Among all the bizarre ideas that emanate from the callow and sciolistic mind of the modern American liberal, the statistical disparity argument is one of the most fallacious. It has permeated and destroyed so many aspects of society. It is now being offered by Obama’s education secretary, Arne Duncan, in the area of disciplining school students.
I first ran across this during the 1970s as a night school accounting student taking a sociology course. The professor announced the canard that America has something like five percent of the world’s population but uses twenty-five percent of the world’s resources. Do not quote me on the exact words and figures. You get the idea.
But the fallacy of the argument is lost on the holier-than-thou liberal. Omitted is the fact that America produces thirty percent of the goods and services that the world uses. Or that America is the biggest economy in the world and is the market that other countries need to acquire wealth through trade.
One of the worst applications of this has been in crime. The ACLU, as well as the Jesse Jacksons and Al Sharptons of the world, use the fact that blacks are arrested and imprisoned in higher percentages than there are blacks in the general population as proof of racism.
The whole story is not told though. What the leftists omit is that blacks are also crime victims in higher percentages than they are in the general population. So unless the ACLU et al. are willing to admit that the black criminals are preying on black victims because of racism, then this obviously proves that more blacks are in prison because more blacks are committing crime in greater numbers.
Maybe the liberals should confine their efforts to why this is rather than try to excuse this with specious claims of racism.
Gail Heriot, a commissioner of the United States Commission on Civil Rights (USCCR), makes this same argument in rebuttal to the policy being implemented by Duncan, which essentially demands that a quota be developed for disciplining school students.
Duncan, in 2010, dramatically announced that the Dept. of Education (ED) “will be issuing a series of guidance letters to school districts and postsecondary institutions that will address issues of fairness and equity. We will be announcing a number of compliance reviews to ensure that all students have equal access to educational opportunities, including a college-prep curriculum, advanced courses, and STEM classes. We will review whether districts and schools are disciplining students without regard to skin color. … African-American students without disabilities are more than three times as likely to be expelled as their white peers. African-American students with disabilities are over twice as likely to be expelled or suspended as their white counterparts. Those facts testify to racial gaps that are hard to explain away by reference to the usual suspects.”
Are they not explained by the usual suspects?
Heriot does not think so. She wrote in her rebuttal contained in the USCCR’s briefing report, which was derived from 2011 testimony the USCCR heard examining the effect ED’s "Disparate Impact" initiative had on schools and school districts across the country.
She said, “What if an important reason African-American students were being disciplined more often than white or Asian students is that more African-American students were misbehaving? And what if the cost of failing to discipline those students primarily falls on their fellow African-American students who are trying to learn amid classroom disorder? Will unleashing the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights and its army of lawyers cause those schools to eliminate only that portion of the discipline gap (if any) that was the result of race discrimination? Or will schools react more heavy-handedly by tolerating more classroom disorder, thus making it more difficult for students who share the classroom with unruly students to learn?”
Another member, Commissioner Abigail Thernstrom also noted the specious nature of the Obama administration’s argument. She wrote in comments in the report, “We can all agree that, proportionate to their school population, black children are much more likely than their white or Asian peers to be disciplined for behavior the schools find intolerable. I hope we can also acknowledge that whites are twice as likely to be disciplined as Asians.”
But the most scathing criticism came from Commissioner Todd Gaziano. He is very familiar with the Obama administration’s penchant for unequal enforcement of civil rights laws, having battled Attorney General Eric Holder’s stonewalling of the New Black Panther voter intimidation case that the USCCR tried to conduct.
Gaziano wrote, “As Deputy Assistant Secretary of Education for Civil Rights Ricardo Soto explained in his statement to the Commission, the Department’s regulations prohibit 'race-neutral policies, practices, or procedures that have a disparate impact on the basis of race, color or national origin.' Although this phrasing has been part of the executive branch’s lexicon for some time, it is still worth pausing a moment on the Orwellian doublespeak of anything having a 'disparate impact on [a] basis' to show how hard the Department must strain to use some of the words of the statute in service of the opposite of what they provide. Because a disparate impact is usually understood as an unintended effect, and may include many unintended effects, this formulation awkwardly attempts to equate unintended 'impacts' with the actual basis (or ground) for the action. Putting aside this nonsensical use of the English language, Soto’s testimony accurately described the Department’s disparate-impact theory …”
Gaziano also observed that the statistical disparity argument applied to school discipline is just as hollow as it is in the field of criminal justice. He noted the deleterious effects of that policy.
Liberal education policies have already damaged public education tremendously. This policy will make the damage irreparable for minority students.
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