Sen. Marty Knollenberg, R-Troy, apologized today for comments he made at a legislative committee meeting in which he referred to not being able to make African-American children white.

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Image: Detroit Free Press

Knollenberg made the controversial comments Thursday after Natasha Baker, the state school reform officer, gave a presentation to the Senate Education Committee in which she talked about the characteristics of priority schools — so called because they are among the worst-performing schools in the state.

“What we know about priority schools,” she said, “is that most of the students are economically disadvantaged or black/African American or Hispanic/non-white and unlikely to be college ready.”

Knollenberg and others responded to the presentation afterwards. Referring to the makeup of the schools, Knollenberg said:

“And you mentioned why these schools fail and you mentioned the economically disadvantaged and the non-white population are contributors to that. And we can’t fix that. We can’t make an African American white. It is what it is. So we can’t fix that. But we have this situation and we find our schools serving these children faced with those factors. And there should be no failing schools.”

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