Morgen on October 7, 2009 at 7:00 am
There is growing controversy over Kevin Jennings, who was appointed by President Obama to serve in the Department of Education. His official title is a mouthful – Assistant Deputy Secretary for the Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools. Since I suspect many of you have never heard of Jennings, here is a quick run-down from Fox:
President Obama’s “safe schools czar” is a former schoolteacher who has advocated promoting homosexuality in schools, written about his past drug abuse, expressed his contempt for religion and detailed an incident in which he did not report an underage student who told him he was having sex with older men.
The American Thinker has a good piece up if you are interested in reading more background information. Suffice it to say that Jennings is probably not the least controversial pick the Administration could have made for a position coordinating school safety at the federal level. And personally, what I find most troubling is that his relevant experience seems to be limited only to the defense of gay and lesbian students against violence and harassment. While this is certainly one important element of school safety, as a parent of two children myself I am much more concerned about drugs and other forms of violence in our schools.
Ok, on to my video find. Jennings is speaking at a panel discussion of “gender and education” at the Steinhardt School at New York University on April 25, 2008. He has some interesting things to say about critics of publicly-funded, segregated schools for gay, lesbian and transgender students (such as the Harvey Milk School in New York). It’s somewhere between a Sotomayor “I know this is on tape” and a Van Jones “Republicans are *ssholes” moment – watch:
Perhaps because I’ve come off a red-eye my judgment is not as good as it should be, but I’m going to say a couple of things that might be very provocative to you.
I began my education in a racially segregated school in rural North Carolina. I notice that many of the people who are so troubled by the types of segregation we’re talking about up here didn’t seem too bothered 35 years ago by segregation when I was growing up. And I would posit that um…race plays a major role here. And to be blunt I think some of the critics don’t like the idea of a lot of black boys being together. It scares them. So I’m just going to put that out there…
I’m perfectly willing to have a debate over problems or strengths of segregation with people who have a track record of putting forward other solutions. And who show a deep commitment to addressing some of the achievement gaps that we are citing on this stage today. Certainly in the case of the Harvey Milk School, none of the people who criticize the school fall into that category. They are people who have a history of caring less about gay students. So, but when you show me you care I’ll be willing to talk to you. Until then why don’t you turn the day of silence into a year of silence for yourself.
First of all, who even knew that there was such a thing as a publicly-funded school, segregated to include only gay and lesbian students? I can’t even believe such a thing is constitutional. And don’t you just love how those who make a career out of (ostensibly) promoting greater tolerance towards others can exhibit so much intolerance themselves? And over what – the idea that some of us might actually be opposed to the idea of using our tax dollars to fund such a school?
Look, I don’t doubt that many gay and lesbian students have a difficult time, although I think attitudes have shifted substantially in the last 20 years. But regardless, the rules prohibiting every form of violence and harassment in our schools should be aggressively promoted – and enforced. And I have no problem with greater attention being focused on this issue at a federal level. But the safety of our schools encompasses a much broader set of concerns than just this. And it seems to me that someone as narrowly focused – and biased – as Jennings may not be the best fit for this job.
Category: Politics |