MENU

Nancy Pelosi Betrays Public School Teachers

Send to Kindle

By Walter Donway

January 3, 2019

SUBSCRIBE TO SAVVY STREET (It's Free)

 

With little fanfare, the Trump administration struck a blow for commonsense. Nancy Pelosi immediately vowed that in January the new Democratic majority in the House will restore senselessness.

With little fanfare, the Trump administration struck a blow for commonsense. Nancy Pelosi immediately vowed that in January the new Democratic majority in the House will restore senselessness.

Democrats and their cheering section in the mainstream media never tire of portraying President Trump as unstable, “wild,” and, in general, unhinged. In fact, I believe, an unheralded feature of the Trump Administration is plain sense, manifested repeatedly in policy changes mostly under the media radar.

An example popped over the holidays, attracting few headlines (although it was important enough to be attacked as racist by the New York Times).

On December 18, the Federal Commission on School Safety, set up by President Trump after the Parkland, Florida, school shooting, released its report. I have read only the executive summary, but there are few surprises, especially given what we expect from this administration (for example, the Commission reported that no evidence suggested that greater age restrictions for gun purchases would reduce the danger).

But the report did one thing that, while sounding a bit technical, if it were translated into official policy—and applied as widely as possible—could be a godsend to America’s teachers.

Guidance issued by the prior Administration advocated a federal solution that undercut the ability of local officials to address the impact of disciplinary matters on school safety.

The Commission said, in its summary: “Maintaining order in the classroom is a key to keeping schools safe. Teachers are best positioned to identify and address disorderly conduct. However, guidance issued by the prior Administration advocated a federal solution that undercut the ability of local officials to address the impact of disciplinary matters on school safety. The guidance also relies on a dubious reading of federal law. The guidance should be rescinded …” [Emphasis added].

During the Obama administration, the federal government issued to the nation’s schools new “guidance” on discipline. If a school set certain standards of behavior for its students, including definition of the nature of violations and the punishments to be imposed—and if, under those standards, a larger percentage of students of one race were punished more frequently—that “disparate” outcome made the disciplinary standards per se racially biased. With no other consideration. The school was in violation of civil rights standards and its funding at risk.

In Obama Department of Education lingo, schools must apply “disparate-impact analysis” in evaluating whether or not their school’s discipline was racially biased. Existence of “disparate impact” equaled racial bias—end of discussion. You have seen this principle applied elsewhere. If policies applied equally to all races result in unequal outcomes for one race, those policies are deemed racist.

What this means to teachers and administrators trying to maintain discipline may not be immediately, vividly, and abundantly clear. Heather MacDonald can help. MacDonald is a senior scholar at the Manhattan Institute and author of The War on Cops and The Diversity Delusion. She is one of America’s best analysts of trends in education, including higher education, and how those trends interact with developments in areas such as crime and law enforcement.

MacDonald commented on the impact, in schools, of the “disparate-impact analysis” and what it could mean if the Trump administration “extirpated” the whole notion from federal policy.

In a December 24 article in City Journal, published by the Manhattan Institute, she laid out what is at stake in the public schools: “… disparate-impact analysis results in the conclusion that racially neutral rules must nevertheless contain bias, since black students nationally are suspended at nearly three times the rate of white students. In 2014, the Obama administration relied on this methodology to announce that schools that suspended or expelled black students at higher rates than white students were violating anti-discrimination laws.”

Under this Obama-era “guidance,” any reference to actual differences in behavior among the races (that is, to the facts) was irrelevant and worse—viewed as drawing generalizations about behavior based on race.

MacDonald gets down to cases. “… consider Duval County, Florida, which has Florida’s highest juvenile homicide rate. Seventy-three children, some as young as 11, have been arrested for murder and manslaughter over the last decade, according to the Florida Times-Union. Black juveniles made up 87.6 percent of those arrests and whites 8 percent. The black population in Duval County—which includes Jacksonville—was 28.9 percent in 2010 and the white population 56.6 percent, making black youngsters 21.6 times more likely to be arrested for homicide than white youngsters.”

Is this a Jacksonville problem? Or a Florida problem? She writes: “Nationally, black males between the ages of 14 and 17 commit homicide at ten times the rate of white and Hispanic male teens combined …”

The huge gap between blacks and other races in committing homicide during their high-school years is a national fact. But … homicide, though the worst crime, is infrequent compared to many dozens of other crimes such as rape, robbery, assault, car theft, drug dealing, shoplifting. … The homicides are the tip of the iceberg of a national crime wave involving black high-school-aged students (overwhelmingly male). But, we are not permitted to suggest that the same factors creating this black crime wave, including murders, might be behind “disparate” black classroom behavior? The juvenile crime wave has nothing to do with racial disparities in classroom behavior?

