Tag Archives: Social Justice

Trayvon Martin Foundation Must Reject Profiling of Students

by Christopher Paslay

Speaking out against profiling should include the hypocrisy of affirmative action against American students.

In March of 2012, the Trayvon Martin Foundation was established in response to the killing of Trayvon Martin by neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman.  A Florida-based non-profit organization, one of the Foundation’s major goals is “increasing public awareness against all forms of profiling.”

According to its website:

The Trayvon Martin Foundation will use resources and tools to bring social awareness to similar cases.  In this decade, we are still fighting some of the same issues that prompted the Civil Rights Movement as it pertains to injustice and racism.

Although Daryl Parks, the Martin family attorney, stated that George Zimmerman’s murder trail was not about racial profiling (despite that fact prosecutors insinuated otherwise), the non-profit foundation named after Trayvon clearly is.

When it comes to using race as a means to profile, America remains divided.  Conservatives tend to fight for universal colorblindness, striving to, according to Dr. King, “live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”  It is liberals, ironically, who are obsessed with viewing everything in society, from college admissions to academic test scores to the demographics of police and fire departments, through the lens of race, gender, and sexual orientation.

In December of 2011, I received my M.Ed. in Multicultural Education from Eastern University.  In a course titled Urban Education, we had a discussion about the concept of “colorblindness” in American society, and its ramifications.  I took the position that colorblindness was an admirable goal, and that as a society, our ultimate ambition should be to simply view people as people, not whether they are black, white, gay, straight, etc.  This, I stated, would be the highest form of tolerance and multiculturalism—looking past superficial cultural differences to the universal characteristics that join us all as human beings.

The professor used my viewpoint as a springboard into a lesson on social justice.  “Colorblindness,” she told the class, “is a code word for white supremacy.”  She went on to explain that striving for a colorblind society was dangerous, because when people no longer took race, gender, and sexual orientation into account, society would revert back to a culture dominated by the White Western Establishment.  It was our duty as good citizens, she surmised, to be cognizant of other’s differences, so we could not only celebrate them, but make sure they were equally represented.  In other words, colorblindness ran counter to social justice.

It is liberals, not conservatives, who are obsessed with profiling.  Affirmative action, a policy that dictates we must look at a person’s race, gender, and sexual orientation when making decisions about employment, education, and the dolling out of government contracts to businesses, is a prime example.  Amazingly, as the liberal establishment deceptively spins the Trayvon Martin tragedy into a lesson against racial profiling, they have no problem with the fact that the University of Texas at Austin profiled Abigail Fisher, a white woman who insists she was denied admittance into the school because of her race.  Liberals also appear unmoved by affirmative action policies that keep many deserving Asian American students out of the nation’s top universities simply because too many of them are highly qualified.

According to an article in the New York Times headlined “Asian Americans in the Argument”:

“If you look at the Ivy League, you will find that Asian-Americans never get to 20 percent of the class,” said Daniel Golden, author of “The Price of Admission” and editor at large for Bloomberg News. “The schools semiconsciously say to themselves, ‘We can’t have all Asians.’ ” Mr. Golden says it is helpful to think of Asians as the new Jews because some rules of college admissions, like geographic diversity, were originally aimed at preventing the number of Jews from growing too high.

Just like Obama’s enforcement of his own health care law, liberals’ outrage over profiling is situational.

For example, it appears okay to profile a person when it comes to public education.  The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights conducted a report that surveyed 72,000 schools serving 85% of the nation’s students.  The report used race and gender to profile the differences between students on a wide range of issues including discipline, work readiness, school finance, and dropout rates.  In addition, No Child Left Behind uses race, native language, and socioeconomic status to profile the results of student achievement on standardized tests and to rate the overall quality of teachers and schools.

It also appears okay to profile when it comes to awarding government contracts to small businesses (especially minority owned), and when it comes to hiring and firing police, teachers, fire fighters, and any kind of state or government worker.  It appears okay to profile when it comes to processing a non-profit organization’s request for tax exempt status; or when hiring coaches in the NFL; or when awarding Oscars for Best Actor; or when requesting that the U.S. Department of Justice get involved in charging a person with second degree murder in a shooting that was deemed by local authorities to be self defense.

It’s not okay, however, to profile a person to protect your own neighborhood and family.  If there have been documented burglaries in your neighborhood by people of specific races, wearing specific clothing, and a person of that very race, clad in that very clothing, is wandering around suspiciously in the rain after dark, a community appointed neighborhood watch captain cannot stop and observe this person.  That is profiling of the unacceptable kind (as is instructing that person wandering around in the rain not to dress in specific clothing that may very well provoke misunderstandings with authority).  Better for that neighborhood watch person to go about his business and look the other way.  Better to let 100 suspicious-acting folks wandering in the rain after dark break into your house (and continue to dress in a style of clothing with suspicious connotations) than accost one innocent person.

I have no qualms with the Trayvon Martin Foundation “increasing public awareness against all forms of profiling.”  So long as “all” really means all, including profiling of the progressive liberal variety.

1 Comment

Filed under Multiculturalism

U.S. Department of Education Pulls the Race Card on Itself

by Christopher Paslay

For Arne Duncan and the U.S. Department of Education, using racism as a tool to forward agendas proves to be a double-edged sword. 

