Monday, April 10, 2006

Race Violence in our Schools?

April 4, 2006

Letters, The Daily Progress, P.O. Box 9030, Charlottesville, VA 22906

Dear Editor:

I write hoping to provoke a more detailed discussion of the school violence in our community. What is the nature of the violence?

My observation indicates anonymous black-on-white attacks of opportunity. Thirteen was the latest number of recommended expulsions with no other specifics.

At Charlottesville High, I was looking in my locker one day 25 years ago, when a student I didn’t know punched me in the face. I reported the incident. The guy was suspended for three days. I saw him again but he staid away.

That was one of dozens of assaults. You never know when it’s going to come, so you avoid the black students. In order to talk about the violence, we must acknowledge the racial component.

Some local leaders recently have sounded like the Bush administration on Iraq. Since the insurgents are a tiny minority, it’s not a civil war. Since it’s a small number of violent students, let’s focus on the positive. The terrorism analogy fits because of the anonymous, random nature of the violence.

Others condone the violence by making excuses and espousing racist ideals such as affirmative action and separate, unequal restorative justice for blacks.

Charlottesville’s first black Mayor Charles Barbour called for a racial quota of two blacks on City Council on March 4.

Back on November 21, Councilor Kendra Hamilton said, "I never thought that I, as a black woman, would be reduced to explaining to a bunch of white people that I know what I’m talking about."

That’s like me saying I’m an expert on white people’s issues because I’m white. Cville Weekly reported the racist remark and its editor echoed the story on WINA radio.

Most civil rights leaders in the 1950s, like Martin Luther King Jr., insisted on nonviolence because their goal was integration and inclusion. If people are afraid of you, they exclude you. But Malcolm X advocated violence because his goal was a separate black nation, the ultimate segregation.

The devil is in the details. The true nature of the school violence won’t be known until we learn the details.

Blair Hawkins
Charlottesville, Virginia

Daily Progress Editor Anita Shelburne has decided not to print the letter because I can’t prove the race violence is continuing. I said it is common knowledge and political correctness is preventing us from talking about it. The only detail officials will release is the number of students recommended for expulsion. At the March 28 forum, incumbent school board member Ned Michie said the number was 13.

What do you think is the nature of the violence? How come nobody knows for sure? I feel uncomfortable talking about it, too. But it’s an important issue.

Media Watch

"Man accused in death had history of violence" by Matthew Lakin. Apr 6, 2006. The Daily Progress. List of specific allegations reveals the nature of the violence.

"Seeking answers" by Liesel Nowak. Apr 5, 2006. The Daily Progress. About how officials refused to release information on the plots to bomb Albemarle High.

"Harsh treatment counterproductive" letter by Dylan Rosenthal. Apr 1, 2006. The Daily Progress.

"Don’t define Buford School by a few" letter by Lois Wallenhorst and Syd Knight. Mar 28, 2006. The Daily Progress.

"Task force to deal with violence: City middle, high schools targeted" by Sarah Barry. Mar 23, 2006. The Daily Progress.

"School Board seeks solutions following violence at Buford" by Sarah Barry. Mar 17, 2006. The Daily Progress.

Education ought not be through coercion

January 9, 2002

Letters, The Daily Progress, P.O. Box 9030, Charlottesville, Va. 22906

Dear Editor:

I have enjoyed the education debate in The Daily Progress letters forum. A 1982 graduate of Charlottesville High School, I would like to add my two cents.

The one thing that would revolutionize education is to legalize truancy; in other words, have no legal consequence for not going to school. The economic consequences should be sufficient motivation.

Making school voluntary would reaffirm freedom. Our forefathers thought freedom meant that no one, including government, may require anyone be present anywhere for any reason except through a written court order specifically naming the individual whose liberty is curtailed. The two exceptions are parental control over children and military conscription.

If education were truly important, its compulsion would not be necessary. Food is more important but there’s no law to eat. Shelter is more important but being homeless is legal. College is voluntary but somehow enrollment is at an all-time high. Can you imagine Patrick Henry saying, "Give me education or give me death?"

Educational requirements serve to set aside the high-paying jobs for those who can afford a higher education. No amount of self-study, hard work, ability or accomplishment will qualify you for a job if you don’t have the degree. Old-timers used to ask, "Why don’t you get a job at the ground floor and work your way to the top?" They quit asking because that kind of upward mobility is no longer permitted.

I have a dream that some day I’ll get the best job because I am the best, not necessarily the best educated.

Blair Hawkins
Printed 14 Jan 2002.

Compulsory Education is Unconstitutional

College is much safer than middle and high schools because college doesn’t force people to attend. Private school is safer than public school because private school doesn’t force people to attend. Instead of expelling disruptive students, why not let them go away voluntarily?

When I was in college, sometimes half the students in a class would skip. I don’t remember any mention of a truancy problem. How come private school doesn’t have a truancy problem?

What if a private school tried to force a student to attend? That would be illegal. Yet a government school can compel that people be in government custody five days a week. Which is also illegal. Rule of Law means, if it's unlawful for me to do it, then it’s unlawful for the government to do it.

But parents can force their children to go to school. Private schools have more parental involvement because the government hasn’t supplanted parental authority. The schools can’t do everything. If the parent doesn’t make a kid go to school, how can the schools become the parents? Schools must recognize their own limitations.

If education is a right, then you have a right to refuse the education. If you have a right to free speech, that doesn’t mean you have to speak. If you have a right to bear arms, that doesn’t mean you have to carry a weapon. Not being forced to attend school doesn’t mean you can’t attend if you follow the rules.

What happens in the schools is reflected in the community. That should not be a rationale for tolerating violence. It gives me no pleasure to talk about race tensions in our community. I don’t think anyone should have a trump card they can pull out to allow what otherwise would be prohibited.

Only the truth will set us free.

Monday, April 10: 7:00 PM. NAACP sponsors a City Council Candidates Forum at the Jefferson Madison Regional Library, East Market Street, Charlottesville.

Wednesday, April 12th, 7:00 PM. League of Women Voters candidate forum for City Council candidates. City Council Chambers at City Hall.


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