At the White House on Wednesday, Valerie Jarrett’s co-speaker proclaimed that President Barack Obama is “kind of like the brother-in-chief or the father-in-chief” for large numbers of American teenagers.
The statement came during a White House-sponsored conference called “Rethink Discipline.” The audience was a group of public school superintendents, principals and teachers from around the country.
Jarrett, a senior advisor to Obama, spoke alongside Anna Deavere Smith, an actress. The pair spent their portion of the conference addressing participants from two comfortable chairs.
After Obama became president, Jarrett told the audience, he invited a group of male students to the White House for a Father’s Day event, narrates EAGnews.org.
“One of the young men said, ‘you know, I’ve never signed a Father’s Day card.’ And the president said, ‘you know, I’ve never signed a Father’s Day card before.’ And you could just see these connections,” Jarrett explained.
The top presidential adviser then praised the kids. “They’re intellectually curious. They’re emotionally curious. And it’s just this untapped potential that we should figure out how to take advantage of,” she said.
Smith spoke when Jarrett finished. Smith said: “As you talk about the president, I think he’s kind of like the brother-in-chief or the father-in-chief in this regard.”
Jarrett nodded her head in agreement, EAGnews notes.
Smith is not a policymaker. However, she did once play one on television. She is most famous for playing Nancy McNally, national security adviser to President Josiah “Jed” Barlet in The West Wing.
In 2009, the actress was deemed the artist-in-residence at the Center for American Progress.
Also, the Center for American Progress, a left-wing think tank, has an artist-in-residence.
The Obama administration’s “Rethinking Discipline” initiative centers largely on an attempt to reduce suspensions and other disciplinary measures for bad behavior.
Across the nation, school districts are relaxing disciplinary measures in response to the Obama initiative.
In Oakland, Calif., for example, students in public schools no longer face suspension if they swear at teachers — or ignore teachers’ instructions, or tell teachers off or decide to spend time texting instead of paying attention in class. (RELATED: Oakland Kids Who Cuss Teachers Out No Longer Need To Fret About Getting Suspended)
Other have already forbidden suspensions for such behavior, which is termed “willful defiance” in the vernacular of school officials.
School districts in other states have attempted to limit suspensions based flatly on race. In Minneapolis, for example, school district superintendent Bernadela Johnson announced that all suspensions of black, Hispanic and Native American students would require her personal review and approval. White and Asian students would not be subject to the same review. (RELATED: Racial Suspension Policy In Twin Cities Draws Fire)
In a 2014 speech commemorating Brown v. Board of Education, then-Attorney General Holder claimed that “in too many of our school districts,” “segregation has reoccurred.” Holder argued that “zero-tolerance school discipline practices” and other punishments “affect black males at a rate three times higher than their white peers.” (RELATED: How Eric Holder’s Disparate Impact Crusade Leads To Quotas)
The former attorney general has flatly rejected arguments by critics that higher black suspension rates for minority students reflect higher rates of misbehavior among minority students. (RELATED: Holder Targets School Discipline Practices: ‘Unacceptable,’ ‘Destructive’)