The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Restorative Justice

Heather McDonald is one of a very small number of outstanding journalists who have the discipline and intelligence to investigate a story thoroughly, evaluation the data dispassionately, and draw clear-eyed conclusions even if they happen to be politically incorrect. Her expertise is the investigation of crime and police contact in urban settings. The natural consequence is the discovery of statistics that fly in the face of politically correct thought. Rather than studying her findings and trying to develop workable solutions that would have lasting benefits for the black urban community, her unwelcome news is branded "racist" and those who write about it are immediately suspect. That works for the social justice warriors because it is suppresses reality and allows their view of the world to prevail. The only problem is that there view is warped, and promoting it at the national level does no good.

In a recent article, McDonald writes:
The Obama Justice and Education Departments have strong-armed schools across the country to all but eliminate the suspension and expulsion of insubordinate students. The reason? Because black students are disciplined at higher rates than whites. According to Washington bureaucrats, such disproportionate suspensions can mean only one thing: teachers and administrators are racist. The Obama administration rejects the proposition that black students are more likely to assault teachers or fight with other students in class. The so-called “school to prison” pipeline is a function of bias, not of behavior, they say.
Of course, the progressive position is fantasy based. Volumes of data do not support the PC claim that black students are no more likely than students of other races to assault teachers and even less data to indicate that school administrators are "racist."

McDonald discusses police data that clearly indicate that instances of urban street violence and recently, shopping mall attacks, often involve black youths and then writes:
The idea that such street behavior does not have a classroom counterpart is ludicrous. Black males between the ages of 14 and 17 commit homicide at ten times the rate of white and Hispanic males of the same age. The lack of socialization that produces such a vast disparity in murder rates, as well as less lethal street violence, inevitably will show up in classroom behavior. Teens who react to a perceived insult on social media by trying to shoot the offender are not likely to restrain themselves in the classroom if they feel “disrespected” by a teacher or fellow students. Interviews with teachers confirm the proposition that children from communities with high rates of family breakdown bring vast amounts of disruptive anger to school, especially girls. It is no surprise that several of the Christmas riots began with fights between girls. School officials in urban areas across the country set up security corridors manned by police officers at school dismissal times to avoid gang shootings. And yet, the Obama administration would have us believe that in the classroom, black students are no more likely to disrupt order than white students. Equally preposterous is the claim that teachers and administrators are bigots. There is no more liberal a profession than teaching; education schools are one long indoctrination in white-privilege theory. And yet when these social-justice warriors get in the classroom, according to the Obama civil rights lawyers, they start wielding invidious double standards in discipline.

The best solution to such alleged teacher racism, according to the Obama Justice and Education Departments, is to pressure teachers to keep unruly students in the classroom rather than removing them. This movement goes by the name of “restorative justice;” its result has been anarchy, adding a school-to-hospital pipeline to the school-to-prison pipeline. The St. Paul school district has been in the restorative-justice vanguard. Assaults on teachers tripled in 2015, reports Katherine Kersten of the Center for the American Experiment; one teacher sustained a traumatic brain injury, while another required staples in her head. Melees of 40 to 50 people (resembling the mall violence) are common, according to Kersten; roving packs of students attack isolated individuals. One high school issued emergency whistles to teachers.
So, if you ask the Obama administration, the best solution to school violence is to allow the violently disruptive student to remain in the classroom. As usual, under "restorative justice" the very students that progressives tell us they care so, so much about, are now subjected to disruptive behavior that hurts or destroys the learning experience. But proportionality is all that matters, let the other students who are trying to learn be damned.

There is, of course, push back from teachers and administrators, but the social justice warriors at Department of Education and DoJ are undeterred. McDonald writes:
Teachers’ unions in Fresno, Des Moines, New York City, and Indianapolis have all lodged complaints about the anti-discipline philosophy, according to Education Week. The Fresno teachers signed a petition pointing out that students are returned to class after cursing at teachers and physically assaulting them, without suffering any consequences. Fresno’s teachers have been injured trying to stop fights; some are retiring because teaching where severely disruptive students cannot be dislodged has become impossible. In Des Moines, students now hit and scream at each other and their teachers, reports the Des Moines Register.

Undeterred by such news, the Obama administration has rolled out reams of material for combating supposed teacher racism. Since 2014 alone, it has produced a School Climate and Discipline Guidance Package, a Rethink Discipline Public Awareness Campaign, a Resource Guide for Superintendent Action, a National Resource Center for School Justice Partnerships, a template for “School Climate Surveys,” and a “Quick Guide on Making School Climate Improvements.” The DOJ is “investing” $1 million (read: showering money on left-wing consultants) for the Pyramid Equity Project, which is supposed to establish national models for addressing issues of implicit bias in early learning programs.

Naturally, federal litigation has followed. Just this month, the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division imposed a consent decree on the Watson Chapel, Arkansas, School District, after suing it for racially discriminatory school-discipline practices. Those practices “prevent students of color from reaching their full potential,” according to Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta. A federal court will continue to have jurisdiction over the school until the DOJ declares it in absolute compliance with the decree, a process anticipated to take three years.
Given this threat of lawsuits, it’s no wonder that district superintendents dismiss the rising violence and announce that restorative justice is “working.” It’s certainly “worked” to reduce expulsions and suspensions—in Seattle, by a whopping 77 percent from 2013 to 2016. Never mind that students aren’t learning and teachers are at risk.
Fortunately, the through-the-looking glass world championed by Obama's Team of 2s is coming to a close, but only if the new Trump administration can drain the swamp of social justice warriors that inhabit every government department. I'm not sure he can, but I certainly hope he tries.