If you had any doubt about the reasoning behind so many of the school policies being implemented in our district and across the country, the following news story may help you see what is going on.
If you read the article, you’ll hear a new phrase, “culturally responsive discipline.” This phrase is the twin to the phrase “culturally responsive teaching.” You may have heard the latter in reference to teacher training in the recently passed “Blueprint for Maryland Education.” One of the skills new teachers will have to learn will be “culturally responsive teaching.”
Culturally Responsive Teaching, or the new CRT, is defined as using a student’s cultural background and experiences in order to teach more effectively. The first two premises are teaching must yield academic success and teaching must help students develop positive ethnic and cultural identities while simultaneously helping them achieve academically. Sounds fairly benign until you read the third premise which is “teaching must support students’ ability to recognize, understand and critique current social inequalities.” While I will agree that we must educate all students in a way that works for them, that third statement will have the exact opposite effect than what is desired.
Let’s break that third premise down. What does supporting student understanding and critique of current social inequalities look like in a classroom?
For those who have never taught, a class or a lesson always begins in a couple of ways. Some begin with an overarching question that the students will discover the answer to. Others begin with a teacher telling students what their objective is for the lesson; what they hope to know or be able to do at the end.
So, imagine the teacher starting a lesson in a math class in the following way:
” Good morning class. Today we are going to learn how to use algebraic equations to solve complex problems. But first, we need to answer the following question: ‘How is your math education being impeded by current social inequalities in math?’ “Or even better, “How is algebra racist?”
Inspiring, huh? If I’m a minority student in this class, I’m now discovering that society doesn’t want me to learn math, therefore, I won’t be able to learn math. I don’t know about you, but most of the students I had in class had to be convinced every day why they could and should learn what I was teaching. Telling them that society stands in the way of them learning algebra because of their race, gender, or sexual preference wasn’t going to boost their achievement, especially if that premise was discussed ad nauseum, every single day. If I am a student who already struggles in math, telling me math is racist won’t help me learn.
Even if there might be an occasional student who would look at this as a challenge and therefore try harder, this strategy will cause most to shrug their shoulders and disengage.
Not only that, but this is going to handcuff a teacher and prevent them from using strategies he/she feels will work. How is the teacher going to address all the different cultures in his/her classroom? Which ones would have obstacles and which ones wouldn’t? And how is the teacher to know if the minority students had obstacles while the white ones didn’t? In my years, I had minority students who were privileged and White ones who weren’t.
It’s one thing to think of students as individuals. It’s quite another to lump them all into groups based on presumed cultural “truths”. They will end up with teachers making assumptions about students based on skin color and gender. That’s called stereotyping and it is a BAD thing to do in any walk of life. It’s racist, classist, sexist and any other “ist” you can think of.
Culturally responsive teaching is based on and promotes racist attitudes. It paralyzes educators in their classrooms and keeps them from getting to know the students behind the cultural labels.
Even worse is culturally responsive discipline.
To understand this concept, it’s important to know the rationale used by the school board in question to implement it. The district in question, Clover Park School District, said that “students of color” are disciplined in disproportionate rates in their schools and that makes them have a negative feeling about school.
So, let me get this straight. Because Black students are disciplined in a percentage that is more than their percentage of the general population, the school board wants to throw out policies that dictate the same consequences for everyone for the same infractions. So, in order to prevent disproportionate discipline, they want to implement racially motivated discipline. A caste system so to speak.
Let’s do an analogy. Let’s say that people over 6 feet tall speed more than other drivers. Let’s say they are ticketed in a higher proportion than their share of the driving population. This makes them angry, and they don’t like driving as much. Should the police then adopt a policy that is “culturally responsive” to people who are over 6 feet tall and drive? Should they give them a different, less punitive consequence for speeding so they will like driving more and potentially drive more? How would this be received? You know the answer. There would be outrage among the driving public. If you think road rage is bad now, wait until drivers find out there are different consequences for different drivers depending on how tall they are. The bottom line is that the drivers over 6 feet tall will still speed as much or more than they always have, but now the other drivers will take note and lash out against police and the tall drivers.
Somehow, the Clover Park School District doesn’t understand basic human nature. Most humans want to believe that the rules are the same for everyone. We get upset when that isn’t true, even if it doesn’t affect us personally. This has been the basis for every social equality movement throughout history. Martin Luther King Jr. wasn’t marching for different rules and treatment for Black people. He was marching so that Blacks would have the same rules and treatment as Whites. Have we forgotten that? Has it gone out of favor to think that way?
The goal Clover Park School District is trying to achieve, “a safe, inclusive environment,” isn’t going to happen by making consequences for certain students less than others. Their other goal, to increase equitable educational opportunities, won’t be realized either. If a student discovers that he can avoid consequences because of his race, he won’t stop offending. Chances are he’ll do more.
As for the other students, whichever race they may be, once they discover that the rules aren’t the same for everyone, they will react angrily. There goes your school environment. The differences create different school “tribes” who will war with each other.
The race industry will say in response that unequal consequences have always been in place and that usually White students were the beneficiaries of the practice. They will say that it’s time to “even the score.” Even if that is true, do we solve the problem by using the same practices that were unfair before? Is this some kind of crazy reparation or revenge motive? Or is it just another way for systems to make money with federal grants or to virtue signal that they are solving lagging Black achievement even when they aren’t?
