March 11, 2014

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Now for the really bad news: the slowest learners must suffer the greatest pain if they are to catch up. It’s an iron law. Students with IQs of 85 will necessarily struggle more to master arithmetic than their brainier classmates, so the dummies must be pushed harder. It’s no different than sports”€”klutzes such as me had to spend extra hours of practice to compete against “€œnaturals.”€ 

Ironically, the war on tough discipline is escalating, and bottom-dwellers will be the casualties. It’s all about “€œdisparate impact”€”€”unequal rates of punishment”€”since blacks are disproportionately punished. In this bizarre egalitarian’s fantasy, unequal punishment is educationally bad for blacks. Oddly, nobody seems to notice that forcing schools to lighten up on blacks will only encourage their misbehavior and thereby promote even less classroom learning. The KKK could not have invented a better way to debilitate blacks educationally. And black leaders love it”€”who could possibly endorse cracking down on people of color?

To this end, the ACLU has long sought to end corporal punishment (almost entirely in the South), while Eric Holder’s Justice Department is suing school districts to equalize suspensions and expulsions. Obama calls for ending “zero tolerance” for minor infractions since blacks are disproportionately punished and therefore less likely to graduate. Atlantic Philanthropies has spent close to $40 million already on reducing discipline disparities.

This “€œenlightened”€ kindness has it backwards”€”schools with large black enrollments will become more chaotic and crime-infested, and the better students will flee. A far better solution would be to allow teachers to terrify miscreants into submission. Faced with paddling or public humiliation, students would be motivated to improve their test scores. The Blessed Sister Godzilla, She Who Terrorizes the Indolent, for Secretary of Education! Obama should instead announce his “€œKick Ass to Help Youngsters of Color”€ program. 

So why push policies guaranteed to fail or even make matters worse? A cynic might suggest that this ersatz kindness guarantees black underclass dependency and this, in turn, means more jobs for middle-class black social workers, therapists, role models, and mentors. (It is always assumed that only blacks can properly relate to underclass blacks, so no whites need apply.) But a less devious explanation is probably more accurate: Those targeted for uplift refuse to pay the bill for making progress and will not vote for anybody who demands payment. Tough measures are thus politically DOA.

In the case of education, at least among many of those in chronic poverty, imagine the howls of outrage if Junior were physically forced to sit still, keep quiet, and pay attention while learning how to write a proper paragraph and made to redo it all day long if he messed up. Absolutely cruel and unusual. If given a choice between years of hard labor to obtain a real degree versus years of sloth and a decorative parchment awarded as a matter of right, the latter usually wins. How dare political leaders insist that anything worth having requires pain? 



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