July 17, 2007

Boy, was Thomas right

Clarence Thomas, that is, when he said in the recent Supreme Court decision regarding racial assignment in schools "Beware of elites bearing racial theories."

Case in point: The United Kingdom's education ministers, in their "infinite wisdom," are threatening that if all-white (or nearly all-white) schools don't encourage racial and religious "mixing," they'll be labeled as "failing."

Schools with mainly white pupils could be labelled "failing" if they don't encourage children to mix with other races and religions.

Ministers will unveil guidance to heads on how to comply with a new legal duty to promote community relations.

Schools in rural or suburban areas will be urged to twin with multi-ethnic schools, for example by staging joint plays or sporting events.

Faith schools should link up with different denominations while schools with no religious affiliation should arrange trips to churches, mosques and synagogues.

Schools should also bring together local parents from different backgrounds by holding coffee mornings, curriculum evenings and parent and child courses.

Ofsted inspectors will be handed powers to check schools are meeting the new duty, which comes into force in September.

Those judged to be falling short face the prospect of their governing bodies taken over by council hit squads or even closure.

The new law is aimed at preventing schools breeding prejudiced attitudes which could lead to extremism.

It appears that there is not a separation between the public and private sphere in the UK like there is here in the US. Notice that this threat extends to "faith schools." In addition, despite the headline and initial paragraph, it seems to me that [virtually] all-minority schools would also be subject to the new laws. These "We Know Better Than You" top-down ruling ministers believe the new requirements will "promote community cohesion." Believe it or not, it went as far as former Education Secretary Alan Johnson proposing that "faith schools to reserve a quarter of places for non-believers," but that was nixed after the Catholic Church voiced opposition.

Teachers, who always bear the brunt of inane educationist edicts, are aware of the nonsense:

Mick Brookes, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said: "This new duty seems like another stick to beat schools with."

John Dunford, of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: "In many troubled communities, schools are almost the only institutions creating community cohesion, which is why it's so unnecessary to have an extra law."

... Head teachers are concerned at the additional burden the duty will place on schools.

They said schools cannot be expected to solve society's problems and the extra regulation will further detract from the core task of educating children.

'Ya think? But it doesn't matter -- your school could be the best academically performing school in the entire UK, but if you don't have that "proper racial/religious mix," you're going to be labeled as "failing"! How 'bout that?

The Commission for Racial Equality has warned the UK is in danger of becoming a "mini America", with schools separated along religious and ethnic lines.

So? Funny how the United States has thrived as a country since its inception as a nation of immigrants which was frequently separated along religious and ethnic lines. Only people appointed to such a "commission" can make such a statement with negative implications without realizing how ludicrous it is. In the article's comment section, commenter "Georgie" correctly notes that the US already tried "skin color [education] schemes" and they failed. (He must be referring to things like busing.) He's correct; however, as previously mentioned, this doesn't matter in the UK where there isn't the separation between the public and private arenas. In the US, families can avoid silly government edicts (like busing) by electing to send their children to private or parochial schools. No such luck in Britain.

And let's go back to this line: The new law is aimed at preventing schools breeding prejudiced attitudes which could lead to extremism. Is this really a concern with primarily Caucasian schools in the UK? Or can't the ed. ministers voice the government's real worry with regards to "breeding prejudiced attitudes" and "extremism" in schools without violating some sacrosanct politically correct government code, hmmmm?

UPDATE: Back to the Future: Democrat presidential candidate John Edwards will "unveil" later this week a plan to integrate American schools because they "have become segregated by race and income." Though it isn't (at least at first glance) akin to old 1970s-style busing schemes, Edwards seems to base his plan on old theories whose results have proven dead wrong at worst, inconclusive at best. For instance,

The proposals Edwards plans to unveil would encourage income diversity in schools, in the hope that poor students would have more experienced teachers and motivated classmates.

My emphasis. Hope is great; reality and actual results can be sobering things, however.

Posted by Hube at July 17, 2007 09:37 AM | 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.)

"...and motivated classmates." What exactly is John-Boy trying to say about our minority students?

Posted by: Chazzy at July 17, 2007 04:01 PM

I recommend clicking on the link leading to the UK news article, as well as reading the comments. The Brits are not happy about this, to say the least.

I also clicked on the link which leads to the Ward Connerly article. Mr. Connerly isn't one of my favorite people, but I agreed with may of his points. Earthshattering, I know.:)

Posted by: Miss Profe at July 18, 2007 06:30 AM

"Hope is all you have left when you're tired of being afraid." I don't know who to credit for that saying, but Edwards' *hope* certainly seems to fit here.

Posted by: Darren at July 18, 2007 01:39 PM

Edwards' suggestion is born of some rather disturbing underlying assumptions, such as: poor students are unmotivated, merely sitting near wealthier students will somehow encourage poor students, and poor students are always taught by poor (in ability and experience) teachers.

There may be something to the stereotype that the contemporary poor tend to be unmotivated, but it can be reaasonably argued that to whatever degree this is true, it is true in large part because of government handouts and entitlements. At one time, being poor was thought not to be an excuse for any kind of laziness or bad behavior, particularly among the poor. In fact, many of the genuinely poor knew that education was their way to a better life, and worked hard to exercise parental influence on their children to work hard and rise above their modest circumstances.

While there is something to be said for peer pressure, these days it mainly works to the detriment, not the benefit of kids.

And while many teachers in urban schools may not be experienced or particularly capable, others certainly are, and not every poor child in America attends an inner city school, far from it.

There are mechanisms in place in every school district in America to solve problems at every level in the system. If the voters in those districts won't pay attention and demand accountability from those they elect to do the public's business, no amount of federal intervention, no matter how well intentioned, will be of help. The most frightening and destructive sentence in the English language remains "I'm from the federal government, and I'm here to help."

Posted by: Mike at July 18, 2007 08:48 PM

The last time I was in the UK (ten years ago) there were still mandatory religion classes in the public schools. The folks there only know about us what they read in the newspapers and see in our movies and TV programs and, needless to say, they receive a somewhat distorted view.

Posted by: Dave Schuler at July 25, 2007 09:59 AM