[NOTE: Important UPDATE II Added March 9]
Yesterday, in Does Obama’s “Stimulus” Discriminate Against Minorities? (yes, according to the administration’s definition of discrimination), I noted (referencing this earlier post) that the liberal solution to “structural inequalities” is to regard “all employment policies or practices … that have a disparate impact as by definition discriminatory by virtue of their disparate impact alone.” Now, according to laudatory articles today in both the Washington Post and New York Times, the Dept. of Education’s Office of Civil Rights is about to launch an all-out attack on the nation’s schools based on that warped view of “civil rights.”
In the Times, reporter Sam Dillon obviously shares OCR’s view that the nation’s schools are rife with discrimination because
[a]t the end of high school, white students are about six times as likely to be ready to pursue college-level biology courses as black students, and more than four times as likely to be ready for college algebra, department officials said. White high school graduates are more than twice as likely to have taken advanced placement calculus classes as black or Latino graduates.
Dillon notes that the OCR has been swimming against the current in its effort to enforce civil rights, undermined by its own complicity with violations during the Bush area but also by barriers put up by other opponents of civil rights, such as the Supreme Court.
As it seeks to combat discrimination in schools and universities more aggressively, the administration will be acting in an area in which some Supreme Court rulings in recent years have brought more ambiguity. Federal policy for decades had aimed at compelling school districts to end racial inequality, for instance.
But in examining longstanding desegregation efforts in the Seattle and Jefferson County, Ky., schools in 2007, the Supreme Court ruled that school authorities could not seek to achieve or maintain integration through measures that take explicit account of a student’s race, a decision that seemed to reverse the thrust of four decades of federal policy.
The new OCR, in short, will not be deterred by the old, discredited view that “civil rights” recognizes the rights of individuals not to be burdened by the government based on their race, despite the Supreme Court’s continuing (if tenuous) dedication to that quaint notion.
Under its new, Obama-appointed leadership, OCR is about to step up its “compliance” efforts. This new effort, predictably, will not limit its attention to “procedures” — which I take to mean whether actual students have been treated fairly — but with results. ““Now we’ll not simply see whether there is a program in place,” Russlyn H. Ali, the new assistant secretary of education for civil rights, told the Times, “ but [we will] also examine whether that program is working effectively.”
And in Obamaland, working “effectively” means not an absence of discrimination but the presence of proportional results. Thus when Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announces new enforcement action in the coming weeks, as the Post reports today, “to ensure that students have equal access to a college-prep curriculum, advanced courses, and classes in math and science,” it is quite clear that he doesn’t really mean “equal access”; he means proportional results, as confirmed in an interview Ms. Ali gave the Post.
Ali said in an interview Friday that “we are weaving equity into all that we do” and that her office would examine potential cases for evidence of discrimination through “disparate impact” against certain classes of students on the basis of race, ethnicity, sex or disability.
Ali said the department plans to initiate 38 compliance reviews this year. There were 29 initiated last year, she said, and 42 in 2008. But she said the depth of the reviews will be “much greater than in the past.”
Since school districts will do whatever is necessary in order to be in “compliance” with the new “civil rights” directives from Washington, it is inevitable that many students across the country will now be excluded from Advanced Placement courses, etc., because of their race, i.e., because other students were included because of their race.
It is thus the height (or depth) of irony that Secretary Duncan will announce this new anti-civil rights “civil rights” policy today in a speech at the Edmund Pettus bridge near Selma, Alabama, site of one of the epic confrontations during the era when civil rights meant civil rights. And it is sad that he and the worshipful reporters covering the event don’t even recognize the irony.
More (and as usual, better) from Roger Clegg.
UPDATE II [March 9]: Yes, But Where Is The Discrimination?
In an interview with reporters, Secretary Duncan confirmed that he regards “underrepresentation” (or sometimes “overrepresentation,” as in disciplinary proceedings) not as evidence but as proof of “discrimination.”
Mr. Duncan, speaking with reporters from Selma, where civil-rights marchers were beaten by police officers on March 7, 1965, said discrimination today is seen in figures showing white high-school graduates are several times more likely than blacks or Latinos to be ready for college-level algebra, calculus, or biology.
So, who is discriminating against those black and Latino students? What discriminatory policies are the culprits? What do schools need to do to get themselves in “compliance” with Secretary Duncan’s version of civil rights?
Here’s a thought: why shouldn’t the Dept. of Education issue individual mandates, on the model of those proposed in health care, requiring black and Latino students to spend a specified number of hours per night doing homework and limiting the number of hours of television watching allowed? It could also use “stimulus” funds, or newly appropriated “jobs” funds, to hire armies of truant officers (possibly using those hired for the Census) to monitor “compliance” with the new edict?