As the new school year begins, you might like to be updated on some school happenings that will no doubt be repeated this academic year. After this update, I have some questions one might ask the black leadership.
The ongoing and escalating assault on primary- and secondary-school teachers is not a pretty sight. Holly Houston is a post-traumatic stress specialist. She counsels teachers in Chicago public schools and reported, “of the teachers that I have counseled over the years who have been assaulted, 100 percent of them have satisfied diagnostic criteria for PTSD.” It’s not just big-city schoolteachers traumatized. Dr. Darlyne Nemeth, in Baton Rouge, La., said last year, “I have treated many teachers with PTSD, and I am currently following a few of them.”
A Philadelphia seventh-grade girl with a history of incidents against her teacher sprayed perfume in the teacher’s face after telling her she smelled “like old white p____.” After telling her classmates “I’m about to kick this b____’s white ass,” she shoved the teacher, knocking her to the floor. In 2014, a Philadelphia 68-year-old substitute teacher was knocked out cold by a student (tinyurl.com/orldslb). Earlier that year, two other teachers in the same school were assaulted. By the way, Philadelphia schools employ close to 400 school police officers.
In a school district near St. Louis, teachers have had pepper spray and dog repellant sprayed in their faces. A Baltimore teacher had his jaw broken. In Baltimore, each school day in 2010, an average of four teachers and staff were assaulted. A 325-pound high-school student in Houston knocked out his 66-year-old female teacher (tinyurl.com/oqxmrfg). Nationally, an average of 1,175 teachers and staff were physically attacked each day of the 2011-12 school year.
School violence is going to get worse. Last year, the Obama administration sent all the school districts in the country a letter warning them to avoid racial bias when suspending or expelling students. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan claimed racial discrimination in the administration of discipline is “a real problem today. It’s not just an issue from 30 or 40 or 50 years ago.” Last year, in Washington, an official of a teachers union tried to explain to a national gathering of black elected officials why white teachers are so problematic for black students, saying they just do not understand black culture. Excuses and calls for leniency will embolden school thugs.
What about student conduct in the 1930s, ’40s and ’50s? Don’t take my word. Ask black congressional representatives, 46 percent of whom were born in the ’20s, ’30s or ’40s. Start off with Reps. John Conyers (86), Charles Rangel (85), Eddie Bernice Johnson (79), Alcee Hastings (79) and Maxine Waters (77). Ask them whether their parents or kin would have tolerated their assaulting and cursing teachers or any other adult. Ask them what would have happened to them had they assaulted or cursed a teacher or adult. Ask whether their parents would have accepted the grossly disrespectful behavior seen among many black youngsters in public places — for example, using foul language and racial epithets. I’d bet the rent money that they won’t tell you their parents would have called for a “timeout.” Instead, they will tell you they would have felt pain in their hind parts. Then ask these leaders why today’s blacks should accept behavior previous generations would not.
The sorry and tragic state of black education and its attendant problems will not be turned around until there’s a change in what’s acceptable behavior and what’s unacceptable behavior. That change must come from within the black community. By the way, it is an idiotic argument to suggest white teachers are problematic for black students because they don’t know the culture. I’m nearly 80 years old, and during my North Philadelphia school years, in schools that were predominantly black, at best there might have been three black teachers.
Walter E. Williams is a professor of economics at George Mason University.