Educationalist Dr Tony Sewell has courted controversy once again by stating that institutional racism in education plays no part in the educational failure of African Caribbean children in UK schools. In 2008, the Department for Education reported that only 27 per cent of black boys achieve five or more A*-C GCSE grades. African-Caribbean boys are also the group most likely to be excluded from school.
Writing in this months Prospect magazine’s special issue on “Rethinking Race’ published as a proactive counter to Black History Month and including articles by Sewell on education, Munira Murza on the failures of multiculturalism, Dr Sarwan Singh on race and psychiatry, Sonya Dyer on the arts and why diversity policies ghettoize black artists, Lyndsay Johns on the failures of black history literature .
All write articles that offer stern critiques of the concepts of institutional racism, multiculturalism and anti racist policies and perspectives.
In an attempt to fundamentally undermine anti racist politics and multiculturalism this edition of the magazine is a reflection of the growing political divides between black and Asian on the left and the right. The election of Conservative Coalition Government has emboldened and galvanized black conservatives into establishing right wing perspectives on race as the dominant political discourse in the UK.
Dr Sewell suggests that in his view anti racism policies have prevented teachers from dealing with badly behaved black children and that along with poor parenting and a lack of discipline are the real reasons for their failure.
Sewell’s writes of black boys: “What we now see in schools is children undermined by poor parenting, peer-group pressure and an inability to be responsible for their own behavior.
They are not subjects of institutional racism.
‘They have failed their GCSEs because they did not do the homework, did not pay attention and were disrespectful to their teachers.
Focusing on black parents and anti racists he says:
‘Instead of challenging our children, we have given them the discourse of the victim – a sense that the world is against them and they cannot succeed.’
And finally he talks of what he believes to be the negative effects of ant racist policies in schools
I believe black underachievement is due to the low expectations of school leaders, who do not want to be seen as racist and who position black boys as victims.’
Lee Jasper race campaigner slammed Sewell’s comments as ‘ grossly irresponsible “ and an “ attempt to pathologise black parents and their children “.
“ The reality of institutional racism is its effects in terms of economic exclusion, increases in rates of poverty and unemployment, growing racism in the dispensation of criminal justice, the scandal of the failure of poor sink schools, low teacher expectations, motivation and tenure along with the pervasive reality of racism in wider society which demonizes black children. These are the real reasons behind the educational failure of our children.”
“To seek to pathologise the victims of racism as responsible for their own plight is a reflection of a politics that describes poverty as a “lifestyle choice”. Not only is this perspective objectively wrong in an academic sense it is also politically and morally wrong. There can be no concession to racism in education the stakes are too high. ”
Another writer in Prospect magazine special edition on race said schools were being made to spy on nursery-aged children by the Race Relations Amendment 2000.
Munira Mirza, a senior adviser to London Mayor Boris Johnson, said more than 250,000 children have been accused of racism since it become law and teachers are being forced to report children as young as three to the authorities for using alleged racist language.
She added that a “heightened awareness of racism” creates “a climate of suspicion and anxiety” contrary to the belief that it helps to stamp it out.