But these same elected officials are now asking the one question that teachers never thought they would hear: “Why are you so racist?”
The question was posed last week following a Department of Education study about the educational and disciplinary differences between white and black students. “This critical report shows that racial disparities in school discipline policies are not only well-documented among older students, but actually begin during preschool,” said Attorney General Eric Holder. “This Administration is moving aggressively to disrupt the school-to-prison pipeline in order to ensure that all of our young people have equal educational opportunities.”
The Department of Education has held since 2009 that any disparity in discipline or education achievement between white and black students is the result of racial discrimination. The President often refers to this racial disparity.
But here’s the catch: Most teachers are white, female, liberal and supporters of President Obama. They thought they were the solution. Turns out they were the problem.
Glenn Singleton is one of the people in charge of solving the problem of racial disparity. In hundreds of school districts around the country, his company has been hired to show this cohort of young, white, liberal and female teachers how they are racist; how their racism is responsible for the achievement gap; and how they have to admit their own racism in a series of “Courageous Conversations” if they ever want to be successful educating black students.
Or if they want to keep their jobs.
To his credit, Singleton is not shy about identifying the problems or solutions: “Racism” plays a primary role in the struggle of black students to achieve at higher levels, he says.
And for all the well-meaning folks who insist on explaining racial differences in education with all the usual socio-economic factors — such as income, family structure, school finance, class size, black culture and on and on and on — Singleton has a message: Get real.
“We have found this kind of blaming to be insufficient at best and destructive at worst when trying to address racial achievement disparity,” he said in his best-selling book Courageous Conversations. “The racial achievement gap exists and persists because fundamentally, schools are not designed to educate people of color.”
There are 300 more pages of that. And dozens of others who write similar books about similar ways to eliminate white racism as the cause of black disparity. These books act as manuals for consultants in hundreds of school districts across the country.
In Washington, D.C. in December, an official of a teachers union tried to explain to a national gathering of black elected officials why white teachers are so problematic for black students:
“We can’t just give them six weeks of training and think they are able to educate our children,” said Marietta English, president of the Baltimore teachers union and vice president of the American Federation of Teachers. “There’s a lot of cultural differences that they don’t understand. If you don’t grow up in the neighborhood, you don’t understand it when we say ‘WASSUP.’ They don’t understand that.”
Singleton says that white teachers have a hard time reaching black students because black people talk about “racial matters daily, if only among themselves.” But white people “are conditioned not to do that.”
When Eric Holder became Attorney General in 2009, he famously said that Americans were cowards about race. Many people did not really know what he meant. But Glenn Singleton did: White people have to be courageous enough to admit how much their racism has ruined black people by giving them an inferior education.
Thus the title of his book: Courageous Conversations.
Some white teachers have a different point of view: They see black school officials ignoring black violence and lawlessness in schools because they do not want to “criminalize” students. Trayvon Martin is the most famous example of that.
Trayvon was caught with stolen goods and burglary tools but was never arrested because of that policy. In South Philadelphia High School, black students harassed, assaulted and tortured Asian students every day for years. The black principal said they did not alert police because they did not want to criminalize the students.
For all the talk about the so-called disparity in punishment black students receive in school, no one was talking about the victims. The students who could not learn. The students who suffered the assaults. And the teachers from schools all over the country who every day try to create order out of constant chaos. Sometimes at risk to their own safety.
Including this teacher who recently decided to call it quits:
I am a white teacher working in an almost exclusively black middle school. In May of 2012, I left my classroom in an ambulance after two fighting students ran around the room at full speed and plowed into me, knocking me to the ground.
I sustained permanent back injuries and had a knee operation. This year, instead of remedial reading classes (I am a reading teacher), I was assigned full classes. From mid-September, I have been subjected to almost daily race baiting, racial and sexual taunts, threats, and attacks.
Students chase me and each other around the room with table legs, threaten to kill my “three ugly little niggers,” follow me to my car in groups shouting racial epithets and “get in a white school, bitch.” Requests to sit in a seat are met with, “Oh, it’s cause I’m black” or “Why you hate black people?” I often hear, “Imma gonna slap this white bitch”, etc.
On Oct 30, a 7th grade girl with a history of incidents against me had just returned from suspension (she had sprayed me in the face with perfume after telling me that I “smell like old white pussy”) and got angry when I changed her seat.
She said, “Oh, this damn bitch is all up in my face startin’ her shit. Imma gonna kick her fuckin’ white ass”. She then got up and gave a long racially charged diatribe about how she “can do whatever I want to the white bitch and the school can’t do nothin’. It’s just a damn school and I’m about to kick this bitch’s white ass ‘cuz I am DONE with the damn bitch”.
She ended her rant by shoving past me and shoving me to the floor.
Incidents such as these are written off as “poor instruction” or “poor planning”. When I discussed this situation with my (Black) principal, she said, “I doubt they even know you are white”. She also said, “I have to wonder of you are able to really ENGAGE the young people – to they LIKE the work you give?” (sic)
Many teacher beat-downs at the hands of black students are caught on video: Here’s one from Upper Darby from October: More than 70 black students were fighting and when the teacher tried to break it up, the students turned on him.
Frederick Douglass high school in Rochester is the scene of regular and large scale black mob violence. The latest came last week, when five black students were arrested after being part of a large fight on campus.
Regular and frequent black mob violence in schools is documented in White Girl Bleed a Lot: The Return of Racial Violence to America and How the Media Ignore It, as well as at the popular video site WorldStarHipHop.com. Many examples are gathered at WhiteGirlBleedalot.com.
That does not mean much to the president of the Chicago teacher’s union. She says any problems with student learning are due to racism. “When,” she asks, “will we address the fact that rich white people think they know what’s best for children of African American or Latinos, no matter what the parents’ income or education level?”
The secret of disproportionate levels of black violence in schools is no secret. It is the subject of frequent stories at black web sites including the TheGrio.com, Huffpo Black Voices, The Root.com, Ebony, Jet and others.
Glenn Singleton is way past trying to deny it. But he does explain it:
“White educators are prone to wondering why black and brown boys are prone to fighting in school,” he writes. “They question why violence is taught in homes of color. Missing from this analysis however is how these boys might be affected by growing up in a White-governed country which threatens young men of color at will, distrusts their ability to succeed and follow the law, and allows daily racial stress to mount in neighborhoods, schools and classrooms.”
With the release of the recent Justice Department report, it is not missing any more.
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