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Vallejo School District blames students for problems

Written By Kenneth Brooks on 09-22-2011 | in Vallejo, Race, Critical Thinking,

Vallejo Times Herald reported, "Community and school leaders gathered Friday to discuss chronic district problems including the high expulsion rate among black students, racism, high dropout rates and declining enrollment." Attendees disagreed whether teachers and staff do not respect students, or if the reverse was true. Framing the discussion topics this way suggests student causes for Vallejo School District's problems.

Remember, this relationship consist of adult professionals with authority, teachers and staff, and juveniles without authority. Most students entered this school district at age five. Therefore, adults are to blame if students' disrespect for teachers and staff reached problem levels. Children in all human cultures seek approval from adults as an innate learning and survival trait. Their teenage attitude towards adults with whom they had close contact reflects the adults' imprint on them. Vallejo School District and others excuse their less than successful professional performance with racist excuses suggesting some racial groups have lower learning ability than other groups do. Racism is the belief that all members of different human races have characteristics or abilities specific to that race and those characteristics decide superiority or inferiority.

Thousands of students attending Vallejo School District's schools have similar skin color and nothing else in common. They have different families, different socioeconomic status, and different moral standards. They do not know one another. Scientific research in anthropology, biology, and genetics refute common biological racial traits. Nevertheless, American society continues to group and rate its citizens as if innate racial traits predetermine their conduct.

School district officials' remarks associated racial causes for 48 percent African-American and 45.8 percent Latino students' dropout rate in 2009-10, but not for the 46 percent "white" dropout rate. Those conclusions are illogical even if someone accepts racial categories. Obviously, a 48 percent dropout rate cannot indicate group members' predisposition for staying or leaving school more than a higher 52 percent remain-in-school rate does. In addition, dropout rates for three groups of students that differ by a maximum of 2 percentage points suggests a common cause in the school's environment and not traits specific to each group.

Learning is an individual task. I can understand why students disrespect teachers and staff that group them by skin color to generalize learning and discipline problems to them no matter personal accomplishments. School administrators and teachers disrespect students by grouping them as racial stereotypes and making them scapegoats for school district's failings. Naturally, many students push back with insolence.

Vallejo Teachers Union President Christal Watts attended the gathering. She wrote in her blog this year. "Imagine being accused of something without being able to give your side of the story. Is there anyone out there who really believes that a teacher shouldn't have the right to meet with a parent who has lodged a complaint against them? . . . It has made me angry that the profession that I entered into over a decade ago has become a scapegoat for all that is wrong with our country."

Students have the same need for individual recognition for commendation or blame. They also feel hurtful contempt for a system that generalizes negative group traits to them based on skin color or ancestry. Race-based instruction, teaching to the stereotype, is an offensive attack on students' self-image that brands them low-achieving African-American or Latino students no matter their personal achievement. No doubt, news reports of school district officials generalizing undisciplined conduct to them is hurtful. They must view staff and teachers' motives with suspicion. Teachers encourage mutual respect in the classroom. Then, school district officials disrespect them with public evaluations of their learning that generalize low academic achievement to them as racial group members suffering an achievement gap with white students. This characterization places them below the gap no matter individual accomplishment. I'm sure many stigmatized students wish they could wear a sign saying, "I'm an "A" student with perfect attendance." This negative racial assessment wrongly convinces others struggling to learn they have inborn racial limitations they cannot overcome.

Like Watts, those students also might say, "Imagine being accused of something as a racial stereotype without being able to give your side of the story. Is there anyone out there who really believes that a student shouldn't have the right to have teachers and school officials identify them as individuals for praise or criticism? . . It has made me angry that the student group that I entered over a decade ago has become a racial scapegoat for all that is wrong with our school district."

Someone must question American school administrators and teachers' compassion that brutalize students this way. Perhaps, cultural racism dehumanized students' image as African-American and Latino stereotypes so society no longer recognizes them as individuals with capacity to suffer emotionally from the abuse.