Wouldn’t it be better to examine and try to solve the root causes of discipline issues in the minority population? Wouldn’t it make sense to teach students that certain infractions will incur specific consequences?
Quite frankly, this school board is just saying out loud the truth that exists in many school systems right now, even our own. Many educators have concluded that they must think long and hard before disciplining minority students. In fact, many don’t discipline them at all, allowing them to “work out their anger” while endangering other students, destroying school property, and disrupting the education of themselves and others.
I’m reminded of an Assistant Principal in a school where I taught. The AP was in charge of something called the “Ninth Grade Academy,” a section of the high school that was created to keep 9th grade students self-contained so they would learn to be good school citizens before being exposed to upper-level students. The Assistant Principal in charge was very invested in the concept. So, he made a point of using the system to make the numbers look better so the academy would be continued.
When a teacher wrote a referral on a 9th Grade student, this AP would call the student to his office, give him/her a piece of candy, talk to them, and then send them back to class. No consequences, no punishment. The referral, which was required by State Law to be addressed with both the student and the teacher before the student returned to class was ignored. It was supposed to be entered into a data base to track how or if the academy was positively impacting the behavior of the students.
When it was clear that the discipline referrals didn’t decrease at all, he just started shoving them in a desk drawer without addressing them at all. When teachers asked, he told them he’d get back to them. The data looked great, but it was wrong.
It wasn’t too long before students got the idea that nothing would happen to them if they misbehaved. So, they kept doing what they were doing. The teachers figured out that their referrals were useless, so they stopped writing them. The behavior got worse; the data got “better”.
And the students learned nothing about how to behave. In fact, many learned nothing. The whole point of the “Ninth Grade Academy” was lost and the practice was discontinued. Tons of money and time wasted.
And that seems to be the way the educational bureaucracy is handling racial issues in the schools. They have known about the Minority vs. White achievement gap for over 20 years. Yet through all the meetings, seminars, and lip service they have given the issue, they haven’t closed the gap one bit.
All they have done is paralyze the teachers, the administrators, and the system with claims of “inherent” and “systemic” racism. They have divided our children into different sects divided by race, gender, economic status, and sexual preference, setting them against each other like a big educational Tower of Babel. They have also set themselves as the authorities while discounting the role of parents in the lives and education of children. Educators can see it’s not working, but like insanity, they keep doing the same thing over and over while expecting a different result.
Who is deciding this and promoting this nonsense? How is something so illogical and harmful being promoted by school boards such as the one in Washington?
It starts at the Federal level, with grant money sent to states from various government agencies. This grant money is in the billions, but it comes with big strings. As it comes down to the local level, those strings don’t go away. You can find them in the presentations of local Superintendents. The strings get different names every time the general public figures out what is going on. For a while it was Critical Race Theory. Now it is social emotional learning, culturally responsive teaching (the new CRT), ant-racism, and culturally responsive discipline.
These strings are carefully placed there by what I call the “racism” industry. These are people like Ibram X Kendi, Gloria Ladson Billings, Nikole Hannah-Jones, Patrisse Cullers, etc. and organizations like Black Lives Matter, the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers. There are so many more and they make a ton of money promoting racism in our schools and society. (And by the way, there are groups locally who belong and exploit racism for status and money.)
And we haven’t even discussed the sexual indoctrination of young children in Pre-K and Kindergarten.
Local school boards and Superintendents do the bidding of the race and gender industry. They even lie to their constituents about what they do in the name of money. (see article from THE FEDERALIST below). Think they don’t do it here? You are either blind or not paying attention.
And that is why we are where we are. Students are not achieving, and they are out of control. And the only answer the race industry has is more racism, sexual indoctrination for young children, and different standards for different population subgroups.
So, again people ask me what can be done? What are we doing?
First, be very careful about who you elect locally, statewide and nationally. Ask the tough questions and make candidates commit to positions. For example, ask a candidate, “How should students be disciplined for violent and disruptive behavior in school?” Follow that up with the example from the district in Washington State and ask the candidate if they approve of that approach and why they have that opinion. Attend candidate forums when you can.
Find the school district’s discipline policy. If you can’t find it online, ask them to send it to you. If they won’t, do a Freedom of Information Act application.
Remember, the schools will not share any information about individual students and how they were disciplined for infractions. However, if YOUR child is disciplined for behavior, ask questions about their consequences and whether or not those consequences are consistent with the policy and those meted out to the student body in general.
Talk to other parents you know and find out what is going on in the schools. Don’t tiptoe around the issue with minority parents. One of the strongest opinions I heard about the Clover Park District policy was from a Black parent who stated that she didn’t want her child being given greater or lighter consequences because he is Black. She included academic expectations in that as well, as she had to speak to teachers in the past because they were not holding her child to the same high standards of other students because he is Black.
Parents know that children must learn that poor behavior has negative consequences, or those children will be out of control when they are adults.
The bottom line is that racism is not its own solution. Pretending that it is condemns us to decades of hatred, failure, and division.
Sources for this article and for related topics:
PS: The Talbot County Family Advocacy Alliance will be hosting a candidates’ forum on April 26th, 2022. Look for more details at our Family Advocacy Alliance Facebook Group or this blog! Candidate invitations will be going out this week.