Early in 2009, Arne Duncan and the U.S. Department of Education, under the direction of President Obama, enacted a reform plan for America’s public schools nicknamed the “National Reform Model.”  The model, which in large part called for failing schools to be shut down and overhauled with new teachers and principals or reconstituted as charters, was the catalyst for the recent reform of public schools within Philadelphia.

Four years later, the School Reform Commission has decided to close 37 schools in the city, many of which are in disrepair and running at less than half capacity.  Ironically, now that the school closures have been set in motion, it’s the U.S. Department of Education that is crying foul.   

According to a January 29th Inquirer article headlined “Activists gear up against planned Philadelphia school closing”:

[Activists] will announce that the district is now the subject of a federal civil rights investigation into the racial patterns of its 2012 closings.  In a recent letter The Inquirer obtained, the U.S. Department of Education confirmed to the activist group Action United it would investigate its claim that the “district adopted a school closing and consolidation plan . . . that has a disparate, adverse impact on African American and Hispanic students, and on students with disabilities.”

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is fond of saying that “education is the civil rights issue of our time,” and that we must act now to reform our failing public schools—many of which serve African American and Hispanic students.  Interestingly, when school districts such as Philadelphia go ahead with the reform model Duncan has been pushing for the last four years—moving to close or overhaul those failing schools that happen to service mostly African American and Hispanic students—the U.S. Department of Education conducts an investigation over a possible civil rights violation because the closures disproportionally affect minorities.

It’s racial discrimination if you do, and it’s racial discrimination if you don’t. 

Such behavior reminds me of the 1977 Dr. Pepper commercial “I’m a Pepper,” except in this case it would be called “I’m a Racist”:        

I pull the race card and I’m proud

I use to feel alone in the crowd

But now you look around these days

And it seems there’s a race card craze

I’m a racist he’s a racist she’s a racist we’re a racist

Wouldn’t you like to be a racist too? 

Even the Philadelphia left-leaning media agrees that this race card pulling has spun out of control.  In an editorial headlined “By the Numbers: Closing schools is painful, but it’s not discrimination,” the Philadelphia Daily News argues that blaming the city’s public school closings on discrimination is absurd:

It’s hard to wrap our mind around the concept of a black mayor, a black superintendent and a School Reform Commission headed by a Latino public-school graduate conspiring to commit acts of racial discrimination. It’s harder still for opponents to face the reality of the closings.  It’s not discrimination, but powerful demographic forces that are at work.

Powerful forces such as the violent culture of certain neighborhoods, the breakdown of community and family, and the lack of parental involvement, perhaps? 

Tragically, race and racism are too often exploited and used as a tool for advancing agendas.  Beth Pulcinella, a teaching artist and activist working at the Attic Youth Center, wrote a commentary last fall for the Philadelphia Public School Notebook called “What I learned about successful organizing from Chicago teachers’ strike leaders”:     

I have been following the situation in Chicago with keen interest for a couple of years now, since members of the Caucus of Rank and File Educators (CORE) won enough union elections to gain control of the Chicago Teachers’ Union. But how was the union able to organize such a massive and publicly supported strike?

Pulcinella named several reasons CORE was successful, one of them being:

Members of CORE have not been afraid to discuss the ways that race and racism have created an educational apartheid in this country, a place where the term achievement gap is code for the gap between white students and students of color.

In other words, CORE wasn’t afraid to pull the race card to forward their agenda. 

Education activists and civil rights groups seem to be taking a page out of CORE’s playbook.  Some have gone as far as to call Obama’s education agenda, which has been blamed for school closings in major cities all across the country, racist.  The Huffington Post writes in an article headlined “School Closures Violate Civil Rights, Protestors Tell Arne Duncan”:

The standards-based education reform movement calls school change “the civil rights issue of our time.” But about 220 mostly African American community organizers, parents and students from 21 cities from New York to Oakland, Calif., converged on Washington Tuesday to tell U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan he’s getting it backwards on school closures.

Members of the group, a patchwork of community organizations called the Journey for Justice Movement, have filed several Title VI civil rights complaints with the Education Department Office of Civil Rights, claiming that school districts that shut schools are hurting minority students. While most school closures are decided locally, the Education Department’s School Improvement Grant gives underperforming school districts money for shakeups or turnarounds, including closures.

Now, the U.S. Department of Education, which wanted to end “discrimination” in public schools in part by pulling the race card, is forced to investigate itself because someone on the outside has pulled the race card on them.  

Us race card pullers are an interesting breed

To control the resources is what we need

Ask any race hustler and they’ll say

We’re the true racists for acting this way

I’m a racist he’s a racist she’s a racist we’re a racist

Wouldn’t you like to be a racist too?

The 37 school closings recommended by the Philadelphia School Reform Commission may or may not be justified; this is still a matter of public debate.  As Timothy Boyle rightly talks about in his recent commentary in the Notebook, the public still doesn’t have enough information to okay the SRC’s decision to shut down three dozen public schools; more detailed explanations are necessary. 

This, however, doesn’t justify pulling the race card, which cheapens true complaints about legitimate discrimination, and makes us all look like we’re simply crying wolf.

6 Comments

Filed under Arne Duncan, Multiculturalism

Commenter Calls Me ‘A Dangerous Presence in the Political Discourse’

by Christopher Paslay

Instead of addressing my arguments, “social justice advocates” attempt to bully me out of the debate. 

