Friday, March 21, 2014

Racism Continues @ ARHS

A cold day at Amherst Regional High School

My first inclination was to ignore the tip that arrived early this morning in my inbox because obviously the perp (not my tipster) is only looking for attention, and racial incidents in a progressive little college town like Amherst can bring w-a-y more attention than they truly deserve.



But I share Principal Jackson's frustration.  And this swift public release of information is in stark contrast to the way school officials handled the recent incident of racial bullying which didn't fit the Politically Correct profile because it was black on white.

Yes this current incident involves the same teacher of color who was targeted back in October, although school officials thought it prudent to cover it up until mid-February, releasing the shameful story during "Warrior Week".  

After this current incident, you have to wonder about the effectiveness of  "Warrior Week" -- or any of the other measures undertaken over the past six weeks.



The "N-word".  Depends who is using it?



49 comments:

Anonymous said...

You sorta have to wonder at this point if the graffiti writer was white or a "student of color" (ie black, hispanic, asian...) Can't simply assume it was a white kid, it's not like there isn't precedent for individuals of a group to make it look like they are victims of acts of hate. Hell, we've even seen politicians vandalize their own campaign signs to make it look like an opponent is playing dirty.

Anonymous said...

I was at an outdoor festival recently (here in Western MA) attended by all of the local police departments, fire departments and emergency/rescue departments, plus families, business leaders and children.

There was a DJ playing recordings and announcing the proceedings. I was horrified to hear the "music" (mostly rap, which is not music in my opinion), replete with the N word. It was N this and N that. And nobody, NOBODY, said anything about it or did anything, nobody cared.

Why are children confused about the use of the N word? It's obviously ok in the Adult world, so why not in school?

Anonymous said...

At least three possibilities:
1. White- (or at least non-black) -on-black racist attack - if so, deplorable and should be prosecuted

2. Attack on teacher is not racially "motivated," but resorts to/includes racist words. Also deplorable and must be prosecuted.

3. Fraudulent pot-stirring by person of color looking to increase division, strengthen impression of group victimhood, at the expense of the unfortunate true victim, the teacher. Deplorable and should be prosecuted.

For a wonderful local example of scenario #3, google "Amherst College Black Residence Hall Cross Burning" for coverage of the April 12, 1979 tragedy.

Very good point raised about how even in our most-enlightened of communities, and with Warrior Week behind us and Mary Custard on the ramparts, we seem to have more problems than most communities in just getting along together. I wonder why this is?

Anonymous said...

Very pleased to see Principal Jackson large and in charge on this.

Anonymous said...

Scenario #4 A dumb kid of any color too young to really understand what they are doing. Did anyone think racism could be eliminated by one warrior week? This is not to knock it at all, I think it's a great idea, and I support Mark bringing quick attention to this incident. The school is reflection of our society,a racist place like it or not. I doubt Amherst has a any worse a record than any where else in the valley as far as this kind of stuff in a school. Bring light to the darkness, racial amity now!

NRC

Anonymous said...

Thsse comments that immediately point to a person of color committing this hate crime against a person of color don't remind me at all of society blaming women for being raped. No, not one bit really.

Yeah, and I'm sure that kind little old white woman whose purse was snatched was asking for it too. What the hell was she tempting that thief for by carrying her damn purse? She ought to be locked up for making that thief steal.

Not that your racism is oozing from your posting or anything because it is typically the victim whose really causes all the problems. Right? "You sorta have to wonder." Is your first move to always doubt the victim of a crime whenever she is a person of color?

Or is it only in this case? But don't worry. Your secret is safe with me.

Anonymous said...

Katherine Appy seems as adept at understanding the Constitution as she does the Psychologist Licensing laws...

What part of "shall make no law" does shoe not understand?

Anonymous said...

Ohhhh it's happening again. But that boy isn't in school yet so how can this be. We finally have a school committee chair who speaks out now Where were they when the boys parents were trying to get help back two months ago. No his parents got to watch it on the news which stated their son was a gun carrying radical. Never once has anyone from the news or schools publicly apologized to that family. Maybe this time the APD will investigate a little further instead of just looking at what was written on the schools confession page. And as for Ms. Custard doing warrior week, it's nice that she tried to do something but was she only trying to cover up her mistake for not doing anything for that whole week that happened before we closed the high school. It's time our little UN community stand up for everyone's rights not just for those whom we see fit.

