April 04, 2007

Addendum to "Question any excuses"

A [liberal] Seattle Times columnist realizes how absurd the city school district's program on ferreting out "racism" is:

As part of its well-meaning quest to rid itself of racism, the Seattle School District has found a program it considers racially biased.

Summer break. The 10-week hiatus from school is institutionally racist, said the district's Equity and Race Relations director. That means it's something that "results in less access to services and opportunities of a society based on race."

As I noted here, that Equity and Race Relations director is Ms. Caprice Hollins. In an interview where she pointed out the "problem" with summer break, she stated that "she found no specific district program that was institutionally racist." Maybe she realized that her job may be in jeopardy if she didn't actually "find" anything racist in the district? This is why there was more emphasis put on "racist" summer break? After all, what is an Equity and Race Relations director to do if there's ... equity? And good ... race relations?

Writer Danny Westneat wonders aloud what I wrote: If summer break is a "problem," then essentially all that is needed is some enrichment programs:

Wouldn't struggling white students benefit from more time in school, too? Can't students who need to catch up go to summer school now?

If we want to extend the school year, then let's talk about that. What's skin color got to do with it? More importantly, how will declaring that summer break is racist actually lead to any better education for kids?

To answer that last question, I think, Danny, it's what I noted above: Ms. Hollins has to justify her position!

You know things are getting ridiculous when liberals have had enough of the "everything-is-racist-somehow" educationist dogma. Westneat puts it succinctly near article's end:

There's no question race matters. We don't live in a colorblind society. But this school district is so focused on race it's fueling an atmosphere of division. It's blinding the district to what matters even more than race its job to educate any kid who walks in the door.

Being so obsessed leads to things like ... discovering racism in schools' summer break. When things get that silly, the "atmosphere of division" must really be a nightmare, unfortunately.

Posted by Felix at April 4, 2007 05:36 PM | TrackBack

Comments  (We reserve the right to edit and/or delete any comments. If your comment is blocked or won't post, e-mail us and we'll post it for you.)

I agree with you, Felix, that the institutionally racist summer school solution in Seattle is wrong. I would label it counter-productive regarding what should be the goal, to help all struggling students independent of race or any other arbitrary criteria.

That said, I think you downgrade the contributions that Hollins is making to their gap-closing effort, by assigning job-preservation motivations to her actions, and by attaching the liberal-bad moniker to the somewhat flawed efforts of this Seattle school district.

Take another look at quotes that you yourself pulled out, for example: "In a recent interview, Hollins said she found no specific district program that was institutionally racist, but she pointed to summer break as an example of systemic problems."

So she did admit to a problem, correct? She chose not to label is as perhaps you would.

Another example that needs further thought: "Jewish folks hid their cultural identity. Irish changed their name. Some groups can assimilate and others can't. There's one thing that will never change -- and that's the way I look," said Hollins, an African American. When people target you [a white person] for being racist because you're white, people associate you with their collective experience. It's about the power dynamic, understanding how your whiteness impacts people of color."

Speaking as an African-American herself, I think we have to give her the benefit of the doubt. Besides, to me her statement resonates. We could also examine ourselves in this regard. Instead, you chose to respons by reversing the race of the antagonist. You reversal is probably correct, but this is an irrelevancy because Hollins is focusing us on the African-American perspective here.

One final example: "Last year, Hollins' Equity and Race Relations Web site attracted national attention when she defined "individualism" and a "future time orientation" as "those aspects of society that overtly and covertly attribute value and normality to white people and whiteness and devalue, stereotype and label people of color ... "

I think she is correct, as this is the 300 plus 100 plus 50 year legacy of subservience that today's African-Americans have inherited, although more subdued today, a legacy that has proven difficult to finally throw off. I believe it is this of which she speaks. I find myself having to believe her words.

I applaud the Seattle School District for making valiant albeit somewhat flawed efforts to attack their "gap" problem. Although I do agree with your criticism of their summer program, I find questionable your speculative assessment of Hollins' motivations; moreover, I don't think we gain anything from your penchant to use the bad "liberal" label; finally, I think you [and others] have misunderstood several of Hollins' key statements.

Posted by: Perry Hood at April 5, 2007 09:26 AM

The inevitable conclusion of this is that the Seattle SD will find that its very existence is institutionally racist, and will call for itself to be dissolved, since educating whites gives them an unfair advantage. Only minorities deserve a government funded education to make up for all the injustices of the past! Well, except for the Asian kids, 'cause they work hard and make everyone else look bad.

Posted by: G Rex at April 5, 2007 09:59 AM

'Cynicism cubed' has spoken. But you are right about one thing G Rex, the Asian kids -- it's cultural, until a generation or two of exposure here sucks some away from the work-study ethic. For too many kids, all colors, it's not "cool" to like to study, explore and learn. Good teachers know how to turn many around, an accomplishment too often unacknowledged and unrewarded. That's cultural too. Go to Finland or Japan someday!

Posted by: Perry Hood at April 5, 2007 12:18 PM

FYI Perry, I taught English in China for a year, not that it has any direct bearing on this issue.

Posted by: G Rex at April 5, 2007 01:30 PM

Then you, G Rex, saw somewhat similar attitudes in China to what I saw in Finland and Japan, the cultural differences re educational priorities.

The so-called gap we have involves more than African-Americans on the lower side of it. This "attitude" knows no racial boundaries. The differences are only a matter of degrees. I suspect there may be a correlation between the increasing "class" distinctions (wealth) and boundaries growing in our society and the persistence of the gap. When the chance for reward decreases, material and/or acknowledgment/recognition, the motivation likewise decreases, except for the stronger willed amongst us who will perform well anyway. I always had one or more of the latter in each of my classes.

My point: The gap has to do with societal complexities involving familial dysfunctions, job uncertainties, political instabilites, misunderstandings about race, and general hedonistic attitudinal declines. Schools can play a huge role in loco parentis, but only if they are furnished the resources. Of course better yet, parents themselves could step up to support their children and their public schools, but are they willing? Many have, but not nearly enough, in my view.

Otherwise, how can we explain how Sangaya is still in the running for American Idol? Are we now unable even to recognize talent and achievement when we see it before our very own eyes?

Posted by: Perry Hood at April 5, 2007 04:43 PM