Tuesday, May 27, 2014

A legendary failure of liberalism

Pat Buchanan looks at education in Washington, D.C., 60 years after Brown decision

When Brown v. Board of Education, the 9-0 Warren Court ruling came down 60 years ago, desegregating America’s public schools, this writer was a sophomore at Gonzaga in Washington, D.C.

In the shadow of the Capitol, Gonzaga was deep inside the city. And hitchhiking to school every day, one could see the “for sale” signs marching block by block out to Montgomery County, Maryland.

Democratic and liberal Washington was not resisting integration, just exercising its right to flee its blessings by getting out of town.

The white flight to the Washington suburbs was on.

When this writer graduated in 1956, all-white high schools of 1954 like McKinley Tech, Roosevelt, Coolidge and Anacostia had been desegregated, but were on their way to becoming all black.

Across the South, there was “massive resistance” to Brown, marked by the “Dixie Manifesto” of 1956, Gov. Orval Faubus’ effort to keep black students out of Little Rock Central High in 1957, and the defiance of U.S. court orders to desegregate the universities of Mississippi and Alabama by Govs. Ross Barnett and George Wallace.

While he has received little credit, it was Richard Nixon who desegregated Southern schools. When he took office, not one in 10 black children was going to school with whites in the Old Confederacy.  When Nixon left, the figure was close to 70 percent.

For nearly half a century, no black child has been denied entry to his or her neighborhood school because of race. Ought we not then, with Stephan and Abigail Thernstrom in the Wall Street Journal, celebrate Brown “as a truly heartening American success story”?

Certainly, by striking down state laws segregating schoolchildren, Brown advanced the cause of freedom. But as for realizing the hopes of black parents, that their children’s educational progress would now proceed alongside that of their new white classmates, it is not so easy to celebrate.

For despite half a century of desegregation, three in four black and Hispanic children are in schools that are largely black and Hispanic. And the old racial gap in test scores has never been closed.

A May story in the Washington Post reports that not only has there been no gain in U.S. high school test scores in reading and math – the USA has been steadily sinking in rank in international competition – the disparity between black and white students has deepened.

The quadrennial test given in 2013 to 92,000 12th-graders by the National Assessment of Education Progress, the nation’s report card, found that the test scores of Latino students are today as far behind those of whites’ as in 1999. The gap between white and black high school seniors in reading and math has widened.

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Speaking in Topeka on the anniversary of Brown, Michelle Obama bemoaned the fact that, “Today, by some measures, our schools are as segregated as they were back when Dr. King gave his final speech.

“Many districts have actually pared back on efforts to integrate their schools, and many communities have become less diverse.”

Ms. Obama is undeniably correct. Yet, there are other realities that folks need to stop denying.

First, as the Thernstroms write, where white children were 80 percent of public school students in 1970, today they are 50 percent and falling. In California and Texas, whites make up 27 and 31 percent respectively of the public school enrollment.

If 74 percent of black kids and 80 percent of Hispanics are in minority-majority schools today, those numbers are inexorably going to rise, as white students become a new national minority.

Second, there is no conclusive research that black kids learn more when sitting beside white kids, just as there is no evidence that Head Start has any positive enduring impact on pupil achievement.

Third, after trillions dumped into education at all levels since the Great Society, with the educational gap persisting between whites and Asians and blacks and Hispanics, it is apparent the education industry has not only failed the nation. It has no idea how to close that gap.

Fourth, while Michelle Obama may cherish diversity, the wealthy white liberals who dominate the D.C. metropolitan area appear to prefer living in predominately white neighborhoods and sending their children to predominantly white schools, be they public or private.

The 60 years since Brown in D.C. have demonstrated another truth. There is no correlation between dollars invested in education and student achievement in schools where the money is spent.

Per capita expenditures for students in D.C.’s schools invariably rank among the nation’s highest, while the test scores those tax dollars produce invariably rank among the nation’s lowest.

And who should be held accountable?

Since D.C. got the right to vote, no GOP candidate has ever carried its electoral votes. Obama won the city with 93 percent in 2008. And since home rule half a century ago, we have had only black Democratic mayors and liberal Democratic city councils.

This social debacle belongs to liberalism alone.


White students fed up with black professor’s racial screeds, lawsuits fly

The politics of faux victimization are spiraling out of control at a community college in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where several white students, their black professor and irritated administrators have one-upped each other with complaints, reprimands and now a lawsuit.

