As I noted here, the Obama administration’s Department of Education has announced that it will crack down on “civil-rights infractions” in public schools, including alleged disparities in the disciplining of white and black students. The notion behind this initiative is that black students are disproportionately subjected to discipline they don’t deserve.
That doesn’t seem to be the case in the Philadelphia public school system, however. There, as Abigail Thernstrom and Tim Fay report, it appears that African American students frequently harass and attack Asian students without consequence..
The problem is especially pronounced at South Philadelphia High School. There, according to Thernstrom and Fay,
assaults ]by blacks on Asians]have occurred in the cafeteria line, in bathrooms, in stairwells, on school buses, and elsewhere. The incidents ran the gamut from verbal abuse, physical intimidation, blocking doorways, cutting in line ahead of Asian students in the cafeteria, use of anti-Asian racial epithets, and more serious physical abuse including shoving, kicking, and punching–sometimes at the hands of more than one assailant. Advocates have accused school officials, including school Superintendent Arlene Ackerman and Principal LaGreta Brown (both black) of indifference to the plight of Asian students in their charge.
On one occasion,
black students reportedly began to hunt for Asians, checking classrooms were they might be found. A group of apparently organized black students reportedly rushed the stairwells to the second floor where many Asian students were located. Security camera footage from the lunchroom showed a group of 60 to 70 students–most of them black–surging forward with a smaller faction attacking a small group of Asian students.
Another time, after the school was “locked down,”
school officials decided to have classrooms dismissed one-by-one, and contacted police to provide extra protection outside the school. The ranks of the police thinned, however, when some had to respond to another emergency, and by the time a group of Asians were heading home they were insufficiently protected. Escorted out of the school by the principal (perhaps only for a short way–another disputed fact), the Asian students spotted blacks lying in wait; they made a futile attempt to run from trouble. In the ensuing attack, one Asian student’s nose was broken, and as many as 13 ended up needing treatment at the local hospital.
If the Obama administration really cared about civil rights enforcement in the context of public education, it would be acting to ensure that minority students, such as Asian-Americans, have access to a public education free of intimidation, and certainly free from violence. It would not be discouraging school officials at places like South Philadelphia High School from maintaining what little discipline may exist by threatening to launch an investigation if blacks students are disciplined in large numbers.
Unfortunately, in the view of Obama’s civil rights enforcers, some races seem to be more equal than others.
JOHN adds: Anyone who seriously thinks that the big problem in our public schools is discrimination against violent African-American students has had zero contact with such schools–or, one might say, with reality–in recent decades. I doubt that even the Obama administration is that out of touch. What we’re seeing here is a political payoff at the expense of students of all races, nothing more.