“Nationwide,” Mac Donald writes, “schools with the highest minority populations report the highest number of disciplinary infractions. Schools that are 50 percent minority or more experience weekly gang activity at nearly ten times the rate of schools where minorities constituted 5 percent to 20 percent of the population …” (Figures are from the Departments of Education and Justice.)

But the Obama administration insisted—and backed up its insistence with the threat of civil rights action and withdrawal of funding—that the only possible explanation of greater disciplinary measures being applied to black students was administrator and teacher bias.

Schools were forced to leave disruptive students in the classroom and to overlook increasingly chaotic behavior. There were frequent reports of students assaulting teachers with little punishment.

Schools were forced to leave disruptive students in the classroom and to overlook increasingly chaotic behavior. There were frequent reports of students assaulting teachers with little punishment. And then, reports of a teacher exodus from the schools. Education Week reported (February 6, 2018): “In the 2015-16 school year, 5.8 percent of the nation’s 3.8 million teachers were physically attacked by a student. Almost 10 percent were threatened with injury, according to federal education data.”

An example from that article: “When Michelle Andrews leaned over to talk to a disruptive 6th grader in her class, she says the student struck her in the face, causing Andrews’ neck to snap backwards. … The student was suspended for a week for disrespect toward a teacher—not for assault—and then returned to Andrews’ classroom in Bridgeton, N.J. … When Andrews asked her principal to permanently remove the student from her classroom, she says the principal told her to ‘put on her big girl panties and deal with it.’”

In schools across the country, teachers hesitated to protect students against other students if that meant disciplining (discriminating against) a minority student. MacDonald’s examples are frightening and sickening:

One student shoved a pregnant teacher in order to grab her laptop and watch a video. The dean then interrogated the teacher about why the student was not ‘jibing with her.’

“One student, recounts author Cinque Henderson, shoved a pregnant teacher in order to grab her laptop and watch a video. The dean then interrogated the teacher about why the student was not ‘jibing with her.’ An instructor from Miami-Dade County told Henderson: ‘It is virtually impossible to discipline a student. I know we are losing a generation of kids of color as a result of allowing them to run wild.’”

It is no exaggeration to speak of “losing a generation” of black students. The chief cause of the collapse of discipline in black families and the black community was identified more than half a century ago, in 1965, when sociologist Daniel Patrick Moynihan published his famous report on the link between black poverty and the family structure. Moynihan warned of the collapse of the black family, the advent of the family without a father. According to Wikipedia “… in 1965 … the out-of-wedlock birth rate was 25 percent among Blacks. In 1991, 68 percent of Black children were born outside of marriage. In 2011, 72 percent of Black babies were born to unmarried mothers.”

It is no longer controversial to point out that the social factor with far and away the highest correlation with school failure, failure to graduate, and disciplinary problems among black students is coming from a family without a father. And, today, that means the overwhelming majority of all black families in America.

Heather MacDonald spells out the true tragedy, for black Americans, of the federally enforced collapse of school discipline. “Schools are usually the last chance to civilize children if their family has failed to do so. They accomplish that civilizing mission through the application of a color-blind behavioral code, neutrally enforced, that communicates to students that their behavioral choices have consequences. A student who perceives that his race is an excuse for bad conduct will be handicapped for life.”

The phrase “handicapped for life” resonates when you consider that a chief consequence of the collapse of discipline, now in schools as well as homes, is the juvenile crime wave among high-school-aged black males. And that 50 percent of America’s large and constantly growing prison population are black men.

Most Americans likely did not even hear of the release of the report of the Commission on School Violence, much less its recommendation to “rescind” the Obama administration guidelines on school discipline. The recommendation to scrap the “disparate impact” test of discipline is commonsense; but this mere attention to reality stands out because it contrasts with an ideologically driven denial of facts, of reality, that is almost unbelievable.

MacDonald urges that the recommendation in the report become Trump administration policy and that what that recommendation represents in principle—flatly rejecting the replacement of color-blind policy with race-based policy alleged to bring about equal outcomes—become the Trump administration standard.

There is a fight ahead. The New York Times defended the disparate-impact standard, accusing the Trump administration of dismantling “protections for minority students.” Rep. Nancy Pelosi vowed that upon returning to the House she would defend “vital student anti-discrimination protections.” She and the House Education Committee would work together to make disparate-impact methodology statutory law.

Meanwhile, story after story reports there is an “exodus” of teachers from American public schools. The reasons they give often are phrased in terms of “lack of support” or “lack of respect” or “disempowerment.” Reportedly, teacher departures are highest among black teachers who are most likely to be in districts with the most minority students.

All this gives you a bit more perspective. Two presidential administrations can make a life-and-death difference on countless issues that barely come to our attention—while the media endlessly goes on about the handful of “big” issues upon which they wish to fix our attention.

 

 

(Visited 146 times, 1 visits today)