Friday, May 04, 2007

"Wash. Post gave misleading report on Obama, Clinton speeches"

Media Matters:
A May 3 Washington Post article, which reported that Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL), when speaking to black audiences, "decr[ies] 'anti-intellectualism' in the black community, including black children telling peers who get good grades that they are 'acting white,' " suggested that Obama claims the concept of "acting white" is a sufficient explanation for the achievement gap between black and white students. Staff writer Perry Bacon Jr. -- using wording that suggested Obama had said that the "acting white" schoolyard smear explains the achievement gap -- wrote: "But some scholars assert that even if black kids do say that other black students who excel in school are 'acting white,' it is hardly a sufficient explanation for the achievement gap between black and white students, which remains vast." In fact, in discussing the achievement gap, Obama has emphasized the inequities in school funding in tandem with what he identifies as a need for greater emphasis on educational achievement.

From Obama's March 4 speech in Selma, Alabama:

OBAMA: I'm fighting to make sure that our schools are adequately funded all across the country. With the inequities of relying on property taxes and people who are born in wealthy districts getting better schools than folks born in poor districts and that's now how it's supposed to be. That's not the American way. But I'll tell you what -- even as I fight on behalf of more education funding, more equity, I have to also say that, if parents don't turn off the television set when the child comes home from school and make sure they sit down and do their homework and go talk to the teachers and find out how they're doing, and if we don't start instilling a sense in our young children that there is nothing to be ashamed about in educational achievement, I don't know who taught them that reading and writing and conjugating your verbs was something white.

From Bacon's article in the Post:

The concept of "acting white" and worries that African Americans are not pushing their children enough to focus on education have been long-standing concerns of Obama's -- he has mentioned them in several recent speeches -- and issues that many prominent members of the community, mostly notably comedian Bill Cosby, have focused on in recent years.

But some scholars assert that even if black kids do say that other black students who excel in school are "acting white," it is hardly a sufficient explanation for the achievement gap between black and white students, which remains vast. The gap is "not because black 7-year-olds are holding back other black 7-year-olds," said Melissa V. Harris-Lacewell, a professor of African American studies at Princeton University. "This black pathology argument is appealing, but I think he's wrong empirically."

Additionally, the Post articleclaimed that as Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) "campaigns for black votes," she "is more likely to assail the Bush administration over its response to Hurricane Katrina -- a particular frustration of many African Americans because that disaster struck majority-black New Orleans." In fact -- putting aside the question of whether there is anything wrong with political figures' addressing issues of particular interest to their audience -- Clinton has consistently addressed the Bush administration's response to Hurricane Katrina throughout her presidential campaign. In addition to criticizing the Bush administration's response to Hurricane Katrina in her speeches in Selma, Alabama, and at the annual convention of Rev. Al Sharpton's National Action Network, Clinton addressed the issue in front of the following audiences:

* In a January 22 live webcast, the first of three live webcasts in which Clinton answered questions from online participants, she said, in response to a question about her plan for recovery in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast: "I don't believe that this president and our government have responded as I would want them to. They have not put in the effort, the money, the attention, and focus that the people in New Orleans and in the surrounding parishes and along the Gulf Coast deserve. ... You know, it's really unimaginable that our country would turn its back on the people who suffered so much. These are our fellow Americans. Many of them don't feel they can even go back home, and I meet people all the time who they themselves and their families are still dislocated. It's tragic that we had such a poorly organized, half-hearted response continue to this day to fail the people in the Gulf Coast area."
* According to a January 26 New York Sun article, in a January 25 speech at the U.S. Conference of Mayors winter meeting, Clinton "decr[ied] the Bush administration's response to Hurricane Katrina" and "said the Federal Emergency Management Agency 'worked in the 1990s but has failed in the last six years.' "
* In a February 2 speechat the Democratic National Committee's Winter Meeting, Clinton cited "the shame of 26,000 victims of Katrina still living in trailers."
* According to a February 12 Newsday article, during a February 11 New Hampshire campaign stop, Clinton was "questioned ... about the president's handling of Hurricane Katrina. She sharply responded, 'I don't see how we could have had a worse response than we've had. We took a national disaster and turned it into a national disgrace. The level of incompetence and corruption is chilling.' "
* At the March 14 International Association of Fire Fighters Bipartisan 2008 Presidential Forum, Clinton called Hurricane Katrina "[a] crisis that really, once again, put firefighters in the forefront." She added: "Just think about what's happening where your brothers and sisters are trying to operate out of trailers, and they're still using ruined equipment that we still haven't replaced. What was a natural disaster was turned into a national disgrace, and we need to get the funds directly where they are needed."
* According to a March 29 New York Sun article on the AFL-CIO's Building & Construction Trades Department's legislative forum held on March 28, "Clinton lambasted the Bush administration for suspending the Davis-Bacon Act in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and vowed to protect and expand the law if elected president. The bill was first enacted in the midst of the Great Depression in 1931, and labor unions have fought to keep it on the books over criticism that it is too expensive to taxpayers and overly regulatory. ... Citing the administration's action days after Katrina, Mrs. Clinton said President Bush 'just doesn't get it' when it comes to Davis-Bacon, a critique that was echoed by several candidates, including a chief Clinton rival, Senator [Barack] Obama of Illinois."
* An April 14 New York Times article reported that in "her first major policy speech on the campaign trail," presented to "a capacity crowd of about 250 students and faculty members at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at St. Anselm College" on April 13, Clinton "attacked the Bush administration for its handling of Hurricane Katrina, the controversy over the replacement of United States attorneys and fraud involving government contractors in Iraq." The Times added, "Mrs. Clinton characterized the current White House as having ''a stunning record of cronyism and corruption, incompetence and deception."
Howie P.S.: Hill tries to pass Obama on the left with "Clinton Proposes Vote to Reverse Authorizing War."

1 comment:

James C. Collier said...

Educational achievement is indeed the lynch pin of advancing assimilation, but not the whole story. For more, check out this dedicated blog and site.