Several days ago I posted a blog headlined “Inventing Racism in America’s Public Schools” which explored the notion that there are folks, mainly on the political left, who exploit race and racism in education for their own benefit; the Philadelphia Public School Notebook went on to link the piece in their January 23rd “Notes from the News.”  The blog also talked about the existence of racism in public schools, data on achievement and discipline, and linked no less than 17 sources as evidence—a book on racism, a speech by U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, five education policy reports by Princeton’s Educational Testing Service (ETS) that spanned 25 years of American public education, an interview with a NYT bestselling author on racism, eight newspaper articles, and two public school related websites.

My conclusion was that although episodic racism still exists in isolated cases in classrooms, systematic racism is dying and other causes of the racial achievement gap—such as culture and home environment—should be explored.

Geoffrey Winikur, a White Philadelphia public school teacher, social justice advocate and facilitator for the Philadelphia Writing Project, publicly commented on my blog that I was “a dangerous presence in the political discourse” and claimed I made my arguments “without offering a shred of evidence.”  I guess 17 sources, including five from ETS covering 25 years of public education, isn’t “evidence.”  Winikur also said, “I love it every time you write a new article, because I know I’m in for a good laugh.”  Yes, a highly intellectual response to my arguments indeed.

This, of course, is nothing short of bullying—the kind of thing that happened to Samantha Pawlucy at Carroll High School last fall, the young lady who was asked to remove her Mitt Romney T-shirt by none other than her own geometry teacher because, allegedly, the teacher claimed “this is a Democratic school.”

Ben Shapiro analyzes this topic in his recently released New York Times bestselling book Bullies: How the Left’s Culture of Fear and Intimidation Silences Americans.  In his introduction he highlights how on March 10, 2011, President Barack Obama led a White House conference on the crisis of bullying:

The strategy here was simple. Obama and his friends in the media and on the organized left picked the one thing all Americans can agree on: bullying. They strategically placed President Obama at the head of the anti-bullying cause. Then came the brilliant gambit: they appropriated bullying to apply only to anything remotely conservative.

The Tea Party? A bunch of bullies. Religious people? Bullies. Global warming unbelievers, defense hawks, venture capitalists, fans of voter identification or traditional marriage, opponents of affirmative action, right-to-work advocates, supporters of Israel, haters of Glee? Bullies. Those who dislike President Obama? They were the biggest bullies of all. Liberalism and anti-bullying, it turned out, were—miracle of miracles!—one and the same.

Their twisted logic was deceptively easy. Liberals claim that they are all about protecting victim classes from bullies. Conservatives oppose liberals. Therefore, by definition, conservatives must be bullies. And bullies must be stopped.

The irony here is that the true bullies are the ones who callously attack those who disagree with their worldview, like Winikur’s statement that I’m “a dangerous presence in the political discourse.”

I’m not sure why fighting for colorblindness in society—judging people by their core values and not their skin color—is dangerous.  I’m not sure why treating minorities as equals and not as enslaved and oppressed is so worrisome.  I’m not sure why teaching young people that they are the captain of their own ship and not the victim of a corrupt system is a cause for alarm.  Or why the notion that there exist universal human values that transcend race, gender, sexuality and culture—values such as honesty, respect, integrity, loyalty, and hard work—is “Eurocentric.”

The lack of manners from disapproving social justice advocates didn’t stop with Winikur.  Another commenter wrote, “You’re doing what’s called ‘blaming the victim’ and it’s lame.”  The irony of this statement is that the issue of “blaming the victim” was addressed in the video interview I included with my blog post by NYT bestselling author of The End of Racism Dinesh D’Souza.  Interestingly, neither Winikur nor any of the other commenters took the time to click on the link and watch the video (one did, however, reference an article in The Daily Beast that smeared D’Souza because he had the audacity to respectfully challenge President Obama’s policies in a recent documentary titled “Obama’s America: 2016”).

Since none of the commenters took the time to even listen to what D’Souza had to say before smearing him, I’ll include his quote about “blaming the victim”:

“For a generation, people have said you cannot point at these problems because to do so is blaming the victim.  When Daniel Patrick Moynihan wrote his report on the Black family in the sixties, the illegitimacy rate for Blacks was 25 percent.  He said it was a national tragedy and people said ‘you’re a racist, stop talking about it.’  And he did.  He hasn’t said a word about it since, and the illegitimacy rate for Blacks today is close to 70 percent.   So when these problems are ignored, they metastasize and become far worse . . .”

Another objection made by Geoffrey Winikur (the White uber-liberal teacher who publicly commented that I was a dangerous presence in the political discourse) was one of cultural relativism, that my idea of “colorblindness” was really an effort to push America back to a Eurocentric state.  This was not only a humongous misinterpretation of what I argued constituted colorblindness (I don’t know how judging a person by their actions and values instead of their skin color is “Eurocentric”), but Winikur didn’t bother to click on the link to the D’Souza interview either, which already addressed this objection.  To quote D’Souza:

“That’s the legacy of cultural relativism . . . which says in effect that all cultures are equal and no culture can judge another by its own standards, and cultures should not impose values on each other.  I argue that this relativism played an important historic role . . . relativism was a way to undermine the old racism, which was based on a hierarchy . . . but it’s created a new problem.”

The new “problem” D’Souza explores is one of the functionality of culture, and how relativism has come to hide the dysfunction of some cultures.  Although it may be argued that no one culture is inherently better than another and that one culture cannot judge another by its own standards, things such as quality of life and manageability of life do exist.  I don’t think anyone would disagree that certain cultures in America as a whole have a better quality of life and have lives that are more manageable and functional than other cultures.  The racial achievement gap is one example.  The wealth gap is another.  So are homicide rates within cultures.  So are incarceration rates.  Out-of-wedlock birth rates, quality of nutrition, literacy rates, dropout rates, and the rates of college graduation are still other examples.  (To read the ETS reports on this click here, here, here, and here).

