Driving home after a late day at work one evening, you turn into your housing development, ease around the next corner into your cul-de-sac...and you slam on the brakes... For down at the end of the block, where your house is, you see an explosion; immediately your beautiful home is engulfed in flames. What's your first thought? Is it "Oh, wait, I know what this is about... It must be that guy I met at that party last year, the CGI* expert. He's pranking me..." Or is it likely to be more along the lines of Oh my God, my family's in there, what the hell is going on...??
It has not escaped your attention of late, nor mine, that SHAMblog is mutating into RACEblog. Apologies. It's just that hardly a day goes by that we don't have more one-sided, politically correct reporting and/or analysis served up in the guise of an "open dialog on race." For my part, I grow weary of seeing/hearing nary a rebuttal. To be clear, I grow weary not on white-person racial grounds, but on logical/scientific grounds. Those should apply to all people, regardless of color.
Last last week, for example, we had this story. We were informed that black pre-schoolers are suspended at three time the rates of their white classmates—and naturally, of course, this ipso facto demonstrates that the system is rigged against black kids from the very first.
After all, what other interpretation could there possibly be?
I quote from a key passage in MSNBC's coverage of the study:
A staggering new report released by the Department of Education and the Justice Department on Friday highlights a troubling pattern of zero-tolerance school discipline policies that disproportionately impact minority students in general, but also trickle down to the nation’s youngest students...So the disciplinary policies "disproportionately impact minority students"? Does it disproportionately impact minority students who are models of impeccable behavior? Or could it be that the impacted minority students are, just perhaps, a wee bit more unruly than their white peers? If the latter, then isn't MSNBC's argument a little bit like saying that laws against drunk driving disproportionately impact people who drive drunk? I agree that zero-tolerance policies on just about anything are problematic and should be rethought, but if we're saying that zero-tolerance policies disproportionately affect black students, are we not also saying that black students are more apt than white students to exhibit the intolerable behaviors?
In other words, if you have tough standards in the area of behavior, a good percentage of the kids who are unable to meet those standards will be black. OK, so maybe that is indeed saying something about the unworkability of the standards. But it's also saying something about the black kids...and yet we don't hear what it says aloud. It simply isn't permissible.
The same report notes that teachers in minority neighborhoods tend to be less experienced than those in other neighborhoods—thus, supposedly more evidence of society's educational bias against blacks. But this point about the quality of education is a wholly separate argument that, to my mind, militates against the larger point about suspensions and discipline. While it may be true that inexperienced teachers aren't as good at teaching, the inexperienced teachers also happen to be the idealists, the ones who went into education in order to shape young minds, inspire children and "give back." (Until such idealism gets beaten out of them by the system.) I believe that in most cases young teachers sincerely want to help kids they regard as disadvantaged or at-risk. If anything, such teachers are more understanding and lenient than the hard-bitten veterans, the Joe Clark types. Even in a zero-tolerance setting, I suspect that young teachers tolerate more.
|I won't kill you, but I can't blame you for worrying.|
In dealing with almost any other topic we'd be permitted to ask that question: no, not as a rhetorical, not as if to imply that we already know the answer, but as an honest expression of interest in scientific inquiry. If a particular brand of toaster is always incinerating consumers who attempt to make toast, if the ignition switch on a particular brand of car is resulting in deadly malfunctions (the very crisis new GM CEO Mary Barra has on her hands), if a breed of dog seems correlated with deadly attacks (i.e. pit bulls, like my son's beloved Benny, shown), our first inclination is to assume the problem is the toaster, the car, the breed. We may later reject those hypotheses in favor of less obvious factors, but we're at least allowed to consider the prima facie possibility first.
Not in our open dialog on race, however. This is the one case where the smoke can never be a result of fire.
* computer-generated imagery