Archive for Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Ethnic equality

October 21, 2009


To the editor:

As a former member of the Lawrence school board, I was appalled at comments made by Jim Hays, research specialist for the Kansas Association of School Boards. It is possible that Mr. Hays was misquoted, but in a recent Journal-World article about the challenges associated with educating children in Kansas whose first language isn’t English, Mr. Hays commented, “It would be really nice if we were growing in nice white kids from middle class backgrounds, but that is not the case.”

I find his comment troubling for the following reasons. First, the comment implies that immigrant children are less than desirable in Kansas public schools. Second, Mr. Hays’ comment suggests that being white and middle class is more appealing than say, being of Asian, African-American, Hispanic, or any other ethnic background who may be middle class or for that matter from a lower socio-economic class.

His remarks are yet another example of the “Great White Hope” society that Rep. Lynn Jenkins speaks of. We should remember that one aspect of the American dream is to educate all children despite their racial or socio-economic backgrounds and not judge as if one group is better than another.


Richard Heckler 8 years ago

Excellent points. Thanks for the letter.

Paul R Getto 8 years ago

Mr. Hays was trying to point out, I think, that the new money was targeted to at-risk students. That was what the lawsuit was about. He, perhaps, spoke inelegantly, or was somewhat misquoted, who knows? The real point is, children who choose the the right parents generally have an easier time, in life and in school. The lawsuit was brought on behalf of minority and at-risk students, exactly the youngsters who need more help and more instruction to master essential skills and the curriculum. I know Jim Hays, and he is no racist. Real racists will point out the caucasian birth rate is dropping in most countries, and those who are having more children tend to come from 'minority' populations. They use this to bemoan the death of what they perceive to be the superior culture. There are no winners and losers in this debate, only children who need a good education and it is our responsibility to provide it.

geekin_topekan 8 years ago

I believe that what the man was trying to say that his colleagues may be thinking along the lines of Leave It To Beaver instead of reality. Instead if saying "it would be nice" perhaps he meant to say "It would make our job easier".

"White and middle class" could have been replaced with "all within the same demographic".

I did not read racism. I read sarcasm with at least one foot in the real world.

cato_the_elder 8 years ago

Comments such as these, even if well-intended, are made frequently by less-than-brilliant people associated with the administrative side of public education. Mr. Ortiz' complaint is valid, but as a former school board member he has to have heard this same type of insensitive comment a hundred times. The grossly insulting presupposition that all kids who grow up in minority and/or low-income households are pre-programmed to fail, while ignoring the fact that kids who grow up with too much uncontrolled affluence are just as likely to encounter severe problems with their lives, is a hallmark of current public education theory. Paternalistic remarks like these are especially typical of representatives of the Kansas Association of School Boards, which occupies a palatial office building, paid for entirely by taxpayers' money, situated on the southwest side of Topeka. The second commenter on this thread works there.

labmonkey 8 years ago


Loggy has disappeared. You can stop with the stupid Darwin bless you all. It was funny the first time, but you have more than ran it into the ground.

bluerain 8 years ago

I believe that his remark is just another example of the "Great White Hope." Take a look at the demographic makeup of the Lawrence schoolboard. Who do they represent? Lawrence people boast about the diversity and liberalness of Lawrence; however, I have found it to be one of the most racist cities that I have ever lived in.

jaywalker 8 years ago

Certainly hope Mr. Hays comment gains perspective with context, but that's a clunky, unfortunate line sitting out there by itself.

puddleglum 8 years ago

barry penders: progressive people want to progress. you can remain in 1947 if you want to.

Mel Briscoe 8 years ago

wow. ignoramuses (or would it be ignoramusi) abound in the state o' kansas. geesh.

Mel Briscoe 8 years ago

*ignoramai (okay, i've obviously put way too much thought into the spelling of this word...)

anyway, why do so many people in these threads get so far off of the subject that the subject itself is not recognizable in the responses?

bluerain 8 years ago

Diverting from the topic is just another way to cloud the issue at hand or to continue to wear blinders. How else can anyone live with oneself, without feeling some sense of shame, day to day surrounded by inequality in every aspect of his/her life. Workforce, housing, education.....I often wonder how the people of Lawrence think and feel, who have the financial means to entertain themselves downtown, while the obvious poorest of the poor walk among them, especially while they are dining out or shopping. Adopting an economically disadvanaged family or child during the holidays surely doesn't make a wrong a right, however, advocating and implementing equality from your heart is a step in the right direction.

