An infinity of good and bad things get unevenly distributed across populations for reasons that have absolutely nothing to do with the kinds of discrimination that are banned in our laws and Constitution. Chester Finn
Congratulations, us Americans can officially pat ourselves on the back. From my estimation, from where I sit, women have now gained full equality in the United States, and the world for that matter. I realized that they only gained the right to vote in the past century. I also acknowledge that the data continues to show differential gaps in equality, such as in the wage disparity for the same jobs. But heck, from where I sit as a man, women have gained full equality. All this talk about disparate impact is just silly, sexism is NOT alive and well. And well, if you insist on talking about the differential treatment that women purportedly receive in society, you are sexist yourself. I don’t experience this boogie man that you call sexism, so it does not exist. So there.
Inane isn’t it? If I were to make this statement, I will have willfully ignored my own positionality as a man.
And so, Chester Finn, recently weighed in on school discipline, racism and students of color in EducationNext. Who is he? Wikipedia:
A former professor of education, an educational policy analyst, and a former United States Assistant Secretary of Education. He is currently the president of the nonprofit Thomas B. Fordham Foundation in Washington, D.C.He is also a Fellow of the International Academy of Education, an Adjunct Fellow at theHudson Institute, and a senior fellow at Stanford University‘s Hoover Institution where he chairs the Koret Task Force on K-12 Education.
You knew it was going to go sideways when he began with this:
Is there a racist behind every tree in the American education forest?
Then ended with this:
What if it is simply true—regrettable, but true—that some kids or groups of kids break school rules more often than others?
He then blames the victim. Why do students of color receive poorly qualified teachers. Well because of them of course!?
Many reasons, of course, including the disruptive and insufficiently disciplined atmosphere in some such schools, but also because—thanks, once more, to the teacher unions—veteran instructors enjoy contractual provisions that allow them to choose their schools and for some reason (badly behaved students, perchance?) more than a few shun inner-city postings.
So what his solution? Choice of course. Who is the boogie person? Unions.
Data such as these create an even stronger argument for school choice—charters, vouchers, and more—to enable low-income families whose kids are serious students to escape intolerable schools for better ones. (Let’s hope Ms. Ali’s enforcers don’t bully the charter and private schools into disciplinary submission, too.) On some parts of the choice agenda—charters in particular—the Obama-Duncan administration has been positive. It’s been death on vouchers, though, even in inner-city Washington D.C., due in no small part to its pals in the teacher unions.
He says beware of this “sort of thing.” You know, Civil Rights enforcement. He quotes Gary Orfield:
Long-time activist Gary Orfield is calling for “stepped-up enforcement actions by the Office for Civil Rights to respond to the stark disparities in discipline, not to mention the many other indicators of injustice and inequity. For example, the number of “disparate impact” interventions has been disappointing… OCR should actively investigate the pronounced disparities revealed by the data. Where unjustifiable policies are to blame, OCR should use its enforcement authority as well as technical assistance resources to spur schools and districts to replace the ineffective policies with less discriminatory ones.”
I don’t think Chester Finn will be accused of being too informed anytime soon.
Clearly, school discipline is metted out in unequal ways. Research has long shown that for the exact same disciplinary issue, that Blacks and Latinos receive disparate treatment— especially boys. For education talking heads, dealing with and conceptualizing discipline in schools appears to be a mystery to them.
According to Chester Finn, regrettably, Blacks/Latino students are just naughty and race/racism have been expunged in the US. He hasn’t seen or experienced it recently.
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