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November 14, 2022

Kayla Patrick’s Not-So-Soft Bigotry

Just as the Obama administration did before it, Team Biden is claiming that school discipline is rooted in racism.

Being a Democrat means never having to say you’re sorry — even for being a racist. And nowhere is that more clearly the case than with Kayla Patrick, who works for Joe Biden in the Department of Education’s Office of Planning, Evaluation, and Policy Development.

Patrick, who has a master’s in education policy from Columbia University and a bachelor’s in political science from Wellesley College, and has been with Team Biden since February, said this last year during her keynote address at an event called Policy Pathways’ 3rd Annual Fall Celebration: “School discipline is a symptom of a racist and punitive system that often fails to see children as children. … So black girls are more likely to be disciplined, frankly, because black girls experience race- and sex-based discrimination in classrooms. They are disciplined often for simply being black.”

There’s more where that came from. “In other settings, we would consider self-advocacy or assertiveness a leadership skill,” she said. “But when black girls do it in schools, they are often suspended for being loud, defiant, or talking back.”

“These aren’t just consequences,” Patrick said of the belief that good order and discipline are necessary components of an orderly classroom. “These are actions that leave too many black girls stuck in the school-to-poverty pipeline. And this doesn’t just happen because black students inherently behave different than white students. They absolutely don’t. This happens because racism is baked into school discipline and dress code policies.”

What’s sad here is that eight years ago, the Obama administration was making the same rotten raced-based arguments. As the great Thomas Sowell wrote then:

Attorney General [Eric] Holder’s threats of legal action against schools where minority students are disciplined more often than he wants are a much more sweeping and damaging blow to the education of poor and minority students across the country.

Among the biggest obstacles to educating children in many ghetto schools are disruptive students whose antics, threats and violence can make education virtually impossible. If only 10 percent of the students are this way, that sacrifices the education of the other 90 percent.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Kayla Patrick, though, is not only an opponent of discipline; she’s also a fan of racial quotas — at least where education is concerned. “So in this country,” she complains, “nearly 80% of the teachers are white. And sometimes their mindsets are based solely in whiteness. So that means when they come into school, they have predisposed mindsets about who black children are, what they need to wear, and how they need to behave. And so instead of celebrating their identities and cultures, schools often erase them.”

Thus, Patrick seems to be making a segregationist argument — one that harkens back to the Jim Crow Democrats of the pre-Civil Rights era: Blacks are better off being taught be blacks, not those whose “mindsets are based solely in whiteness.”

We’re not sure what counts as “white” with Patrick, but given that blacks represent around 14% of the U.S. population, that would make for a quota of around 86% non-black teachers. Interestingly, Patrick didn’t complain about the fact that blacks represent 70% of the NFL’s players and 75% of the NBA’s players. Where’s the quota-driven outrage?

If we’re going to start calling for racial quotas, we should be consistent, right?

As for maintaining color-blind order in the classroom, this isn’t so much racism as it is commonsensism. And any call by excuse-making educational bureaucrats like Kayla Patrick to administer discipline with respect to the color of a student’s skin reminds us of what George W. Bush referred to more than two decades ago as “the soft bigotry of low expectations.”

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