Obama vs. Discipline

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Walter Williams, discussing a lengthy Heather MacDonald piece at City Journal, says the following about the effects of an Obama Administration initiative:

If I were a Klansman, wanting to sabotage black education, I couldn't find better allies than education establishment liberals and officials in the Obama administration, especially Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, who in March 2010 announced that his department was "going to reinvigorate civil rights enforcement."
America had just elected a black man as President. What lurking vestige of racism was there that needed eradication? MacDonald answers at the beginning of her article:
[T]he Departments of Education and Justice have launched a campaign against disproportionate minority discipline rates, which show up in virtually every school district with significant numbers of black and Hispanic students. The possibility that students' behavior, not educators' racism, drives those rates lies outside the Obama administration's conceptual universe. But the country will pay a high price for the feds' blindness, as the cascade of red tape and lawsuits emanating from Washington will depress student achievement and enrich advocates and attorneys for years to come. [bold added]
Williams relays the following from MacDonald: "between September 2011 and February 2012, 25 times more black Chicago students than white students were arrested at school, mostly for battery." Arrests at school for battery? I am not as old as Williams, and my Catholic school probably hadn't slipped as far as the public ones, but I recall classmates getting smacked by the nuns for far less. Williams sees a connection, although he understates it, "Educators might not see classroom comportment as a priority. "

Williams ends by shaming a great many civil rights figures by name:
Some of today's black political leaders are around my age, 76, such as Reps. Maxine Waters, Charles Rangel, John Conyers, former Virginia Gov. Douglas Wilder, Jesse Jackson and many others. Ask them what their parents would have done had they cursed, assaulted a teacher or engaged in disruptive behavior that's become routine in far too many schools. Would their parents have accepted the grossly disrespectful public behavior that includes foul language and racial epithets? Their silence and support of the status quo represent a betrayal of epic proportions to the blood, sweat and tears of our ancestors in their struggle to make today's education opportunities available.
Setting aside the fact that not having a nationwide, government-run educational system at all would at the least spare us from having such massive error enforced as a standard, Williams is right: So long as there exists such a system, we should at least make some meager attempt to use it for its alleged purpose. Discipline and even proper etiquette are vital components of education, and its absence undermines the others.

-- CAV


Vigilis said...

Gus, Secretary Duncan's ill-conceived 'Discipline equity' measure would have wider implications than for education alone. Imagine the expectations that the ingrained into graduates of such stilted discipline by the rationalization of social justice. Next, imagine such graduates sitting as trial jurors.

Any pretense of blind Justice would become almost absurd. Crimes by affected youth and perhaps their offspring would probably increase.

While trial lawyers might reap an inevitable boon in their job security, the stilted verdicts by misguided jurors would be a nail in the coffin of America's due process.

Gus Van Horn said...

At a certain point, this gets reformed or the whole corrupt system collapses.

Steve D said...

‘Would their parents have accepted the grossly disrespectful public behavior that includes foul language and racial epithets?’

On a slightly different (cultural) note, I could add. “Or their parent’s parents or anyone, going all the way back to Julius Caesar’s parents” (who would probably have whipped him for such behavior).

I believe that the culture has transformed in the last fifty years in very important ways more than it has in the last two thousand years. This is because fundamental human relationships are changing, such as that between parent and child, teacher and student, husband and wife, clergy and parishioner or even those inside a man’s own mind. And all of these seem to go beyond political changes, even ethical, straight to the essential nature of human beings. There is nihilism at play in our civilization, an evil greater even than statism or altruism because it threatens human nature at its very core.

As an almost trivial example, at my son’s school (an expensive private school actually, one of the best in St. Louis) they talk incessantly about developing a child’s independence but would be aghast in shock if a child was left to his own devices for more than a few minutes. I suspect the government schools are even worse in this regard brainwashing them into dependence all the while calling it the opposite. As they grow, these children will move seamlessly from children being taken care of by adults to adults being taken care of by their government.

Is all of this intentional? How can such an enormous cultural change in such a short time be anything but? What will the final result be?

If only people would call their beliefs and policies by the proper names. At least that would be a start.

Gus Van Horn said...