Anonymous said...

No one knows the age or color or anything about the person(s) who did this or the previous writing. Same person, another, two people, staff, student, visitor? Nothing is known. People's assumptions may say more about them.

Anonymous said...

anon 2:13pm, a better analogy to the first comment here would be incidents such as that one that happened to the Duke lacrosse players a few years back, when an exotic dancer claimed she was raped by several players, then recanted and admitted she made the whole thing up. That happens. It's correct to say we can't assume it was a white kid who wrote the graffiti--and the only thing other than white is "of color"--don't you agree? We just don't know who wrote it.

Anonymous said...

anon 2:13pm, are you saying that both the perpetrator of the hate crime and the victim can't both be "people of color"? We do know for a fact that black kids in the high school use racist language.

Anonymous said...

This person most likely is a white kid who got a bad grade in her class and has an axe to grind. Unfortunate she has to sink so low to use racial slurs. Most kids in Amherst know better but also know how powerful using racial slurs are because of the reactions they will get in our community.

Anonymous said...

Larry I hope you'll blog about the Fort River school principal, Monica Hall, is moving to the Amherst schools central office to become "director of diversity and equity for the district" (with a huge salary to boot I'm sure). Is this really necessary or useful? Or just more politically correct (and expensive) garbage courtesy of The People's Republic?

Anonymous said...

What a dumb question to ask considering this blogpost is a bout a racist incident.

Nina Koch said...

I think this is a situation where the adults can learn from the kids. When the students were informed of this horrible incident, they gave:

1) applause to congratulate the student who came forward to report the graffiti; and

2) an immediate and enormous outpouring of compassion for Ms. Gardner.

On their own, they produced cards and a large banner of supportive messages. No one asked them to do that. It came from their sense of empathy for the victim and from a belief that our community can rise to meet this challenge.

I am really proud of our ARHS students. The adults on this blog? not showing the same compassion. Of the 13 comments so far, several outrageously suggest that this is some kind of fabrication. Several others use the event as an opportunity to attack various people in the community.

The last time this happened, I extended an invitation to the lurkers of this blog to come out of hiding and make a statement. Even though no one took me up on it, I'll extend that same invitation again. Can you let Ms. Gardner know that you're sorry this happened to her? How about a hundred voices to drown out the hate?

Think about what it would be like for her to read these comments and find very little support. You can mitigate that effect with your voice. Your silence only serves to amplify the pain.

Anonymous said...

What's "dumb" is how the Amherst school administration thinks they are going to deal with alleged incidents of racism and other issues via an unnecessary "director of diversity and equity for the district." It's a bunch of politically correct nonsense. I hope Larry and others continue to highlight the waste and mismanagement at ARS.

Anonymous said...

they finally restored the director of diversity & equity position, restored arts in the elementary schools, and came in way under budget, doesn't look like waste and mismanagement to me.

Anonymous said...

@ Anon 9:28
Is your comment one of those instances when sarcasm needs another font? Under budget? There is a $400,000 short fall at the Middle & High School levels and they are saying the need to cut the equivalent of 12 full time teachers. Ms. Hall's position is clearly a vast misappropriation of funds! Put her salary into providing direct services to students struggling to keep up and "close the achievement gap". How effective is she really going to be sitting up in Central Office while teachers are being cut. Appauling!!

Anonymous said...

This blog sits on top of a deep well of popular frustration with how our school officials address these incidents.

A student who engages in this kind of behavior is creating a hostile work environment for a person doing one of the hardest jobs in this community. It cannot be seen as a "cry for help from a troubled youth."

The most compassionate thing to do THIS time, for the good of everyone, is to fire the perpetrating kid's ass out of the school for good.

Yes, there is a place for good old fashioned anger and toughness from those in charge.

Anonymous said...

I'm disgusted all around at everyone over there in that high school.

Anonymous said...

How can people say this position is not needed and at the same time say that children of color get treated differently than white students? It's not just a problem in Amherst, as just yesterday the U.S. Education Department released a report showing their is a nationwide problem of discrimination of alarming proportions.

Anonymous said...

