By Tim Hunt
Red flags raised about school district race consultantUploaded: Apr 29, 2021
I must confess warning bells went off when I read about the Pleasanton school district decision to contract with a consultant to “identify and address equity gaps among students, including any problematic policies and practices that contribute to systemic racism, microaggressions and student marginalization,” as Julia Baum reported for the Pleasanton Weekly.
Those buzz words have abounded in higher education for the last several years and, in the wake of the George Floyd murder and a summer of violent protests, have become commonplace in the corporate world and many school districts across the country.
I have written before about the different life I experience as a white male compared to a Black man. To hear nationally known pastors share how much influence they have behind their pulpit or speaking to the media, but, in their vehicle, when stopped by a law enforcement officer “they are just another black man.”
I believe there are elements of systemic racism, particularly in federal housing policy established in the 1930s that redlined neighborhoods with a high percentage of Blacks. Today, homes in predominately Black neighborhoods appraise for tens of thousands less than similar neighborhoods with whites and Asians.
But, there are other factors as well. Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society has resulted in the devastation of the Black family. Prior to that time, about 70 percent of Black children were born into families with a father present in the home. Now that number is 30%. Generations of Black children have been raised without a father present—welfare policies supported this by paying mothers more for each new baby. That coupled with a failing education system has resulted in the mess we see in urban areas today.
That said, respected conservative scholars such as Thomas Sowell and Shelby Steele reject much of this and argue that Blacks need to take responsibility for themselves. Both grew up poor and overcame that background to become highly accomplished commentators and opinion makers.
In Pleasanton, the numbers in a district report raise concerns. What’s needed is to dig broadly into the situations leading to the numbers. Blacks make up just 1.38% of the student population and have the most disabilities at 16.5% and most suspensions at 10.17%. The graduation rate is 93.3% compared to 99.2% for Asians. Hispanic students are about 10% of the district and account for 3% of suspensions.
All five trustees voted to support the $250,000 expenditure. I thought Steve Maher, a retired district principal, had it right when he asked what about spending money on homework clubs, tutoring and other programs to close the achievement gap. Yes, please.
Educational achievement is the single greatest predictor of a successful life. The district needs to examine the racial disparities, but remember its No. 1 job: education.
I believe former presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard had it right when she tweeted,” let us stop the RACIALIZATION of everyone and everything. We are all children of God, and therefore family in the truest sense, no matter our race or ethnicity. This is aloha - love & respect for others. This is what our country & the world need.”