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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Dubious Scholarship Feeds Racial Politics in Schools

By Nicholas Stix

April 24, 2000
Insight on the News

Is your local school district racist? According to a new think-tank report, the answer is surely yes. The report, “Facing the Consequences: An Examination of Racial Discrimination in U.S. Public Schools,” published March 1 by the Oakland, Calif.-based Applied Research Council, or ARC, was coauthored by Rebecca Gordon, Terry Keleher and Libero Della Piana.

You’ve probably never heard of the Ford Foundation-supported ARC, aka ERASE (Expose Racism & Advance School Excellence), but take heed: American education is dominated by radical, racialist groups like it and by the research they produce.

The ARC/ERASE report, the recipient of a 1,000-word puff piece in the March 1 New York Times, maintained that in the 12 school districts studied, minority students and teacher applicants were the victims of vicious discrimination. The districts were in Los Angeles; Austin, Texas; Boston; Chicago; Miami-Dade County; Denver; Durham, N.C.; Missoula, Mont.; Providence, R.I.; Columbia, S.C.; Salem, Ore.; and San Francisco. The alleged discrimination took the form of much higher suspension and expulsion rates for black students; zero-tolerance policies that have a disparate impact on black students; fewer advanced-placement classes for black students; and proportions of black and Hispanic teachers that were lower than those of black or Hispanic students, respectively. Another form of alleged “proof” of racism was a district’s refusal to hand over the racial information the researchers demanded.

The report’s centerpiece was its “racial-justice report card,” which flunked schools that did not subordinate all of their hiring, grading and disciplinary decisions to racial quotas. It never occurred to ARC/ERASE that making people’s treatment dependent on their race or ethnicity itself is racist.

Consider teaching. In New York City, where more than 80 percent of public-school children are black or Hispanic, one-third of all active teachers have flunked the New York state certification exam three or more times. That is grounds for automatic dismissal. But when the city board of education sought to fire the incompetents, the vast majority of whom were black or Hispanic, activists cried “Racism!” and the city backed down. Since a teacher’s own academic talent is the primary determinant of his success as a teacher, these inept teachers are robbing students of an education. No wonder then that half of New York City’s 1.1 million public-school children are illiterate.

As Abigail and Stephan Thernstrom showed in their epic 1997 work, America in Black and White, things are hardly better in California. In 1996, a California judge threw out a lawsuit by 50,000 applicants for minority teaching positions who had failed the CBEST (California Basic Educational Skills Test). Charging racial discrimination, the plaintiffs “not only sought to dumb down or abolish the CBEST altogether; they also wanted back pay for all prospective teachers who flunked the test and additional monetary damages to compensate for psychological trauma,” the Thernstroms wrote. Not surprisingly, ARC/ERASE is campaigning to have CBEST abolished. So much for advancing school excellence. So much for black and Hispanic kids’ futures.

Suspension and expulsion rates are likewise no mystery. Black students engage in misconduct and violence at much higher rates than do their white peers. In addition to statistics, the Thernstroms cited liberal reporter Emily Sachar’s 1991 book, Shut Up and Let the Lady Teach, about the year she spent teaching at Brooklyn’s 89-percent-black Walt Whitman Intermediate School: “Many kids, she discovered, had never been taught how to sit still, how to control what they said, how to behave. Her students called her ‘c -- face,’ told her to ‘f--k off,’ spat in her face, played radios during class and threw chairs at one another.”

The education subculture is dominated by so-called fugitive and “shadow” research, which is circulated among ideologues -- often privately -- and secretly imposed at the district level by highly paid, racist (antiwhite) diversity consultants, at taxpayers’ expense.

In her 1999 book, Losing Our Language, Sandra Stotsky revealed how, in advocating for a dubious pedagogical practice, a multicultural professor of education routinely will refer to research supporting his or her position. The typically unsubstantiated supporting research will consist of editorializing and references to yet more articles lacking factual support.

In a case I unearthed, in 1996 the Oakland School Board insisted that unspecified “research” had proved that teaching in “ebonics” helped black children master standard English. No such research existed. But that didn’t stop Afrocentric professors from repeating the claim, or ARC/ ERASE from citing as support for its work the Afrocentric professors’ “research.” Similarly, in calling on March 15 for 1,000 new, bilingual-education schools, Education Secretary Richard Riley claimed that bilingual education had been proven a boon to Hispanic children’s academic success.

In fact, as Jorge Amselle of the Washington-based Center for Equal Opportunity has painstakingly documented, bilingual education has proved the greatest method ever devised to arrest language acquisition. As Stotsky found, the educational problems children are encountering are largely attributable to multiculturalism’s anti-intellectual, hate-based pedagogy. Thus, the culprits guilty of intellectually destroying a generation, and especially of harming black and Hispanic children, are those who claim to speak in their names.

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