Friday, April 29, 2005

CTA and Race

On p. 32 of the April 2005 issue of California Educator magazine is an article whose title jumps out as the height of all falsehoods: Fear of being misunderstood keeps race issues off the table.

Huh? We never talk about race in education? We never talk about the achievement gap between whites/asians and blacks/hispanics? We never talk about minority students and diversity? NCLB doesn't require us to disaggregate scores into several categories? The state testing we just completed didn't have a huge block for students to fill in about their primary race/ethnicity and then any others that may apply?

No, apparently we never talk about race in education. But since CTA is going to talk about race now, let's listen in.

The current attempt to promote the notion of a 'colorblind society' is part of that denial, she asserts. Recent research by social scientists has shown that racial bias is part of the fabric of society.

Well isn't that wonderful. Dr. King, where are you when we need you? Apparently, these people don't want to "promote the notion" that your children be judged not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. Thurgood Marshall wrote in his brief for the NAACP in Sipuel v. Oklahoma State Board of Regents, 332 U.S. 631 (1948): "There is no understandable factual basis for classification by race...." Hmmm. Here's more from Marshall, courtesy of
  • racial criteria are irrational, irrelevant, odious to our way of life and specifically proscribed under the Fourteenth Amendment (McLaurin v. Oklahoma, 1950)
  • you cannot use race as a basis of classification (Oral argument, Briggs v. Elliott, 1952)
  • you cannot use race as a basis of classification.... the Fourteenth Amendment compels the states to be color blind in exercising their power and authority.... race is an irrational basis for governmental action under our Constitution (Brown v. Board of Education)
And here are some interesting sections of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, again thanks to Discriminations:

SEC. 201. (a) All persons shall be entitled to the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, and privileges, advantages, and accommodations of any place of public accommodation, as defined in this section, without discrimination or segregation on the ground of race, color, religion, or national origin.

SEC. 202. All persons shall be entitled to be free, at any establishment or place, from discrimination or segregation of any kind on the ground of race, color, religion, or national origin, if such discrimination or segregation is or purports to be required by any law, statute, ordinance, regulation, rule, or order of a State or any agency or political subdivision thereof.

SEC. 401.(b) "Desegregation" means the assignment of students to public schools and within such schools without regard to their race, color, religion, or national origin, but "desegregation" shall not mean the assignment of students to public schools in order to overcome racial imbalance.

SEC. 601. No person in the United States shall, on the ground of race, color, or national origin, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.

SEC. 703. (a) It shall be an unlawful employment practice for an employer--

(1) to fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual, or otherwise to discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual's race, color, religion, sex, or national origin; or

(2) to limit, segregate, or classify his employees in any way which would deprive or tend to deprive any individual of employment opportunities or otherwise adversely affect his status as an employee, because of such individual's race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.

So now back to the CTA article. A colorblind society denies the "pernicious effects of unaddressed racial bias and discrimination"? How foolish were those Civil Rights Era pioneers and their misguided quest for a colorblind society! But wait, unfortunately there's more.

"We will talk about everything else, but we don't talk about race--even though it's the elephant in the room," said Paterson, a former professor at Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco. She offered participants the use of the workshop as a safe place to discuss the subject without being called racist. Well, if you think enough people are not talking about race, then perhaps, Professor Paterson, you should wonder why people would need the protection of not being called a racist before they feel safe enough to talk about race. Just an idea.

Here's my favorite.

Most people, said Paterson, do not realize they have an "unconscious" bias about people of color. "Most people are not stone-cold racists, although there certainly are some in our society. Most people don't think that black people are genetically inferior and white people are devils. Most people are not racist consciously, but they are unconsciously, which adds up to institutional racism. This is the challenge that faces us, and it makes a lot of teachers feel very uncomfortable."

There are so many things wrong with this quotation, I almost don't know where to begin. It sounds to me like everyone has a bias about people of color but most just don't realize they do. Wonderful. Everyone's guilty. Great. And apparently only whites are racists, unless the people of color also have a bias about people of color.

You know what makes this teacher uncomfortable? Having his union dues spent on tripe like this.

Since we apparently don't talk enough about race, I thought I'd spend a little more time in this post talking about race. I conducted a "study", one probably just as scientific and valid as any ever quoted in California Educator magazine. I decided to study the pictures in the magazine and classify the teachers (and only the teachers, not the union hacks or those people shown in advertisements) by race and sex. I specifically ignored the pictures of crowds of teachers protesting because it would be quite difficult to make out individual features on so many of the people in a crowd. Here are the results of my study:


Men 2*/5/2/1

Women 12/0/4/2

*Two additional white males were shown and identified members of a CTA task force and the NEA Board, but I don't know if they're still teaching or not.

I then focused my efforts on the centerfold, a Day of the Teacher poster (suitable for framing!). This poster showed 5 of the people included in the chart above, and not one of them is a white male. In fact, only one of them is white!

For an organization that screams about proportional representation in everything from hiring practices to college admissions to college degrees to Members of Congress to high school graduation rates, they sure don't seem to be practicing any proportional representation in the subjects of their photographs.

I know. Maybe they have an "unconscious bias" against People of Whiteness. Or maybe it's not so unconscious.

Update, 4/30/05 8:46 am: Gotta love the Discriminations website, which is why it's listed in my links. Here's a post showing how the Democrats are flip-flopping on their views now that they're in the minority. I wonder if they ever really believed in the strict, clear interpretation of the Civil Rights Act as quoted above.


Anonymous said...

Good, Finally somone who is smarter (don't forget better-looking) than I am knows where my stand is in this argumnet. You're right.

That is kind of funny to see a magazine, who is against the racial comments, turn around be racist, in a way, to the teachers in the pictures. That really doesn't make any sense.

Darren said...

Sure it makes sense. Consistency is irrelevant to the lefties.

Phyllis S said...

If it's unconscious bias, then how would you know? REminds me of a great line in John Irving's The CiderHouse Rules concerning an orphanage's operating board meeting in an attempt to get rid of the Doctor who runs the place. Remark by a blowsy gossip about said Doctor: "I know for a fact he's a non-practicing homosexual." In other words, whaa?

Darren said...

A non-practicing homosexual, huh?

Well, the woman who made the remark I quoted is probably a practicing THESPIAN!

(I know, it's an old joke. But before 7 in the morning it's still pretty funny to me.)

Phyllis S said...

And when did you stop beating your wife--ba dum dum.

Anonymous said...

"Most people, said Paterson, do not realize they have an "unconscious" bias about people of color..."

And to think that good ole Paterson has observed, interviewed, or somehow probed the inner depths of America's consciousness to find the unconscious attributions of MOST of the people in the U.S. - perhaps even the world. Who says rigorous research is waning.

henny said...

The institutionalized racism that I have seen in my black and hispanic school districts against white and asian teachers is a huge problem, and is pushing away A LOT of fantastic teachers, including great black and hispanic teachers who can't stand to be around this insipid corruption that does NOTHING to help black and hispanic children.

Believe me, intelligent and talented white, black, hispanic and asian teachers are running from NYC by the droves, and it's NOT about "the money".

I wonder if the teachers' unions could have a "workshop" on this racism?

Darren said...

No, Henny, you don't wonder at all. My guess is you already know the answer.