'My children have received eight suspensions'
- 25 July 2014
A review of the best commentary on and around the world...
While black children are 18% of the US preschool population, they account for 48% of the preschool children who have been suspended from school more than once.
That was one of the headlines from a March report from the US education department's Office of Civil Rights, which found that black children were suspended at a rate three times higher than their white counterparts.
In Friday's Washington Post, Tunette Powell writes that these statistics are more than just abstract numbers - they've been an everyday reality in her life.
Ms Powell - the founder the Truth Heals, a non-profit support group for families affected by absent fathers - says her two preschool-age sons have received full-day suspensions a total of eight times so far this year.
She says her four-year-old had to stay home twice for chair-throwing incidents and once for spitting on a classmate. One of the five times her three-year-old was suspended was for hitting a teacher in the arm.
At home Ms Powell disciplined her children and blamed herself for their behaviour.
"What was I doing wrong?" she asks. "My children are living a comfortable life. My husband is an amazing father to JJ and Joah. At home, they have given us very few problems; the same goes for time with babysitters."
It was only later, when she began talking to other parents, that she says a different, more disturbing explanation emerged.
"One after another, white mothers confessed the trouble their children had gotten into. Some of the behaviour was similar to JJ's; some was much worse.
"Most startling: None of their children had been suspended."
There are different standards for disciplining white and black children, Ms Powell asserts, and it's causing problems that stay with the affected children for the rest of their lives.
The solution, she says, is diversity training for early education teachers.
"Authority figures strip black boys of their innocence at younger ages than white children," she says.
"Diversity training for teachers and administrators would raise their awareness of how subconscious prejudices can drive racial discrepancies in disciplinary action."
Ms Powell recalls her own experiences being suspended as a child, and the shame and doubt it caused her.
"I cannot go back and undo what was done to me, but I refuse to let it be done to my children," she concludes.
New risks in the wake of Kenya's tech boom - The recent hacking of the Twitter accounts of Kenya's defence forces and its military spokesman have illuminated the need for greater technological security, writes Matunda Nyanchama for the Daily Nation.
With the rise of social media, mobile phones and mobile banking in Kenya, the country needs to realise that an increased reliance on technology comes with new risks, he says.
"Unmitigated risks obviously lead to losses, which can be material as in the cases of banks," writes Nyanchama. "It could also be harmful to the reputation, leading to loss of confidence and trust."
In order to face the new risks, Nyanchama says that Kenya should invest in local talent and challenge them to improve security.
From secretary general to president? - With the UN secretary general's second term ending in 2016, commentators are wondering whether Ban Ki-moon will throw his hat into the South Korean presidential race in 2017.
"True, it's not rare for former heads of international organisations to emerge as powerful figures in domestic politics thanks to his or her enhanced recognition while serving for the organisations," writes Sah Dong-seok for the Korea Times.
Mr Ban could face electoral obstacles, however, such as his lack of a domestic political base and his age - in 2017, he will be 73 years old, says Sah.
"Ban has never talked about his running for presidency, and it's generally said that that's not what he wants, especially in light of the fact that he is not a politician but a diplomat," Sah concludes. "But it's also true nothing is impossible in the subtle political world."
The impact of Scottish independence on Nato - If Scotland achieves independence with their upcoming referendum vote, their new statehood could have significant implications for Nato, writes Leo Michel for the Los Angeles Times.
Notably, the pro-independence leaders driving the referendum have pledged to end arrangements that allow the British to base their ballistic missile submarines and nuclear warheads on Scotland's west coast.
"That would be a tough blow for Britain's two nuclear allies and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation as a whole," Michel writes.
John Oliver, a threat to monarchy and juntas - Television host John Oliver's viral comedic rants have landed him on the Thai junta's threat list, writes Andrew MacGregor Marshall for Vice News.
An official document leaked to the media organisation shows that the Thai junta that took over the government in May felt threatened by Mr Oliver's sarcastic diatribes, particularly his derision of the Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn.
"While comical, the paranoia of Thailand's military dictators about seemingly innocuous satire is well founded," writes Marshall. When people start laughing at their dictators, he notes, revolution is often not far behind the laughter, he says,
BBC Monitoring's quotes of the day
Middle East commentators address the chances that a Gaza ceasefire talks will achieve a lasting peace.
"Hamas and Islamic Jihad … are fighting a life-or-death battle in which there is no room for retreat until their main objective is achieved - lifting the siege on Gaza. Anything short of that is defeat." - Randa Haydar in Lebanon's al-Nahar.
"The unrelenting Kerry has devised a ceasefire proposal that totters between the Egyptian proposal, which humiliated Hamas, and the Qatari proposal, which gave Hamas a victory feeling… This is bitter pill for Israel." - Nahum Barnea in Israel's Yedioth Aharonot.
"The battle in Gaza will not liberate Palestine, but it will liberate our minds from misconceptions and delusions… It will remind the Jews of something they often forget - that the Palestinians have not surrendered and will not raise the white flag." - Hilmi al-Asmar in Jordan's al-Dustur.
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