To suggest that all cultures are equal in terms of quality and manageability of life is ridiculous.  To suggest that the differences in quality and manageability of life among cultures is primarily the result of racism is also ridiculous.

In 2009, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said Americans were “a nation of cowards” because we were afraid to talk about race.  What he seems to have meant by this was that not enough Americas were willing to talk about how White people oppress minorities.  I’d like to take Eric Holder up on his proposition.  Let’s talk about race in America, but let’s really talk about it—dirty laundry and everything.

But to truly talk about race would mean many folks, like Geoffrey Winikur, would have to address opposing arguments head-on and refrain from attempting to demonize those they disagree with.

Tragically, with the exception of publications such as The Philadelphia Public School Notebook—who have recently had the courtesy and open-mindedness to link my articles in their “Notes from the News” to open-up the much needed avenues of discussion (I’d like to publicly thank them for this, by the way)—it doesn’t appear as if honest and frank talk about race and racism in America is going to happen anytime soon.

9 Comments

Filed under Achievement Gap, Multiculturalism

All My Babies’ Mamas Reveals Liberals’ Opinion of Blacks

by Christopher Paslay

Conservative African American writer Lloyd Marcus exposes liberals’ typical bigotry of lowered expectations regarding minorities.

From “All My Babies’ Mamas Reveals Liberals Opinion of Blacks” by Lloyd Marcus, published today on American Thinker:

As a teen in the 1960s, I idolized Jim, my slightly older street-smart cousin who lived in a tough area of Baltimore. Murders were common at the bar on the corner from his home. I was Jim’s nerdy, naïve preacher’s-kid cousin who visited from suburbia. Sleepovers at Jim’s home in the city were exciting. “Downtown, where all the lights are bright…” You know the song.

Walking from the Yakamee joint, “Casanova” Jim coached, “Just say you love them.” While I wanted my experience to go beyond the stimulation of excessively close slow dancing to Marvin Gaye songs at un-chaperoned dark basement parties, lying to a girl to have my way with her did not set well. Doggone home training! I was nagged by the truth that it is wrong to use someone solely for my pleasure, not caring about how it affected her.

“Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6). In college, I tried to muzzle my conscience with drugs and alcohol. Fortunately, I did not produce any children out of wedlock.

Tom, another cousin of mine, had babies all over town, which destroyed his life. He was incarcerated numerous times for non-payment of child support. In those days, serial impregnators were considered dishonorable men.

Today, in 2013, the liberal Oxygen channel had planned to celebrate dishonorable behavior as representative of the “hip” modern black experience with a new reality show titled All My Babies’ Mamas. Canceled due to public outcry, the star of the show was a rapper whose serial sperm-donating produced eleven babies by ten women.

All My Babies’ Mamas is characteristic of liberals’ typical bigotry of lowered expectations regarding minorities. Liberals accuse black conservatives who reject liberal racist stereotypes of being traitors to their race, trying to be white, and “selling out.”

Long-suffering courageous black conservatives offer blacks real empowerment: liberation from crippling victimhood and entitlement mindsets. Due to liberals’ resentment/hatred for America and traditional values, they are repulsed when black conservatives encourage blacks to get an education, work hard, revive traditional black community morality, and go for their dreams.

In the 1950s, most black kids grew up in two-parent households. Today, most black kids grow up fatherless as a result of liberal policies that destroyed the black family. Only half of black males graduate high school. Clearly, something is wrong in the black community, and it ain’t the white man’s fault. . . .

To continue reading, click here.

God bless Lloyd Marcus for having the courage to reject today’s suffocating and racist groupthink coming from the American left.

 

2 Comments

Filed under Multiculturalism

Inventing ‘Racism’ in America’s Public Schools

by Christopher Paslay

“Social justice” advocates create the illusion of discrimination in America’s classrooms in order to maintain the status quo and control resources.  

Today is MLK Day.  This summer—August 28th, to be exact—will mark the 50 year anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream Speech.”  One of the key points of Dr. King’s address was about judging a person by his values, not by his skin color:

“I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

Interestingly, the concept of judging a person by his character—by his beliefs, choices, and most importantly, his actions—has been systematically abandoned by so-called “social justice” advocates claiming to have the best interests of minorities at heart.  In fact, the attempt to create a colorblind society is railed against by multiculturalists because in their view, the failure to analyze every word and deed in terms of race is to allow discrimination to go unchecked.

I have an M.Ed. in Multicultural Education.  I have read the standard books by Kozol, Anyon, Freire, Howard, and the like.  I have sat through hundreds of hours of lectures by Marxists education professors on “White privilege” and other such guilt-provoking topics.  All of this has taught me a cold hard truth: The left is not interested in any way in colorblindness. Why?  Because the left has a monopoly on the exploitation of race and racism in America.  Race and racism, real or manufactured, are too powerful a commodity for the left to give up.  They will do everything they can to keep it alive and kicking, so they can use it for their own political, financial—and yes, educational—advantage.

