Indiana GOP lawmaker apologizes for remark on Black students

Bob Behning

A top Republican Indiana legislator on education policy has apologized for comments suggesting Black students don’t perform better academically because they lack “respect for learning.”

House Education Committee Chairman Bob Behning of Indianapolis made the remark last week when answering a question from another lawmaker about a bill that would make changes to the state’s academic standards for all students.

Behning cited a statistic showing that just 30 out of 1,000 Black students in the Indianapolis Public Schools system passed both the English and math portions of the state’s ILEARN standardized exam last year.

“I would suggest that part of the problem is, there’s a number of things,” he said, “poverty impacts that for sure, having a respect for learning … there’s a lot of things that come into play.”

Behning has faced criticism over that remark and apologized Monday in a statement to The Indianapolis Star.

“I should have been clearer in stating what I truly believe to be the biggest obstacles to improving our children’s academic performance,” he said. “I sincerely regret my remarks have been hurtful to others, and I apologize for it.”

Many people in the Black community were upset by Behning’s comment, said Mark Russell, director of advocacy and family services for the Indianapolis Urban League.

“I don’t think it was taken out of context or misconstrued. It was offensive,” Russell said. “I don’t deal with people’s intentions. I deal with their actions and the affect of their actions.”

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7 thoughts on “Indiana GOP lawmaker apologizes for remark on Black students

  1. As a genuine credit to Bob, he’s always been terrible at saying what he means. He stumbles over his words and has trouble forming sentences. I’ve rarely seen him deliver a concise thought during his entire time in the legislature.

    1. Awesome comment, Charlie! At least the guy gave an unambiguous apology. Might harbor latent racist feelings, but at least it wasn’t a wishy-washy “IF anyone as offended….”

    1. Quote: “I would suggest that part of the problem is, there’s a number of things,” he said, “poverty impacts that for sure, having a respect for learning … there’s a lot of things that come into play.”

      That’s the truth, Randy S. If you don’t like it, tough. Does poverty not impact a respect for learning? I’ve taught in an inner-city school and have seen this manifested; have you?

  2. Raising children well takes enormous amounts of time and energy. A single parent who works two or three jobs to keep roof overhead and food on the table, if home during child time, lacks the energy. If you ever watch a mother just getting laundry for the kids done, trying to cook and clean, there is so little time left, and the rent went up, gasoline jumped, and groceries keep costing more each week. State and federal politicians live so far above that level, they are clueless, not that any of us with time (and mney) to read and comment are any better. The best thing about the pandemic seems to be a reassessment by parents of having a parent at home to raise the children and lowering the overheads (less gas, no day care, skip Disneyland, no spring break etc). That is giving the politicians pause because if people drop out of the rat-race for quality family time, the tax take from income tax drops.

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