A Wee Flaw In The "Discrimination!" Logic
Jason L. Riley writes in the WSJ about intimations from the Obama camp that black kids' discipline rates (which are higher than whites') are due to discrimination:
The Obama administration is waving around a new study showing that black school kids are "suspended, expelled, and arrested in school" at higher rates than white kids. According to the report, which looked at 72,000 schools, black students comprise just 18% of those enrolled yet account for 46% of those suspended more than once and 39% of all expulsions.
Education Secretary Arne Duncan said the administration is "not alleging overt discrimination in some or all of these cases," but that's certainly what he's implying when he bleats on about the "fundamental unfairness" of the situation. "The undeniable truth," said Mr. Duncan in a press call this week, "is that the everyday education experience for too many students of color violates the principle of equity at the heart of the American promise." Of course, if racial animus toward blacks explains higher black discipline rates, what explains the fact that white kids are disciplined at higher rates than Asian kids? Is the school system anti-white, too?
The reaction to studies like this reveals disturbing sensibilities on the left when it comes to education in general and black education in particular. The data were compiled by the Education Department's civil rights office, which probably thinks that it's doing black people a favor by highlighting these racial disparities and pressuring schools to reduce black suspension rates. No thought, it seems, was given to whether this course of action helps or harms those black kids who are in school to learn and not act up.
The Obama administration's sympathies are with the knuckleheads who are disrupting class, not with the kids who are trying to get an education. But is racial parity in disciplinary outcomes more important than school safety? Going easy on the students who behave badly--especially in inner-city schools where the problem is pronounced--is an odd way of advancing black education and closing the learning gap. Black kids already tend to be stuck in dropout factories with the most inexperienced teachers. Must they be consigned to the most violent schools as well?