Colin Flaherty: The Cause of Black Violence in Ferguson Schools

The Post-Dispatch finally figured out who is responsible for the relentless violence and mayhem in black schools in Ferguson, MO: The white teachers.

This is basically the same story the paper ran last year about St. Louis, with the same explanations: White teachers cannot handle the constant chaos in black classrooms. So they quit, many on the first day.

This week, the mayhem reached such epic levels in Ferguson that two schools were forced to suspend 20 percent of their student bodies. All black.

“Many new teachers are white and previously taught in more affluent suburban schools,” explained the paper. “Some are struggling to connect with their students, most of whom are black and come from impoverished backgrounds.”

One of these schools removing students from the classroom at bulk rates is Normandy High, which produced America’s latest and greatest poster child for the war on black people, Michael Brown, the gentle giant of Ferguson.

The penalty for teachers who fail “to connect” is to become the victim of assault, taunting, harassment, threats, official indifference and the stress from living day to day in such a violent environment. One of the unconnected teachers, reports the Post-Dispatch, was recently taken to the hospital after a student hit her in the head with a book.

The St. Louis Fox affiliate did a story last year about the constant threat of violence towards teachers in classrooms in the Normandy School District.

“Some schools are gripped by a climate of violence,” said the anchor, “frightening to many students and teachers.”

“Violence in the troubled Normandy School District in North County has gotten so out of hand that teachers are finding themselves under attack from students,” said the reporter, Elliott Davis. “One teacher told FOX 2 of being pepper sprayed by a student when she tried and stop a fight involving nearly a dozen 9th grade girls. She has more stories of attacks on teachers, like one being chocked by a student.”

One of the white teachers described the widespread violence against her and her colleagues: “One of the girls pulled out some dog repellent pepper spray,” said Dawn Baldesi, as she tried to break up a large scale brawl. “She sprayed me in the face, in my hair, on my arms. And I went into a major asthma attack.”

Teachers are afraid of two things, said Baldesi: One, the students. Two, the administration that will retaliate against them if they tell the truth about classroom violence.

Many of these same school officials say white people have no business in black classrooms.

In Washington, D.C. in December, an official of a teachers union tried to explain to a national gathering of black elected officials why white teachers are so problematic for black students:

“We can’t just give them six weeks of training and think they are able to educate our children,” said Marietta English, president of the Baltimore teachers union and vice president of the American Federation of Teachers. “There’s a lot of cultural differences that they don’t understand. If you don’t grow up in the neighborhood, you don’t understand it when we say ‘WASSUP.’ They don’t understand that.”

Here is what white teachers in Baltimore do understand: They are the targets of frequent black-on-white crime during school hours —and their own union leaders often blame them and excuse the people committing the violence.

In Elgin, Illinois, the black school board voted in March 2014 to stop hiring white teachers and hire more black teachers: “It is important that students have teachers who look like them,” remarked Vilma Sept, chairwoman of the U46 African-American advisory council, to the Courier News.

In June of 2014, Glenn Sullivan was just a few weeks out of a New Orleans High School when he wrote a column for the Washington Post explaining his educational deficiencies: “My school district hires too many white teachers.”

He and his classmates often behaved poorly, did not study, and were disruptive in class, but only his black teachers knew how to handle that, he said.

Lots of white teachers would agree with that: They say the violence towards white teachers in black schools is rising —and administrators do not care about it. Here is how one teacher described it:

I am a white teacher working in an almost exclusively black middle school.  In May of 2012, I left my classroom in an ambulance after two fighting students ran around the room at full speed and plowed into me, knocking me to the ground.

I sustained permanent back injuries and had a knee operation.  This year, instead of remedial reading classes (I am a reading teacher), I was assigned full classes. From mid-September, I have been subjected to almost daily race baiting, racial and sexual taunts, threats, and attacks.

Students chase me and each other around the room with table legs, threaten to kill my “three ugly little n**gers,” follow me to my car in groups shouting racial epithets and “get in a white school, bitch.”  Requests to sit in a seat are met with, “Oh, it’s cause I’m black” or “Why you hate black people?” I often hear, “Imma gonna slap this white bitch,” etc.

Many teacher beat-downs at the hands of black students are caught on video: Here’s one from Upper Darby from last October: More than 70 black students were fighting and when the black adminstrator tried to break it up, the students turned on him. They fractured his skull.

Milwaukee has the same problem. The headlines from 2014 tell the story: “Teachers assaulted by students.”

How about Tobyhanna, Pennsylvania? There a teacher breaking up a large fight earlier this year among black students was attacked and sent to the hospital. “We see more and more of this every day now in all of our schools,” a local police officer told the Pahoma Page.

In Houston, earlier this year, a black student about the size of Michael Ferguson was caught on video taunting, pushing, then giving a forearm to an elderly female teacher, knocking her down. The rest of the class cheered and yelled and had a good time.

In Los Angeles, a teacher confronted a black student for selling drugs. The student attacked the teacher, on video. Soon after the teacher was suspended. Parents rose up and the school reversed the decision: Re-instating the teacher and suspending the student.

Here’s another from 2014: Student plays Knockout game on teacher. On video. A black student stalks, then sneaks up on a teacher. Then lets loose with a punch to the head.

In Buffalo, the local News 4 team reported in 2014 on “teachers who had come forward asking for help because they felt unsafe. They had even appealed to the school board saying conditions had become chaotic with students fighting and roaming the halls.”

All the video accompanying the story shows the students are black. The teachers are white.

In New Bedford, Connecticut in 2014, a black student threw a chair at the teacher, Joanne Maura. On video. Much to the amusement of fellow students.

At first, they wanted to fire her, saying she could not control her classroom. Then she was “cleared of any wrong doing” after a lengthy investigation into the student throwing a chair at the teacher.

This is a very long list. And many of the incidents are capped with someone meekly reminding the reporters: This has been happening here for a very long time.

In Philadelphia, the teachers union says many classrooms are just not safe. In Kansas City, Kansas in September, teachers say the schools are so violent they are afraid to go to work. Much of the recent violence is on video.

Glenn Singleton trains white teachers how to deal with black students. He calls his program “Courageous Conversations” and it is practiced in hundreds of school districts throughout the country.

First lesson for the white teachers: Admit you are racist. Confess to your role in a racist system that is responsible for the racial disparity in achievement and discipline in schools throughout the country.

Some do this. The ones who do not are often fired.

Either way, here is what the teachers most often want to know: Why are black students so violent?

And as many times as he has answered the question, anyone reading Singleton’s book “Courageous Conversations” knows that he gets a bit impatient with people who refuse to accept his answer:

“White educators are prone to wondering why black and brown boys are prone to fighting in school,” he writes. “They question why violence is taught in homes of color. Missing from this analysis however is how these boys might be affected by growing up in a White-governed country which threatens young men of color at will, distrusts their ability to succeed and follow the law, and allows daily racial stress to mount in neighborhoods, schools and classrooms.”

It’s not their fault.

Now you know.

Meanwhile, back in Ferguson and the environs of the Normandy School District, hundreds of black people showed up at a meeting of the city council to demand the arrest of the police officer who shot the gentle giant, Michael Ferguson.

Many of the speakers threatened further violence if the officer is not arrested and convicted. If he “gets off, you all better bring every army you all have got,” said one, reported the Post Dispatch. “Cause it’s going down.”