To Annon @ 11:00
Can you please tell me how you can fire this student. I understand this problem is now targeting a teacher whom has been targeted before. What exactly was written in the bathroom. And have the POLICE and MEDIA been notified yet. If not I really think that they should since the Faculty at the high school cannt seem to fix the problem. Ever think that ever person who writes does it differently. And any idea what ever happened to the Teacher and Para whom were let go for doing inappropriate acts in room 167. More stuff is always swept under the carpets here in Amherst. Maybe it's time to remove those carpets so the dirt will all come OUT.

Anonymous said...

It would be great to see a job description and action plan for the Director of Diversity and Equity. I agree that some targeted intervention is needed in this area but the question is, does attacking it from a high paid administrative position make most sense, or might funding more teachers or programs geared towards tackling the achievement gap be a more fruitful approach?

Or... might it be possible for this administrative position to replace an existing one? Or... might the position be grant funded? Adding another administrative position, however well intentioned, while twelve teaching positions are on the chopping block is hard to justify.

Anonymous said...

The real problem is hypocrisy plain and simple. The schools have no moral compass and no consistent way to deal with the problems. That is why this discord will continue forever. Few trust what is really being told to the community.

This incident happens and is is appalling but who did it? Was it really racial or just someone stirring the pot. I don't trust local or school leaders to give me accurate honest answers.

How can we believe what we are told after the incident with Justine. He was bullied. Nothing was done but to expel him for his bad behavior. Central office unjustly threatened his father. SC, including Appy did nothing. Now suddenly they rattle the sabers with an unknown perp.

What are we supposed to believe.

The school claims to be all about social justice but I know several kids of color in honors classes that are asked "are you really in the right class" implying that they are not capable of being there.

The school has a cancer, and has has it for years. Holding banners and clapping does little to stop the long term problem.

Get the kids focused on learning core subjects. Stop making the kids of color feel like victims and the white kids feeling like perps. Stop throwing social justice crap down their throats and maybe things will change in 10 years.

If you can't wait that long I suggest getting out because change is slow and in Amherst it is almost non existent.

The school is filled with liberal leading do-gooders with zero vision, direction, or guidance. They are always looking to find a problem that does not exist and ignoring the ones that do exist. The have an over inflated sense of value and values to our community. What a disaster.

Anonymous said...

This is probably from some girl who is trying to be hurtful against this teacher. Having a kid in MS and the shockingly horrible mean girls and the most strategically mean things they say and do, it is no surprise that these behaviors won't be limited to their peers.

That is not to excuse or minimize the distress caused to Ms. Gardner. I suspect one would find hate language in the bathrooms against many teachers (whatever could be viewed as a soft-spot, be it weight, hair style, clothes, age, etc). Lets face it- some kids are exceedingly cruel, its not clear to me that this will change in response to the programs on offer at the HS.

How is PBIS working? Its been 4 years or so now. Is anyone tracking it? It ought to be having an impact by now, if it is effective.

Anonymous said...

From the Gazette:

"The position Hall is taking is being reinstated as the result of the retirement of another administrator in the central office, Geryk said, though she declined to specify which one. “The coordinator has put in her retirement notice. She has not shared her plans with staff, though, so I can’t share her information yet,” Geryk said in an email Tuesday. “There will not be a budget add for this position.”

Hall, who earns $92,790, will make $94,840 next year."

...at least it's not an "add on" to the administrative staff

Anonymous said...

Trying to teach people not to be racist is like trying to teach them not to blink. It's part of being a human, get used to it.

Anonymous said...

Racism what is racism.
Is that like when I'm in
Ms. Custard's office and everywhere I look it pertains to Black and I am White. Is this Equality or Racism.

Anonymous said...

My understanding is the person leaving central office is not a high level administrator. They have carefully worded it to seem to not be a add. It will add to central office budget again. Yet another person adding to the burden to the teachers and building level admin with initiative after initiative that fails and withers quietly away. Clear the central office and help the buildings improve through budget support. Help our teachers through meaningful professional development opportunities. Increase our building level admin so they can actually implement the evaluation system with fidelity. All focus should be on helping our teachers and paraprofessionals in the classroom. That is where the learning happens.

Anonymous said...

ask your kids (I did) if students treat kids of color differently than white kids? Do teachers treat kids of color differently than white kids?
My kid's response (who is white but whose friends are mostly kids of color and low income): kids don't treat them differently but (bluntly and simply replied) that teachers do. How? "They are given a lot more latitude (my wording) in discipline. They get away with a lot more misbehavior than white kids." I've got to wonder what message this sends to all kids. Surely there are reasons behind the teachers' differential treatment but it seems that things are really messed up (and everyone is a loser). I'm not sure how this disparity can be addressed, it's so ingrained now. Is this a result of our districts emphasis on social justice or despite it?