The trouble began in English professor Shannon Gibney’s Introduction to Mass Communications class at Minneapolis Community and Technical College. Though the class ostensibly has little to do with race, Gibney considers herself an activist on racial issues, and frequently invokes white privilege and oppression during class time, according to her students. (She has previously taught classes on race and gender.)

Recently, several white students announced that they had had enough with Gibney’s incessant racial screed. They interrupted her during a lecture, and said, “Why do we have to talk about this in every class? Why do we have to talk about this?” according to Gibney’s account of the incident, which was recorded by the City College News.

Gibney felt put on the spot, but told the students not to take matters personally.  “We are not talking about all white people, or you white people in general,” she told them. “We are talking about whiteness as a system of oppression.”

Perhaps unsurprisingly, this failed to provide comfort to the white students. Next, Gibney invited them to file a racial harassment complaint with the college if they were so offended.

So they did.

Last week, the college reprimanded Gibney and accused of her creating a hostile work environment for white students.

According to Gibney, she received the following reprimand from Lois Bollman, vice president of academic affairs:

“Shannon, I find it troubling that the manner in which you led a discussion on the very important topic of structural racism alienated two students who may have been most in need of learning about the subject… Your actions in targeting select students based on their race and gender caused them embarrassment and created a hostile learning environment.”

This is not the first time that Gibney’s penchant for stirring the racial pot has raised eyebrows. She was investigated by the college on two previous occasions. On one of those occasions, she suggested to the student newspaper that circulation was slipping because it did not have enough minority staff members. On another, she was accused of discriminating in favor of minority candidates for a job at the college, according to Inside Higher Ed.

The college said that it did not reprimand Gibney in the manner she claimed but declined to comment on the matter in general.

Gibney called MCTC’s investigations into her behavior “attacks on me by white males.”

“As a vocal black female younger looking… faculty member here, unfortunately this is no the first time,” she said. “I’ve actually had multiple verbal and institutional attacks on me by white males, whether they were students, faculty, administration or staff.”

Gibney and six other MCTC faculty members have filed a class action lawsuit against MCTC that alleges the college is a discriminatory workplace for people of color.

She did not respond to a request for comment.

Gibney received mostly positive reviews on ratemyprofessor.com, although many students — even those who enjoyed her class — said she brings up race way too much.

“I thought I was taking english, not racism 101,” wrote one student.


Australia: Principal of Queensland Christian College rejects Muslim student teachers after they wear hijab to school

THE principal of a Christian College has come under fire for transferring two student teachers after they turned up for work dressed in traditional Muslim headwear.

The two women, in their final year of a teaching degree, had started a work placement at Redlands College this year.

In a newsletter addressed to the school’s parents on Tuesday, principal Mark Bensley outlined his reasons for dismissing the pair, explaining he had acted out of a "duty of care".

"I have a duty of care to ensure that those teaching at the College are actively supporting the Christian principles, practices and beliefs of the College," he wrote.

"I see the wearing of the hijab as openly acting in a manner that is contrary to or inconsistent with these principles, practices and beliefs."

The principal explained that he had arranged for both students to transfer to another school to complete their respective field work.

"While I respect their desire to wear a hijab, I feel it’s inappropriate to do so at Redlands College," he wrote.

A statement issued to The Sunday Mail said, as a Christian school, Redlands College "respects and loves all people, from all backgrounds and religions".

"However we don’t hide our Christian values and we provide an important educational option for families seeking Christian education.

"We are not aware that they (student teachers) had any concerns, and it is our understanding that all parties came to a mutual agreement for the benefit of all."

Some parents at the school are believed to be unhappy with the student teachers’ transfer, and leaders in the Muslim community have been left stunned.

Section 25 of the Anti-Discrimination Act 1991 allows employers to enforce a "genuine occupational requirement that workers act in a way that is consistent with the religious beliefs of the school".

According to Independent Schools Queensland executive director David Robertson, Redlands College was within their rights to dismiss the two student teachers.

But that has done little to calm the Muslim community, with Islamic College of Brisbane principal Mubarak Noor disappointed by the news. "This is not good news, it’s a matter of concern to me," he said.

Redlands College denied moving the students was at odds with Christian teachings of tolerance. "This has nothing to do with religious intolerance, which we condemn outright," a school spokesman said.

Uniting Church Minister Reverend Anneli Sinnko said Mr Bensley’s actions directly contradict the basic foundations of the Christian faith.


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