Vallejo and other Bay Area schools engaged this new form of racial cultural segregation in schools for at least two decades as dropout rates and discipline problems soared. The problem solutions are simple. Treat students respectfully as individual Americans. Then, provide the instruction they need to prosper in America. Not all will make it, but a much higher percentage of them will.

Labor's collective-bargaining claim untenable and self-contradicting.

Written By Kenneth Brooks on 03-13-2011 | in Government, Vallejo, Critical Thinking, Economics,

Many Americans are seduced by the idea that everyone has a right to work and right to collective bargaining in labor unions. United Nations' 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights Article 23 declares everybody's inalienable right to work and to bargain collectively as workers. However, those claims are illogical. They do not address the real cause of laborers' disadvantage when negotiating for wages and benefits. Specifically, collective bargaining privileges for government workers is a one-sided transfer of power not in Americans best interests.

Our nation was founded on principles of inalienable human rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. All three inalienable rights exist at birth without the need for another person to create them. In contrast, someone cannot have or exercise a right to work without another person creating employment. Otherwise, unemployed Americans need only assert their right to work to have a job and wages. However, the inalienable liberty right all Americans enjoy cancels the presumption that someone must create employment to fulfill another person's right-to-work. Therefore, workers have no reasonable claim to a right of collective bargaining, without a proved individual right-to-work.

Some legislative bodies passed laws declaring workers' collective-bargaining rights. However, those laws secure this right for one labor group with an employer by denying it to all other laborers. Therefore, laws declaring laborers' collective bargaining rights are self-contradicting as a statement of rights. More accurately, they extend the privilege of a monopoly over certain jobs to one group of workers. Americans should look suspiciously on illogical, self-contradicting laws, because inevitably they support privilege that benefits a small group of people at the expense of others.

Many Americans support collective bargaining rights to help workers offset employers' powerful negotiating position over wages. This tactic helps some worker groups gain increased wages and benefits, but at the expense of excluded laborers. Ultimately, collective bargaining fails its purpose because it does not address the surplus of laborers that creates employers' bargaining advantage. Collective-bargaining law has done little to change the wealth and income imbalance between the wealthy-elite group and the worker-group. Workers earn more now than fifty years ago, but the price of consumer goods cost more too.

Market demands prevent private employers and workers' unions the ability to make collective bargain agreements that obligate consumers to pay for bad products. This gives them a common interest to produce quality products and services pleasing to consumers or lose income. Conditions are different in the public sector where the quality of the public services government employees provide does not affect pay due them according to the union labor contract. Government workers bargain collective as a union only for wages without incurring a collective penalty for poor service. This legal mandate makes collective bargaining privileges for government employees an unconscionable win only condition for them. However, it positions taxpayers for potential personal safety and money losses.

City of Vallejo and its public safety unions entered an agreement to lessen numbers of firefighters and police officers to secure remaining members' high pay. This agreement conflicts with the idea that collective bargaining agreements protect all union members' interests. This agreement reduced fire and police services for Vallejo residents to unsatisfactory levels according to union members. Nevertheless, their collective bargaining contract held Vallejo taxpayers captive consumers obligated to pay for unsatisfactory service without the choice to bargain with other workers for those services.

Educators organized in collective bargaining unions also have not provided taxpayers a satisfactory quality of services. Yearly evaluations show high percentages of students performing below proficient in subjects like English language or mathematics. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development placed the United States 18th academically among 36 nations it examined. Our nation endures this low quality academic service when it faces challenges of technological advances and economic competition from foreign nations.

Voters act illogically that agree to laws against their best interests that extend monopoly powers to government workers over public services. Laborers have a huge advantage as voters over the wealthy-elite group of business owners. They should use this advantage to elect congress members that will control immigration at levels that preserve laborers' bargaining power as individuals rather than collectively as union members.


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