In 1995, the Indian-born bestselling author and filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza, former president of King’s College, published a book titled The End of Racism.  In it he argues that the debilitating systematic form of racism that once oppressed minorities is over, and that the traditional grievances used by Blacks are outdated.  D’Souza states in an interview that African American failure is not the result of discrimination but stems primarily from a breakdown in culture:

I reject the liberal view, which holds that Black failure is largely or mainly due to discrimination . . . I focus on cultural differences.  And I point out for example that on virtually every measure of academic achievement or economic performance we find not just Whites but immigrants . . . Cubans, West Indians, Koreans . . . leap-frogging ahead of American Blacks and claiming the fruits of the American dream.”

In his article “Obama and the End of Racism,” D’Souza reinforces this point:

Don’t get me wrong: I’m not saying that racism does not exist. This is a big country, and surely one can find several examples of it. But racism, which used to be systematic, is now only episodic. In fact, when I ask young blacks on the campus today whether America is racist, many say yes. But if I ask them to give me examples of how that racism affects their lives, they are hard pressed to give a single one. The best they can do is to mention “Rodney King” or provide some well-known, recycled horror story.

D’Souza explored this topic with Jesse Jackson in a 1988 debate on Stanford’s campus, questioning the existence of the kind of debilitating systematic racism that liberals continually claim is causing African Americans to fail.  Jackson responded by explaining that racism in America has changed, that it’s no longer overt but covert—that it has gone underground and now exists in subtle coded forms.

The interesting thing about “coded” racism is that it’s not what a person says or does that’s racist, it’s what they were thinking when they said or did it.  Thus, to ultimately prove coded racism, the accuser has to be a bona fide mind reader.  Coded racism reminds me of a skit by the late great comedian George Carlin when he poked fun at a brainless football referee haphazardly officiating a game: I call it the way I see it, and if I don’t see it, I make it up.

This is exactly what social justice folk on the left do when they want to explain away the educational failures or chronic misbehavior of minorities in America’s public schools when there is no legitimate systematic discrimination to use as an excuse: They make it up. Why?  To keep the status quo in order to control the raw materials that go along with pubic education.

They do this systematically (ironically enough) in four stages:

First, social justice folk deliberately misrepresent data.  They use a classic propaganda technique known as using correlation to prove causation.  Example: 84 percent of America’s public school teachers are White.  Studies show that Black students are three times as likely to be suspended or expelled from school than their Whites counterparts.  Therefore, Blacks are being unfairly discriminated against, consciously or unconsciously, by racist or culturally insensitive White teachers.

This, of course, is not the case.  There is a third variable that liberal “research studies” refuse to address—a lurking variable: Poverty.  Black students are three times as poor as their White counterparts, and poverty has a devastating effect on academic achievement and behavior.  Black students are also much more likely not to have a father in the home, not to have books in the home, to watch excessive amounts of television, have poor nutrition, regress academically over the summer, and have parents who are not involved in homework and school.

These are cultural and environmental issues, not matters of racial discrimination.  But this doesn’t keep the New York Times and the Huffington Post from running stories about “harsh discipline” of Blacks in Mississippi and the “racial segregation” of minorities in gifted programs in New York City.  It doesn’t keep U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan from pulling the race card, either.

Sure, episodic racism still exists in American classrooms in isolated instances (although actual documented cases are practically nonexistent), but debilitating systematic racism—the kind that has a direct impact on a student’s education—is a thing of the past.

Second, social justice folk promote White guilt and generate resentment in minorities.  At Delevan-Darian High School in Wisconsin, progressive educators offer an American Diversity course that teaches students that minorities are disadvantaged by White oppressors.  The course also teaches “White Guilt” as well as “White Privilege.”  According to The Huffington Post:

Yet another assignment asked questions of a lecture by anti-racism activist and writer Tim Wise, inquiring, “Why is the colorblind model of America ineffective,” “Why is it important to talk about whiteness in America,” and “Explain the irony of the phrase ‘United We Stand.’”

Race baiting and identity politics are hardly the way to bring people together and close achievement gaps.

Third, social justice folk preach victimhood and create a grievance culture.  As D’Souza noted in an interview about his book The End of Racism:

Blacks are always marching on Washington, looking to the government for answers.  Meanwhile, other groups are setting up entrepreneurial associations, rotating credit systems, and within a generation their daughters are valedictorians and have moved to the suburbs.

Case in point: Officials in the Philadelphia School District have recently enacted a plan that calls for the closure of 37 schools.  The majority of these schools are in predominantly African American neighborhoods and disproportionally affect Black students.  With that said, however, many of these schools are also in disrepair and running at less than half capacity.  The students in many of these schools have high rates of STDs, lead the city in assaults on teachers, assaults on fellow students, weapons charges, drug possession, and unwanted pregnancy; the students in many of these schools also have some of the lowest SAT scores in the entire state.

How do the families and communities react to the closure of these schools?  They play the role of victim and turn to what they know best: the grievance.  They march on School District headquarters, waiving signs and shaking their fists—engaging in street theater and using outrageous hyperbole to convince School District officials and all else who will listen that they are victims of an oppressive, unjust system.

The Philadelphia Student Union recently lead such a march.  Several dozen teens, spurred on by the agendas of their adult mentors and organizers, converged on Philadelphia School District headquarters dressed as zombies acting out a scene akin to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” titled “Student Apocalypse: A Brainless Future.”  According to the Philadelphia Public School Notebook which covered the protest:

Chris Riley, a 12th grader at South Philadelphia High School said, “This event symbolizes what would happen if they go through with the school-closure plan.”

