Saturday, October 26, 2013

Teacher, have you rehabilitated yourself?

It's only an accident, really, that this story comes from the inside-out, upside-down, mental ward called San Francisco. The same theme could just as well play out anywhere in this ideologically authoritarian country.

"These days, when teachers and African American male students have a classroom dispute, it's the teacher who may be asked to stay after school," reports the city's third-rate daily, the Chronicle.
Cultural sensitivity training for educators is on the rise, a response to an unsettling trend that has resulted in disproportionately higher suspension rates among African American male students nationwide in the past 20 years, roughly three times that of their white counterparts.
You can already see where this is going. Obviously slavery is making a comeback. Racism rules. (The story, however, does not specify the race of the teachers who brandish the whip.)
... This is a problem that has become recognized as a national issue: Instead of dealing with troubled kids, teachers remove them from the classroom. In July, President Obama signed an executive order establishing a panel to promote a positive school climate and adopt nonpunitive forms of discipline for black male students.
Consider the assumptions and facts in this one paragraph. Black male students don't misbehave in ways that contribute to depriving other students -- including black students -- of the chance to learn something. Rather, they are "troubled." No doubt. Al Capone was surely troubled. Unfortunately for him, he was white and no one had yet heard the phrase "sensitivity training."

"Teachers remove them from the classroom." How dare they? Removing them just for preventing the teachers from teaching? "Suspensions and expulsions are still used for the most egregious infractions - those involving violence." Barbaric! 

"President Obama signed an executive order ... ." Does a day go by without His Worship signing an executive order? Or a dozen? He doesn't have to show you no stinkin' law. For that matter, why is it the business of Washington how local school districts handle their troubled juvenile delinquents of color? But that thought comes from a vanished America, one I can only dimly remember.

"A positive school climate." I would expect that removing violent troublemakers from the classroom, which (despite the writer's implication) almost no teacher is likely to do except as a last resort, could contribute to a positive school climate. And what's with this "nonpunitive forms of discipline for black male students"? So punitive discipline is still on tap for white male students? And presumably females of any tint?

The writer, Chip Johnson, has no idea of what dangerous foolishness he clearly favors. He admits in an act of bravery, "Initially, it struck me as silly political correctness to train a teacher when the student acts up, and I had a hard time understanding the logic behind such a movement." But he quickly falls into step. Chip loves Big Sensitive Brother.

About the only base he fails to touch is "unconscious racism." Oh, wait a minute:
Administrators and teachers in Oakland and Berkeley say there's an unconscious bias by some teachers to identify black boys as potential troublemakers the first time they enter the classroom. With new teachers, there's sometimes a reluctance to engage with those students when teachers are intimidated - and in some cases - fearful of challenging them.
Who can blame them for being reluctant to engage and intimidated if it means they might have to write "I will not expel any troubled youth" a hundred times on the blackboard after class?  


Terry Morris said...

Who is Colleen Ritzer for a thousand, Alex.

zazie said...

We have had the same : A student "forgets" his homework, does not bring his book to school whenever he is asked to, chatters with his (girl) neighbour, sneers at you...But he belongs to a minority ( Arab, black, Rom,), so he won't be punished ; you may be "warned" by your headmaster that only "white, well-bred, hardworking, higher or lower-middleclass kids"must be punished when they happen to fail ; apparently, with Asians you may do as you feel necessary!