Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

Obama Administration Hunts Phantom Classroom Racism ^ | August 7, 2012 | Heather Mac Donald

Posted on 08/08/2012 1:41:41 AM PDT by Kaslin

In March 2010, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced that his department was “going to reinvigorate civil rights enforcement” in the nation’s schools. What was the pervasive racial injustice that led Mr. Duncan to redouble such efforts? Black elementary and high school students are three and a half times more likely to get suspended or expelled than their white peers, according to federal data.

And so the Departments of Education and Justice have launched a campaign against disproportionate minority discipline rates, which show up in virtually every school district with significant numbers of black and Hispanic students. The possibility that students’ behavior drives those rates lies outside the Obama administration’s conceptual universe. The theory behind this school discipline push is what Obama officials and civil rights advocates call the “school-to-prison pipeline.” According to this conceit, harsh discipline practices—above all, suspensions— strip minority students of classroom time, causing them to learn less, drop out of school, and eventually land in prison.

The feds have reached their conclusions, however, without answering the obvious question: Are black students suspended more often because they misbehave more? Arne Duncan, of all people, should be aware of inner-city students’ self-discipline problems, having headed the Chicago school system before becoming secretary of education. Chicago’s minority youth murder one another with abandon. Since 2008, more than 530 people under the age of 21 have been killed in the city, mostly by their peers, according to the Chicago Reporter; virtually all the perpetrators were black or Hispanic.

Nationally, the picture is no better. The homicide rate among males between the ages of 14 and 17 is nearly ten times higher for blacks than for whites and Hispanics combined. Such data make no impact on the Obama administration and its orbiting advocates, who apparently believe that the lack of self-control and socialization that results in this disproportionate criminal violence does not manifest itself in classroom comportment as well.

Like school districts across the county, the St. Paul, Minnesota, public school system has been on a mission to lower the black suspension rate, following complaints by local activists and black parents. The district has sent its staff to $350,000 worth of “cultural-proficiency” training, where they learned to “examine the presence and role of Whiteness.” The system spent another $2 million or so to implement an anti-suspension behavioral-modification program embraced by the Obama administration.

Aaron Benner, a fifth-grade teacher in St. Paul, scoffs at the notion that minority students are being unfairly targeted for discipline. “Anyone in his right mind knows that these [disciplined] students are extremely disruptive,” he says. He overheard a fifth-grade boy use extremely foul language to threaten a girl. (“I wanted to throw him against the locker,” Mr. Benner recalls.) The boy’s teacher told him that she felt powerless to punish the misbehavior.

“This will be one of my black men who ends up in prison after raping a woman,” he observes. Racist? Many would so characterize the comment. But Mr. Benner is black himself—and fed up with the excuses for black misbehavior. “They’re trying to pull one over on us. Black folks are drinking the Kool-Aid; this ‘let-them-clown’ philosophy could have been devised by the KKK.”

The research base for the Obama administration’s claim that minority students receive harsher punishment than whites for “the same or similar infractions” is laughably weak. None of the studies alleging disproportionate discipline actually observed students’ behavior or examined students’ full disciplinary histories, including classroom interactions and warnings, teacher and counselor observations, and efforts at informal resolution that preceded more formal measures. A principal might have had two dozen conversations with a student before deciding to suspend him; none of those conversations would have been included in the researchers’ models.

Disproportionate rates of minority discipline were already ending school officials’ careers before the feds stepped in. Now that Washington has entered the fray, the pressure to bring those rates into alignment has grown even more intense. In Christina, Delaware, one of the districts under Education Department investigation, a six-year-old white boy faced expulsion in 2009 for bringing to school a Cub Scout tool (“a combination of folding fork, knife, and spoon,” reported a local TV station) with which to eat his pudding. After public outcry, the district removed kindergarten and first-grade students from its zero-tolerance policy for weapons. Also in 2009, however, the Christina school district expelled an 11-year-old black girl after a box-cutter fell out of her jacket pocket. The girl said that she had no idea how the box cutter had got there, according to Wilmington’s News Journal. The U.S. Department of Education presumably chose Christina to investigate because it agrees with the girl’s mother, who brought a complaint to the Delaware Human Relations Commission, that only racism can explain why a school would distinguish a six-year-old’s possession of an improvised pudding spoon from an 11-year-old’s possession of a box cutter. Might the school officials know something that federal bureaucrats do not regarding the girl’s previous run-ins with authority and the likelihood that she had no knowledge of the box cutter? Not in the eyes of a Washington paper-pusher, who takes his own omniscience as a given.

“Teachers are petrified to discipline students,” says a high school science teacher in Queens, New York, who blogs under the name “Chaz.” Students will tell a teacher to shut up or curse him when asked to open their notebooks, but the teacher’s supervisors will look the other way. The amount of insubordination now tolerated in New York schools is destroying them, says a former head of discipline for the city’s school system. Yet in June of this year, the schools chancellor proposed to officially ban suspensions for all but the most extreme infractions. Teachers would no longer be allowed to remove from class students who disrupted their fellow students’ ability to learn, engaged in obscene behavior, or were insubordinate. Advocates and the city council speaker, who is the leading mayoral candidate, complained that the changes did not go far enough.

The clear losers in all of this are children. Protecting well-behaved students’ ability to learn is a school’s highest obligation, and it is violated when teachers lose the option of removing chronically disruptive students from class. Nor does keeping those unruly students in class do them any favors. School is the last chance to socialize a student who repeatedly curses his teacher, say, since his parent is obviously failing at the job. Eliminate serious consequences for bad behavior, and you are sending a child into the world who has learned precisely the opposite of what he needs to know about life.

