"I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power." - Thomas Jefferson 1820

"There is a growing technology of testing that permits us now to do in nanoseconds things that we shouldn't be doing at all." - Dr. Gerald Bracey author of Rotten Apples in Education

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Friday, October 15, 2010

The Obama Administration should win a Nobel Prize for its Extraordinary Foolish Educational Policies

This is one of the reasons public school education is doomed.

Robert Weissberg in American Thinker dissects parts of Race to the Top that illustrate the reason this is not about education at all, but about perceived racial and other injustices:

Their latest education-destroying innovation is eliminating the disproportionate suspension and expulsions of African-American students. This is not empty rhetoric; it is included in the Obama administration's $4.3-billion Race to the Top initiative, and schools that fail to mend their ways will lose federal funds and face expensive litigation at a time of shrinking education budgets. In fact, the future is already here, as schools are increasingly being targeted in resource-draining civil rights complains about disciplinary unevenness (see here).

I can attest from personal experience this has been occurring in the school districts my sons attended. I was told by a minority teacher in my son's middle school that there was "one measure of discipline for minority students" and "one for the non-minority students". She indicated she was disgusted with the district's policy of not disciplining minority students as harshly as the non-minority students; she asked "what message does that give to the minority kids"?

It is not only targeted to African-American students, but also to students with disabilities:

Actually, racial disparities are just the beginning. Obama's Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, has also called for proportionality for disabled students (see here), and while "disabled" might conjure up images of wheelchair-bound students, this category also includes those with below-average intelligence, often compounded with psychological problems inclining them to disruption, if not violence (see Tomsho and Golden, "Educating Eric: A Troubled Student was Put into Regular Classes. Then He Killed the Principal. Wall Street Journal, 2007, May 12-13).

My older son could not pay attention in a geometry class in 10th grade because of disruptive students. When we had a meeting with the teacher and administration, we were told nothing could be done because those students (behavioral disordered) had an IEP. They had a paraprofessional with them, but neither the aide or the teacher could get these four students' behavior under control. Mind you, our son had an IEP because of his hearing impairment and the teacher told us IEP's were designed to help students who really wanted to learn like my son. She said it was not designed to allow them to take advantage of the system with bad behavior such as the trouble-making students, but she had no control of the situation. Because of the disruption these four students caused, my son was given permission to return to the resource room so he could concentrate.

What and who do these policies protect? I understand adolescents have turmoil just because they are adolescents. I understand students with special needs present unique situations. When these incidents become everyday occurrences and disrupt the learning experience for the majority of the students, the disruptive students must be removed from the classroom. Courtesy, respect for authority, and a willingness to learn should not expected only from particular groups of students based on racial makeup or disabilities. Why should students who want to learn be penalized by those few who want to be disruptive and don't want to learn? What is going to happen to the students who are allowed to misbehave with no consequences?

But, rhetoric aside, the measure will undermine education for many education-hungry blacks in racially mixed schools by subverting school discipline. To be impolite, given a choice of helping blacks versus draping a destructive policy in feel-good historical rhetoric, Obama elects the anti-education option. This sin is inexcusable -- a sign of moral depravity, not just inept policy-making.

Mr. Weissberg is correct. These policies are a sign of moral depravity. Welcome to the reality of public education.

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