House Education Committee Chairman Bob Behning, who is a top Republican legislator in Indiana, apologized for his comments which suggested that Black students do not perform better academically because they lack respect for learning, according to the Associated Press.
Behning made the comments while answering a question from another Indiana lawmaker last week about a bill that would change the academic students for all students in the state.
From Associated Press:
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.”
In a statement to The Indianapolis Star, Behning apologized for his remarks last week.
He claimed that he used the statistic for “shock factor” and to really bring home the problem the state is having with education. He says that in no way he meant to imply Black children lack a ”respect for learning.”
More from 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.”
Mark Russell, the director of advocacy and family services for the Indianapolis Urban League said many Black people in the community were upset about Behning’s comments, according to the Associated Press.
“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.”