Their numbers, thankfully, are small.
But the ugly, distorted message they bring is hard to escape, despite the smallness of their group, and the smallness of their thinking.
School officials and other authorities in and around Monona are concerned about the emergence of a gang at Monona Grove High School that apparently is intent on fueling racial tension and furthering hate-mongering among teenagers
This follows up on a related news story from several days ago:
MONONA - With racial tension continuing in the Monona Grove School District, middle and high school officials are cracking down on students displaying symbols of a youth gang espousing racist ideas.
Its clear that we have a problem in our schools. I can't speak directly to the scope of the issue, and I have no reason to doubt the reports that it is a small number of problem students involved. But that doesn't minimize the seriousness of the issue: it only takes a few to create an intimidating environment. I believe that we should have zero tolerance for racially motivated harassment, threats or violence, or any activity that creates a threatening or intimidating environment. All our students have a right to attend school in a positive, supportive environment conducive to learning.
I have already asked that the board be presented with an analysis of the situation, including a review of actions we have taken and most importantly our measures of success.
Update: District Diversity coordinator Charlie Ellis comments on the issue here in the most recent Herald-Independent.
What’s to be done? First, acknowledge the problem. Second, begin consulting with those law enforcement resources that have factual and authentic information about the gang. Third, begin an awareness program apprising the community of the problem. Fourth, utilize school resources such as pupil services staff and other staff who understand and relate to minority and cultural issues: openly listen to and assist victims of racial harassment in learning effective strategies to handle race baiting as well as reporting it. Finally, the same staff should be employed to provide interventions and counseling to members or potential members of the gang.