Instead of protesting, why not spend that time and energy campaigning for the improvement of their own community?  Why not call for more parental involvement at school?  For neighborhood men to father their children?  For city residents to pay the $500 million they owe the School District in delinquent property taxes?  Why not do a creative dance about literacy rates and the need for mothers and fathers to read to their children, say no to drugs, stand up against violence, and make education the community’s main priority?

Lastly, social justice folk move in and seize control of resources.  Marxist hustlers, after successfully maintaining the status quo, are free to divvy-up the money and wealth to their own people—friends, vendors, politicians, etc.  From 2008 to 2011, the Philadelphia School District went through nearly $10 billion dollars of mostly state and federal funds with amazingly little to show for it (besides a gargantuan budget deficit and across-the-board cuts to legitimate education programs).  Where did the money go?  Can you say Foundations Inc.?  Universal?  IBS Communications Inc.? Duane Morris LPP?  Trujillo Rodriguez and Richards LLC?  Can you say Queen Arlene?  Robert Archie?  Dwight Evans?  Kenny Gamble?  Chaka Fattah Jr.?  Need I go on?

Tragically, as evidenced by the fact that the racial achievement gap in the United States stopped closing right around the time the multiculturalism and social justice movements came into full bloom—when their toxic postmodern mantra of “cultural relativism” was naively adopted by well intentioned educators—things aren’t getting much better for minorities in American public schools.  Nor are they getting better for American minorities financially; the wealth gap continues to grow and poor minorities continue to fall further behind.

This begs the following question: Is social justice style race-baiting and identity politics really the best thing for America’s children?  Somehow I think Dr. King would call for a totally different strategy for empowering the poor and disenfranchised, perhaps one that acknowledges that the only real change is the kind that comes from within.

12 Comments

Filed under Achievement Gap, Multiculturalism, Parental Involvement

School District Turf War: Capitalist Pimps vs. Marxist Hustlers

by Christopher Paslay

On the surface, the battle over school closings and the expansion of charters is about the kids.  In reality, it’s about money and power. 

Here are some facts about the residents of the City of Philadelphia:

  • 21 percent over the age of 25 have not graduated high school
  • 78 percent over 25 do not have a college degree 
  • 21 percent speak a language other than English at home
  • $36,251 is the median household income
  • $500 million are owed in delinquent property taxes
  • 81 percent of students attending public schools are economically disadvantaged

What do these facts indicate?  Simply stated, they show that the engine driving Philadelphia’s public schools—families and communities—is weak and sputtering.  Unlike the more affluent suburban districts where families use their knowledge and clout and power to micromanage nearly every aspect of their child’s education—successfully influencing policy and arranging for the dismissal of teachers, administrators and school board members if things don’t go according to their wishes—the majority of families at the core of the Philadelphia School District are, to put it bluntly, passengers instead of drivers. 

Unfortunately, this leaves the district and its families open to all manner of opportunists looking to funnel money or push political agendas.  In broad terms, these opportunists fall into two major categories: Capitalist Pimps and Marxist Hustlers.   

Capitalist Pimps

The main goal of the Capitalist Pimp is short term: to make money, and lots of it.  Their mindset is to get in and get out.  Profit comes first, even before politics, even before power.  In fact, politics and power only matter in terms of the net effect they have on money.  The bottom line is the bottom line is the bottom line.  Such is the mind of the pure Capitalist Pimp.   

There have been a number of Capitalist Pimps who’ve managed to extract large amounts of cash money from the Philadelphia School District in recent years (and some continue to do so).  I won’t name names, but I’ll give a basic character description: they are in positions of power, either lawyers, politicians, business owners, private consultants, charter operators, or academic elites.  They have a knack for showing up at just the right time, and schmooze and manipulate their way to lucrative paydays.  They always promise big results but end up delivering the status quo (or worse, they destroy what they were claiming to save).  They are of all races, genders, and political affiliations.  Their motives are simple, linear, and direct.  They are curt, shrewd, and standing in plain sight in front of our children and schools.    

Capitalist Pimps have brought us the following: corrupt charters; ineffective education management organizations (EMOs); out-of-touch consultants; scripted curriculum; a “Facilities Master Plan” that recommends closing 40-50 District schools in the near future and ensures that charters make-up 40 percent of the PSD; performance pay; achievement networks; a Shared Services Organization that cuts the pay of union workers; outright union busting; a proposal to end teacher tenure and seniority; and the Great Schools Compact, among other goodies.     

Marxist Hustlers

The main goal of the Marxist Hustler is long term: to sow his political oats in such a manner as to lay claim to the land for eternity.  Their aim is to grow roots and infiltrate the school system with orthodoxy.  “Social justice” comes first, and drives every decision, every breath, every movement.  The kind of curriculum taught in school is rooted in social justice, the types of tests given are about social justice, pedagogy and instruction stem from social justice.  Grading is about social justice.  Discipline is about social justice.  The spoken word itself is about social justice.  And yes, even thinking is about social justice.  Social justice is, of course, a means to an end: power.  Power to control curriculum, testing, pedagogy and instruction, grading, discipline, speaking, and thought.  Why?  Because the Marxist Hustler at his core is a guilty elitist (and privileged) control freak who thinks he knows better than everybody else. 