Though Barack Obama broached the taboo topic of personal responsibility on the 2008 campaign trail, now that he’s in the White House, he and his underlings have maintained a resolute silence on the behavioral components of inequality. Mr. Duncan’s public pronouncements have avoided any mention of what students and parents can do for themselves, such as paying attention in class, respecting your teacher, and studying, or monitoring your child’s attendance, homework, and comportment. Such an exclusive emphasis on victimhood plays well with Mr. Obama’s base, but it seriously distorts reality.

TOPICS: Culture/Society; Editorial; Government
KEYWORDS: barackobama; discipline; doe; education; minorities

1 posted on 08/08/2012 1:41:53 AM PDT by Kaslin
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: Kaslin

>> DoE and Justice have launched a campaign against disproportionate minority discipline rates.

Will the potentates ignore the disproportionate mischief?

2 posted on 08/08/2012 1:49:34 AM PDT by Gene Eric (Demoralization is a weapon of the enemy. Don't get it, don't spread it!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Gene Eric
The civil society must be destroyed before it can be rebuilt in the progressive’s image. Day camps for feral humans that masquerade as schools are essential to move the culture in that direction.
3 posted on 08/08/2012 2:09:40 AM PDT by Jacquerie (Obamacare - Constitutional Totalitarianism)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: Kaslin

It’s time for me to go to sleep! I read the title as;
“Obama Administration HAUNTS Phantom Class Racism”
Now I’ll probably have a nightmare when I do get to sleep...

4 posted on 08/08/2012 2:27:20 AM PDT by LibertyRocks
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: All

Dang it — I meant “Obama Administration HAUNTS PHANTOM CLASSROOM racism”

I don’t know what my mind was thinking in order to make sense of the word “racism” in there, but after all these years it’s probably just a given in my mind that any article about Obama would include that word... Like it was just thrown in there to keep the narrative going. LOL :)

5 posted on 08/08/2012 2:31:16 AM PDT by LibertyRocks
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: Kaslin
the taboo topic of personal responsibility

More than personal responsibility, how about raising your kids properly? How about policing your own neighborhood and not sheltering hoodlums?

And I don't mean "it takes a village", but there are levels of thinking and social constructs that are missing in many communities.

6 posted on 08/08/2012 2:35:56 AM PDT by P.O.E. (Pray for America)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Gene Eric
"Will the potentates ignore the disproportionate mischief?"

Is the Pope Catholic?

7 posted on 08/08/2012 2:58:15 AM PDT by Truth29
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: Kaslin

Federal EEO offices are very interested in burying you in paper if a minority is disciplined or removed from their job. No such concern when it happens to white people.

Perhaps because of this, the attitude of a disproportionate number of young black women in the workplace is beyond belief. Right when they come on the job, they are mouthing off to their supervisors; and demanding to be allowed flexible schedules and the right to talk on the cell phone as much as they want. It’s not everybody, but this culture is killing the ability to get work done.

8 posted on 08/08/2012 3:49:14 AM PDT by Belle22
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Jacquerie

Day camps for feral humans that masquerade as schools are essential to move the culture in that direction.

Nothing new. That was Newark Central High School in the seventies - located next to Newark College of Engineering.
This was an inner city high school where learning was discouraged. If a pupil dared to really show some ambitionm he would be called “Uncle Tom”, “Oreo Cookie”, “Acting White”, and others not repeatable on this forum. And this was from the teachers. It opened my eyes to the corruption of the welfare state. It was not just the recipients gaming the system, it was the people in charge doing this for the recipients’ “own good”.

9 posted on 08/08/2012 3:55:03 AM PDT by Fred Hayek (The Democratic Party is the operational wing of CPUSA.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: Kaslin

Disproportionate punishment in schools is like disproportionate arrest and convictions in todays jails.

You discipline and arrest those who commit the crimes.

You can turn your head and your back and try to throw blame around to your hearts content, but when you look at the crime rate, the murder rate, the rape rate, where do the figures take you?

It isn’t discrimination,it is reality.

10 posted on 08/08/2012 4:22:49 AM PDT by Venturer
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Belle22

You must work in my district!

11 posted on 08/08/2012 4:49:22 AM PDT by leaning conservative (snow coming, school cancelled, yayyyyyyyyy!!!!!!!!!!!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 8 | View Replies]

To: P.O.E.

That’s the problem; the streets, the schools, the shopping centers, and the suburbs, are now covered in TRAYVONS. Which one are you going to rehab first - and how the hell can it be done?

12 posted on 08/08/2012 5:46:01 AM PDT by arrdon (Never underestimate the stupidity of the American voter.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies]

To: arrdon

A school cannot undo in 6 hours what they learn the other 18 hours, plus weekends & holidays.

13 posted on 08/08/2012 6:24:31 AM PDT by P.O.E. (Pray for America)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 12 | View Replies]

To: Kaslin

I’m willing to bet that a great percentage of classroom disruptors are from single-parent i.e. female families. Their mothers probably never disciplined their children, and the kids obviously thought school was just another place to act up with no repercussions. I have a very liberal sister who was single parent. Her child had a lot of problems early on in school because my sister never disciplined him when he was young. Fortunately for the kid, he was extremely intelligent and is now an investment banker. But I would not recommend my sister’s method of raising a child. Once again, proof that liberalism destroys civilizations.

14 posted on 08/08/2012 7:41:28 AM PDT by driftless2
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794 is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson