cops are the direct descendants of slave catchers is simply a lie.

Police have a “very long tradition of existence” that is separate from slave patrols, which did exist at one time, Jonah Goldberg points out.

“In America the first constables were created in the 1630s in what came to be known as New England. Boston has the oldest ‘modern’ police department. It was created in 1838. New York and Philadelphia soon followed,” he explains. “They were not created to search for runaway slaves.”

Hannah Meyers of the Manhattan Institute has highlighted how “such ahistorical statements silence vital dialogue about police reform and decrease trust.”

“Most of the 18,000 U.S. police agencies were founded after abolition, and many were explicitly modeled on modern concepts of policing invented by the British. And the officers in many major cities — including LA, Houston and Atlanta — are mainly minorities,” she writes.

Parents across the state have raised concerns about what their children might soon be learning, and they have made MDE aware of this. A poll completed last fall found that just 22% of Minnesotans support the inclusion of left-wing racial concepts like CRT in schools.