The Answer is Racism

Or, yet another reason why NPR is a waste of your money.

So, African-American girls are being punished in school more harshly and more frequently than their non-black peers, according to this article, which asks us “what happens when we see discipline disparities, whether in the form of suspension or expulsions?”

Back up there, now.  There’s a more pressing question that cannot simply be answered by “racism” or “sexism” or “normative ideas about female behavior” (“normative” is a bad word, in case you didn’t know): Why?

First, here are some of the numbers, according to the US Department of Education Office for Civil Rights School Discipline Snapshot (March 2014): Black girls are suspended at a rate of 12%, whereas the rate for white boys is 6% and white girls 2%.  (Boys of all races receive about 2/3 of all suspensions).

So, this is, as they say, “a thing.”  The article addresses the question of why by asking another question: “are African-American girls being punished for not fitting into normative ideas about female behavior? That’s a real concern.”

This question appears directly after this: “We know that the research says that African-American students are not misbehaving more frequently or more seriously than their peers, but they are punished more harshly. So that really gets to the root of what racial and gender stereotypes are fueling some of the disparities that we’re seeing.”

In other words, African-American students don’t misbehave more often or any worse than kids of other races; they just behave DIFFERENTLY.  And their culturally ignorant teachers suspend them for it.

…..

I agree with the article that we need more research into “the challenges facing African-American girls as well as African-American boys.”  Not because I know if there is currently a dearth of such research (because I don’t), but because more information can only help (because knowledge is power!).

HOWEVER, if this article were a person, and punching people in the face weren’t illegal, I would do just that.  How dare this article absolve students of any responsibility for their own actions, and imply (very strongly) that teachers of African-American girls are, by and large, racist?  Does this deflection help kids who misbehave badly enough to be suspended? No!  In fact, it insults them.  Oh, your actions, which aren’t necessarily bad, just different from some people’s concepts of appropriate behavior, aren’t your own fault; they’re the result of your school not having as many resources as other schools.

Gag me with a spoon.

By the way, the article recommends “eliminating overly punitive discipline practices.”  Which means what?  Are we talking about the paddle?  Can I get some specifics?

How on EARTH is anyone supposed to help these girls if people won’t acknowledge that it’s okay to have certain standards of behavior in schools, and that some kids, are in fact, acting in unacceptable (“non-normative”) ways?  Kids don’t act out for no reason – they may not be what adults would call legitimate reasons, or they might be perfectly understandable – either way, kids needs standard, as well as mature, caring adults to lay down the law consistently.  If that means some kids get suspended more than others, so be it.

It might not seem “fair.”  It could be that a higher percentage of African-American girls is dealing with more difficult issues beyond their control than other girls their age.  That’s not fair, but it may very well be reality.  They, like all students, need understanding.  They need to know that the adults around them care about them (there are still good teachers/admins out there!).  They may need a healthy dose of long-term counseling, depending on their situations.

What they don’t need are double-speak excuses.

[And any teachers/administrators who are actually racist and disciplining students based on their stupid racist worldviews need to be slapped twice and fired, but that should go without saying.]

 

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