“In the 1970s and 1980s, Britain was a pretty racist place. Black children were constantly held back in the school system, the police stopped young black men for no reason and white gangs would terrorise black families. While Britain has come a long way from those days, racism is still alive and kicking/“
”…/black children are undermined by the British school system because we expect too little of them.”
“… / The racism that does exist is that black children are treated differently to white ones. Incidentally, this doesn’t just happen to black kids. It also happens to the white working class or to anyone with some silly label, like anger management problems or ADHD. And it isn’t the ordinary teacher who is at fault. It is the senior management teams who refuse to ensure that the school rules should apply equally and fairly to all.”
“…/ The boy was sent home for having an inappropriate haircut. The issue isn’t whether you, the reader, find this haircut appropriate or not. You may very well think the haircut is just fine. And when you run your own school, you will ensure that your school rules permit such haircuts. But at the West London Free School, haircuts that are below a grade 3 are not allowed. And frankly, as a parent, if you disagree with this rule, then you need to choose another school for your child. This boy’s mother chose the WLFS for her child, knowing full well what the rules were, and then had the audacity to go back on the agreement she made with the school when her child first started there in September. As the head of WLFS said, he looks forward to the day when a head simply implementing the school’s rules is not cause for a national press story.”
I hold no brief for Toby Young (does this mean what I think it does? That I’m not a chum or a fan of?) . Pampered self-indulgent posh boy. But look at the head – actually standing up and enforcing a rule! Only 2 things to do with a rule:
1. enforce it
2. change it if it aint working until it is.
And the parental outcry! Narcissistic entitlement by proxy, that’s what it is – I said it first here. ‘Narcissistic entitlement by proxy’ – my baby is entitled to the best. Wrong. W R O N G.
She excellently expresses the very real but usually hidden colludusion of middle-class professionals which creates an effectively racist response to idiotic external targets. This is an andnotbut thing: this happens from a combination of at least two things, both of which are needed in order to fail children:
a. the system needs enforced inappropriate targets AND
b. the collusion of teachers
(teachers here being a proxy for the SRSS that is edjerkayshun. SRSS = self referential social system)
Kudos to her for saying any stupidly-labelled kids, like ADHD or white boys, not just ethnic minority children.
For me, the idea that the discrimination is against the non-normal, the ‘stupidly-labelled’, is the crucial insight.
And I hope she makes the necessary link between these ‘racist-in-effect’ teachers and the crappy target culture which fertilises and nurtures the ticky-boxing mentality which engenders it, soon…
Footnote: one of the baying mob of twitopundits on the torygraph had this to say:
“Katrina_Angell 10/25/2011 09:04 AM.
I went back and read the news report on this story. As usual, Katharine hasn’t given an entirely full account. The boy’s mother is quoted as saying she’s very happy with the school, she thinks it’s excellent. So she’s clearly not some disaffected parent taking a pop at the school. She’s also quoted as saying that she keeps her son’s hair very short because if it’s allowed to grow it gets very messy and gets dirt stuck in it as (according to her) is prone to happen with African Caribbean hair. So the haircut isn’t about some act of “individuality” or rebellion (as with some outlandish haircuts we’ve seen stories about) but an attempt to keep her son looking neat and tidy.”
To which I say:
1. People say things to the press to make themselves sound reasonable, not necessarily what they actually said at the time. Shocking, I know.
2. the hair thing? maybe as KA says ‘according to her’, indicating her own degree of doubt about the statements. And, if it’s true, the line ‘and proof of a recognised medical issue “ could easily be added to notes accompanying the school rule*. It doesn’t really change the principle – and how did the media get onto it? I bet: a. mum told them and b. bet she didn’t raise the ‘hair issue’ with the head before.
But mainly I say: I reckon Birbalsigh is spot-on in her analysis, which I see, overwhelmingly, as a critique of managerialism, and whether this kid’s hair is whatever the mum say’s or not, she is still spot-on** on the issues.
*notes on school rules: I’m a big fan of explanatory notes on rules. With examples. If the rule deserves to be made, it deserves to be explained, with examples. After all the stupid are more likely to break it if they don’t get it…
** Yes, I overused spot-on.