It was no surprise that Cedric the Entertainer, a black comedian, could get away with doing a comedy skit about “Colored People’s Time,” playing on the stereotype of tardiness in the black community. But in an example of life imitating art, a group helping to shape teaching in American schools is now actually instructing that tardiness is a legitimate part of certain “minority” cultures. It’s just one of many stereotype-related behaviors that the San Francisco-based Pacific Educational Group (PEG) says should be accepted and unquestioned — in teacher training paid for with millions of your tax dollars.
Plumbing the politically correct depths to explain why black and Hispanic students lag behind whites academically, the PEG identifies the supposed culprit: “white privilege.” The idea is that our educational system is based upon white culture and norms and thus is not conducive to minority success. And what are “white norms” according to the PEG? Qualities such as industriousness, punctuality, and civilized classroom behavior. Of course, it’s phrased a bit more euphemistically than that. As EAG News’ Steve Gunn writes:
Teachers are … taught that they should have separate behavior expectations for minority students, because those students supposedly come from cultures with radically different values.
For instance, one of the annual white privilege conferences in Wisconsin taught participants that minority kids frequently have a “different value and view on time, missed days, working together, and wait time between questions and answers.”
It tells teachers to “be flexible” with minority students who are persistently late or miss a lot of school days. It also tells teachers to be tolerant if black children exhibit “an exuberant participation style of shouting out answers and questions.”
According to PEG, white culture is based on “white individualism” or “white traits” like “rugged individualism,” “adherence to rigid time schedules,” “plan(ning) for the future,” and the idea that “hard work is the key to success.”
One could almost conclude that if the races have such intractably different modi operandi — if black is black and white is white and ne’er the twain shall meet — perhaps segregation is in order.
And, actually, that’s what PEG sometimes prescribes.
Though, again, they mince words a bit. As Gunn reports, the organization instructs teachers “to identify ‘focus students,’ adding that ‘it is preferable for all the students to be of the same racial group.’”
So gone are the days when liberals swore that black children learned better when alongside white children; in the past are their battles against segregationists, such as infamous Democrat George Wallace, who never had recourse to say, “I’m not denying opportunity — I’m just protecting these hapless black kids from white privilege!”
And this is precisely PEG’s message. According to Gunn, the organization preaches that so-called “white privilege” is detrimental to minority students’ academic endeavors, and that white values are “foreign” to these non-white youth. Ironically and tragically, this echoes negative messages black children often hear on the street, where successful black students are often impugned by peers as “acting white” (a phenomenon driven by jealousy).
And PEG’s philosophy — which has been called “the soft bigotry of low expectations” — is convincing some educators. For instance, Gunn quotes school principal Sharon Brittingham as having said at a 2010 PEG-influenced “white privilege” conference that while she’d previously thought they were doing their best for minority students, she now realizes that “what had to change was that belief that these children could learn at high levels of expectations.”
A reader could perhaps think this is akin to an unfunny version of Uncle Jemima’s Pure Mash Liquor. But no one is laughing, least of all Juan Williams, a black liberal journalist and author quoted by Gunn. Williams criticizes PEG for stigmatizing black youth with arguments and policies based on stereotypes. He points out that qualities such as punctuality, industriousness, and proper behavior are necessary for job success — for all people — and that no good black mother anywhere wouldn’t stress them. Williams stated, “My mother never would have said, ‘You don’t have to be on time. If you are then you are acting white.’ That idea is tragically insulting.”
And PEG is well paid for delivering its insults. Gunn reports that of the school districts retaining the organization’s services, 42 responded to his request for information — and have paid PEG $3.9 million in tax money during the last five years for its white-privilege training. The biggest-offender spenders are the Pittsburgh Public Schools, $586,300 to PEG over four years; the Osseo, Minnesota, school district, $533,800 over three years; Baltimore County Public Schools, $427,000 to PEG; Lawrence Public Schools in Kansas, $362,750; and Talbot County Public Schools in Maryland, $259,100 (a complete list is here).
But while we may be able to follow the money, can we follow the logic? After all, what are “white values”? Since we’re dealing in generalizations, note that not all white cultures exhibit the same “values.” For example, Germans were traditionally known for their punctuality, but Italy has not shared that reputation (hence the silver-lining-in-cloud joke, “Mussolini made the trains run on time”). Yet even though people were once very aware of ethnic differences among whites, no one a century ago ever said that punctuality shouldn’t be demanded of Italian-descent students because it’s a “German value.”
But something else was different 100 years ago: People spoke more about virtues and less about “values.” That is to say, people were more likely to believe in absolutes — that what we call good qualities are objectively good, having a basis in something existing apart from man, Truth — and are not just flavors of the day. This understanding informs that while there can be white, black, American, Chinese, or European “values” (which can be good or bad), virtues are a different matter. They reflect Truth, which is absolute, and human feelings on the matter change their nature not a whit. And punctuality, industriousness, and proper behavior along with charity, temperance, and many other things are necessary for goodness — for everyone — just as all need food, water, and sleep for life.
If everything were relative, however, then how could punctuality be better than tardiness, industriousness better than sloth, or civility better than savagery? Nothing could be superior to anything else. Then, believing “Man is the measure of all things,” as Protagoras said, one may conclude, “Any given group comprises men, so why should they be measured by other men’s “values”? Their “values” [whatever they embrace at the moment] can be their own measure.”
This is what begets Afro-centric studies, and feminist and other group-oriented curricula. If a person doesn’t have Truth as a yardstick for making decisions, he’ll use the most compelling yardstick he has left: emotion. And then you teach what makes blacks, girls, Hispanics, or whatever group feels right to pander to, feel good.
Man’s psychology, however, is not a relative thing: It’s governed by absolute principles. Holding blacks to lower standards will engender animosity among the races and damn blacks to a plantation of intellectual and moral slavery. And as with dismissing “white male linear thinking,” impugning virtues as products of “privilege” begets a vice-ridden — and ultimately dead — civilization.