What does the Marxist Hustler think he knows?  That things are unfair, and that everything—everything—must be done to make things “equal.”  The Marxist Hustler operates out of a postmodern perspective that preaches there are no universal human truths, that all things are a matter of cultural perspective and the result of a social construct, an oppressive construct that is ultimately dominated by 1.—the Rich, and 2.—the White Western Establishment.  The Rich and the White Western Establishment are inherently the root of all injustice and must be deconstructed at all costs (any skeptic of the Marxist Hustler agenda need only to enroll in any university multicultural education course or read academia’s educational canon of Paulo Freire, Jonathan Kozol, and the like).

Since the early 1990s (until the Capitalists Pimps showed up, that is), Marxist Hustlers have ruled the PSD and its surrounding communities.  I won’t name names, but I’ll give a basic character description: they are the radical grass roots activists who block traffic and engage in political street theater; they are the civil rights advocates who habitually pull the race card; they are the academic elitists who push postmodern progressivism; they are the privileged whites who romanticize ethnic poverty and whose guilt drives a well-intentioned yet patronizing interaction with the disenfranchised; they are the bleeding heart law firms that have a fetish for the incarcerated.         

Marxist Hustlers have brought us the following: a toothless school discipline code that puts the rights of the unruly few over the rights of the hardworking many; detracked classes; student-centered instruction; fuzzy group work; A.P. classes that take non-A.P. students; gifted classes that take non-gifted students; the erosion of real deadlines; the erosion of real grammar; the erosion of real math; the erosion of real literacy; fuzzy project-based learning; hip-hop in place of real science; credit recovery; grade inflation; the erosion of respect for authority; the erosion of family, religion, and traditional values; Ebonics; Whole Language; ethnomathmatics; the erosion of student accountability; identity politics; the fantasy known as “coded racism”; race-based school discipline; and an all-round socialist education system that attempts to make everyone equal, keep all students and their families “on the plantation,” and attacks any outsider who challenges their collective suffocating group-think mentality. 

No Winners

Unfortunately, the turf war between the Capitalist Pimps and the Marxist Hustlers for the hearts and minds (and dollars) of Philadelphia public school students and their families will wage on for years to come.  Who comes out on top remains to be seen.  Although both sides will ultimately tell you that they are fighting for the good of the people, there are no winners; the kids are the ones who suffer.  Until our children and their families accept change on an individual basis (and adopt the principle that all change is self change), they will remain the raw materials that the aforementioned pimps and hustlers are fighting to possess.

4 Comments

Filed under Achievement Gap, Charter Schools

Why Students Feel Entitled to Grades they Haven’t Earned

by Christopher Paslay

Social justice is fueling our student’s entitlement mentality.

It’s the middle of November–report card time.  Students are now going through the ritual of approaching their teachers and asking if there is anything they can do for extra credit to get their grade where they want it to be.  My stock answer to this question is, Yes, and you can start by doing the classwork that is due today.

On a rare occasion, a student who is up to date with all his work and is looking for that extra assignment to give him that extra edge will request additional work, and it is then and only then that I agree to give extra credit.

It’s interesting how today’s youth feel entitled to certain grades, regardless of whether or not they have earned them.  I’ve been privileged over the past 16 years to teach a wonderful and motivated group of students, but I’ve also had the other extreme–the slackers and game players who spend the majority of their time trying to work the system; if they spent half as much time doing their work as they do trying to avoid it, they’d all be on the honor roll.

I often wonder where this entitlement mentality comes from.  How in the world do they think they deserve an “A” or “B” when they haven’t completed a third of the work to earn such a grade.  More puzzling still, where do they get the notion that they can make up a semester’s worth of papers, projects, oral reports, journals, etc. with one lousy extra credit assignment?  (The best is when a student misses a week’s worth of classes–96 minutes a pop–and demands all the make-up work . . . ASAP, if you please . . . as if it’s even possible to make up so much lost class time by taking home a text and copying the information from a classmate).

If I had to speculate, however, I would guess this mentality stems at least in part from a concept known as social justice–or put another way, the liberal orthodoxy that places “fairness” over merit, the idea that in the end, everyone must be equal and that it doesn’t matter how we make it that way (the ends justify the means).

The protest over the admission tests given at eight New York City elite high schools is a case in point.  In September, a coalition of civil rights groups filed a federal complaint attempting to lower the admission standards of these schools claiming the Specialized High School Admissions Test (SHSAT) is too difficult and discriminates against black and Latino students.

Another example took place last August, when the SRC eased The Philadelphia School District’s student code of conduct in an effort to keep teachers and administrators from suspending or expelling too many students.

The Most recent (and troubling) example of “fairness” over merit is the new movement to lower the admission standards of charters and other special admit schools.  Operating under the guise of eliminating “significant barriers to entry,” this movement puts a double whammy on Philadelphia’s high achieving students and their families by attacking the applications of exemplary schools such as Green Woods Charter and Eastern University Academy.

Our city’s motivated, academically advanced children and their families are now being swarmed by marxist social justice advocates at both ends: they can’t get an education in their neighborhood schools because civil rights groups are fighting to keep their wayward and unruly peers in classrooms where they rob them of their right to learn; and they can’t distinguish themselves in charters or special admit schools because liberals are fighting to water-down applications and admission tests so the not-so-motivated and/or academically inclined can take up an equal amount of seats.

Interestingly, it doesn’t seem to have dawned on such advocates that if a student and his family can’t pass the muster on the application, the chances are they won’t pass the muster on the advanced curriculum; social justice folk operate under the false notion that if you put an average student with average intelligence and motivation into an elite school, he will somehow become elite overnight–presto change-o.

