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Assaults on Teachers: Not Just for Crackers Anymore

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

One of the unwritten codes for white teachers teaching in public schools has been that when it comes time to discipline a black student, the task should be left to another black teacher or administrator. This is to avoid the possibility that the student might mistake the discipline for just another display of the Eurocentric - White - Power - That - Rules - the - World - and - Keeps - All - People - of - Color - Enslaved - Hegemony.


Sometimes, however, a white teacher needs to make requests in the classroom, like telling a poor, disadvantaged student to turn off the blaring music on his iPod. There are classes and workshops for teachers on how to do this “sensitively.”

While being interviewed on National Public Radio by Terry Gross in June 2007, Frank Burd, a Philadelphia math teacher, spoke about the issues that “kids” come into the high school classroom with, like having young, single parents. He philosophized that a large part of teaching involves “opening yourself up” and “developing trust.” One can say, “Put the iPod away,” in many different ways. For the benefit of listeners, he demonstrated it as a command, and then in a nice, sensitive way. Ms. Gross, a former teacher herself, agreed that it is important that students know teachers are not “disrespecting” them.

But, some months earlier, when Burd asked a student to turn off his loud iPod, the 60-year-old teacher suffered a broken neck, brain damage, and a shoulder injury, his lesson for not making the request sensitively enough, apparently.

Teachers are also encouraged to display cultural sensitivity in their curriculums. Burd’s colleague, Ed Klein, a music teacher, did this when he refrained from imposing a Eurocentric classical music curriculum on his students and undertook a course of study on the high art form of rap music and incorporated it into his curriculum.


But to Klein’s bemusement, this was not appreciated enough to ward off an attack. For calling in a parent one too many times, the 55-year-old Klein suffered a broken jaw. But that was after the perpetrator had come in two days in a row and sprayed him with a fire extinguisher, then told him on the third day that he would be killed, and on the fourth day, “ain’t nothing you can do about this, cracker.” It was on the fifth day that Klein was beaten.

Ed Klein’s perpetrator was exonerated when two witnesses failed to show up in court.

Terry Gross asked Klein and Burd, both white, about students “testing” teachers, and whether race was a “subtext.” Well, no, said Klein, “aside from the fact that I was referred to as ‘cracker’ numerous times.”

Not surprisingly, Al Sharpton did not show up like a Jack-in-the-Box in front of a TV camera to provide commentary on this “outrage.”

Burd said he missed teaching. He described the outpouring of support from the other students who tried to help (as he was told) and who sent their best wishes to him in the hospital. I have no doubt that many did.

But the notion that students “test” teachers, that teachers have to do a little dance that at one time displays their authority, their sensitivity, and their likeableness, is a notion that comes from the addled minds of Terry Gross and professors of education. In this Orwellian schema roles are reversed. The sensitivity should come in the form of providing alternatives, like McDonald’s or garbage collection.


Burd, who retains his sensitivity more than does Klein (probably because he cannot remember the attack and has also lost his short-term memory), called his ninth-grade attacker a “beautiful looking” kid, but unfortunately a crack baby, who had a bad home environment. As reward for the attack, the “beautiful” perp and his accomplice were sent to a group home of about nine kids, where they are provided an education, shelter, and food until the age of twenty-one.

I do not remember the assault against Klein and Burd making the national news. Instead, they were interviewed on a typical NPR “investigation” of the “challenges” of teaching in an urban school. Klein had been advised by his school district to be quiet about the incident, that he should remember who “buttered his bread.” But when his colleague Burd was attacked shortly after he was, he felt guilty.

Klein called his assault and the many others that take place in his school the “tip of the iceberg.” Indeed, this has been going on for a long time. In 1969, two years after the “Summer of Love,” and at the height of black militancy, Time Magazine ran an article about assaults on teachers. The images in the media of armed radicals taking over college campuses and rioters assaulting innocent whites and their businesses provided role models for the youth. At Benjamin Franklin Junior Senior High School in Rochester, New York, which had begun busing in students, a carnival atmosphere of exuberant defiance filled the air. I was scared to death. It was a free-for-all in most classrooms, with mostly white teachers desperately trying to display their sensitivity to black students and getting back talk and sometimes actual assaults as riots broke out. (Back talk by white students was not handled as sensitively, though.)


Since that time, we have seen many more black teachers come into the public schools—a good thing. But they too come through the schools of education run by the Marxist radicals of Bill Ayers’ stripe, where they are taught to instill a sense of self-esteem into their charges through new multicultural curriculums that denounce such Eurocentric notions as reason, fairness, civility, and order.

In the days of old, schools were still segregated and teachers, black and white, were less versed in sensitivity. Racial determinism, the idea that one’s behavior is the result of society’s injustices, did not take hold, as Shelby Steele points out, until after Civil Rights legislation was enacted. Radical Marxist whites took their black radical stooges down the road of self-destruction. Their utopian ideas were played out violently and in neighborhoods where the white radicals did not live. They left the poor, of both races, to live with the destruction they left behind.

Their vision of equality is being realized.

Now, the footage of a black student tackling her black art teacher in Baltimore, recorded for the delight of the other students by a student on her cell phone, has outraged cable news viewers. And in Atlanta in the case of Sequita Thornton and her mother it was a mother-daughter team attacking a black teacher.

So now it is no longer The Man, incarnated in the white teacher only, who is being attacked. What would have been unheard of in a black school in the days of segregation, now, thanks to the theories of these elite whites, happens in our public schools—even to teachers who are not called “crackers.” Such is the “equal outcome” of Marxist ideology.


I wonder, would the Reverend Jeremiah Wright say that this is “the chickens coming home to roost”?


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