Anonymous said...

We live in a far too politically correct world and this is the result of shoving political correctness down peoples throats and focusing on issues of race and color. The more you point to differences the more people see it. The more you entertain problems the more problems you create.

Anonymous said...

Anon 11:38

I could not agree more. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

With all the teaching, all the lessons, all the information, all lectures, all the school assemblies and everything related to teaching this generation about racism, and especially in a town such as Amherst, that prides itself on standing out in terms of race acceptance, we have the same issues of race that we have anywhere else (and perhaps more). Somehow people like to find the "definitive" timeline for racism and in doing so ignore reality. Children start to see differences at about nine and that is when they start to voice what they see only to have adults tell them there is no difference even though children clearly see this in use of language, dress, social circles, etc. Unfortunately many intellectuals don't like to look beyond slavery as the moment "differences" started and the birth of racism began, but the reality is whether economic, or political, or based on color, or any other difference that we see, the idea that people are different and differences create problems is an unfortunate part of our existence and always has been even though many refuse to acknowledge the notion. Teach all you want, racism and bullying are part of the human psyche, like it or not. Doesn't make it acceptable. It is not necessarily based ignorance as dogma likes to preach and that is why all the teaching about tolerance doesn't work. Political correctness is killing our world. Telling children there is no difference in a person because they are gay,white, black, Asian, poor, socioeconomically different, or mentally or physically disabled simply makes no sense to a brain that sees those differences. Eventually children look beyond all the political correctness even in such a "progressive" town as Amherst.

Anonymous said...

Best way I know to get a teenager to do something is to say you can't do it.

Pull the fire alarm, you get 15 minutes of attention. Write a nasty word on a bathroom wall and you get a whole week's worth. Which would you do?

Anonymous said...

Stop and think, most Blacks what to be called African Americans. And that certain words are not to be spoken by Whites. Does this all stem from long ago when they were slaves. Some were treated just fine and others were not. But now think of all the Jews from all over Europe. They to were slaves, but the only difference was they were slaves to the end in which they were brutally tortured and killed for no apparent reason.. So I have no problem now but see the Holocaust as a far worse form of slavery. And me being White know that my ancestors never owned or had slave, and so let's see how many Blacks had ancestors who were slaves. It's time to put all the correctness away and start treating ALL people with the respect they desire.

Anonymous said...

Anon. 12:52

You've really got it wrong.

Equity education isn't about teaching kids that there ARE no differences. It's about teaching kids to embrace and respect differences.

Big difference.

Anonymous said...

This is a rough situation to resolve because it needs a thorough investigation if we hope to identify the perpetrator, and an investigation in which the outcome is shared with the community (unlike the smokescreen around the recent bullying/racism cascade of altercations).

A complicating factor - the entrenched interests and histories of the 'players' on-stage:

The teacher (Ms. Gardner?) surely deserves our sympathy, and deserves justice. She has been personally attacked and violated.

The students (thanks, Anon 9:27am and Anon 11:11am) are force fed the social justice agenda and see in reality a pattern of disparate treatment, disparate blame and disparate absolution. They deserve true liberation through de-programming.

The teachers are doing more and more, with less and less, in order to "carry" the top-heavy load of administration-team social workers, organizers and community activists. These teachers deserve respect and true support in what should be the core mission of the school system: producing students who each excel to their greatest potential.

I am sympathetic to these people. On the other hand...

The administration hires more and more diversity specialists, stages teach-ins, organizes Warrior Weeks, and really gives this set of issues primacy over nearly every other - thus has a vested interest in not the resolution, but the perpetuation, of the strife. That is, we employ administrators who's job would not be needed unless racism continues to be perceived as an issue.

I think that the entrenched ARPS power structure produces and protects 'agenda administrators' who are conflicted in their service to the community. We all collectively have a problem until this is flushed out of the system.

Anonymous said...

Russ Vernon Jones, as principal of Ft. River Elementary school perpetuated much of this. He stressed his social justice education there that:"we are all the same" above all else, including actual learning. The kids knew it was b.s. because they saw lots of differences between themselves and others: learning styles, pace of learning, behavior in class. Students in this district have been fed the "social justice" line, but seen no real changes. And, all students suffered because of it because all students do NOT learn the same or at the same pace.