The notion of “justice” under social justice is also interesting.  Social justice for whom, exactly?  The 85 percent of hardworking students who get their educations compromised on a daily basis because the rights of the violent 15 percent are more important?  Is there social justice for the mathematically and linguistically gifted child who gets bumped out of an academically elite school because he wasn’t the right skin color and ruined the quota?  Is it socially just to discount the planning and wherewithal of organized families who have done their homework and research and have completed the rigorous application to the special admit school by accepting someone less qualified via a watered-down application?

But it isn’t the fact that this so called “fairness” is grossly unfair to a whole group of people (ahem . . . educational socialism . . . ahem . . . the ends justify the means), but the most worrisome part is that instead of raising the bar for everyone, instead of calling on the mediocre to raise their expectations, the opposite happens: we set our sites on the lowest common denominator.

Think about.  Lower the admission standards at NYC’s elite schools.  Ease the student code of conduct in Philadelphia public schools.  Water down applications to charter and special admit schools.  Lower, lower, lower; it’s no wonder that showing a photo ID to vote is too daunting a task for people of this mentality.

People who believe in incentivizing success, raising expectations, and living in a society based on merit rather than on grievances and the mantra of victimization (ahem . . . conservatives), would fight to teach these students and their families that with determination, they can overcome any obstacle; what they wouldn’t do is throw in the towel and lower the standards.

It’s the middle of November–report card time.  Time for students to seek out that game changing extra-credit assignment our socialist education system has promised them that they are all entitled to.

13 Comments

Filed under Charter Schools, Standardized Testing

Instead of promoting ‘social justice,’ let’s promote our humanness

 

by Christopher Paslay

Fighting for social justice, the 21st century term for “equality” or “civil rights,” is the hippest thing since wearing pink for breast cancer.  Topped only by going green, promoting social justice has become the latest adopted cause of politicians, universities, educational researchers, and of course, the starry-eyed, idealistic school teachers fresh out of college.      

 

Striving to level the playing field for the underprivileged in America is very commendable, but we must be careful how we go about doing so. 

 

Pema Chodron, the American Buddhist nun who wrote When Things Fall Apart, explains, “True compassion does not come from wanting to help out those less fortunate than ourselves but from realizing our kinship with all beings.” 

 

This insight is incredibly profound.

 

Promoting social justice in the 21st century has a dualistic quality to it.  The concept suggests that there are “haves” and “have-nots,” “free” and “oppressed,” “celebrated” and “marginalized”.  Because of this, there is a built-in condescension, a polarizing effect between the giver and the receiver. 

          

Last month, in a Philadelphia Weekly commentary, Teach For America transplant Brenden Beck explained why he was giving up teaching in the Philadelphia School District

 

. . . I got into teaching to promote social justice, mad at the Jim Crow-sized injustice that gives our nation’s poorest students an education much inferior to their suburban peers. I hoped to listen to and learn from people who endured the poverty I’d read so much about in college. . . .

 

. . . Since my students were all black, I talked about whiteness. I used my own experiences as a point of departure for discussions about privilege. While reading a story about Haitian street children, we talked about how police treat black and white people differently. While reading a biography of Thurgood Marshall, we talked about the advantages most white people had growing up.

 

I hoped that I could offer my students insight about the ways to speak and write or the mathematics needed for college and jobs. But I found that those very same privileges prevented me from connecting with them.

 

Late one afternoon, many students had begun to ignore the lesson, talk to one another, and throw the work on the floor. Exasperated, I launched into a lecture about using education to go places, to have options. One of the kids, Shandra, a bright, talented student, said, “What’s wrong with it here in Germantown? Why do we need to ‘go places?’ Why don’t you go back to the suburbs?” I stared mutely at her, and mumbled something about me being there because of my belief in social justice.

 

In talking about my whiteness and advantages, I had ignored my students’ situation: I was casting their homes as an undesirable obstacle to be overcome. My students knew theirs wasn’t a “good” school, but it was theirs, and they weren’t sure why I was there. . . .

 

Brenden Beck’s revelations are very interesting, and very true; I suggest reading Beck’s whole commentary in the September 16th issue of Philadelphia Weekly.  His writing is excellent, and his observations are right on the mark (you can do so by clicking here).

 

I think Beck’s experience teaching in Philadelphia can serve as a lesson for all those folks who wear their social justice buttons on their shirtsleeves.  Just like Pema Chodron says, we don’t help people because we are better than they are, but because human beings share the same stuff. 

 

This is the main reason why I’ve survived 13 years teaching in the Philadelphia School District.  My students and I are the same.  There’s no up here and down there, rich or poor, fixed and broken.  I don’t teach from a place of guilt or idealism, or from a lofty privileged pedestal.  When I look at my students I see me sitting in those desks. 

 

In my opinion, this is a big reason why so many new teachers can’t hack it in large urban cities.  Programmed by the divisive politics of many multicultural education courses, new teachers often view their students as “underprivileged” and “marginalized,” victims of an oppressive system.  Riddled by guilt, they try to play the role of savior, and when they find out it’s not as easy as theorized in their college textbooks, they get discouraged and move on. 

 

I am leery of trendy 21st century buzz words that come out of the mouths of the masses.  Instead of fighting to promote social justice, politicians, researchers and public school teachers should simply fight to promote our humanness. 

 

6 Comments

Filed under Achievement Gap, Multiculturalism