Mel Briscoe 8 years ago

i have noticed one thing after becoming a member of this site, there are alot of closeted conservatives in lawrence. i live in salina and here folks who listen to rush limbaugh are much more out w/ it then they are in larryville... i guess the hippies drive the 'publicans underground there. shrugs shoulders

Fixed_Asset 8 years ago

cato - you couldn't be more wrong regarding KASB and Jim Hays!!! Let me correct a couple of misomers you obviously have. A simple mistake this could be, but their office is not located in the Southwest side of Topeka.

My guess is this is a perfect example of shoddy reporting and more than likely part of Mr. Hays' quote was either omitted, or skewed. Paternalistic? Seriously? Their "agenda" has always been first and foremost in the best interest of education. Alluding to anything but is purely mean-spirited pap. I suggest you consider studying up on their legisaltive advocacy history for starters.

geekin, I agree:

" I did not read racism. I read sarcasm with at least one foot in the real world."

cato_the_elder 8 years ago

Fixed_Asset, the address of the palatial headquarters of the Kansas Association of School Boards is 1420 SW Arrowhead Road in Topeka, a short distance east of SW Wanamaker. It was purchased, with taxpayers' money, from a failed entrepreneur who had constructed a building containing, among other upscale amenities, a gym and workout facility. When the KASB took possession, WIBW-TV investigated it and strongly condemned it as an extravagant misuse of taxpayers' money. The KASB was only able to occupy about half of it when they bought it, but I presume that they've grown. Perhaps they now also have a satellite building, which could have led you astray.

Fixed_Asset 8 years ago

Topeka addresses are divided South of the river, and West of Kansas Ave. KASB is NOT on the Southwest side of Topeka. No comments on their advocacy history? Sounds like a bit of jealousy because they own the old Ruedlinger building.

cato_the_elder 8 years ago

Fixed_Asset, debating the directional location of a SW street address in Topeka is not an asset on the credit side of your balance sheet. I've been in this palatial building more than once, which you apparently haven't.

cato_the_elder 8 years ago

Correction - debit side. Had bank accounts on my mind at the time.

Fixed_Asset 8 years ago

cato - no debate here, just factual geography. Tell me what you know about KASB besides the palatial building, which, BTW, I have been in numerous times over the years as an educator. I would also like to see some proof of this purported WIBW investigation.

The folks who work at KASB are some of the best people I have had the pleasure of working with over the years. If you are just in the mood to slam someone, at least come armed with facts.

cato_the_elder 8 years ago

The WIBW investigation and its news reporting on it are a fact. I wouldn't have said it if it weren't. It occurred when the KASB bought the building circa 1992.

I agree that most of the people associated with the KASB are pleasant individuals. I happen to disagree with their advocacy of vastly increased spending for public education while at the same time not only failing to criticize, but actually supporting, the extraordinarily bloated educational administrations in place in many local school districts in Kansas. Based on my personal experiences, which I might add are no one else's business, the KASB is in bed with all local district administrators and has no interest whatsoever in reducing their number in order to achieve savings so that teachers can be paid what they deserve. The KASB's purchase of its elite facility in the early '90's, done entirely with taxpayer funds, was symptomatic of this attitude and has been ever since.

Paul R Getto 8 years ago

"The grossly insulting presupposition that all kids who grow up in minority and/or low-income households are pre-programmed to fail, while ignoring the fact that kids who grow up with too much uncontrolled affluence are just as likely to encounter severe problems with their lives, is a hallmark of current public education theory." === Mr. Hays is a demographer and a statistician. He presupposes nothing of which you speak. Statistically speaking, minorities and low income people usually have a much lower quality of life and the public schools that go along with that life than those who elect better parents for themselves. The other end on fhe spectrum is true as you describe. Abuse by income can be just as tragic as physical neglect and malnutrition in the less fortunate populations. Children of all income levels are helped by love, family and a safe, secure environment. When all Kansas' children receive at least an adequate education, and resources are directed toward areas of most need, this portion of the debate will move on to the real topic--- How can we, help as many parents as possible learn to live well with their children at home and make sure they can send their sons and daughters to safe, happy schools? Parents and families of all income levels work across a wide spectrum of parenting skill levels. The odds are, however, if you were born on the 'wrong side of the tracks' you must work a great deal harder to succeed. There is no guarantee of success for the kid who 'came up hard' or the one with money, wheels, a credit card and near total freedom at the age of 17. Your points are well taken, cato. Once they are addressed and corrected, the lawsuits should cease.

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