“We have got this tailspin of culture, in our inner cities in particular, of men not working and just generations of men not even thinking about working or learning the value and the culture of work, and so there is a real culture problem here that has to be dealt with.” – Rep. Paul Ryan
Alright, so let’s talk about racism, shall we? Now the racism I want to talk about today has nothing to do with the idiotic comment by Rep. Paul Ryan related to lazy black men in the “inner city.”
No, let’s not talk about that racism.
Instead of Republican Social Dawinism, let’s talk about a more dangerous sort of racism. That would be, one element of structural racism and its impact on people of color. Yes, instead let’s talk about just one of the many perverse structural forces that continues to foster the many gaps between dominant culture and black folks. That’s right, folks; let’s discuss the racist educational system.
Now you may be wondering: How can the U.S. public school system be racist when we’re at least forty years past Brown v. Board of Education? Which is a very good question when you consider the fact that black children aren’t being escorted to classrooms by military personal. But, you don’t have to take my word for it; nor do you have to believe me or a word I say.
However, if you’re in disagreement with the assertion that our public school system is racist, it would probably be a good idea to take up that notion with the U.S. government. Because, according to a newly released government report, it sure is racist.
This from Joy Resmovits at HuffPo:
Public school students of color get more punishment and less access to veteran teachers than their white peers, according to surveys released Friday by the U.S. Education Department that include data from every U.S. school district.
Black students are suspended or expelled at triple the rate of their white peers, according to the U.S. Education Department’s 2011-2012 Civil Rights Data Collection, a survey conducted every two years. Five percent of white students were suspended annually, compared with 16 percent of black students, according to the report. Black girls were suspended at a rate of 12 percent — far greater than girls of other ethnicities and most categories of boys.
Okay, so I know what you’re thinking. Like Paul Ryan, this disparity can be explained by obvious cultural differences. In your mind the above information supports the twisted notion that relative to white kids, black kids are just bad. Yes, in your mind they’re this way because, well, its genetic.
That’s right, it’s in the melanin — the more the melanin, the worse the behavior; and, quite naturally this explains the disparity. And like Paul Ryan, this too explains poverty in the “inner city.”
More from the report:
[..] minority students have less access to experienced teachers. Most minority students and English language learners are stuck in schools with the most new teachers. Seven percent of black students attend schools where as many as 20 percent of teachers fail to meet license and certification requirements. And one in four school districts pay teachers in less-diverse high schools $5,000 more than teachers in schools with higher black and Latino student enrollment.
Such discrimination lowers academic performance for minority students and puts them at greater risk of dropping out of school, according to previous research. The new research also shows the shortcomings of decades of legal and political moves to ensure equal rights to education. The Supreme Court’s landmark 1954 Brown v. Board of Education ruling banned school segregation and affirmed the right to quality education for all children. The 1964 Civil Rights Act guaranteed equal access to education.
So, yes, it can be argued that the educational system in America is racist. And, given this new government report it would be hard to argue against the data. That would be, unless you’re racist and “inarticulate,” and you see no problem with the system as it were. If that’s the case, to someone like you the system is working just fine. After all, most children are doing just fine when you consider that 80% of all Americans live in urban centers which are an incubator for criminal activity.
But like Paul Ryan said on the 2012 campaign trail, “It’s about opportunities, not outcomes.” Well, looking at the report, he’s right and wrong. There’s no equality and the outcomes reflect it.
Daria Hall, K-12 policy director at the Education Trust, an advocacy group, also called for action. “The report shines a new light on something that research and experience have long told us — that students of color get less than their fair share of access to the in-school factors that matter for achievement,” she said. “Students of color get less access to high level courses. Black students in particular get less instructional time because they’re far more likely to receive out of school suspensions or expulsions. And students of color get less access to teachers who’ve had at least a year on the job and who have at least basic certification. Of course, it’s not enough to just shine a light on the problem. We have to fix it.”
Though 16 percent of America’s public school students are black, they represent 27 percent of students referred by schools to law enforcement, and 31 percent of students arrested for an offense committed in school, according to the survey.
Students with disabilities make up one-fourth of students referred to law enforcement or arrested, although they represent 13 percent of the student population. Students with disabilities are twice as likely to be suspended out of school than peers, with 13 percent of such students being sent home for misbehaving. One of four boy students of color who have disabilities and one in five girl students of color who have disabilities were suspended. Students of color include all non-white ethnic groups except Latino and Asian-American.
[…] According to the new data, disparities begin as early as preschool. Black students make up 18 percent of preschool enrollment, but they comprise 48 percent of preschool students receiving more than one suspension out of school. White students, representing 43 percent of preschool students, only receive 26 percent of out-of-school suspensions more than once.
So you see, it’s as plain as day. Yes it is 2014; and yes we’re post-racial — heck, there’s a black president. A black president intelligent enough to recognize some of the challenges faced by black and brown children in the United States to introduce the “My Brother’s Keeper” White House initiative. Sure, it isn’t exactly policy or legislation; and, it’s definitely not enough to save the lives of some of the most vulnerable youth in America. But while we can’t expect an overnight fix, though the wounds of this country’s racial history are yet tp fully heal, it’s good to know that many — including this administration — are working towards this goal. The question I ssk is whether you’re smart enough to buy in to the idea that change is necessary, or are you racist.