Your comment about being afraid to leave children to their own devices reminds me of an old post of mine in which I excerpted from a memoir by Oliver Sacks. As part of a chemistry set he had as a lad of eleven was a third of an ounce of potassium cyanide.

In a similar vein, I also noted that a fellow submarine blogger recounted that, "[W]hen I was a kid, nobody in town ... even thought twice about seeing two 11 year olds walking down the street with side by side shotguns or 22s slung over their shoulders."

Our culture has indeed changed for the worse.

Steve D. said...

‘Our culture has indeed changed for the worse.’
What amazes me, Gus is how quickly and how fast things have changed and in ways that have (as far as I can tell from my study of history) never occurred before.
For example, our culture may be the most child-unfriendly in history while all the while our leaders hypocritically exclaim from their podiums at every opportunity: ‘But it’s for the children!’
Another good example of rapid cultural change is gay marriage. Now, I have no irons in this particular fire…but nowhere in the past has it ever been considered seriously. Think about the ancient Greeks, one of the most accepting cultures in history as far as homosexuality is concerned – it was expected in fact – but in their wildest dreams, homosexual marriage didn’t even occur to them. Why? (I have some theories about this).
So I don’t think most people realize how absolutely radical (new) this idea is. So to some extent, I can commiserate with the conservatives who oppose it. When they proclaim how drastic an experiment this is, they are right. Of course what they don’t point out is that astoundingly radical is not necessarily a synonym for wrong. If it was, we’d still be living in the caves.

Gus Van Horn said...

Regarding gay marriage, why the ancient Greeks did not have it is an interesting question.

Steve D said...

Ayn Rand tentatively alluded in some of her writing that rational people living in a rational culture might not need marriage. I for one often wonder about the utility of having a single standardized marriage contract, which is basically identical for everyone in Western Civilization.

The real question is what purpose does it serve and who benefits?

Gus Van Horn said...

Shooting from the hip, consider all the long-term ramifications of just holding property or having children.

Should a long-term commitment not work out for some reason, deciding who gets what can be problematic even under the most amicable circumstances. Even if for nothing other than having a legal framework in place for a predictable dissolution of such an all-encompassing, long-term relationship, I think some form of marriage contract is at least highly desirable. And then, of course, the legal protections of a contractual relationship also provide the two individuals involved some form of protection in case one or both is wrong about the character of the other or one or both changes, either in character or in terms of commitment.

Snedcat said...

Steve D. wrote, "I for one often wonder about the utility of having a single standardized marriage contract, which is basically identical for everyone in Western Civilization. The real question is what purpose does it serve and who benefits?"

This has come up here before. The basic point is that marriage is fundamentally a question of legal status rather than a contract. It's like "next of kin" (which is an important question that marriage changes), "minor," or (to get archaic for a moment) "slave"; it's a legal position that everyone must recognize, whether they agreed to it or not. Quoth Wiki, "An Individual's status is a legal position held in regards to the rest of the community and not by an act of law or by the consensual acts of the parties, and it is in rem, i.e. these conditions must be recognised by the world. It is the qualities of universality and permanence that distinguish status from consensual relationships such as employment and agency. Hence, a person's status and its attributes are set by the law of the domicile if born in a common law state, or by the law of nationality if born in a civil law state and this status and its attendant capacities should be recognised wherever the person may later travel."

So, who does it benefit? Well, if you don't want your wife making emergency medical decisions for you, don't plan to have children, and are willing to go to the trouble of making contracts with every single party the two of you deal with that defines in detail your mutual rights and obligations, and so on, then I guess marriage wouldn't be a benefit to you. Now, allow me not to be cheeky: The fact that marriage involves legal status doesn't mean that the particular features tied up in it at a particular time can't be modified--for instance, you might say that the long-term trend in American common law as regards marriage is from a status of one legal person, with "husband" invested with much more authority and legal personhood than "wife," to the status of two largely equal "spouses." And with that in view, it's an easy step to no longer require the two spouses to be of different sexes.

This all comes up, by the way (among many other issues that arise therefrom), in the matter of the recent laws prohibiting American judges from referring to foreign laws that violate American legal practice--how are foreign marriage and divorce decrees to be handled?

Gus Van Horn said...

Thanks, Snedcat, for providing a better answer than I did.