Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Post editorial: Weast ignored 'longstanding' racial tensions

Montgomery County Public Schools Superintendent Jerry D. Weast and his administration have been too busy to pay attention to years of complaints from minorities, and were caught by surprise by the January 3 police incident at Churchill High School.

Weast immediately smacked down Churchill Principal Joan Benz, saying through an aide that she would be "disciplined," after she lamented in a note to parents that black kids were assaulting other black kids at her school.

The usually fawningly pro-Weast editorial page of the Washington Post tapped the superintendent on the wrist on January 10, gently chiding him for being clueless.

While trying to stick to its PC editorial policies by calling the Benz note a "spectacularly stupid memo," the Post said the principal actually clarioned a "needed wake-up call" for MCPS leaders:

"That [Dr. Benz] felt, as she has said, that she made the racial reference to rebut horrid, racist remarks from some Churchill parents and students gives powerful credence to the complaints of African-Americans about being marginalized. So, too, does the fact that Superintendent Jerry D. Weast and his administration were caught unawares by the tensions at the school even though, as The Post's Daniel de Vise and Lori Aratani reported, the complaints of the small African American community have been longstanding.

"Mr. Weast needs to grapple with this issue; it is encouraging that he is putting together a working group to study the situation at Churchill. As painful as this episode has been, it was a needed wake-up call for a county that prides itself on being inclusive."