Anonymous said...

Hey 4pm, I didn't get it wrong. If I got it wrong all your teaching kids to embrace and respect differences would have worked. It didn't, in fact it backfired and continues to, big-time. No other communities around her having these problems. Instead of waiting for a fire you told kids over and over about fire, how you had to respect it, not play with it, how others that play with it are wrong, how history shows the people that set fires, and what did you get, kids that all wanted to set fires. All the liberal assholes in this town have created their own monster and now have only themselves to blame. Too many textbooks and not enough real-world reality will do that to you. Do you think your kid simply accepts blacks or whites or those that are different than you because you say they should? Guess you know little about human nature. Take Monica Hall for instance. Many students said she wasn't so nice to them. Many said she looked at them strangely. No, this had nothing to do with color or anything else racial. It's more likely that people perceived her as a bit of an oddball person. Eventually after a while people start to look for a why. And eventually people who are young and impressionable ask what is different about her. And sometimes they say maybe it's because she is black. Regardless of how many rainbow flag bumper stickers you put on your car, how many books about the kid who didn't fit in but who was accepted you read to your kids, and how many library books you try to hide because they show you the history of human nature, you still end up with a problem. Amherst has a serious problem that all the flag waving, crying principles, and public outcry isn't going to fix. The problem isn't racism, it's shoving shit down people throats. Racism is just a symptom of the bigger PC shit that permeates liberal thinking. When you preach about equality then start banning words and thoughts that don't fit your formula you only multiply your problem. You have a BIG problem. It's no wonder why the history of the school shooters in the last 40 years shows all of them come from left liberal thinking backgrounds.

Anonymous said...

Are they really going to re-elect Appy. Her "beautiful" plea is "ingenious". Oh yea, the title of her post "Katherine Appy for School Committee" explains her "heartfelt" note. Funny how Amherst preaches acceptance yet her and her opponent are using race cards to try and get the job.

Anonymous said...

Katherine Appy for School committee is not the title of her post. It's the name of the face book page this appeared on.

Anonymous said...

I'm conflicted. My impression of Appy is that she is a force for status-quo, and her term as SC head has been disappointing. I am looking for a change.

Today with "Appy!" and "Vira!" supporters facing off across the main intersection, I asked a Vira supporter to explain to me why Vira would be a better choice. I was told Vira "is more progressive," "wants to address issues of racism," and "is not a corporate sell-out."

Sad to say, if these are our two choices, suddenly I am an Appy camper. Oy!

Anonymous said...

Anon. 6:36 is seriously off his or her rocker.

Feeling genuinely sad for any kids being raised in that home.

Anonymous said...

They are both losers in a school committee that has as much to say about the system as a friend on Facebook. Appy has touted how much sees done. She's TOUTED THAT. Vira is playing the "I'm poor and will fight for what's right". You can't fight in the SC cause there is nothing to fight over. Anyone that comes in and says the truth ends up leaving out of frustration like Sanderson who told the truth and said that Maria Geryk was unqualified and driving the schools into the ground. Classic Amherst. Two parts to a school system and neither does shit.

Anonymous said...

Anon: 11:04

Exactly!

Anonymous said...

Anon: 10:50

If you consider yourself open minded you should rethink your position. I don't agree with everything 12:52 says but I understand where they are coming from. I understand it as much as the over the top liberal in Amherst. Both sides have validity. Somewhere in the middle is a place we can all come together. Except in the climate of hyperbole, which as we all know if far to pervasive in our society.

Anonymous said...

Ask Mark Jackson how much graffiti, etc, has been written about the white teachers that nobody gave a crap about.
I'm not saying this isn't important, but lets have some balance here.

Nina Koch said...

White teachers are not being targeted for their race. The topic of this thread is racism.

Anonymous said...

One thing's certain, the teacher's certainly getting a lot of sympathy from the school and the community at large - including paid leave. The principal and school have acted somewhat appropriately in addressing this swiftly. But to say that it's everyone's fault is absurd. Maybe if the town weren't so consumed with self-righteous political correctness, something like antagonistic bathroom graffiti wouldn't seem so appealing for a teenager. There's no better way to make trouble than to ruffle the feathers of an overly-sensitive culture.