Brace yourself.

A Baltimore teacher grows frustrated with her poorly managed classroom and starts yelling at her students “you’re idiots! You have a chance to get an education. Do you wanna be a broke ass nigger, who’s going to get shot?”

In Minnesota, a math teacher who supports Donald Trump told students he supports “building a wall on the Mexican border” and that blacks should go “back to Africa.”

A parent in Los Angeles, Jennifer Reynaga, became alarmed after finding out a teacher in her child’s school was channeling Donald Trump’s anti-Mexican fear-based language, and scaring kids about how Trump’s presidency will affect them.

Down in Florida, parent Donnie Jones says a teacher walked up to a group of black students in the hall and said “Don’t make me call Donald Trump to get you sent back to Africa.”

In Georgia a teacher’s aide was axed after a racist Facebook post about First Lady Michelle Obama. She said “This poor Gorilla…she needs to focus on getting a total make-over (especially the hair), instead of planning vacations! She is a disgrace to America!”

Now, you’re going to say all of this is the predictable result of electing a white nationalist, Donald Trump, to the American presidency. That’s shortsighted.

Deplorables in education existed long before an election determined Trump could take his Duck Dynasty to the White House. You’ve missed it because, perhaps, many of you have been so busy painting pretty pictures of public education that you’ve glossed over it’s realities.

What part of the Trump victory is responsible for the Head Start scandal in Prince George’s County where a 3-year-old wet his pants and was forced by his teacher to mop it up in front of his peers while she texted his mother the message “LOL…He worked that mop tho!”?

Or the New York teacher who forced a student to lick his desk clean after he was caught doodling on it?

Or the Greenville, Mississippi teacher who drug a special needs students across a gymnasium floor by her hair?

Or when a Milwaukee Public Schools teacher’s aide slammed a student on a table and called the boy a nigger?

The examples are endless, but individual incident reports like these fail to uncover the deplorable reality of public education.

Start with a question so basic for any institution caring for children. Are our kids safe?

I’ll tell you again, as I’ve told you before, that when the Federal government studied the sexual abuse of children in public schools they estimated 1 in 10 students will be the victim of sexual misconduct by school staff. The problem is grosser, and more costly, than anyone admits.

You might also consider that in 22 states it’s still legal for educators to beat children.

The Obama administration recently sent a letter to state education officials saying ” the very acts of corporal punishment that are permissible when applied to children in schools under some state laws would be prohibited as criminal assault or battery when applied to adults in the community in those very same states.”

Guess at who is disproportionately beaten?

The same people who were beaten for learning to read during slavery, for wanting to govern during reconstruction, for wanting to vote during the Civil Rights era, and wanting to protest state sanctioned killings of unarmed citizens today.

In short, the blacks.

Some readers will be unmoved by discipline-related disparities because, after all, “bad” kids deserve punishment. But what about the injustices that no child can conceivably deserve?

Like the fact that Black and Latino students who can’t access high-level math and science courses because their schools don’t offer calculus, physics, chemistry, and Algebra II at rates equal to white schools.

How about the fact that Black and Latino students have less access to effective teachers?

Pouring awesomesauce over the teaching profession won’t hide the fact that public school teachers aren’t all selfless agents of mercy toiling in conditions unworthy of their altruism. Like any human population they vary greatly in their preparation, attitudes, skills, talents, and efficacy.

Many of them are ill-prepared, saddled with the wrong attitudes, and unfit for modern classrooms.

Those teachers don’t arrive before our kids by random assignment that distributes their inefficiency equally among races and classes. It’s by design. The government in all its democratic glory delivers them to us from universities, to the state, to the local school board.

Tell me how our kids deserve our silence about that problem?

The response of the Left to these problems is that our schools and teachers are great, but we need to redouble our funding of them. We are told to prioritize respect for teachers (who are arguably the most self-thanking occupation in America), pay them more, require less of them, lower the bar of their admission to the profession when they can’t pass professional entry tests, reduce their workloads to levels that are financially untenable, give them an even larger voice in education policy-making than their vast network of well-paid state-by-state lobbyists affords them, and dress them in the title of “expert” even as they show little demonstrable expertise in producing results with our kids.

They say we need to reclaim our schools. I wonder who are they including in the “our” part of that prescription? The parents fighting for options other than schools run by the government blob? Those suing for their rights to better teachers? Those fighting for schools that prioritize outcomes for students over benefits for adults?


From the Right we’re told we just need make education great again by reasserting the supremacy of dead white sociopaths, rewriting our books to cast enslaved people as well-fed happy dancers, meting out slave-era systems of behavioral punishments, and bring law and order to schools in ways that fast track the school-to-prison superhighway.

If you accept either “side’s” argument you might have been “educated” by the existing system. It’s time to remove the Matrix plug from the back of your head because it has disabled you from thinking critically about your captivity.

Thank God there are people – the reformers – between both broken wings of this aimless educational dodo bird who at very least admit the system needs fundamental reformation.

We’ll never produce a thinking, capable citizenry so long as we fail to acknowledge public education as currently constructed is a system bursting with deplorables.

Chris Stewart is the Chief Executive Officer of Education Post, a media project of the Results in Education Foundation. He is a lifelong activist and 20-year supporter of nonprofit and education-related causes. Stewart has served as the director of outreach and external affairs for Education Post, the executive director of the African American Leadership Forum (AALF), and an elected member of the Minneapolis Public Schools Board of Education.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here