Outgoing U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan used his final speech to make a case for gun control. Speaking at a Chicago Catholic church on Wednesday, Duncan said that Washington’s failure to implement new gun restrictions represented the “greatest frustration” of his political career.
“We have to get guns out of the wrong people’s hands,” said Duncan. “We have to make sure our babies our safe.”
Duncan’s attempt to link street violence to dropout rates is not an unthinkable stretch, but there’s no evidence that federal gun control would do anything to change the landscape. In fact, by delivering this speech in the violence-plagued South Side of Chicago, Duncan highlights the futility of that effort. As has been pointed out on countless occasions, this American war zone is governed by some of the strongest gun legislation in the country.
Okay, so an Obama minion took the Obama stance on gun control, so what? Who would expect anything else?
The problem is that Duncan’s speech on school safety is insulting to anyone familiar with his apparent commitment to educational anarchy. Duncan is an outspoken proponent of reducing top-down disciplinary approaches in the classroom, and his ideas on public school punishment are as wrongheaded as his ideas on gun control.
In 2014, Duncan said, “It’s sort of a counterintuitive thing for many of us adults, but the more we give up power, the more we empower others, often the better things are, and empowering teenagers to be part of the solution, having them control the (classroom) environment, control the culture, be the leaders, listening to them, respecting them — when we do that, wonderful things happen for kids in communities that didn’t happen historically.”
Duncan, like many of his liberal cohorts, believes that disproportionate suspension rates among minority students must be solved – not by changing behavioral problems but by eliminating these suspensions as a matter of policy. This year, he said, “The ugly truth – the harsh reality – is that still today in 2015, some children are far more likely to face harsh discipline than others, simply because of their zip code or the color of their skin. That’s unacceptable and not a reality anybody should be willing to live with.”
Those of Duncan’s philosophical bent see this problem as incontrovertible evidence of systemic racism. These Democrats rarely dig deeper to actually prove this extraordinary accusation, which would entail proving that minority students are regularly suspended for offenses that earn white students a slap on the wrist. The best they can muster (when they bother) are a handful of anecdotes. In this way, the arguments about public school punishments are just as meritless as arguments about police shootings. One bad thing happened over here; therefore, the entire system needs to be reformed.
Democrat voters aren’t (necessarily) dumb, but they are surprisingly susceptible to conspiratorial thinking. They see a bothersome statistic, they draw a conclusion, and then work their way backwards. Along the way, they ignore any evidence that doesn’t fit with their view of America as an evil, racist empire. This may help them to feel like they are using their lives to fight injustice, but it doesn’t do anything to make our schools safer.
In fact, as we move to this new trend of eliminating suspensions for egregious classroom offenses, there is almost no doubt that things will get much, much worse. And since this will almost certainly lead to a federal takeover of the public school system, you have to wonder if that wasn’t the plan all along.