Stephen Sharkansky, Oh, That Liberal Media Blog, May 18
Today’s Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports on a forum commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education decision. The P-I presented without challenge the various speakers’ biased, factually unsupported and in some cases insane allegations that white racism is the primary cause of lagging academic achievement among minorities:
[Seattle School Board President Mary] Bass said that despite the legal groundwork Brown established for the civil rights movement, the fight is far from over.
Seattle’s schools are now about 40 percent white, compared with about 62 percent when the district launched its mandatory busing plan in 1978. White flight to suburban schools has added to segregation in the district
The P-I fails to observe that if whites are fleeing the school district en masse then that would be evidence that many white parents feel they are poorly served by the school district, not that whites are giving themselves an unfair advantage.
The P-I’s reporter contributes her own biased and factually limited observations:
Meanwhile, students of color continue to lag behind their white peers in academic achievement … black high school students have the highest dropout rate of any ethnic group — 17 percent a year — and are almost three times as likely to drop out as white students. The next highest dropout rates are among American Indian students, at 16 percent, and Hispanic students, at 12.5 percent.
She does not mention the dropout rates of Asian students (who are also “of color”), but as I’ve noted many times, most recently here, East Asian students in the Seattle schools consistenly outperform white students on most measures of academic performance, including high school graduation rates.
At yesterday’s forum, Evergreen Tacoma campus founder Maxine Mimms was sharply critical of the [No Child Left Behind] act, saying it is an unfunded mandate that amounts to a “death sentence” for children in inner-city schools.
“No Child Left Behind, without funding, is a modern-day form of lynching,” she said. “The rope is not around the neck — it has moved up to the mind.”
I’m waiting for the outcry similar to the one that followed Secretary Paige’s characterization of the NEA as a “terrorist organization“.
Doug Selwyn, a former Seattle Public Schools teacher who now teaches at Antioch University, said that although some looked to Brown to create an equal playing field in public schools, that goal can’t be fulfilled without addressing the social and economic institutions that reinforce white dominance, such as inequity in health care, housing and neighborhood resources.
The P-I does not ask Doug Selwyn to explain how “white dominance” of the public schools would cause East Asians to outperform whites in the public schools and to be admitted to the nation’s best universities at much higher rates than whites.
UPDATE: The P-I’s Deborah Bach emails to defend her article:
I stand by my story. It is not incorrect to state that students of color lag behind their white counterparts — had the story said ALL students of color lag behind, it would be incorrect.
That response comes across as the cheap sophistry of a polemicist, not the words of a serious journalist who is trying to do her best to inform the public.